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Arts & Culture

GENIUS BY STEPHEN HAWKING: Are We Alone?

Volunteers Sian Proctor and Will Watremez operate a telescope and lumens meter to detect changes in light frequency.
Courtesy of Bigger Bang / Mik Bakalarz
Volunteers Sian Proctor and Will Watremez operate a telescope and lumens meter to detect changes in light frequency.

Airs Wednesday, May 18 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

In each of six episodes, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking presents three ordinary people with a series of physical and mental challenges to show them how to think like a genius. GENIUS BY STEPHEN HAWKING will air on PBS Wednesdays, May 18-June 1, 2016.

Volunteers Sian Proctor, Will Watremez and Lindsay Ip stand in front of a digger used in the stars in the galaxy demo.
Courtesy of Bigger Bang / Mik Bakalarz
Volunteers Sian Proctor, Will Watremez and Lindsay Ip stand in front of a digger used in the stars in the galaxy demo.
Volunteers Lindsay Ip and Sian Proctor look at a grain of sand which represents a single star.
Courtesy of Bigger Bang / Mik Bakalarz
Volunteers Lindsay Ip and Sian Proctor look at a grain of sand which represents a single star.
Volunteers in front of measuring equipment during the sound in space demo.
Courtesy of Bigger Bang / Mik Bakalarz
Volunteers in front of measuring equipment during the sound in space demo.

“Do you need to be a genius to answer the big questions?” said Prof. Stephen Hawking. “I’m very pleased to be back on the air for PBS and National Geographic International with GENIUS – a project that furthers my lifelong aim to bring science to the public. It’s a fun show that tries to find out if ordinary people are smart enough to think like the greatest minds who ever lived. Being an optimist, I think they will.”

Through the use of large-scale experiments and remarkable demonstrations, the program decodes the mysteries of evolutionary biology, astrophysics and quantum mechanics, solving questions like “Why am I here?,” “Are we alone?” and “Can we travel through time?” Each episode features three people with curious minds who must use their own intellect to learn what humanity’s most notable thinkers have discovered about the greatest scientific mysteries over the centuries.

GENIUS takes its participants (and viewers at home) back in time – to ancient Greece, where Eratosthenes calculated the Earth’s circumference – and to more recent history and such thinkers as Edward Hubble, who uncovered and established the distances between our planet and the vast galaxies throughout the universe.

Episode 2: “Are We Alone?” airs Wednesday, May 18 at 10 p.m. - Join Professor Stephen Hawking as he challenges three ordinary people to work out the likelihood of alien life out there in the universe. See why the team has their minds blown in a way they were never expecting.

Stephen Hawking is on Facebook.

GENIUS BY STEPHEN HAWKING is produced by Bigger Bang, which also produced the science films “Hubble’s Cosmic Journey” and “Mission Pluto” for PBS and National Geographic Channels International. Bigger Bang’s Ben Bowie and Iain Riddick serve as the series’ executive producers.