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Universe Unravelled

KICC and the Kavli Foundation are pleased to support The Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology who have teamed up with Discovery to produce a documentary series exploring new windows on our Universe.

It's aimed at anyone who is curious about the Universe we live in, with no previous knowledge of cosmology required.  In over 20 short episodes the series explores what we already know about the Universe, what cosmologists and relativists are working on right now, and where new observations may lead in the future.  The programme is inspired by Stephen Hawking’s ground breaking work on cosmology, black holes and gravitational waves, and it features researchers from the Hawking Centre and the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge.

The series explores the big questions in contemporary research which are being driven by new observations, such as the recent discovery of gravitational waves. It starts with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, describing how massive objects warp the fabric of spacetime and how they can collapse under their own gravity to form black holes.  It explores how these black holes can send  gravitational waves rippling across spacetime, and what happens if you were to fall into a black hole. The series also describes the violent explosion that marked the beginning of our Universe, and  how the Universe expanded from this initial Big Bang, forming all the structures we observe today – galaxies, stars and planets.  It then probes the mysteries that still puzzle cosmologists, such as dark energy and dark matter.  The series ends with a future outlook of what we might expect to learn from ambitious new observational programmes.  All the basic concepts underlying are presented in an easily accessible manner, and it features stunning graphics, some produced in collaboration with Intel’s Advanced Visualization team.

The series features 17 CTC researchers explaining these remarkable concepts, together with members of the Kavli Institute of Cosmology, Cambrige.  It offers a glimpse of what it's like to work at the cutting edge of cosmology: confronting  sophisticated mathematics with observational data, employing some of the world's fastest supercomputers, and even daring to challenge Einstein's highly successful theory in an attempt to explain what has so far defied explanation. Viewers not only learn about the deepest secrets of our Universe, but also find out about the everyday life of students and staff at a world-leading research centre.

The collaboration between Discovery and the CTC started in 2010. A highlight was  Discovery live-streaming Stephen Hawking's 75th birthday symposium which was a huge success watched by millions, especially among younger members of their audience.  The series was filmed on-site at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences and the Institute of Astronomy and produced with the help of science editors from Plus magazine (plus.maths.org), part of the Faculty’s Millennium Mathematics Project outreach programme. The CTC team worked closely with Navada Studios, who were responsible for the video production, with editorial oversight from Discovery producers. Funding for the project was  provided by the Kavli Foundation, an organisation dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work.

The series will be available from November 2020 on the new discovery+ service that can be found here. 

To find out more about the Hawking Centre, please see ctc.cam.ac.uk

KICC Annual Report 2019

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