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4.7 out of 5 stars278
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 March 2011
This collection combines the five programmes of the "Wonders of the Solar System" BBC television series in 2010 with the more recent four programmes of "Wonders of the Universe".

"Wonders of the Solar System" is not an attempt to match a series such as "The Planets" in its coverage of the solar system. Instead it features a limited collection of facts and objects ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre. One programme is devoted to the sun, with the emphasis on the visual treats afforded by a solar eclipse and the aurora borealis. One programme is devoted to atmospheres - particularly those of the Earth, Mars and the moon Titan - and another explains why some planets and moons have geological activity and others are "dead" worlds. Yet another programme explains the formation of the solar system and the final one looks at the existence of life. During these programmes Cox identified seven specific "wonders" - the sun, the rings of Saturn, the influence of a small moon on the rings, Titan (because of liquid on its surface), Io (because of geological activity), Europa (because there appears to be water beneath the surface), and finally the existence of human beings - against all the odds.

What makes it out of the ordinary is the wonderful CGI, exceptional astronomical photos, exotic locations on Earth, and the infectious enthusiasm of the presenter Brian Cox. And all these qualities re-appear in "Wonders of the Universe". This series was not without its critics. It has been claimed it has little serious science. This is true, but it misses the point. Professor Cox rightly described the series as a "cinematic experience". As for the science, there may not be much depth but the topics covered are very well done and explained very clearly. Everybody watching these DVDs, whether a child or a pensioner, will finish with some understanding of topics ranging from the life and death of the universe and the formation of the elements, to gravity and light. Just as important it is likely to have inspired enthusiasm and a sense of wonder. For that we must thank Brian Cox. The impact he has made with both "Wonders" series can be gauged by the fact he is being called by many "the David Attenborough of astrophysics". High praise indeed.

"Wonders of the Universe" did generate controversy when the first episode was shown. There were numerous complaints that the music was too loud, particularly when Brian Cox was talking. The producers accepted the criticism and reduced the volume for all four programmes in the series when the presenter was speaking. This was welcomed by not only those who dislike the amount of background music in shops and TV programmes, but also by the 8 million people in Britain with a hearing impairment sufficient for them to find difficulty in distinguishing easily between two different and simultaneous noises.

"Wonders" succeeds in doing what it sets out to do and succeeds triumphantly.
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on 6 April 2011
The Wonders Collection [DVD]

This could have been just another well made British doco on the universe. But then there was Professor Brian Cox.

Surely Cosmology, Astronomy and the Physical Science's answer to David Attenborough, this amazingly talented young man with the boy next door looks and charm (almost looks like an older version of Justin Bieber but better looking and more talented by far)who is surprisingly now 43 years old, a professor in Partical Physics through University of Manchester with involvement with CERN in France, holding an O.B.E. and a former keyboard player with D:Ream to boot. He has now fitted in like he belongs to presenting docos on science programs such as Horizon and this clever production in a relaxed, comfortably paced, intelligent and somewhat gentle androgynous style and with the use of clever analogies has made the makings of the universe seem oh so simple.

The visual presentation of the Wonders Collection is comparable to the larger production 'The Universe', but Professor Cox has a style that makes you feel you're sharing his presence in a discussion over a lazy Sunday afternoon afternoon tea...easy going, gently presented, almost begging you to enter the discussion. It is Professor Cox that makes this collection extra special and well worth buying. And if I seem excessively beholden to this young genius, please note I am over 60 and neither gay nor female. But I can appreciate the attractiveness and clever presenting style of this quite brilliant presenter.
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on 14 March 2013
This series explores some of the most challenging and fundamental questions our brains have ever thought about. It manages to explain in a day to day language what is normally for the pleasure of advance thinkers in mathematics and physics. Having a deep understanding of maths, physics and chemistry is in no way a prerequisite to absorbing the beauty of where everything has come from. Evolution of the species is a fascinating and elegant subject with much evidence and weight behind it, but nothing prepared me for how impressed I was towards the advancements in technology, techniques and pure human will to explore astronomy and the cosmos. The filling of these great voids in our knowledge is currently being piled on in spades with good evidence base.

The information appears to be up to date with current advances including the amazing images from the great Hubble Telescope. The animations simulating the places we have not been yet, or for whatever reason can not go are excellent at conjuring up a taste of these inhospitable environments. In turn the statistics these places boast are extraordinary.

Brian Cox is excellent at presenting the information and visibly his passion of the subject is a pleasure to watch. He is elegant and concise in delivery without being cold and monotone but instead warm, happy and clearly moved at times by the wonders of the cosmos.

