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'This programme deals with the expansion of the universe. This is one of the greatest scientific predictions made this century, although its discovery came to us through the optical observations of... receeding galaxies made at the Flagstaff Observatory in Arizona and at the Mount Wilson Observatory in southern California. The theoretical framework for the expanding universe is provided by Einstein's general theory of relativity and this programme shows the interplay of the theoretical prediction and the observational discoveries involved in the expanding Universe story. If we accept that the universe is expanding, then this raises fundamental questions about the future of the universe.The theoretical possibilities are a continuing expansion or one that comes to a halt and is followed by a contraction, and at this stage the observations are indecisive.'
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: S354, Understanding space and time
Item code: S354; 14
First transmission date: 12-09-1979
Published: 1979
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:36
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Producer: Andrew Crilly
Contributors: George Abell; Alan Cooper
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Bentley; Cosmology; Doppler; Einstein; Expanding universe; Flagstaff Observatory Arizona; Humason; Newton; Relativity; Wilson Observatory California
Footage description: Still photo of Milton Humason. Shots of the exterior of the Mt. Wilson Observatory and some of the surrounding country. Commentary by George Abell introduces the programme. Over shots of the Mt. Wilson telescope, shots of a spectrum of light from a remote galaxy, and of some of the equipment used by Humason analyse the light from galaxies, Abell explains how Humason studied the motion of galaxies. Shots of a girl playing the flute and of the corresponding sound spectrum. These deomonstrate the Doppler effect. An animated diagram is also shown. Over shots of Newton, of the Bishop's Palace at Worcester, and of correspondence between Newton and the Rev. Richard Bentley, Alan Cooper explains the cosmological views of the 17th century particularly on gravitational stability in an infinite universe. Still shots of Einstein, Friedman and Lemaitre. Shots of Lemaitre's 1927 paper. Commentary explains how these scientists arrived at the conclusion that even an infinite universe is not gravitationally stable. George Abell, at the 24 inch Flagstaff Observatory, tells how Vestal Slipher, working under the direction of Percy Lowell, came up with experimental evidence that the universe as a whole is expanding. Abell goes on to state Hubble's Law for the velocity of galaxies. But this observatory, Alan Cooper, at Caltech and with the aid of an animated diagram, explains how Hubble's Law ties up with the cosmological principle. Cooper, again with the aid of an animated graph, demonstrates how a Hubble plot for galaxies in the distant past differs from more recent plots. He points out that this could offer a clue to the future of the universe. Finally, George Abell at the Hale reflector of the Palomar Observatory, discusses some of the difficulties in interpreting the evidence which should indicate the future of the Universe.
Master spool number: DOU2903
Production number: FOUS075J
Videofinder number: 2046
Available to public: no