Nature Saving Otter 501 at 7 pm
On a typical late summer day a baby sea otter washes up on the beach in Monterey, California — hungry, lost, injured. It’s a tragic event, but not surprising. California sea otters are struggling. For decades marine biologist Karl Mayer and his small staff have worked unceasingly — one otter at a time — to bring this “keystone” species back from the brink of extinction so it can play its important role in the local marine environment. But the effort has stalled, and no one knows why. This is the story of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s 501st attempt to save an orphan otter. From her discovery as a stranded newborn pup crying on the beach through her rehabilitation in secret roof tanks atop the Aquarium, we follow as Otter 501 learns how to dive, hunt, eat, and fend for herself in the wild, where survival is a long shot at best.
NOVA Making Stuff Faster at 8 pm
Are there physical limits to how fast humans can go? David Pogue wants to find out how much we can tweak physiology and engineering to move humans and machines even faster. He investigates everything from lightning-fast electric muscle cars to ultra-sleek sailboats to ultra-fast cameras and quantum teleportation. But faster is also about efficiency and the science of optimization: getting things done in less time. From the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to UPS headquarters and inside a packed 737, Pogue’s quest for ultimate speed limits takes him to unexpected places where he comes face-to-face with the final frontiers of speed. NOVA also explores important questions: Is it possible to go too fast? Have we hit a point where innovation outpaces our ability to keep up?
Raw To Ready Komatsu at 9 pm
To extract precious metals found beneath the earth requires a massive 232-ton, two-story-tall dump truck with a load capacity of 320 tons – a giant earth-mover like the Komatsu 930-E. This amazing engineering achievement is made possible by five essential raw ingredients: coal, chromium, mineral oil, latex rubber and sulphuric acid, an electron superhighway that generates massive power.
Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: Flying High at 7 pm
A behind-the-scenes look at how Earthflight was made, including the extraordinary relationships between people and birds. Microlights, paragliders, drones, and camera-carrying birds and much more helped along the way.
NOVA Megastorm Aftermath at 8 pm
One year after Hurricane Sandy’s deadly strike, NOVA follows up on its 2012 film “Inside the Megastorm” with a fresh investigation of the critical questions raised by this historic storm: Was Sandy a freak combination of weather systems? Or are hurricanes increasing in intensity due to a changing climate? What can we do to prepare ourselves for the next Sandy and what progress has been made toward making our urban infrastructure more resilient?
Secrets of the Dead The Man Who Saved The World at 9 pm
Secrets of the Dead follows the drama and debate that surrounded the most critical point in the Cold War, and perhaps human history. While politicians desperately sought a solution to the stand-off, nobody was aware what was happening beneath the waves but the men on the B-59. The crew could only watch as their superiors entered a battle of wills that would determine the fate of humanity. The story of what happened that fateful day remained hidden for decades, only emerging in Russia in recent years. Now these events will be known to the world.
Earthflight, A Nature Special: Asia And Australia at 7 pm
Japanese cranes dance in the snow, swallows and swifts visit the Forbidden City, lorikeets, cockatoos and budgies form giant flocks in Australia, pigeons guide us through India, and geese fly miles above the Himalayas.
NOVA Inside the Megastrom at 8 pm
Was Hurricane Sandy a freak combination of weather systems? Or are hurricanes increasing in intensity due to a warming climate? How did this perfect storm make search and rescue so dangerous? “Inside the Megastorm” takes viewers moment by moment through Hurricane Sandy, its impacts and the future of storm protection.
Quest For The Lost Maya at 9 pm
This program explores archaeological evidence of a previously unknown Mayan society based in the Yucatan Penisula of southern Mexico. The film surveys their dramatic rise to prominence in the “preclassic era” of the Maya (800-700BC) as well as new evidence of the collapse of their civilization in the 800-900s AD.
Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: South America at 7 pm
Condors and scarlet macaws take us to the Andes and the Amazon. Giant petrels in Patagonia shadow killer whales. Hummingbirds feed at Iguazu Falls, vultures ride the thermals over Rio de Janiero, and black vultures target turtle eggs in Costa Rica.
Nova, Secrets of the Viking Sword at 8 pm
A modern-day swordsmith reverse engineers the ultimate weapon of the Middle Ages — a sword both prized and feared.
Skeletons of the Sahara at 9 pm
This film tells the story of scientist Paul Sereno’s amazing discovery of a prehistoric human burial ground in the middle of one of the world’s most forbidding desert. Like many great scientific discoveries, this one happens by accident. Sereno, one of the world’s leading experts in finding fossils of dinosaurs and ancient crocodiles, is on an expedition to Niger, in Saharan Africa. Six weeks into a three-month journey, Sereno’s team makes an unexpected discovery. They find bones all right, but these bones don’t belong to prehistoric beasts — they are human bones, the last remnants of a people who lived from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago when this now forbidding landscape was a thriving culture on the edge of a vast lake. “Skeletons of the Sahara” tells the story of this find and what it reveals to us about two civilizations that once thrived in what is now the world’s largest desert.
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.
Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: Africa at 7 pm
Fly and arrow-dive with cape gannets among sharks, dolphins, whales and the great sardine run. Soar with fish eagles, flamingoes, kelp gulls and vultures to see the most animal-packed continent with fresh eyes.