Finally it was not unusual during the solitary viewing of these discs for me to verbally speak aloud words such as 'No way' or 'What?!' or '####!'..........You get the picture ;)

Now when I look at the sky through binoculars and see those 'little' dots of white or blue or red I have a small knowledge of seeing more than just pin sized dots.
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on 17 June 2011
I bought this after seeing part of it in my physics lesson, because I wanted an interesting way to help me revise for my final exam in astronomy etc.
And not only was it a great revision - and learning - film, I enjoyed it so much I just couldn't stop watching it when I should have been revising for my other exams!
It really opens your eyes to how amazing it is that we even exist. Highly recommended!
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on 5 April 2011
Outside of the now rather dated 'Cosmos' TV series by Carl Sagan; this is simply the best collection of TV programmes about the universe and our place within it. These are both beautiful series and they offer an emotional; awe-inspiring journey firstly around our own solar system and then into the deepest recesses of space and time. What I really like about these programmes are how accessible they are to even the least scientific mind (such as my own). Why science isn't taught like this in schools I don't know...certainly I would have become more switched on if it had.

The BBC decided to tone down the wonderful musical score in the latest series; because some people had complained that it was a distraction. Admittedly, as another review here points out, people with hearing difficulties may well have struggled to hear Brian Cox over some of the music. But I also think the music absolutely adds to the emotional journey that you go on when watching this. It's a fantastic and fitting score to accompany a first-rate series. I'm now a big fan of Brian Cox and I've even started reading cosmology and physics books such as the brilliant "The Hidden Reality' by Brian Greene.

If you want your mind blown, then the Wonders Collection delivers in spades and is a good jumping-off point into further reading on this and similar subjects. 5 stars!
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on 13 June 2011
The box set is exactly what is says on the tin: the complete collection of the Solar System and Universe series in one handy package!
I have a feeling that it will be mainly fans of the shows (like me) who purchase this set, but I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about these wonders in an entertaining as well as instructive way. Everyone is talking about Prof Brian Cox and when you watch these episodes, you will know why. He is clearly an expert in his field but it is his engaging manner and the gentle way he explains such complex topics that has won him admiration from so many. Everyone is also talking about the scope of the production, the cinematography and background score etc. Some say this is distracting and unnecessary but I wholly disagree. Science can be deemed such a 'hard subject' and maybe like me you had some scary science teachers at school who took the edge of your sense of wonder and curiosity. If so then you need to buy this set, sit back and enjoy the visual treat that is The Wonders Collection and simply absorb the 'science stuff' with no effort required.
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on 7 April 2012
I read the book 'Wonders of the Universe' last year and admit to becoming totally baffled by some of the stuff in it. Thankfully, it's all a lot clearer now after watching the dvd version (though I'm still not completely sure about a few things!)

Very informative, very well made with some excellent visuals of neutron stars etc. All the wonders of the solar system and the universe and yummy Brian Cox too!
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on 26 October 2012
this dvd is so interesting and educational. Professor Brian Cox is so enthusiastic , and this comes across in the way he explains everything from the big bang to how stars are born and die.I lent this dvd to my 13 year old stepdaughter to help her with her homework and she loved it and found it really helped to explain things.I think it also helped that Brian Cox is not your stereotypical scientific presenter.
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on 25 May 2011
I ordered this partly as a gift for my 7 year-old son, and also for my husband and myself to watch. (Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2010 we had seen and loved Wonders of the Solar System on UK tv but missed Wonders of the Universe.)The second series does not disappoint, with stunning locations, amazing graphics, fascinating histories and glimpses of the future. Brian Cox's articulation of the physics behind the universe manages to be simplified without being patronising, his enthusiasm and easy-going approach make the understanding of concepts like the law of Entropy possible for anyone who is interested to learn, regardless of their age. A brilliant box-set that will be watched over-and-over in our household, by the kids and the adults.
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on 3 December 2011
I still havent finished watching this DVD set as there are soooo many episodes. This is an awesome explanation about the solar system, and the universe. Brian Cox is so inspiring to watch. If you believe in devine creation, this is not the DVD for you. This explains how the big bang created the universe, and how it very, very, slowly evolved into the universe we see today. If you are unsure about whether you believe in god / creation, or whether you believe science, buy this set and watch in awe as it is explained and all becomes very clear why we are here. I also recommend Stephen Hawkings Universe. But this wonders collection is absolutely amazing, it makes me glad for the BBC licence fee. Good job guys
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