Violent Universe with Carl Sagan Part Two (Restored) | SciWorx Lost Lecture Series

This is part 2 of a restored version of The Violent Universe (1969) featuring a very young Carl Sagan, just 9 years after he earned his PhD. This is a comprehensive report of astronomical theories, research, and discoveries. Visits thirty astronomers at their observatories throughout the world as they discuss pulsars, infrared galaxies, red giants, white dwarfs, cosmic rays, and redshift. Includes a motion picture view of a quasar.

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June 1, 1969 KCET USA/CA Richard Burton reads poems celebrating the wonders of the cosmos in “The Violent Universe .” Discoveries that are revolutionizing astronomy and changing men’s notions of the cosmos are examined in this broadcast of “The Violent Universe.” a two-and-a-half hour program presented by Public Broadcast Laboratory.

The broadcast ranges from observatories in Europe to observatories in Australia, and from an observatory orbiting in space to one sunk a mile underground at the bottom of a gold mine in the South Dakota Badlands. Some 30 distinguished astronomers are seen at work in their observatories. Among them are Sir Bernard Lovell at Jodrell Bank, England; Thomas Gold at the giant Arecibo radiotelescope, high in the hills of Puerto Rico; Bernard Mills hunting pulsars at Mount Stromlo in Australia; Jan Cort at Dwingeloo in Holland; Maarten Schmidt at Palomar; Sir Martin Ryle at Cambridge, England; Tom Kinman at Lick, California; Frank Low in his Lear Jet “observatory” flying his telescope above cloud cover; and Donald Kniffen sending up a gamma-ray tracking chamber in a balloon.

The birth and death of stars, the possibilities of hitherto unknown sources of energy out in the stars, and quasars that act in ways nothing known in physics can explain, are examined by Robert Dicke of Princeton, Jesse Greenstein of Palomar and Mount Wilson, Allan Sandage and Bernard Pagel of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, physicist Philip Morrison of M.I.T., and Richard Henry’, rocket researcher at the United States Naval Research Laboratory.

Did the universe begin in a week’s time, with one explosion, as proponents of the “Big Bang” theory argue, or is it continually expanding in a relatively orderly way through all time, as defenders of the “Steady State” theory maintain? The controversy, which has implications for theology as well as for the movement of man out into space, is described in the broadcast.

The broadcast goes to Japan to visit the home of Tsutomu Seki, the amateur astronomer who teaches classical guitar for a livelihood and who in 1965, with Kaoru Keya, discovered the Ikeya- Seki comet. Featured in the broadcast is a studio reconstruction of a section of the universe, with 100 stars hung in their proper perspective in space.

The astronomical proportions involved in the scale replica are so vast that one foot of studio floor equals three light years—or 18,000,000,000,000 (18 trillion) —miles. The script of “The Violent Universe” was written by Nigel Calder. Narrator is Carl Sagan, professor of astronomy at Cornell, with Robert MacNeil, PBL special correspondent in London who is also a reporter for the BBC.

This 5-part series from has been restored for your viewing pleasure by SciWorx. You are welcome!

The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) satellites were a series of four American space observatories launched by NASA between 1966 and 1972, managed by NASA Chief of Astronomy Nancy Grace Roman. These observatories, including the first successful space telescope, provided the first high-quality observations of many objects in ultraviolet light. Although two OAO missions were failures, the success of the other two increased awareness within the astronomical community of the benefits of space-based observations, and led to the instigation of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by the University of California. It is on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, United States. The observatory is managed by the University of California Observatories, with headquarters on the University of California, Santa Cruz campus, where its scientific staff moved in the mid-1960s. It is named after James Lick.