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tv   Doc Film - Life behind the Stars  Deutsche Welle  December 30, 2018 8:15pm-9:00pm CET

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we'll have more news at the top of the hour and a reminder you can find all the latest headlines and information around the clock on our website that's d.w. dot com i'm rebecca richards thanks for watching. we make up over three quarters of a fix that hundred thirty five we are the civil services. they want to shape the continent's future that's part of it and join us youngsters as they share their stories their dreams one hundred jumps to seventy seven percent w.'s platform from africa charter plane.
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our son is a second or third generation star it evolved out of the gas and dust that remain off the oldest asked don lemon everything that surrounds us all living beings the air we breathe the water we drink is composed of atoms that were formed inside stops playing. we are essentially stardust. that concept suggests that there may be life elsewhere in the universe to. me.
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but this is some sure maybe incomplete recent research has brought amazing revelations to light the role that stars play is far greater than previously thought. stars not only provide asms the basic materials that make up living beings they may also be responsible for the origin development and extension of life throughout the universe. how can such distant stars influence our lives. and. we embarked on a journey taking in some of the world's top research facilities to try to find an invisible natural phenomenon of cosmic rays. it's an exciting world where astronomy meets particle physics and biology. but the cosmic rays may provide the connection
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between life and the most distant stars. of star supply more than just the matter from which we are made. our journey begins in southern europe this is color alter a german spanish observatory in the south of spain. the region's sunny and dry climate office i. conditions for skies scientists
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undergo heart awareness here as an astrophysicist and after a look at the market got out of money use the telescopes here at color alto to find out what stars are made of and which elements are currently being created in the stars for a while and they get. this reflecting telescope collects visible and infrared starlight. telescopes like this played a key role in astronomy in the twentieth century and health scientists to confirm that stars don't live for ever. if they are so off the dock a wealthy and stories are constantly evolving they're born they live and they die the same thing will happen to our sun it's now middle aged and in five billion years it will die. the universe has a wealth of regions where hydrogen and other heavier atoms accumulate. these are
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special places where one of the most beautiful phenomena in astronomy can be observed the actual birth of stars. and stars are formed from dust and gas clouds that accumulate due to gravity. waves and they build up a bond that eventually generates so much energy that the most elementary atoms the hydrogen atoms join together. and they form more complex out. of the lock onto. the immense energy of the stars enables the creation of new heavier atoms through nuclear fusion elements such as helium carbon hydrogen silicon and ion are produced in gigantic stellar furnace is.
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a mass of stars that are at the end of their lives explode as supernovas releasing all these atoms into space. the resulting stardust and gas form the raw materials for new stars and planetary systems. exploding stars also released large amounts of high energy particles known as cosmic rays atomic particles that are holed into space at almost the speed of light . but there's a problem with finding out more about cosmic rays telescopes such as those in color all to contract the light that comes from stars light is energy in the form of photons humans can also observe this optical spectral range on a limited scale. the by most telescopes built in the twentieth century contract photons some examine visible or infrared light and. well as
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longwave radiation such as radio waves or short wave radiation such as x. rays. the but for all the sophistication none of these telescopes can detect cosmic radiation. to detect these elusive particles scientists need additional options using the very latest technology and developing new approaches to astronomy. mendosa province in western argentina next to the andes mountains is home to the p.f. observatory the largest facility of its kind in the world. the site covers an area the size of six hundred thousand soccer pitches and is located in one of the
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flattest and most remote regions of south america. scientists are able to detect and measure cosmic rays. this is a spark chamber a device for detecting electrically charged particles. when a charged particle passes through the chamber it triggers a flash of light this shows the path of the particle the possibles have so much energy that they cross the chamber with ease. but the spot in there is not very efficient many of the particles whizzing around and into us do not show up here. and no one in the lab is sending particles into the chamber wherever it is and stored in the deserts and the ocean in cities at the equator or the new. south pole
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the chamber shows charged particles everywhere. there should be no more was if you want to be free of too soon or too too hard to define them as anything. in the surface of the earth you resubmitted to use should usually just coming from outer space. the charges that we can see in the stock taber are cosmic rays they're not light rays they're subatomic particles tiny building blocks of matter that come from outer space almost at the speed of light. they're enormous energy allows them to reach the earth's surface where they hit just about everyone and everything. but they're invisible outside the starting grid least. at the beginning of the twentieth century scientists opened the door to an unknown
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and highly mysterious world the in a structure of atoms. they found electrons protons and a range of new subatomic particles. but something strange happened in their experiments. it made scientific history as ron shell out explains. everything to relearn from science began to realize that they must always civil. thing i mean the chair of leave. this simple electra scope had two metal plates hanging on abroad as soon as electrical voltage was applied to the rod the plates moved to pass because they had the same type of charge. the waste of the plates pushed them back into their original position but they ought to have remained disconnected from each other because of their electrical repulsion. the scientists were astonished to find that
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the plates began to discharge for no discernible reason regardless of how the experiment was carried out in the end they always returned to their original position. by the beginning of for end of the last nineteenth century claim to century scientists realize that nature. has. some of these elements release charged particles that could explain the rep at discharge of the plates perhaps some stuff in the atmosphere in the floor and it was. riveting which is essentially charge particles and this is what was provoking the. slowly could shove charge from.
