Skip to main content


Airs Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at 9 p.m. & Wednesday, Aug. 14 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Gailileo's telescope

Credit: Courtesy of Derrick Pitts, Bigger Bang Communications Ltd

Above: Gailileo's telescope

On this episode, meet the brilliant minds throughout history, from Galileo to Edwin Hubble, responsible for creating the telescope.

Today, their invention allows humanity to reach the furthest limits of seeing 13 billion light-years out.

Discovering the Big Bang

In 1923, Edwin Hubble began the manual process of photographing the Andromeda Nebula. He spent many nights at the Hooker telescope collecting data and discovered that Andromeda was not a cluster of stars in our own galaxy but in fact a separate galaxy.

Glass - A New Wonder Material

Learn how clear glass was born - and gave us spectacles almost 800 years ago. Clip from episode 1 of BREAKTHROUGH: THE IDEAS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.

How Far Are the Stars?

How a New York property boom led to the discovery of the distance to the stars.

The Series:

This episode is part of the series BREAKTHROUGH: THE IDEAS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD. Take a mind-blowing journey through human history, told through six iconic objects that modern people take for granted, and see how science, invention and technology built on one another to change everything.


Told through iconic, modern-day objects — the telescope, airplane, robot, car, rocket and smartphone — the series is the culmination of the long-held human dream to explore, communicate and find one’s place in the universe.

Watch On Your Schedule:

This series will be available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast at the time of broadcast - for a limited time only.

Watch all six episodes beginning April 17, 2019 with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

Available on DVD on July 9, 2019  at The series will also be available for digital download. 


A production of Bigger Bang Communications, Ltd. The executive producers are Ben Bowie and Iain Riddick, and the series producer is Tim Green. The series is narrated by Patrick Stewart.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.