Nova Ground Zero Supertower at 8 pm
NOVA returns to Ground Zero to witness the final chapter in an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit: the completion of One World Trade Center, the skyscraper rising up 104 stories and 1,776 feet from the site where the Twin Towers once stood. In this update of NOVA’s “Engineering Ground Zero, ” which featured behind-the-scenes access to the struggles of the engineers and architects working at 1 WTC and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, NOVA goes inside the construction of the new tower’s final floors and the installation of its soaring, 800-ton spire and beacon. But 1 WTC isn’t the only engineering marvel taking shape here: NOVA goes underground to see the construction of a multi-billion dollar transit center whose sweeping, sinuous design is said to be inspired by the shape of a bird being released from a child’s hand. Will the buildings be completed on time under competing business, environmental, and safety demands? And will the final product be a fitting site for national remembrance?
Brains on Trail with Alan Alda: Determining Guilt at 9 pm
On trial is Jimmy Moran, who at 18 took part in a store robbery during which the storeowner’s wife was shot and grievously injured. Presiding is distinguished U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who has a longstanding interest in neuroscience and its conceivable effect on criminal law. The trial raises common questions: Is a witness lying? How reliable is eyewitness testimony? What’s the best way to avoid a biased jury? How well can the defendant’s intentions be judged? Alan Alda explores how brain-scanning technology is providing insights into these questions and discusses the implications of neuroscience entering the courtroom. This episode showcases the guilt phase of Moran’s trial. We peer into the brains of others in the courtroom: the witnesses, judges and jurors.
Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: North America at 7 pm
Snow geese, pelicans, and bald eagles fly over the Great Plains, the Grand Canyon, Alaska and the Golden Gate Bridge as they encounter and engage with bears, dolphins, bison, and spawning fish.
National Parks: America’s Best Idea at 8 pm
In John Muir’s absence, a new leader steps forward on behalf of America’s remaining pristine places; a new federal agency is created to protect the parks; and in Arizona, a fight breaks out over the fate of the grandest canyon on earth.
Nature Cracking the Koala Code at 7 pm
From the miracle of marsupial birth to tender moments of discovery between mother and newborn joey, encounters with threatening forest creatures, battles between rival males and the complex chorus of bellows and grunts that have become so important to science — join leading scientists as they unravel just what a forest needs to support a healthy population of koalas by listening to these marsupial.
Nova Making Stuff Cleaner at 8 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Cleaner – Host David Pogue is on a quest to clean up, using new green materials to build and power the devices of the future. Batteries grown from viruses, plastics made of sugar and solar cells that cook up hydrogen are just the beginning of a new generation of clean materials.
Nova Making Stuff Smarter at 9 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Smarter – An army tanker truck that heals its own bullet wounds. An airplane wing that changes shape as it flies. Clothing that can monitor its wearer’s heart rate, health and mood. Host David Pogue looks into the growing number of smart materials that can respond, change and even learn.
Nature Bird of the Gods at 7 pm
Living in the depths of the New Guinean Rainforest are birds of unimaginable color and beauty. When Europeans first saw the plumes of these fabulous creatures in the 16th century, they believed they must be from heaven and called them Birds of Paradise. The people of New Guinea make even greater claims. They say the birds possess supernatural powers and magic. But to find these birds in New Guinea is one of the toughest assignments and to witness their extraordinary mating displays is even tougher. David Attenborough introduces a young team of New Guinean scientists on a grueling expedition to find and film these Birds of Paradise; the holy grail of wildlife filmmakers.
Nova Making Stuff Stronger at 8 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Stronger – What is the world’s strongest material? From steel to Kevlar and spider silk to carbon nanotubes, host David Pogue looks at the ways in which science and nature work to make strong stuff.
Nova Making Stuff Smaller at 9 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Smaller – Here in the information age, smaller is better: transistors, microchips and the laptops and cell phone that they power are triumphs of tiny. Now, host David Pogue takes us to an even smaller world, as he profiles the latest in high-powered nano-circuits and micro-robots that may one day hold the key to saving lives and building materials from the ground up.
Nature Outback Pelicans at 7 pm
In years of heavy rain, the inhospitable Australian outback transforms into a surprising oasis for Australia’s pelicans. They leave coastal homes for the outback. The abundance of food and water makes it the perfect place to breed and raise families. But much about their lives and their journey remain a mystery that researchers are only now beginning to unravel.
NOVA Kings of Camouflage at 8 pm
Cuttlefish are one of the strangest animals on our planet. These shape-shifting creatures can hypnotize their prey, impersonate the opposite sex and even kill with lightening fast speed. More accomplished masters of disguise than any chameleon, they have an incredible ability to morph their skin color — even their shape — to blend into most any background. They have the largest brain-to-body ratio of all the invertebrates. But are they capable of learning and remembering complex tasks? With beautiful underwater footage and in-depth expert interviews, NOVA gets up close and personal with these bizarre and amazing animals.
The Truth About Exercise with Michael Mosley at 9 pm
Whether you’re running, swimming, cycling or hula hooping, we have always been told that doing regular exercise will improve our bodies and is one of the keys to a healthy and happy life. Our one-size-fits-all approach to maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is very rarely questioned, but with recent advances in genetic testing technology and brain stimulation techniques, scientists are uncovering the new and surprising truths about what exercise is really doing to our bodies, and why we all respond to it differently. In this program, Michael Mosley uses himself as a human guinea pig to discover the truth about exercise.