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.

Science Night 1/11

Wednesday Science Night for January 11th presents:

7:00 PM Nature – “Kangaroo Mob”
Meet the mob of street smart kangaroos moving into Australia’s capital city and the ecologists following their every move. Over the course of one drought-stricken year we follow mob leader, Black Spot, and kangaroo mother, Madge, with her two young joeys — mischievous Sonny and tiny pouch-bound Alice. Here is a look at what happens when human development encroaches on wildlife habitat and two very different species are forced to co-exist.

8:00 PM NOVA – “Bombing Hitler’s Dams”
In 1943 a squadron of Lancaster bombers staged one of the most audacious raids in history — destroying two gigantic dams in Germany’s industrial heartland and cutting the water supply to arms factories — with a revolutionary bouncing bomb invented by British engineer Barnes Wallis. Wallis and the pilots of 617 Squadron — a lively mix of Britons, Australians, Americans and Canadians — were hailed as heroes and dealt a mighty blow to the German war machine. In this program, NOVA recreates the extreme engineering challenges faced by Wallis and the pilots with the aid of six spectacular experiments. A crack team of experts including dam engineers, explosives specialists, mechanics and aircrew step into the shoes of the Dambusters and attempt to overcome each obstacle in turn.

Science Night 1/4

Wednesday Science Night for January 4th presents:

7:00 PM Nature – “Birds of the Gods”
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.

8:00 PM NOVA – “Deadliest Volcanoes”
Millions of people around the world live in the shadow of active volcanoes. Under constant threat of massive volcanic eruptions, their homes and their lives are daily at risk from these sleeping giants. From Japan’s Mount Fuji to the “Sleeping Giant” submerged beneath Naples to the Yellowstone “supervolcano” in the United States, travel with scientists from around the world who are at work on these sites, attempting to discover how likely these volcanoes are to erupt, when eruptions might happen and how deadly they could prove to be.

9:00 PM NOVA – “Deadliest Earthquakes”
In 2010, epic earthquakes all over the planet delivered one of the worst annual death tolls ever recorded. The deadliest strike was in Haiti, where a quake just southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince, killed more than 200,000, reducing homes, hospitals, schools, and the presidential palace to rubble. In exclusive coverage, a NOVA camera crew follows a team of US geologists as they first enter Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. It is a race against time as they hunt for crucial evidence that will help them determine exactly what happened deep underground and what the risks are of a new killer quake. Barely a month after the Haiti quake, Chile was struck by a quake 100 times more powerful, unleashing a tsunami that put the entire Pacific coast on high alert. In a coastal town devastated by the rushing wave, NOVA follows a team of geologists as they battle aftershocks to measure the displacement caused by the earthquake. Could their work, and the work of geologists at earthquake hot-spots around the U.S., one day lead to a breakthrough in predicting quakes before they happen? NOVA investigates new leads in its investigation of a deadly scientific conundrum.

Science Night 12/28

Wednesday Science Night for December 28th presents:

Nature: Arctic Bears 7 pm
Polar bears are living on borrowed time. They are the descendents of grizzlies, long-ago evolved to live and hunt on the frozen ice of the Arctic, eating a specialized diet of seal meat. But the winters have become increasingly warmer, the ice is disappearing and raising a family becomes a much more difficult proposition when hunting time is short and food is scarce. Grizzlies, on the other hand, are masters at living off the land, making a meal from a wide variety of foods — meats, seeds, berries, insects, fruit and honey. Their world is bountiful and expanding northward, converging with what once was the icy domain of the polar bear. As the two worlds meet, are the polar bears fated to become grizzlies once again?

