In this episode, astrophysicists and astrobiologists visit
a wide variety of alien worlds, extrapolating from what they know
to try to think of the most bizarre lifeforms that may have developed
on such worlds.
Although it is somewhat disappointing that it is all fiction, this
speculation is remarkably well-detailed and rendered beautifully
with plentiful CGI.
David Aguilar seems to be the primary voice of this episode,
and he describes the places and creatures with a serious
"Now, you'd better write this down"-style conviction that most
other scientists don't even apply to real facts, which makes
the fictional aspect that much more bizarre. But, these theoretical
planets and lifeforms also appear to be well-known amongst scientists,
as Craig Freudenrich is equally serious about the same ones,
in much more understated fashion.
Personally, I find it quite refreshing to start with such a solid
scientific base and then let the imagination run wild for
alien worlds and strange lifeforms. More sci-fi writers should
try this, before it becomes a lost art form.
Thankfully, some of the usual contributors to "The Universe"
are also on hand to balance the information and remind us of
the importance of having such template models in mind as we
search for those real exoplanets that might meet required
conditions to give rise to some of these wild forms of life.
Theoretical worlds explored include:
- Eronel (tidally locked around a red dwarf star)
- AG143 (big ringed desert with 3x gravity, F-type star)
- GPC925 (low gravity marsh planet)
- Europa (the only real world in the episode)
- Aner'Bas (ice-ocean moon orbiting gas giant Yeneer G)
- Gaia'Leo (machine planet building a Dyson sphere)
from the disc sleeve:
Armed with scientific fact and a little imagination, scientists, astrobiologists
and astronomers create five lines of extraterrestrial evolution, and explain how
creatures on the surface of Earth can help us understand life on other planets.
- Life Beyond Earth
- What They'd Look Like
- World with Lower Gravity
- Water World