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electrostatic object is. a reasonable explanation if the radioactive elements were the problem all you'd have to do was conduct experiments under isolated conditions . in one thousand the leavened german physicist who would of both climbed the eiffel tower carrying an advanced electra scope to test this theory. but the device discharged faster than before so isolation was evidently not the solution. whatever led to the discharge it didn't come from earth. in nine hundred twelve austrian physicist victor hess carried out a daring experiment. but what it did was to put a lot of scope in a balloon where i mean it was quite a feat because he went back to something like five thousand meters. the first
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thousand meters a bit far. sitting in the little basket them and probably a little bit frightening but science is a little bit like that i mean. there is always a short at the very nature associated with. his observations surprised everyone. ok how you see what the movie the show you weren't sure you meant that whatever effects was causing that you got human stronger he went more far away from. the radiation evidently did not come from earth scientists would have to look some way further afield for the source. that eventually led to the study of cosmic rays. nearly one hundred years later that were continues here at the p.f. observatory. you.
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mr physicist pavane muckluck tells us what makes the facilities so special. if you want to know what is out there in the skies to start with what you can see with your own eyes you investigate the visible. in the past century with we've built big telescopes to investigate also the radio portion of the electromagnetic radiation and satellites which investigate the nature of violence. but if you focus only on the electromagnetic radiation you're missing on a big part of information which is actually coming to us from space. scientists who study cosmic rays are not looking for the light that comes from space they're looking for particles. ninety percent of these particles are pro.
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tons nuclei off the hydrogen atom most of the rest are helium nuclei which one percent comprising electrons and heavy and nuclei such as iron ore nitrogen. based on their energy we can roughly categorize the cosmic rays into three main contenders we have low energy governor's race which are coming from the sun. mostly because it's so close then we have the middle range of energies where our cosmic rays coming from within our galaxy and there is a good evidence that these cosmic rays are coming from cheaper now by which are these massive explosions of stars. finally in the very very highest energies we believe the cosmic rays are coming from outside our galaxy and there is a theory that actually they're coming from what we call active the lactic nuclei which are centers of the galaxies with very hard star for me. the
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energy cosmic rays of the sun produce one of the most beautiful natural phenomena on. the aurora borealis or northern lights in the northern hemisphere and the rural strong in the southern hemisphere. what happens to these government rates depends on how much energy to carry if you have these low energy kaufman grace for example those which come from the sun they are mostly shielded by the magnetic field of the earth so they follow the field lines of the magnetic fields and end up in the north and south polar regions where you can see them as the magnificent norton might. but there is also does are a kind of cosmic rays those very high energy at cosmic rays which just go through
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the magnetic field and doesn't care about it at all. the northern lights are impressive but the phenomenon that releases the most energy rich cosmic rays is even more stunning. the unusual thing about this radiation is stars unfortunately we can't see it so dece get into the atmosphere and hit a molecule of air. and on the interaction it creates more particles which are going in random direction it's like a train collision so before all the cars of the train are going in a single direction and after a collision each car goes in a slightly different. so you take these particles from the interaction of the primary cosmic rays and these particles are immortal so you have more particles and more interactions and eventually you have this because kate
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of particles trillions of them. which are going through. the only difference between the polar nights and these particle showers is the energy content of the respective cosmic rays. the particles that come from the sun have a low energy level and are diverted from the earth's magnetic field to the poles. in the added layer is of the honesty here they energise gases like oxygen nitrogen and helium when the gases return to their normal state they missed photons that we know as a war ends. the earth's magnetic field however cannot deflect the most energy rich particles cosmic rays from other stars reach our atmosphere all around the globe creating a particle shower comprising millions of particles. the creation and
