Science Night 5/16

Nature “Cracking the Koala Code” at 7 pm
This program examines the day-to-day dramas of an extended family of koalas, seen through the eyes of the scientists studying their every move and vocalization. Fascinating social dynamics include territorial displays, vicious fighting and the surprising life and loves of a “traveling salesman,” a rogue male who truly plays the field. New science even “cracks the koala communication code,” providing insights into their basic language and social structure.

NOVA “The Great Inca Rebellion” at 8 pm
In an impoverished suburb of Lima, in an ancient cemetery crammed with more than 1,000 pre-Columbian mummies, Peruvian archaeologist Guillermo Cock makes a startling find. He discovers dozens of corpses that differ from all the rest: they were hastily buried and disfigured by appalling wounds and fractures inflicted by steel blades and crude bullets. Forensic experts diagnose these remains as victims of a little-known battle that pitted club-wielding Inca warriors against Spanish cavalry. The battle turns out to be a decisive turning point that helps explain a long-standing mystery about the Spanish conquest of Peru. How, in 1532, did a tiny band of Spanish soldiers crush the mighty Inca empire, then the most powerful civilization in the Americas, with a network of roads that spanned over 2,000 miles? Were the conquistadors’ obvious advantages — steel arms, gunpowder and horses — the key to their success, as is usually supposed? Or were disease and civil war more decisive factors that were downplayed by the Spanish chroniclers? With the help of this new evidence from the Lima cemetery, NOVA reveals the untold final chapter of the conquest: not the Spanish walkover familiar from popular accounts, but rather a protracted and complex war of astonishing brutality that almost led to the Spanish losing their precarious foothold in the Andes.

Bones of Turkana at 9 pm
Follow famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey and his wife, Meave, daughter Louise and their colleagues as they work in the arid northern regions of Kenya’s Turkana Basin to unravel the mysteries of human evolution. While one of the Leakeys’ goals is to demonstrate the complexity and truth of human evolution, they also seek to show how the qualities that we proudly call human were all born in Africa. The story that emerges in the film is exciting, emotional, contemplative, occasionally funny and, in the end, transforming. This is Africa at its most beautiful and harshest.

Science Night 5/2


Nature “Born Wild: The First Days of Life” at 7 pm

From the moment of their birth, baby animals in the wild can face almost anything — from a large social group of interested caregivers, to a potentially deadly group of relatives, to one or two devoted parents, to complete abandonment and no available help at all. Yet they all have something in common. They must learn whom to trust, what to fear and when to act — all in the first days of life. Child care involves instinct, but also experience and choices, some of which can be devastatingly hard. Find out how being born in the wild has evolved over time, and how animals interacting with their young, wrestling with the feelings and dilemmas that come with raising a baby, can mirror our own experiences.

NOVA “Smartest Machine On Earth” at 8 pm
What’s so special about human intelligence and will scientists ever build a computer that rivals the flexibility and power of a human brain? In “Artificial Intelligence,” NOVA takes viewers inside an IBM lab where a crack team has been working for nearly three years to perfect a machine that can answer any question. The scientists hope their machine will be able to beat expert contestants in one of the USA’s most challenging TV quiz shows — Jeopardy, which has entertained viewers for over four decades. “Artificial Intelligence” presents the exclusive inside story of how the IBM team developed the world’s smartest computer from scratch. Now they’re racing to finish it for a special Jeopardy airdate in February 2011. They’ve built an exact replica of the studio at its research lab near New York and invited past champions to compete against the machine, a big black box code — named Watson after IBM’s founder, Thomas J. Watson. But will Watson be able to beat out its human competition?

America Revealed “Made In The USA” at 9 pm
American manufacturing has undergone a massive revolution over the past 20 years, becoming – gloomy perceptions to the contrary – the number-one manufacturing nation on earth. Cross the country with host Yul Kwon to look at traditional and not-so-traditional types of manufacturing. Along the way, meet the men and women who create the world’s best and most iconic products, engineers who are reinventing the American auto industry, steelworkers who brave intense heat to accommodate radical new ideas about recycling and engineers who are re-imagining the microchip. Visit a small start-up company that is building personalized robots – machines that may one day reshape our homes and offices. Investigate the emerging notion that manufacturing itself is changing – from a system based on the movement and assembly of raw materials to a system in which ideas and information are the raw materials of a new economy.

Science Night 4/25

Nature “Radioactive Wolves” at 7 pm
The historic nuclear accident at Chernobyl is now 25 years old. Filmmakers and scientists set out to document the lives of the packs of wolves and other wildlife thriving in the “dead zone” that still surrounds the remains of the reactor.

