PBS' premiere science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines. Along the way, it demystifies science and technology and highlights people involved in scientific pursuits.
Ben Franklin's Balloons (#4117H) Duration: 55:31 STEREO TVPG
The first stage in the adventure of human flight began with daring inventors and aeronauts in 18th-century Paris, where a handful of brilliant and colorful pioneers developed all the essential features of today's hot air and gas balloons. Their exploits fascinated Benjamin Franklin, who was serving in Paris as the American ambassador. To explore this burst of innovation, Nova re-creates key flights, including the world's first manned voyage on November 21, 1783. A descendant of the Montgolfier brothers, who invented the hot-air balloon, will join a team to build an accurate replica of the fragile paper and canvas craft using 18th-century tools and materials. Nova evokes the thrilling and daunting prospect that the balloon pioneers faced as they left Earth for the first time.
First Air War (#4118H) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-V
When World War I began in 1914, the air forces of the opposing nations consisted of handfuls of rickety biplanes from which pilots occasionally took pot shots at one another with rifles. By 1918, the fighter had become an efficient killing machine with a growing strategic impact on the outcome of the war. With the help of aviation buffs dedicated to bringing back classic WWI fighters, Nova joins the team as they uncover the secrets of some of aviation's most colorful and deadly early flying machines and explores how their impact played a key role in the nightmare slaughter of the Western Front.
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Rise of the Hackers (#4115H) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG
Our lives are going digital. We shop, bank and even date online. Computers hold our treasured photographs, private emails and all of our personal information. This data is precious - and cybercriminals want it. Now, Nova goes behind the scenes of the fast-paced world of cryptography to meet the scientists battling to keep our data safe. They are experts in extreme physics, math, and a new field called "ultra-paranoid computing," all working to forge unbreakable codes and build ultra-fast computers. From the two men who uncovered the world's most advanced cyber weapon to the computer expert who worked out how to hack into cash machines and scientists who believe they can store a password in your unconscious brain, Nova investigates how a new global geek squad is harnessing cutting-edge science - all to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
Mind of a Rampage Killer (#4008H) Duration: 54:16 STEREO TVPG-V
What makes a person walk into a theater or a church or a classroom full of students and open fire? What combination of circumstances compels a human being to commit the most inhuman of crimes? Can science in any way help us understand these horrific events and provide clues as to how to prevent them in the future?
As the nation tries to understand the tragic events at Newtown, Miles O'Brien separates fact from fiction, investigating new theories that the most destructive rampage killers are driven most of all, not by the urge to kill, but the wish to die. Could suicide and the desire to go out in a media-fueled blaze of glory be the main motivation? How much can science tell us about a brain at risk for violence? Most importantly, can we recognize dangerous minds in time - and stop the next Newtown?
Bigger Than T.rex (#4119) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Almost a century ago, paleontologists found the first tantalizing hints of a monster even bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex, perhaps the largest predator ever to roam the Earth: spectacular fossil bones from a dinosaur dubbed Spinosaurus. But the fossils were completely destroyed during a World War II Allied bombing raid, leaving only drawings, questions, and a mystery: What was Spinosaurus?
Now, the discovery of new bones in a Moroccan cliff face is reopening the investigation into this epic beast. What did it feed on and how? Why did it grow so big? We follow the paleontologists who are reconstructing this terrifying carnivore, revealing a 53-foot-long behemoth with a huge dorsal sail, enormous, scimitar-like claws, and massive jaws tapered toward the front like a crocodile. Bringing together experts in paleontology, geology, climatology and paleobotany, this Nova/National Geographic special brings to life the lost world over which Spinosaurus reigned more than 65 million years ago.
