History's Mysteries

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The Misplaced Giant Planets
Investigate 51 Pegasi b, the first planet detected around a Sun-like star, which shocked astronomers by being roughly the size of Jupiter but in an orbit much closer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun. Probe the strange characteristics of these "hot Jupiters," which have turned up around…
Stars in Their Courses—Orbital Mechanics
Newton was the first to realize that objects could, in theory, be sent into orbit around Earth. Explore how this works in practice, using the ideas of energy and angular momentum to study how satellites, moons, planets, and stars move through space.
Leonardo: A Dream of Flight
This is a film about Leonardo da Vinci (Brent Carver, Tony Award Winner) who was an Italian Renaissance man of many capabilities and gifts whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. The story begins in…
The Falling Laboratory
Einstein focused on gravity in his general theory of relativity. Hear about his "happiest thought"--the realization that a man in free fall perceives gravity as zero. This simple insight resolved a mystery going all the way back to Newton and led Einstein to the startling discovery that gravity affects light…
Escape Velocity, Energy, and Rotation
Begin the first of several episodes that dig deeper into Newton's laws than Newton himself was able to go. In this episode, apply the key concepts of energy and angular momentum to study how gravity affects motion. As an example, use simple algebra to calculate the escape velocity from Earth.
The Strangest Force
Begin your exploration of gravity with Isaac Newton and the famous story of the apple. Why was it such a breakthrough to connect a falling apple with the faraway moon? Review the essential characteristics of gravity and learn why small asteroids and large planets have such different shapes.
Revolution in the Heavens
Drawing on ideas and observations of Nicolaus Copernicus and Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler achieved a great insight about gravity by discovering three laws of planetary motion, relating to the mathematics of orbits. The cause of planetary motion, he determined, must lie in the sun.
The Art of Experiment
Learn how distances in the solar system were first determined. Then chart Henry Cavendish's historic experiment that found the value of Newton's gravitational constant. Cavendish's work allows almost everything in the universe to be weighed. Then see a confirmation of the equivalence principle, which says that gravitational and inertial mass…
The Rationale for a Space Telescope
Episode 1 of Experiencing Hubble
Begin your exploration of the scientific stories behind 10 of the most fascinating images made by the Hubble Space Telescope. In this episode, learn about Hubble's design and how its operations were almost cut short by a flaw in its mirror, a problem corrected during a space shuttle servicing mission.
The First Decades of Aviation
Part of the Series: The Amazing World of Aviation
The first decades of aviation brought both triumph and tragedy. To fly an early airplane required skill, courage and daring. A new breed of adventurers looked to the heavens for their challenges, and thrilled audiences around the world. The advent of the movie camera meant that their exploits could be…
The Jet Age Takes Off
Part of the Series: The Amazing World of Aviation
The year 1950 was a pivotal year for innovations in air travel, marking the start of the Jet Age after the invention of the jet engine by Frank Whittle some nine years earlier. Airlines began to spring up everywhere, catering to the demands of passengers wanting to go just about…
The Inexplicable Universe - Unsolved Mysteries Series
What do scientists know about the universe? What still remains to be uncovered? What are some of the next avenues of exploration? Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson's course The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries is a marvelous journey to the frontiers of the known (and unknown) universe and introduces you to tantalizing…