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destruction of particles takes place almost at the speed of light most of them are absorbed by the atmosphere some of them actually. reach the ground so what you can do you can just put the palm of your hand and. a couple of particles going. and these are the particles we can call it was a surface we took our ass. am one thousand six hundred sixty tanks make up a surface detector at the pier zero zero observatory. all of them up to with water . the detector covers an area of fifty by sixty kilometers it's the largest observatory ever built. when cosmic rays reach the earth's surface here they registered by the water tanks a single cosmic ray can produce a particle shalah that stretches over several square kilometers and
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a small tennessee detected by different containers. but it's not the only way how we can figure out the showers are actually. when the particles go from the atmosphere inside the molecules. so you have designer g. stored in the air molecules which is later shown as a light so if your eye was more sensitive you could see a flash of light going through the sky in another flash another four because our eyes are not sensitive enough we need to use so-called fluorescent detectors which take a movie of the sky very very fast move your discovery. and. esther physicist rochelle out shows us one of the fluorescence detectors.
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there are four buildings like this one on the observatory site. ok we just arrived here at the florescent actually called mostly only. if you look at this map we are is circling this point here we have three out there want to call which and so on on this part of the mapped on the west of the area the other one is more of those which is year on the east side of. the site and then you have my reader which is where you go to court in the north. barth you have all the one thousand six hundred sixty which makes the surface look. inside and only at night the instruments collect the faint light that's produced by
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the cosmic rays. behind these windows several mira's guide light on to the highly sensitive electronic detectors. they can detect a small light bulb from a distance of more than thirty kilometers. the full fluorescents detectors observe the sky above the network of water tanks. particle showers can therefore be examined at the same time by the surface and fluorescents detectors with very high accuracy this is what makes the world's largest cosmic radiation observatory so effective. path the study of astro particles is still a very young science we now know that high energy particles bombard us relentlessly
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but do these particles actually impact on our lives. and could cosmic rays provide the link between life on earth and distant stars. we continue our journey to find the answers to those questions. to understand the connection between cosmic rays and life we visit the studies center for astrobiology and madrid. it works closely with nasa the u.s. space agency. give more money u.s. cargo uses this vacuum chamber to create conditions like those found in space. he wants to find out how the building blocks of life are created. the vacuum chamber
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is designed to simulate phenomena like the clouds of gas and dust between the stars these clouds are huge and consist mostly of hydrogen plus tiny carbon silicon dust particles. and then lost those dense molecular clouds contain hydrogen and dust the dust just surrounded by a sheet of ice the ice consists mostly of water but also of other molecules such as carbon monoxide carbon dioxide or ammonia. the accumulation of gas and dust prevents radiation from neighboring stars from penetrating the clowned but there is one thing in space that has no problem breaking through to the deepest and coldest regions. the energy of the cosmic rays is so high that it can penetrate the dense interior of dark cold clouds. and something completely unexpected is taking place in this hostile environment.
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in this extreme environment where the temperature is near absolute zero we've discovered molecular precursors of life. these are good molecules. they're responsible for the formation of amino acids and sugars you know if you are most implacable i believe you know you come in both of us were lucky enough to produce. the energy of cosmic rays discharges via these molecules the first building blocks of life are formed in this chemical concoction. so cosmic rays produce complex molecules in dense clouds of gas and dust. but how do these molecules end up on a planet. stars
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and planets are born in dense clouds but during this process the temperature is so high that none of the fossil molecules could survive they are able to live for a very long time on astroids and comets however. as long as these small celestial bodies keep their distance from high temperatures the molecules are protected. does make razor a double edged sword. firstly they create more complex molecules from simple molecules such as water ammonia or carbon monoxide. but they can also be destructive since only the surface of a large celestial body is exposed to radiation the complex molecules inside are
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preserved. millions of asteroids collide with planets where the environment is reasonably stable many of those asteroids have the building blocks of life on board. a lot of people. here writes parts of astro. have landed on earth contain almost one hundred different i mean no acids . that's impressive compared to the twenty i mean no assets that are the building blocks of all life. proof of course so a unique space mission was launched the european space agency. and the research of. ten year. managed to place a probe on a comet. the probe bounced off three times.
