Segments in this Video

Expanding Astronomy Perceptions (03:24)


This film will explore Nicolaus Copernicus’ heliocentric diagram and the Pioneer Space Probe plaque of life on earth.

Recognizing Copernicus (02:04)

A Polish village lies to rest the remains of the founder of modern astronomy. Learn how his solar system discoveries challenged 16th century religious and common wisdom.

Heliocentric Diagram (02:16)

Copernicus was afraid to publish his revolutionary model of the solar system; view his unfinished notes and calculations.

Questioning Ptolemaic Astronomy (03:20)

Although he accurately identified earth's double spin and orbit movement, Copernicus was reluctant to publish his heliocentric diagram because he couldn't explain gravity.

Rejecting Geocentric Cosmology (03:07)

Learn how Copernicus' heliocentric theory questioned Ptolemy's astronomy model and Aristotle's physics system—accepted as truth in medieval Europe.

Copernicus' Faith Crisis (01:44)

The heliocentric model undermined Biblical scripture—considered heresy by the Church. Learn how he balanced duties to the Frombork Cathedral with scientific work.

Depicting the Solar System (04:12)

Copernicus used an armillary sphere and recalculated 1,000 years of astronomy data to test his heliocentric theory. Learn how his diagram formed the basis of modern cosmology.

Publishing the Heliocentric Theory (01:53)

In 1540, Georg Rheticus convinced Copernicus to print his work. According to legend, he saw the proofs just before he died.

Reaction to Copernicus' Theory (04:14)

Due to Church censorship, it wasn't until Newton's Law of Gravity that Copernicus' work was accepted. His remains were discovered in 2008; he is now buried in the Frombork Cathedral.

Pioneer 10 Mission (01:45)

In 1972, a space probe was launched to photograph Jupiter and its moons before traveling beyond the solar system. A plaque was attached depicting earth's location and human life.

Designing the Pioneer Plaque (03:49)

Learn how a diagram etched on gold plated aluminum depicts earth's position in the solar system and human figures. The artists assume binary mathematics and drawing are universal languages.

Pulsar Map (02:26)

Carl Sagan and Frank Drake designed the Pioneer plaque. Drake explains how they used binary pulsar units to depict earth's position in the solar system.

Universal Time and Distance Units (01:43)

Drake and Sagan assumed the language of science and mathematics is common in technological civilizations. Drake explains how they devised a measurement system from hydrogen atom wavelengths.

Cosmic Exploration Movement (02:45)

Sagan presents the Pioneer plaque in a 1972 interview. Learn how science fiction literature inspired him as a child; he believed the U.S. was entering an age of universal discovery.

Depicting Human Life Forms (03:56)

Linda Sagan describes drawing a man and woman with multicultural features for the Pioneer plaque. Questions were raised about the female figure appearing submissive to the male.

Pioneer Plaque Controversy (02:25)

As the space probe launch approached, the American public was skeptical about the diagram; naked humans offended some members of Congress.

Pioneer 10 Launch (01:06)

In 1972, the space probe traveled through the Asteroid Belt and sent photos of Jupiter. Leaving the solar system in 1984, it hasn't been heard of since 2003.

Voyager Golden Record (02:06)

Sagan and Drake continued depicting human life after the Pioneer plaque. In 1977, they developed an audio recording of speech and nature sounds. Drake believes both messages will outlive earth.

Credits: Copernicus and Pioneer Plaque: Beauty of Diagrams (00:28)

Credits: Copernicus and Pioneer Plaque: Beauty of Diagrams

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Copernicus and Pioneer Plaque: The Beauty of Diagrams

Part of the Series : The Beauty of Diagrams
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



In 1543, a diagram drawn by a Polish priest revealed to the world a new idea which forever changed our understanding of the cosmos and our place in it: the concept of a sun-centric universe. A plaque was put aboard the unmanned Pioneer space probe in 1972 to communicate fundamental facts about Earth and its inhabitants to life on other planets. How did a single diagram fit everything in? A part of the series The Beauty of Diagrams. A BBC production.

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: BVL57436

ISBN: 978-0-81609-335-9

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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