Science Night 4/17

NatureThe Mystery Of Eels at 7 pm
Though much of the natural world is discovered and understood, a few great mysteries remain. Consider the eel — snakelike and slimy, with a row of jagged teeth. Yet aside from these fearsome qualities, we know little about its life. Where it goes, what it does, and how it dies, nobody knows. Hailed by poets as the “siren of the North Sea” and “love’s arrow on Earth,” this shadowy creature has fascinated researchers for centuries. And now James Prosek, artist, writer, and eminent naturalist, takes on the mystery of the eel himself, shedding light on the animal and the strange behavior it inspires in those who seek to know it.

NOVA Australia’s First 4 Billion Years: Life Explodes at 8 pm
Of all the continents on Earth, none preserves a more spectacular story of its origins than Australia. NOVA’s mini-series takes viewers on a rollicking adventure from the birth of the Earth to the emergence of the world we know today. With help from high-energy host and scientist Richard Smith, we meet titanic dinosaurs and giant kangaroos, sea monsters and prehistoric crustaceans, disappearing mountains and deadly asteroids. This is the untold story of the Land Down Under, the one island continent that has got it all. How did life storm the beaches and dominate planet Earth? Ancient Australian fossils offer clues. While the oceans were teeming, the world above the waves remained an almost lifeless wasteland – until the Silurian period, when the conquest of the land began. Host Richard Smith introduces Earth’s forgotten pioneers: the scuttling arthropod armies that invaded the shores and the waves of green revolutionaries whose battle for the light pushed plant life across the face of a barren continent. Join NOVA’s prehistoric adventure as four-legged animals walk onto dry land, with the planet poised for disaster.

Guts With Michael Mosley at 9 pm
This program uncovers the secret life of our digestive tract in an eye-opening and detailed exploration of the side of the body we normally never get to see. Using the latest in medical imagery and a tiny state of the art camera “pill” that he swallows at the start of the film, Michael Mosley takes viewers on a remarkable journey through his own internal system. At each stage he talks to medical experts and explains the amazing functions that happen without our conscious effort. This is one of the most fundamental parts of our bodies, controlled by its own nervous system and automatically providing our energy, water and nutrients; yet unless we get sick, we rarely think about what it’s doing.