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but we were also lucky that bounces created clouds of dust and some of it ended up on one of the probes measuring instruments. that had accidentally picked up by that instrument revealed sixteen organic molecules some of these are fundamental to the life. this is a universal phenomenon we're not just talking about our own solar system we've discovered more than a thousand extra solar planets many of them resemble earth. comets and asteroids contribute to life on our planet. with other planets to. the starting position would be similar so life could be viewed at a cosmic level. far
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away from. me crazy molecules that are in. sensual for mind. but what about the radiation that meets his planet. and. does it have a recognizable impact on life here. to find out what effect cosmic rays have on our atmosphere we travel to switzerland to meet physicist jasper kirkby. the atmosphere is crucial for life on earth it holds the temperature about thirty degrees warmer than if there were no there was no atmosphere at all that's the greenhouse
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gases carbon dioxide and water it also provides of course the oxygen that we breathe and the carbon dioxide that drives photosynthesis together with the sun. is that created seawater moved through the atmosphere before it reaches the mainland. this is the bourses cycle. when you look at the earth's atmosphere from space from the space station you see this thin blue line on the curve of it's a humbling experience when you realize how important it is for us to continue on earth and how tell us it's just held down by gravity what if it would just disappear you know fluff. these day of our planet has been defined by mass extinctions all these events had
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a common cause the atmosphere losing its ability to sustain life. dust and gases released by the chemical reactions all the impact of meteorites made the atmosphere hostile to life. so it's clear that the out of the sphere is crucial for a life but there's something. that's behind the atmosphere that's driving it that's causing all the processes that are important. so the sun drives. processes in the atmosphere by lightening the sun's light comes and falls on the land or falls on the oceans and warms them up so it warms up the land surface and that warms the air above it and circulates the air and transports energy and papers from the earth throughout the atmosphere.
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for years now scientists have been seeing parallels between solar activity and climate fluctuations on earth. so the sun is. the main driver of the of the processes in the atmosphere but what's interesting and what's not well understood at the moment and it's a very new line of thought is that the distance stars the cousins of our sun are also it looks like responsible for some very important processes in the atmosphere . and this is the researchers area of focus at the european organization for nuclear research or send in switzerland. it's also home to the famous l h c particle accelerator the cloud experiment is also based here.
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so here we are in an experimental hall at the at cern. and if these concrete blocks magnets conducts protons into the cloud chamber. scientists simulate the composition and conditions of different atmospheres and observe how they react to ionizing particles. not what you see about silver so in the town there. it's actually the thermal housing that surrounds the cloud chamber the chamber itself is three metre chamber is inside of. it's a very special chamber because it's the cleanest chamber in the world in fact it's the only chamber where we can do these experiments. chamber
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has to remain absolutely sterile in order to carry out experiments with gas mixtures the slightest impurities could cause problems. now the importance of the particle beam is there to provide some adjustable source of cosmic rays if you were to do these experiments in the atmosphere you would have no control over the cosmic rays the passing through. when not allowed to enter the chamber because of the sterile conditions. but we are allowed to look at the chamber from below the through through through from here the gases are fed in to simulate different types of atmospheres. through. what you see here was a lot of false with the gases for the cloud chamber into the chamber itself but
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there are a number of different gases here sulfur dioxide ammonia a means by gently vapors each of these has been identified as being precursor vapors that may lead to the formation of aerosol particles in the atmosphere which can then grow to become the seeds for cloud droplets. but what two protons from the particle accelerator have to do with the gas mixture. how can these that if a cosmic ray goes through it leaves a trail of violation of those ions helped facilitate the formation of the embryonic seeds to help stabilize these. little particles and some cosmic rays may have an effect on the formation of embryonic seeds which they can grow to become if you study suits for quadruplets. it's a phenomenal discovery. if cosmic rays are important for the formation of clouds
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then they are also important for the development of life on earth. flounce play a crucial role in the long term evolution of the planet's climate. this is a direct connection between cosmic rays and the conditions that can produce life. investigating that no unclouded we don't have any real research into seeing that it does happen to certain circumstances but we're by no means ready we're not finished . that's why we're doing experiments we still have many questions to answer. it's not yet possible to say how far it all cosmic radiation is for cloud formation but there's another climate phenomenon that's clearly related to cosmic rays it is perhaps decisive for the development of complex molecules on promise of planets the precious energy source for the evolution of the first molecules of life.
