Contact:	Bob Nelson					For immediate release
		 (212) 854-5573					 March 25, 1997

Columbia Film Professor, Astronomer Help Shape PBS Series "Mysteries of Deep Space," to Air in April

A new PBS documentary series, "Mysteries of Deep Space," to air in April, lists a Columbia film professor as a producer and the chairman of the Astronomy Department as the film's science advisor. A Columbia College undergraduate helped out with the computer animation. The series, to be shown on three consecutive Mondays, April 14, 21 and 28, is "a much-needed effort to combat public scientific illiteracy," said David Helfand, professor and chairman of astronomy and science advisor to the series. "It can also provide perspective to a society that is increasingly self-centered," he added. "Nihilism is one possible response to grasping one's cosmic insignificance. Another, well described in this series, is a tremendously inspiring sense of the grandeur of the universe and the remarkable fact that our one kilogram of gray matter can apprehend that grandeur in such detail." Larry Engel, professor in the Film Division of the School of the Arts and co- producer and principal cinematographer of the series, traveled to Hawaii, Chile and Australia last year to film astronomers at work at some of the world's leading observatories. A major challenge was to develop a good narrative flow for material that can be somewhat theoretical, even esoteric, he said. But the series conveys the important point that science is now learning more about the universe, and more rapidly, than ever before. "The nature of the universe is really coming into view, and it's exhilarating and wonderful," Professor Engel said. "We're learning how far back we can see in time and what new planets are being explored. We're learning more about our neighborhood." He has produced or co-produced a number of documentary films for PBS, on such topics as hurricanes, tornadoes, the 1988 fires at Yellowstone National Park, underwater archaeology, the fight over Darwinism in American public education and high-tech methods to save endangered species. Professor Engel shares production credit on "Deep Space" with Thomas Lucas, who also directed the films. Both are alumni of the Film Division in Columbia's School of the Arts. The "Deep Space" series makes use of spectacular new photographs of the distant universe taken by the Hubble Space Telescope since it was repaired in 1993. It also shows supercomputer simulations of galaxy collisions and the formation of huge strings of galaxies in the universe. The three segments explore the origins of space and time ("To the Edge of the Universe," April 14), unusual and dramatic astrophysical events ("Exploding Stars and Black Holes," April 21) and the possibility of extraterrestrial life ("The Search for Alien Worlds," April 28). Broadcasts begin at 8 P.M. Eastern time; check local listings. Columbia College student Adam Saper downloaded Hubble images from the Internet, and acquired other images from various astronomical sources, which he placed on a desktop computer in the Engel Brothers Media production studio on West 58th Street in Manhattan. He then constructed zooms, floats, pans, and tilts of the still images, creating two-dimensional animations. "Mysteries of Deep Space" is a production of Engel Brothers Media, Inc. and Thomas Lucas Productions in association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises. Funding was provided by PBS, its viewers and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This document is available at 3.25.97 19,072