Wednesday Science Night for January 25th presents:
7:00 PM Nature – “Fortress of the Bears”
Part of the massive Tongass National Forest, Admiralty Island in southeast Alaska supports the largest concentration of bears anywhere in the world. Sustained by a wealth of salmon streams, isolated and protected by their environment, some 1,700 Alaskan brown bears are part of a unique circle of life that has played out here for centuries. Beginning in August, millions of salmon — pink and chum, coho and sockeye — return to the island to spawn, providing a feast for the bears, eagles, orcas, sea lions and even the trees themselves. As long as the salmon continue to arrive, all is well. But this year, for the first time, the salmon fail to arrive and the bears get a bitter taste of what the future may hold.
8:00 PM NOVA – “Mystery of a Masterpiece”
In October 2009, a striking portrait of a young woman in Renaissance dress made world news headlines. Originally sold two years before for around $20,000, the portrait is now thought to be an undiscovered masterwork by Leonardo da Vinci worth more than $100 million. How did cutting edge imaging analysis help tie the portrait to Leonardo? NOVA meets a new breed of experts who are approaching “cold case” art mysteries as if they were crime scenes, determined to discover “who committed the art,” and follows art sleuths as they deploy new techniques to combat the multi-billion dollar criminal market in stolen and fraudulent art.
9:00 PM Inside Nature’s Giants – “Monster Python”
In Florida’s Everglades, Mark Evans and Joy Reidenberg meet “python hunters” who are attempting to control the python population (approximately 100,000) through a cull. They join reptile expert Jeanette Wyneken to dissect two pythons: a nine-foot male and a 14-foot female. The program explores the science of slithering, as well as the development of “infra-red goggles” that let the snakes hunt warm-blooded prey in the dark and a flexible jaw that allows them to stretch their mouths around huge prey, including alligators. The scientists make an amazing discovery in the female: ovaries bulging with 40 egg follicles ready to be fertilized. Richard Dawkins describes how snakes evolved from four-legged lizard-like ancestors, and biologist Simon Watt finds out what it feels like to be crushed by a real-life python.