Stephen Hawking's Universe
One of the great charms of Stephen Hawking
has been his unerring ability to not only postulate some of the most
important scientific and philosophical questions known to humankind, but
to impart the fruits of his research in terms that are succinct,
comprehensible and universally engaging.
Hawking’s landmark work A Brief History
of Time, which has now sold over ten million copies worldwide, was a
neat encapsulation of the physicist’s ongoing quest to unlock the
mysteries of the universe, and of his wonder at the mysterious beauty
and endless intricacies of the laws governing space and time.
The six-part documentary series Stephen
Hawking’s Universe provides a stunning, lucid and endlessly
appealing visual portrait of the history of astronomy, charting the
voyage of discovery taken by the world’s most preeminent scientists
throughout the millennia. Having originally aired in 1997, the series
finds Hawking at his witty and passionate best, describing the theories
governing planetary motion, gravity, dark matter, singularities, quantum
physics and much more in terms that are readily accessible to even the
most mathematically-challenged viewer.
Illustrating each of the six episodes are
breathtaking shots of nearby galaxies, nebulae and other of the
firmament’s more captivating splendours, as well as re-enactments,
photographs and assorted historical records detailing man’s search for
meaning and his place within the cosmos. The discoveries of Newton,
Einstein, Kepler, Hubble, Copernicus, Democritus and many others are
each explored in turn, and throughout the course of the series’
five-hour runtime we see one of the actual telescopes through which
Galileo first saw Jupiter’s moons, the house of Isaac Newton and the
Paris laboratory where Marie Curie first discovered radium.
It’s an arresting and immensely satisfying
journey, and one you won’t want to miss.
Audio & Video
The series is presented in 4:3, which fills
out nicely on a 16:9 screen without looking stretched or boxy. Despite
being almost fifteen years old it holds up extremely well, and there are
no major problems with image or sound quality. The image looks a little
washed-out in one or two places, but overall holds up extremely well.
The 2-channel DD soundtrack is also strong, with no dropout or
noticeable defects. Lastly there is no bonus content, just the six
episodes spread out over two discs.