Nova “Secrets of the Sun” at 8 pm
It contains 99.9 percent of all the matter in our solar system and sheds hot plasma at nearly a million miles an hour. The temperature at its core is a staggering 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. It convulses, it blazes, it sings. You know it as the sun. Scientists know it as one of the most amazing physics laboratories in the universe. Now, with the help of new spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes, scientists are seeing the Sun as they never have before and even re-creating what happens at the very center of the Sun in labs here on Earth. Their work will help us understand aspects of the sun that have puzzled scientists for decades. But more critically, it may help us predict and track solar storms that have the power to zap our power grid, shut down telecommunications, and ground global air travel for days, weeks, or even longer. Such storms have happened before-but never in the modern era of satellite communication. SECRETS OF THE SUN reveals a bright new dawn in our understanding of our nearest star-one that might help keep our planet from going dark.

America Revealed “Electric Nation” at 9 pm
Our modern electric power grid has been called the biggest and most complex machine in the world – delivering electricity over 200,000 miles of high-tension transmission lines. Travel around the country with host Yul Kwon to understand its intricacies, its vulnerabilities and the remarkable ingenuity required to keep the electricity on, every day of the year. At New York State’s governing grid control room, learn how a massive blackout cut power to 40 million Americans; to understand how we can protect against this type of colossal failure, join a team who makes daring repairs from the side of a helicopter in flight. Visit the country’s largest coal mine, rappel down the side of a wind turbine, take a rare tour of a nuclear plant and travel on a massive tanker – as Kwon reflects on the challenges and opportunities to keep the power flowing.

Science Night 4/18

Nature “River of No Return” at 7 pm
Central Idaho’s Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness is the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 States. Endless rugged mountains, wild rivers, forests, and deep canyons define this land – a home to numerous species of wildlife including wolves, who have just returned after 50 years of near absence – and a young couple, Isaac and Bjornen Babcock, who chose this wilderness for their year-long honeymoon. But what begins as a romantic adventure becomes something much greater for the couple – and a tale of hope and celebration for every life trying to make it in the unforgiving heart of the wilderness.

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?

America Revealed “Nation On The Move” at 9 pm
Meet America Revealed host Yul Kwon at a KLRU event on 4/23. Details and RSVP

America is a nation of vast distances and dense urban clusters, woven together by 200,000 miles of railroads, 5,000 airports and four million miles of roads. These massive, complex transportation systems combine to make Americans the most mobile people on earth. Accompany host Yul Kwon as he journeys across the continent by air, road and rail, venturing behind the scenes with the workers who get us where we need to go. At the Federal Aviation Administration command center, listen in on a call with NASA, the secret service, the military and every major airline to learn how our national flight plan works today. Go along as he meets innovators creating ways to propel us farther and faster in years to come; in Las Vegas, he heads out into the wild night to see how transportation analysts are keeping traffic at bay by revolutionizing the use of one basic tool: the traffic light. Uncover the minor miracles and uphill battles involved in moving more than 300 million Americans every day on infrastructure built in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Science Night 4/11

Nature “Ocean Giants: Voices of the Sea” at 7 pm
Humpback whales’ songs carry thousands of miles, while a sperm whale scans the ocean depths with a sonar laser beam louder than a thunderclap. “Voices of the Sea” reveals a surprising underwater world where sound takes the place of sight.

Nova “Deadliest Tornadoes” at 8 pm
In April 2011, the worst tornado outbreak in decades left a trail of destruction across the U.S., killing more than 340 people. Why was there such an extreme outbreak? How do such outbreaks form? With modern warning systems why did so many die? Is our weather getting more extreme — and if so how bad will it get? This episode of NOVA looks at the science behind the April outbreak, meeting those affected and the scientists trying to predict tornadoes and understand whether this outbreak relates to global climate change.

America Revealed “Food Machine” at 9 pm
Meet America Revealed host Yul Kwon at a KLRU event on 4/23. Details and RSVP

Over the past century, an American industrial revolution has given rise to the biggest, most productive food machine the world has ever known. Join host Yul Kwon to learn how this machine feeds nearly 300 million Americans every day. Discover engineering marvels created by putting nature to work, and consider the toll our insatiable appetites take on our health and environment. Embark with Kwon on a trip that begins with a pizza delivery route in New York City, then goes across the country to California’s Central Valley, where nearly 50 percent of America’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown, and into the heartland for an aerial look at our farmlands. Meet the men and women who keep us fed – everyone from industrial to urban farmers, crop-dusting pilots to long-distance bee truckers, modern-day cowboys to the pizza deliveryman.