Reviewed by David Tumbarello
Middle School Teacher
In this BBC production Brian Cox addresses two important questions: What is the purpose of Earth's atmosphere and how does this atmosphere function compared to other planets? On Earth, the thin strip of gas which makes up our atmosphere, the thin blue line, not only protects us from solar radiation, but it also is responsible for our warmth, keeping oxygen and water down on Earth, and producing the weather. When comparing other heavenly bodies, he uses both computer generated video as well as actual footage from space probes to explain atmosphere throughout our close neighbors in the Solar System.
To make concepts accessible to young viewers, he uses visual aids including a simple Chinese lantern, an airplane ride 12 miles above Earth, and actual footage of the Huygens spacecraft touching down on Titan. The video ends with an extended visit to Titan, the atmosphere–rich satellite of Saturn. In addition to showing the viewer the first images of smooth rocks beyond those of Earth, he provides evidence for a process much like our water cycle, except this time with methane. This 60–minute video is one of five produced by the BBC and the Science Channel and will make a terrific addition to the science classroom.
Review posted on 4/18/2012