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.

Science Night 4/4

Nature “Ocean Giants: Deep Thinkers” at 7 pm
In some respects, the brains of whales and dolphins are more complex than ours. Whales and dolphins work cooperatively, show empathy and are self-aware. “Deep Thinkers” finds out how clever – and how much like us – whales and dolphins might be.

Nova “Hunting The Elements” at 8 pm
What are things made of? It’s a simple question with an astonishing answer. Fewer than 100 naturally occurring elements form the ingredients of everything in our world — from solid rocks to ethereal gases, from scorching acids to the living cells in our body. David Pogue, lively host of NOVA’s popular “Making Stuff” series and personal technology correspondent for “The New York Times,” spins viewers through the world of weird, extreme chemistry on a quest to unlock the secrets of the elements. Why are some elements, like platinum and gold, relatively inert while others, like phosphorus and potassium, are violently explosive? Why are some vital to every breath we take while others are potentially lethal? Punctuated by surprising and often alarming experiments, Pogue takes NOVA on a roller coaster ride through nature’s hidden lab and the compelling stories of discovery that revealed its secrets.

Science Night 3/28

Nature “Ocean Giants: Giant Lives” at 7 pm
The great whales such as the blue and the bowhead are the largest animals that have ever lived on our planet. Yet these mighty leviathans feed on tiny shrimp and sardines. “Giant Lives” discovers why size matters in the world of whales.

Nova “Cracking Your Genetic Code” at 8 pm
What will it mean when most of us can afford to have the information in our DNA — all three billion chemical letters of it — read, stored and available for analysis? As NOVA reveals in “Bioethics” we stand on the verge of a revolution in medicine, the first effects of which are already upon us. We meet cancer patients returned to robust health and a cystic fibrosis sufferer breathing easily, because scientists have been able to pinpoint and neutralize the genetic abnormalities underlying their conditions. But we also meet ethicists convinced we need to consider the moral dilemmas raised by the new technology. Will it help or hurt us to know that we are likely to come down with a serious disease? What if such information falls into the hands of insurance companies, employers, prospective mates? Should parents be allowed to select embryos with specific characteristics? Both ominous and promising, the new era of personalized, gene-based medicine is one thing for certain: it’s relevant to everyone. Because soon you will be deciding whether to join the ranks of those who know what their genes reveal.

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.

Science Night 2/29

7:00 PM Nature – “Echo: An Elephant To Remember”
Echo, the elephant matriarch, was the subject of many NATURE films and the leader of a carefully studied herd of elephants in Africa. Last year, she died of natural causes. This film is a look back at this remarkable animal through extraordinary footage and interviews with the researchers that cared for and studied this amazing herd.

8:00 PM NOVA – “Japan’s Killer Quake”
In its worst crisis since World War II, Japan faces disaster on an epic scale: a rising death toll in the tens of thousands, massive destruction of homes and businesses, shortages of water and power, and the specter of nuclear reactor meltdowns. The facts and figures are astonishing. The March 11th earthquake was the world’s fourth largest earthquake since record keeping began in 1900 and the worst ever to shake Japan. The seismic shock wave released over 4,000 times the energy of the largest nuclear test ever conducted; it shifted the earth’s axis by 6 inches and shortened the day by a few millionths of a second. The tsunami slammed Japan’s coast with 30 feet-high waves that traveled 6 miles inland, obliterating entire towns in a matter of minutes. JAPAN’S KILLER QUAKE combines authoritative on-the-spot reporting, personal stories of tragedy and survival, compelling eyewitness videos, explanatory graphics and exclusive helicopter footage for a unique look at the science behind the catastrophe.

9:00 PM Secrets Of The Dead – “Japanese Supersub”
Spring, 1946. Ten months after the end of World War II, an explosion rocked the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii. America had just destroyed one of Japan’s most advanced weapons systems. But this was no belated attack against the defeated Japanese. Rather, it was an attempt to keep an advanced, top-secret submarine out of the hands of the Russians. What was this sub and where had it come from? Secrets of the Dead: Japanese SuperSub investigates, revealing the startling story of Japan’s successful creation of a technological masterpiece-an aircraft carrier submarine that could blow up the Panama Canal, reach the U.S. main land undetected, and unleash panic-inducing air attacks on American civilians. How close did Japan’s secret sub come to attacking America? And how did America’s own top-secret super-weapon put an end to the Japanese threat?

Science Night 2/15

7:00 PM Nature – “The Himalayas”
The Himalayan mountain system is the planet’s highest and home to the world’s highest peaks. NATURE explores the diversity of wildlife and habitats of this mountain chain starring the mysterious snow leopard.

8:00 PM NOVA – “Extreme Cave Diving”
Follow the charismatic Dr. Kenny Broad as he dives into Blue Holes — underwater caves that formed during the last ice age when sea level was nearly 400 feet below what it is today. They are Earth’s least explored and perhaps most dangerous frontiers. With an interdisciplinary team of climatologists, paleontologists and anthropologists, Broad investigates the hidden history of Earth’s climate as revealed by finds in this spectacularly beautiful “alternate universe.”

9:00 PM Cave People of the Himalayas
An archaeologist dangles from a rope spanning a cliff 800-feet tall. A dark cave opening looms 700-feet down and the only way inside is to rappel down from above. Dr. Mark Aldenerfer, self-proclaimed landlubber, is not happy performing aerial acrobatics, but he’s doing it for science, while seven-time Everest climber, Pete Athans, belays him. They’re on a mission, set within the world’s highest mountains, to find ancient mummies and uncover secrets that have been hidden in these cliff-top graves for thousands of years.

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.