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Building Pharaoh's Chariot (#4005H) Duration: 55:31 STEREO TVPG
Around 3,600 years ago, reliefs in Egyptian tombs and temples depicted pharaohs and warriors proudly riding into battle on horse-drawn chariots. Some historians claim that the chariot launched a technological and strategic revolution, and was the secret weapon behind Egypt's greatest era of conquest known as the New Kingdom. But was the Egyptian chariot really a revolutionary design? How decisive a role did it play in the bloody battles of the ancient world? In this film, a team of archaeologists, engineers, woodworkers and horse trainers join forces to build and test two highly accurate replicas of Egyptian royal chariots. They discover astonishingly advanced features, including spoked wheels, springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars and even a convex shaped rear mirror, leading one of them to compare the level of design to the engineering standards of 1930's-era Buicks! By driving our pair of replicas to their limits in the desert outside Cairo, NOVA's experts test the claim that the chariot marks a crucial turning point in ancient military history.
Emperor's Ghost Army (#4120) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
In central China, a vast underground mausoleum conceals a life-size terracotta army of cavalry, infantry, horses, chariots, weapons, administrators, acrobats, and musicians, all built to serve China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di, in the afterlife. Lost and forgotten for over 2200 years, this clay army, 8000 strong, stands poised to help the First Emperor rule again beyond the grave.
Now, a new archaeological campaign is probing the thousands of figures entombed in the mausoleum. With exclusive access to pioneering research, this program reveals how the Emperor directed the manufacture of the tens of thousands of bronze weapons carried by the clay soldiers. Nova tests the power of these weapons with high-action experiments and reports on revolutionary 3D computer modeling techniques that are revealing new insights into how the clay figures were made, revealing in the process the secrets of one of archaeology's greatest discoveries.
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Killer Landslides (#4121) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Just before 11am on March 22, 2014, an ominous rumble startled the residents of the little town of Oso, Washington, about an hour's drive from Seattle. It was the terrifying sound of the United States' deadliest landslide in decades. In less than two minutes, a 250 acre field of debris 20 feet deep slammed into a neighborhood of 35 homes. In the wake of the tragedy, geomorphologists are tracing the geological history of Oso to explain why the site was so unstable. But Oso isn't alone. Globally, landslides and other ground failures cost more lives and money each year than all other natural disasters combined. The threat of bigger, more frequent landslides is growing as climate change increases intense precipitation events. As Nova follows scientists surveying landslide danger zones, discover how and why landslides happen and how new laser monitoring technologies may help predict landslides before disaster strikes.
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Ultimate Mars Challenge (#3915H) Duration: 54:56 STEREO TVG
It could be NASA's last chance to set wheels down on Mars until the end of the decade: in August 2012, a rover named Curiosity touched down inside Mars' Gale Crater, carrying 10 new instruments that advanced the quest for signs that Mars might have once been suitable for life. But Curiosity's mission is risky. After parachuting through the Martian atmosphere at twice the speed of sound, Curiosity is gently lowered to the planet's surface by a "sky crane." This first-of-its-kind system has been tested on Earth, but will it work on Mars?
With inside access to the massive team of scientists and engineers responsible for Curiosity's on-the-ground experiments, Nova is there for the exhilarating moments after Curiosity's landing - and for the spectacular discoveries to come. But no rover does it alone: Curiosity is joining a team that includes the Mars Odyssey, Express and Reconnaissance orbiters, along with the tireless Opportunity rover. As we reveal the dynamic new picture of Mars that these explorers are painting, we discover the questions raised by 40 years of roving Mars: How do we define life? How does life begin and what does it need to survive? Are we alone in the universe?
Forensics on Trial (#3912H) Duration: 53:56 STEREO TV14
There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of "CSI" and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab. With few established scientific standards, no central oversight and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the US is in a state of crisis. Nova investigates how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, ballistics, hair, and tool marks, can send innocent men and women to prison - and sometimes even to death row. Shockingly, of more than 250 inmates exonerated by DNA testing over the last decade, more than 50% of the wrongful convictions stemmed from invalid or improperly handled forensic science. With the help of vivid recreations of actual trials and cases, Nova investigated today's shaky state of crime science as well as cutting-edge solutions that could help investigators put the real criminals behind bars.