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this is connected with something called the global electrical circuit. about a hundred kilometers above the earth you see on a sphere cosmic rays float rain through the atmosphere and this causes a weak current to keep the flow from the arms for you down to ground. if you will be alone by cosmic rays. cosmic rays that cross the atmosphere creates a conductive path for lightning discharges. the really important role. he's played he really i'm paying more in cosmic rays because without cost me police would be much worse right here to potential cause we're a sort of very tightly connected with the globe electricity.
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cosmic rays and the lightning flashes produced by them may be responsible for the molecular primordial soup that led to the creation of life on earth. the stars of the fortunes that made the atoms that we've made off on our local star the sun has provided this goldilocks environment that has allowed us to bring. water to exist on the earth and has allowed life to flourish and people to develop . and we've learned that the stars may not of abundant us we're just making our up to believe continue to look over us through cosmic rays out there in the milky way there is a supernova exploding every fifty years or so this is painting the milky way and on
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our earth with these cosmic rays these cosmic rays have been affecting life as well continuously since the beginning of the earth they've been affecting the formation of lightning affecting almost certainly the formation of aerosol particle seeds for clouds and also causing the steady mutation of d.n.a. that once life is started allowed the complexity of life human beings to develop. and that insight brings us to the final stage of our research trip and disturbing connection between cosmic rays and life on earth. this connection provides a link between the most violent phenomena in the universe. the genetic information that flows through all our cells. we're here to meet eduardo gonzalez pastore a researcher at the astor biological center in madrid. london. which
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is not a field of life on earth began about three point eight billion years ago since then b.f. has undergone a number of changes that have affected the composition of gases in the atmosphere and the oceans. the earth and there are many temperature fluctuations and the natural radiation intensity has also changed in spite of all this life to cold and spread all over the planet your culture you go it's. all forms of life have one thing in common even in the simplest organisms there is a molecule in every cell that enables the transfer of information from one generation to the next to create new life. in the nearly got another fill of this couple and it's used in every cell of this
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plant contains d.n.a. molecule to. store all of the genetic information that's required for the formation of an organism. in africa here they're used to produce a plant. if you want if you're sick. but the copies that are passed on from one generation to the next are not identical during the inheritance process eris and changes take place in the molecular structure these are called mutations. these small scale changes have made possible the great diversity of life as we know it today was mckinney's more recently. the mechanisms of d.n.a. replication are not perfect. and often lead to aero support that i mean it's just enough intersex there are also external factors that can modify the d.n.a. molecules logic with them well if you like this include toxic chemical six or radiation and i will accomplish those chemical talks he goes on to show
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a lot of you feel. all living beings are exposed to natural sources of radiation rocks and minerals contain traces of potassium uranium saurian and other radioactive elements long and itself are no scientific study has been able to demonstrate the possible effects of cosmic rays on evolution. but now scientists have the technology to do that. in a field are complex you have not in the finished with very complex we have to compared to me tayshaun rate of many generations on the field first without cosmic rays and then with the normal radiation levels on earth from the furnace it was atomic the color. me turkish is pretty good understatement. the study of cosmic rays is a new and exciting field of research. and one that promises to produce
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extraordinary insights in the years to come. love. your max highlights. oh that's the best. three can just never get enough last. line stuff i. know how knights oh. it's the first. w. .
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this is d.w. news live from berlin national elections today in two countries where democracy has struggled to take root in africa the democratic republic of congo votes in what could be the country's first peaceful transfer of power but who will succeed strong . polls are starting to close we'll get the latest from our correspondent in pinched.


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