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The Fabric of the Cosmos

Thu, 07/05/2012 - 11:06am -- WCVE

In the 4-part NOVA series The Fabric of the Cosmos, accompany physicist and acclaimed author Brian Greene on a mind-bending reality check and journey to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time and the universe.

With each step, discover that just beneath the surface of our everyday experience lies a world we’d hardly recognize — a startling world far stranger and more wondrous than anyone expected.

Watch on PBS Video

“What Is Space?” – July 11 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS
Space. It separates you from me, one galaxy from the next, and atoms from one another. It is everywhere in the universe. But to most of us, space is nothing, an empty void. Well, it turns out space is not what it seems. From the passenger seat of a New York cab driving near the speed of light, to a pool hall where billiard tables do fantastical things, Brian Greene reveals space as a dynamic fabric that can stretch, twist, warp, and ripple under the influence of gravity. Stranger still is a newly discovered ingredient of space that actually makes up 70 percent of the universe. Physicists call it dark energy, because while they know it's out there, driving space to expand ever more quickly, they have no idea what it is.

“The Illusion of Time” – July 18 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS
Time. We waste it, save it, kill it, make it. The world runs on it. Yet ask physicists what time actually is, and the answer might shock you: They have no idea. Even more surprising, the deep sense we have of time passing from present to past may be nothing more than an illusion. How can our understanding of something so familiar be so wrong? In search of answers, Brian Greene takes us on the ultimate time-traveling adventure, hurtling 50 years into the future before stepping into a wormhole to travel back to the past. Along the way, he will reveal a new way of thinking about time in which moments past, present, and future—from the reign of T. rex to the birth of your great-great-grandchildren—exist all at once. This journey will bring us all the way back to the Big Bang, where physicists think the ultimate secrets of time may be hidden. You'll never look at your wristwatch the same way again.

“Quantum Leap” – July 25 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS
Quantum mechanics may be counterintuitive, but it's one of the most successful theories in the history of science, making predictions that have been confirmed to better than one part in a billion, while also launching the technological advances at the heart of modern life, like computers and cell phones. But even today, even with such profound successes, the debate still rages over what quantum mechanics implies for the true nature of reality.

“Universe or Multiverse?” – August 1 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS
Hard as it is to swallow, cutting-edge theories are suggesting that our universe may not be the only universe. Instead, it may be just one of an infinite number of universes that make up the "multiverse." In this show, Brian Greene takes us on a tour of this brave new theory at the frontier of physics, showing what some of these alternate realities might be like. Some universes may be almost indistinguishable from our own; others may contain variations of all of us, where we exist but with different families, careers, and life stories. In still others, reality may be so radically different from ours as to be unrecognizable.