The Beginning and End of the Universe

Jim Al-Khalili explores the Beginning and End of the Universe.

Jim asks two fundamental questions that humanity has struggled with since the dawn of mankind. How did our universe begin? … and how will it end?

To answer these questions, Jim Al-Khalili takes a look at what our scientific understanding has gathered so far and the many theories it has created.

Episode 1: The Beginning

Episode 1: The Beginning

In the beginning episode, we’ll investigate the theories as to how the universe came into being.

Together with Jim Al-Khalili we’ll explore the realisation of Edwin Hubble that the universe is expanding, and look into the discovery of the residual radiation that gave weight to the Big Bang theory.

It also highlights some lesser known theorists including Georges Lemaître, who first theorised that there was a big bang, Ralph Alpher, who stated that the light from this should be detectable, and Cecilia Payne, who calculated that hydrogen and helium were the dominant elements in the universe.

To conclude the episode, we’ll look at the Large Hadron Collide. A place where physicists create matter in a similar manner to the Big Bang.

Episode 2: The End

Episode 2: The End

The ending episode explores the theories of the big crunch, the big rip and the big freeze, that are postulated by physicists as possible fates for the universe.

Al-Khalili indicates that the difficulty in understanding this is our limited ability to comprehend something of such immensity both physically and philosophically.

So, rather than suggesting an answer, he provides the historical background for how we came to know what we know, such as how elements are forged inside stars and how gravity provides the key to the fate of the universe, and what we don’t know, such as the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

The Beginning and End of the Universe
  • Info
  • Release date2016
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Laura Mulholland
  • Production companyBBC