How the Universe Works (2010– )

TV Series  |   |  Documentary
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A users guide to the cosmos from the big bang to galaxies, stars, planets and moons. Where did it all come from and how does it all fit together. A primer for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered.

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Series cast summary:
 Himself - Narrator (voice) / ... (17 episodes, 2010-2014)
Michio Kaku ...
 Himself - Phd., Theoretical Physicist, City University of New York (11 episodes, 2010-2012)
 Himself - Phd., Astronomer (10 episodes, 2010-2012)
Michelle Thaller ...
 Herself - Phd., astronomer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / ... (9 episodes, 2010-2012)
 Narrator (8 episodes, 2012)
Lawrence Krauss ...
 Himself - Professor, theoretical physicist, Arizona State University / ... (7 episodes, 2010-2012)


A users guide to the cosmos from the big bang to galaxies, stars, planets and moons. Where did it all come from and how does it all fit together. A primer for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

25 April 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Come funziona l'Universo?  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(8 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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User Reviews

Excellent series for science nerds and non-nerds, plus Mike Rowe
20 April 2015 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

A great series. I think I've seen all the science documentaries, and this is the best. Why? Not only do they take some of the better known scientific faces to present the material, they add a host of lesser known but engaging scientists who are great at explaining without undue simplification. Like other dimensions of The Culture that seem to emphasize glamour and show, the producers have found scientists that look good or look simpatico, like you could imagine yourself having a conversation with them. This, however, is not at the expense of the content. The theories are not only current, some are really quite subtle and difficult to present with mathematics, yet they manage, and without too many analogies and metaphors. You don't need a science background here, but it certainly helps. Although they have a musical sound track, it's rather muted and avoids the military/Wagnerian Birth of the Gods melodrama that just dummies down with the scientists say (In one telling interview I think at UCal, Alex Filippenko acknowledged that in other documentaries he doesn't have all the control he wanted on what came across; here, he seems more true to his scientific roots). Plus, the producers and directors try to avoid the standard self-congratulatory narrative trope that always diminishes (for me) similar documentaries: "In 1993 Nasa decided to solve this mystery and launched…. Nasa scientists eagerly waited for the results." Cut to shot of excited scientists huddling around consoles. Same scientists, twenty years later: "We couldn't believe it. It was the greatest moment of my life". Yes, science does involve egos, but it's not about egos, which (I presume) non-scientific producers seem too eager to use as a framing device. They get that the universe is much more dramatic than anything we could conjure up in a studio. True, they also use the Life on Other Planets narrative device, but usually to debunk it. Unlike other recent space documentaries that seem to play to the Trekkie desire to find thousands of alien races on each planet (put a goatee on Spock: instant alternate universe), here, the possibility of alien life is usually quickly debunked as highly improbable. In fact, what seems to be behind this series is the notion that Earth is a one-of. Things are cut hopping by brief framing shots and quick cut- aways. The graphics are great and plausible And, for at least one series, Mike Rowe narrates. Not to take away from the other narrators, who keep things interesting, a filmic structure that depends on narration needs Mike Rowe, whose offhand delivery underlines the stupendous wonders that are presented.

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