Science Night 2/8

7:00 PM Nature – “Raccoon Nation”
Are we, in an effort to outwit raccoons, actually making them smarter and unwittingly contributing to their evolutionary success? Are the ever more complex obstacles that our fast-paced urban world throws at them actually pushing the development of raccoon brains? In this film, scientists from around the world share their thoughts and work to help explore this scientific theory. Attempting to do something that has never been done before, they closely follow a family of urban raccoons as they navigate the complex world of a big city.

8:00 PM NOVA – “Separating Twins”
This is the incredible story of Trishna and Krishna, twin girls born joined at the head. Abandoned shortly after birth at an orphanage in Bangladesh, they had little chance of survival, until they were saved and taken to Australia by an aid worker. After two years battling for life, the twins are ready for a series of delicate operations, which will prepare them for the ultimate challenge: a marathon separation surgery that will allow them to live truly separate lives. Surgeons knew there was no guarantee of survival for either of the girls — but without surgery there was no hope at all. With exclusive access, our cameras have been with Trishna and Krishna and their caregivers throughout their journey.

9:00 PM Inside Nature’s Giants – “Big Cats”
The experts dissect a lion and a tiger. From the outside, the two look very different, but once their skins are removed, even the experts find it hard to tell them apart. Biologist Simon Watt comes face to face with a liger – a cross between a lion and a tiger – proof of the two species’ similarity. One of the most characteristic features of these magnificent animals – something that distinguishes them from the small cats – is their ability to roar. The team delves into the lion’s throat to find the voicebox and makes a discovery that helps explain the way the vocal apparatus works. Richard Dawkins explains the evolutionary arms race between predators and their prey in the struggle to survive. Finally, the experts try to find out why male lions have a distinctive mane.

Science Night 2/1

Wednesday Science Night for February 1st presents:

7:00 PM Nature – “Wolverine: Chasing The Phantom”
Its name stirs images of the savage, the untameable. Legend paints it as a solitary, bloodthirsty killer that roams the icy heart of the frozen north, taking down prey as large as moose, crushing bones to powder with its powerful jaws. But there is another image of the wolverine that is just beginning to emerge, one that is far more complex than its reputation suggests. This film takes viewers into the secretive world of the largest and least known member of the weasel family to reveal who this dynamic little devil truly is. Hard-wired to endure en environment of scarcity, the wolverine is one of the most efficient and resourceful carnivores on Earth.

8:00 PM NOVA – “Ice Age Death Trap”
In a race against developers in the Rockies, archaeologists uncover a unique site packed with astonishingly preserved bones of mammoths, mastodons and other giant extinct beasts, opening a vivid window on the vanished world of the Ice Age.

9:00 PM Inside Nature’s Giants – “Great White Shark”
The experts travel to South Africa to dissect a 15-foot-long great white shark. Comparative anatomist Joy Reidenberg uncovers the amazing array of senses the shark possesses, including the ability to detect the electro-magnetic field given off by other creatures. Veterinary scientist Mark Evans investigates the origins of the shark’s infamous killing bite, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains how sharks’ teeth and jaws evolved from their outer skin and gill arches. Finally, the experts ask whether the shark deserves its reputation as a man killer.

Science Night 1/25

Wednesday Science Night for January 25th presents:

7:00 PM Nature – “Fortress of the Bears”
Part of the massive Tongass National Forest, Admiralty Island in southeast Alaska supports the largest concentration of bears anywhere in the world. Sustained by a wealth of salmon streams, isolated and protected by their environment, some 1,700 Alaskan brown bears are part of a unique circle of life that has played out here for centuries. Beginning in August, millions of salmon — pink and chum, coho and sockeye — return to the island to spawn, providing a feast for the bears, eagles, orcas, sea lions and even the trees themselves. As long as the salmon continue to arrive, all is well. But this year, for the first time, the salmon fail to arrive and the bears get a bitter taste of what the future may hold.

8:00 PM NOVA – “Mystery of a Masterpiece”
In October 2009, a striking portrait of a young woman in Renaissance dress made world news headlines. Originally sold two years before for around $20,000, the portrait is now thought to be an undiscovered masterwork by Leonardo da Vinci worth more than $100 million. How did cutting edge imaging analysis help tie the portrait to Leonardo? NOVA meets a new breed of experts who are approaching “cold case” art mysteries as if they were crime scenes, determined to discover “who committed the art,” and follows art sleuths as they deploy new techniques to combat the multi-billion dollar criminal market in stolen and fraudulent art.

9:00 PM Inside Nature’s Giants – “Monster Python”
In Florida’s Everglades, Mark Evans and Joy Reidenberg meet “python hunters” who are attempting to control the python population (approximately 100,000) through a cull. They join reptile expert Jeanette Wyneken to dissect two pythons: a nine-foot male and a 14-foot female. The program explores the science of slithering, as well as the development of “infra-red goggles” that let the snakes hunt warm-blooded prey in the dark and a flexible jaw that allows them to stretch their mouths around huge prey, including alligators. The scientists make an amazing discovery in the female: ovaries bulging with 40 egg follicles ready to be fertilized. Richard Dawkins describes how snakes evolved from four-legged lizard-like ancestors, and biologist Simon Watt finds out what it feels like to be crushed by a real-life python.

Science Night 1/18

Watch A Mischievous Tiger on PBS. See more from Nature.

Wednesday Science Night for January 18th presents:

7:00 PM Nature – “Broken Tail: A Tiger’s Last Journey”
Irish cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson spent almost 600 days filming Broken Tail and his family for some of the finest tiger documentaries ever made. Broken Tail was the most charismatic tiger cub ever seen in Ranthambore, one of India’s best protected tiger reserves. But suddenly and without warning Broken Tail abandoned his sanctuary and went on the run, moving through farmland and scrub until he was killed by a train nearly 200 miles from his home. To track Broken Tail’s incredible journey, Colin and his soundman, Salim, retrace the tiger’s path and piece together the cub’s last days – and through his story reveal the fate of the few surviving tigers in India.

8:00 PM NOVA – 3D Spies of WWII

During World War II, Hitler’s scientists developed terrifying new weapons of mass destruction. Alarmed by rumors about advanced rockets and missiles, Allied intelligence recruited a team of brilliant minds from British universities and Hollywood studios to a country house near London. Here, they secretly pored over millions of air photos shot at great risk over German territory by specially converted, high-flying Spitfires. Peering at the photos through 3D stereoscopes, the team spotted telltale clues that revealed hidden Nazi rocket bases. The photos led to devastating Allied bombing raids that were crucial setbacks to the German rocket program and helped ensure the success of the D-Day landings. With 3D graphics that recreate exactly what the photo spies saw, NOVA tells the suspenseful, previously untold story of air photo intelligence that played a vital role in defeating Hitler.

9:00 PM Inside Nature’s Giants – “Sperm Whale”
Veterinary scientist Mark Evans and comparative anatomist Joy Reidenberg dissect a sperm whale’s enormous organs to reveal the secrets of this 45-foot deep-sea giant, which stranded and died on Pegwell Bay, Kent, England. As the team ventures inside the whale, biologist Simon Watt tracks whales in the Azores with a modern-day Jonah, Malcolm Clarke, who shows him the huge number of squid beaks in a whale’s stomach. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, marveling at the gigantic teeth that have evolved in the lower jaw of a sperm whale, digs out his copy of the King James Bible for a reading about Leviathan from the Book of Job.