Science Night 11/14

Nature “An Original Duckumentary” at 7 pm
Working with “Hummingbirds” producer Ann Prum, NATURE features another popular, beautiful and fascinating bird – the duck. The story follows a wood duck family and discovers how a male and female create a bond, migrate together across thousands of miles, nurture and protect a brood of chicks and come full circle as they head to their wintering grounds. But our stars are just one of some 150 species of ducks. They come in all shapes and sizes and abilities – some are dabblers popping in and out of the surface of a glass lake and others swim with powerful webbed feet underwater. They fly through the air on short, stubby wings, traveling in large, energy-efficient formations over thousands of miles. Some are noisy and gregarious, others shy and elusive.

NOVA “Ultimate Mars Challenge” at 8 pm
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 will touch down inside Mars’ Gale Crater, carrying 10 new instruments that will advance 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 will be 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 will be 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?

NOVA ScienceNow “What Will The Future Be Like?” at 9 pm
Mobile phones that read your mind? Video games that can cure cancer? Wearable robots that give you the strength of Ironman? David Pogue investigates which technologies are likely to transform daily life for you — and your grandkids. They’re already taking shape in laboratories around the world — and gadgets that once were purely science fiction are on the verge of becoming as common as the iPhones and Androids Pogue reviews every day. What technological hurdles must engineers and computer scientists overcome before robots, mind-readers and holograms are all around us? And what will it mean to us as humans if we become even more entrenched in a 24/7 digital world?