Strangest Things

The Universe
Season 3
12 episodes
See below for purchasing options
DVD & Blu-ray
"The Universe" episode no. 42 (season 3)
  • written and directed by Laura Verklan Armstrong
  • edited by Kevin Browne and Motoshi Wakabayashi
  • science consultants Dr. Alex Filippenko & Dr. Amy Mainzer

  • narrated by Erik Thompson
  • Main Title Theme and Original Music by Eric Amdahl
  • Flight 33 Productions, (c) 2008 A & E TV Networks
  • 1 documentary @ 44 minutes

Data Capsule Review

by Martin Izsak

This episode contains a collection of odd astronomical subject matter, as several of the regular contributors to the series all try to think of the strangest phenomena and weirdest concepts they've encountered.

Although the chapter list advertises exoplanets, this episode only discusses the 3 planets discovered around a pulsar 900 light years away in the Virgo constellation, and goes on and on about how their existence seems to be inexplicable. Fascinating stuff, but conspicuous by its absence once more is any explanation how our science detected planets so far away before we had learned to discover hot jupiters and other exoplanets through star-wobble or transit techniques.

Though some segments repeat topics that are covered more extensively in other episodes of this series, pretty much every segment is fascinating and most bring out new aspects of the phenomena discussed. Segments on Miranda, Toutatis, and the direction of Nikola Tesla's research were particular highlights for me.

The segments on neutrinos and dark matter / dark energy were my least favourites. I'm still too sceptical of our assumption of the uniformity of type 1A supernovas throughout the universe and their subsequent use as "standard candles" for estimating distances. If disproved, this could bring down with it theories such as "the big rip", the ever-expanding universe, and dark matter / dark energy theories as well.

Topics discussed include:

  • beer nebulas & alcohol clouds
  • life in the upper atmosphere of Venus?
  • Planet X and the Kuiper Belt drop-off (Kuiper Cliff)

  • The 3 pulsar planets 900 LY away in Virgo
  • The pulsar and magnetar types of neutron stars
  • Tesla coils

  • Neutrinos
  • The Earth-crossing asteroid Toutatis from the Maldek belt.
  • Miranda, moon of Uranus.

  • ULIRGS: Ultra-Luminous Infra-Red Galaxies
  • theoretical microscopic black holes
  • the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland

  • dark matter & dark energy

The exoplanet count was up to nearly 300 at the time of this episode.

from the disc sleeve:

Strangest Things:
Scientists expose the most bizarre, mysterious, and exotic things in our universe, casting their votes for the weirdest planets, stars, galaxies, moons, clouds, subatomic particles, black holes, and invisible phenomenon.

Chapter List:

  1. Introduction
  2. Molecular Clouds
  3. Exoplanets (actually just 3 Virgo pulsar planets)
  4. Neutrinos
  5. Ulirgs
  6. Dark Matter

Participants include:

Amy Mainzer

NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratories

Alex Filippenko

University of California, Berkeley

leads a team that has found over 600 supernovae in one decade through automated intergalactic scanning.

Michelle Thaller

Astronomer, NASA / CALTECH

Laura Danly

Curator of the
Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

Michael Mischna

NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratories

This documentary has become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Click on the amazon symbol for your area to open amazon's page in a new window and see additional product information before purchasing.

The Universe
Season 3 Box Set
12 episodes



Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


Continue through "The Universe" with our Season Three Rankings

Home Page Site Map Sci-Fi Astronomy "Cosmos" "The Universe" Episode Guide Catalogue