NOVA: Extreme Ice 8 pm
In collaboration with National Geographic, NOVA follows the exploits of acclaimed photojournalist James Balog and a scientific team as they deploy time-lapse cameras in risky, remote locations in the Arctic, Alaska, and the Alps. Grappling with blizzards, fickle technology, and climbs up craggy precipices, the team must anchor cameras capable of withstanding sub-zero temperatures and winds up to 170 mph. The goal of Balog’s team’s perilous expedition: to create a unique photo archive of melting glaciers that could provide a key to understanding their runaway behavior and their potential to drive rising sea levels. Some models now project a one-meter sea level rise over the next century, which could displace millions of people everywhere from Florida to Bangladesh and require trillions of dollars in new coastal infrastructure investments. But, alarmingly, these models don’t reflect recent findings that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at an ever-faster rate. What explains this alarming acceleration, and just how do you figure out what’s happening inside a gigantic wall of ice? In this high-action scientific adventure, NOVA investigates the mystery of the mighty ice sheets that will affect the fate of coastlines around the world.

NOVA: Secrets Beneath The Ice 9 pm
In 2002, an immense, 200 meter-thick ice shelf, the size of Manhattan, collapsed into the ocean off the Antarctic Peninsula, shocking scientists and raising the alarming possibility that we may be heading toward an ice-free Antarctica — last seen a million years ago. That would raise world sea levels so high that New York City would be flooded up to the level of the Statue of Liberty’s shoulders. But could this really happen? Is Antarctica’s surprising past a reliable guide to what may happen to our warming planet? To gather crucial evidence, NOVA follows the most ambitious scientific project launched during the International Polar Year: a state-of-the-art drilling probe known as ANDRILL. Penetrating more than a kilometer through the floating sea ice, ANDRILL recovers evidence from the seabed that reveals details of climate and fauna from a time when dinosaurs and forests once thrived in Antarctica. As the scientists grapple with the harshest conditions on earth, they discover astonishing and disturbing new clues. Once thought to be locked in a solid deep freeze for the last 15 million years, it now looks like Antarctica’s ice has melted and frozen again dozens of times during that period. This breakthrough discovery carries ominous implications for coastal cities around the globe.

Science Night 12/21

Wednesday Science Night for December 21st presents:

Nature: Christmas in Yellowstone 7 pm
As snow falls and Christmas lights glow in Jackson Hole, a holiday season of a different sort settles in just beyond the town, in the great winter world of Yellowstone. Breathtaking landscapes frame intimate scenes of wolves and coyotes, elk and bison, bears and otters as they make their way through their most challenging season of the year. NATURE journeys in the footsteps of the men who first explored the park, and travels with their modern-day counterpart on his own journey of discovery. From the unique crystals of individual snowflakes to the grand sweep of Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley, this is a Christmas like no other.

NOVA: “What Darwin Never Knew” 8 pm
Earth teems with a staggering variety of animals, including 9,000 kinds of birds, 28,000 types of fish and more than 350,000 species of beetles. What explains this explosion of living creatures — 1.4 million different species discovered so far, with perhaps another 50 million to go? The source of life’s endless forms was a mystery until Charles Darwin’s revolutionary idea of natural selection, which he showed could help explain the gradual development of life on Earth. But Darwin’s radical insights raised as many questions as they answered. What actually drives evolution and turns one species into another? And how did we evolve? On the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” NOVA reveals answers to the riddles that Darwin couldn’t explain. Breakthroughs in a brand-new science –nicknamed “evo devo” — are linking the enigma of origins to another of nature’s great mysteries, the development of an embryo. NOVA takes viewers on a journey from the Galapagos Islands to the Arctic and from the Cambrian explosion of animal forms half a billion years ago to the research labs of today. Here scientists are finally beginning to crack nature’s biggest secrets at the genetic level. And, as NOVA shows, the results are confirming the brilliance of Darwin’s insights while exposing clues to life’s breathtaking diversity.

Science Night 11/23

Wednesday Science Night for November 23rd presents:

NOVA: The Fabric of the Cosmos: “Universe or Multiverse?” 8 pm
Accompany physicist and acclaimed author Brian Greene on a mind-bending reality check and journey to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time and the universe. Hard as it is to swallow, cutting-edge theories are suggesting that our universe may not be the only universe. Instead, it may be just one of an infinite number of worlds that make up the multiverse. Brian Greene takes us on a tour of this brave new theory at the frontier of physics, explaining why scientists believe it’s true and showing what some of these alternate realities might be like. Some universes may be almost indistinguishable from our own; others may contain variations of all of us, where we exist but with different families, careers and life stories. In still others, reality may be so radically different from ours as to be unrecognizable. Greene reveals why this radical new picture of the cosmos is getting serious attention from scientists. It won’t be easy to prove, but if it’s right, our understanding of space, time and our place in the universe will never be the same.

