Science Night 9/18

Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: Europe at 7 pm
Cranes and geese rise over Venice, Dover, Edinburgh and the monkey-guarded Rock of Gibraltar. In Rome, the Loire Valley, Holland and Hungary, birds gather by the millions to breed and two by two to raise their families.

Nova Why Ships Sink at 8 pm
Are you safe aboard a modern cruise ship? Twenty million passengers embark on cruises each year, vacationing in deluxe “floating cities” that offer everything from swimming pools to shopping malls to ice skating rinks. And the ships just keep getting bigger: The average cruise ship has doubled in size in just the last ten years. Some engineers fear that these towering behemoths are dangerously unstable, and the recent tragedy of the Costa Concordia has raised new questions about their safety. Now, NOVA brings together marine engineering and safety experts to reconstruct the events that led up to famous cruise disasters, including the ill-fated Concordia, the Sea Diamond, and the Oceanos. Are we really safe at sea-or are we on the brink of a 21st century Titanic?

Brains on Trail with Alan Alda: Deciding Punishment at 9 pm
Jimmy Moran is found guilty of badly injuring a woman during a robbery. In the sentencing phase of the trial, Judge Rakoff hears arguments from the court-appointed psychiatrist, the attorneys, the victim’s husband and Jimmy himself. Meanwhile, Alan Alda discovers how neuroscience is already influencing the sentencing of defendants – especially young defendants – by revealing how the immature teenage brain is vulnerable to foolish and impulsive acts. Before Judge Rakoff pronounces Jimmy’s sentence, Alda meets a judge who has volunteered to have his own brain probed as he makes sentencing decisions. This episode focuses on the sentence phase of Moran’s trial. We investigate Moran’s brain and look into what factors could have played into pulling the trigger.