Capital of Innovation at 9 pm
Three entrepreneurs offer a glimpse of why Austin is being hailed as the best place in the country to launch a business. Josh Kerr tells how he hit the jackpot creating one of the first successful apps for the iPhone. Chris Richter shares his triumphant struggle to create and launch the first healthy, low-calorie drink mixer that also prevents hangovers. And Ruth Glendenning explains why her idea to turn an abandoned big-box store into a micro incubator for small businesses is attracting national attention.

NOVA: The Elegant Universe: “Welcome To The 11th Dimension” 9:30 pm
The third and final episode of “The Elegant Univserse” shows how in 1995 Edward Witten of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, aided by others, revolutionized string theory by successfully uniting the five different versions into a single theory that is cryptically named “M-theory,” a development that required a total of 11 dimensions. Ten… 11… who’s counting? But the new 11th dimension is different from all the others, since it implies that strings can come in higher dimensional shapes called membranes, or “branes” for short. These possess truly science-fiction-like qualities, since in principle they can be as large as the universe. A brane can even be a universe – a parallel universe – and we may be living in one right now.

Science Night 11/16

Watch Nature: My Life As a Turkey on PBS. See more from CET.

Wednesday Science Night for November 16th presents:

Nature: My Life As A Turkey 7 pm
Based on a true story. Deep in the wilds of Florida, writer and naturalist Joe Hutto was given the rare opportunity to raise wild turkeys from chicks. Hutto spent each day out and about as a “wild turkey” with his family of chicks until the day came when he had to let his children grow up and go off on their own. As it turned out, this was harder than he ever imagined. Hutto’s story eventually became a book, Illuminations in the Flatlands.

NOVA: The Fabric of the Cosmos: “Quantum Leap” 8 pm
Accompany physicist and acclaimed author Brian Greene on a mind-bending reality check and journey to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time and the universe. Join Brian Greene on a wild ride into the weird realm of quantum physics, which governs the universe on the tiniest of scales. Greene brings quantum mechanics to life in a nightclub like no other, where objects pop in and out of existence and things over here can affect others over there, instantaneously — without anything crossing the space between them. How could the rules of the quantum world, which work so well to describe the behavior of individual atoms and their components, appear so dramatically different from the everyday rules that govern people, planets and galaxies? Quantu m mechanics may be counterintuitive, but it’s one of the most successful theories in the history of science, making predictions that have been confirmed to better than one part in a billion, while also launching the technological advances at the heart of modern life, like computers and cell phones. But even today, even with such profound successes, the debate still rages over what quantum mechanics implies for the true nature of reality.

NOVA: The Elegant Universe: “The String’s The Thing” 9 pm
In the last few years, excitement has grown among scientists as they’ve pursued a revolutionary new approach to unifying nature’s forces. To the uninitiated, string theory is totally mind-boggling. But physicist Brian Greene has a rare gift for conveying physics in vivid everyday images, a gift that has turned his recent book, The Elegant Universe, into a mighty bestseller. Now Greene brings his talent, youth and vitality to television for the first time in this special three-hour presentation. A highly innovative, Matrix-like production style makes the surreal world of string theory spring to life on the screen. String’s the Thing — In the second hour, Greene describes the serendipitous steps that led from a forgotten 200-year-old mathematical formula to the first glimmerings of strings – quivering strands of energy whose different vibrations give rise to quarks, electrons, photons and all other elementary particles. Strings are truly tiny – smaller than an atom by the same factor that a tree is smaller than the entire universe. But, as Greene explains, it is possible – for the first time ever – to combine the laws of the large and the laws of the small into a proposal for a single, harmonious Theory of Everything.