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.

Science Night 11/9

Wednesday Science Night presents:

Nature: Jungle Eagles 7 pm
The most powerful raptor in the world, the harpy eagle, hides away deep in the South American jungle. Harpy eagles are barely ever seen, let alone filmed. In this extraordinary documentary, our team of cameramen steps into the world of this monkey-eating eagle and even risks injury to obtain intimate pictures of them bringing back large monkeys to the nest. The tables soon turn, however, as one of these massive birds starts following the team.

NOVA: The Fabric of the Cosmos: “The Illusion of Time?” 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. Time. We waste it, save it, kill it, make it. The world runs on it. Yet, ask physicists what time actually is, and the answer might shock you: They have no idea. Even more surprising, the deep sense we have of time passing from present to past may be nothing more than an illusion. How can our understanding of something so familiar be so wrong? In search of answers, Brian Greene takes us on the ultimate time traveling adventure, hurtling 50 years into the future before stepping into a wormhole to travel back to the past. Along the way, he will reveal a new way of thinking about time in which moments past, present and future exist all at once. This journey will bring us all the way back to the Big Bang, where physicists think the ultimate secrets of time may be hidden.

NOVA: The Elegant Universe: “Einstein’s Dream” 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. The first hour introduces string theory and shows how modern physics -composed of two theories that are ferociously incompatible – reached an impasse: one theory, known as general relativity, is successful in describing big things like stars and galaxies; another, called quantum mechanics, is equally successful in describing small things like atoms and subatomic particles. Albert Einstein, the inventor of general relativity, dreamed of finding a single theory that would embrace all of nature’s laws. But in his quest for the so- called unified theory, Einstein came up empty-handed, and the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics has stymied all who’ve followed. That is, until the discovery of string theory.

Science Night 11/2

Wednesday Science Night for November 2nd presents:

Nature: The Animal House 7 pm
Animals build homes for reasons very similar to our own, but they’ve been doing it for much longer. From a small depression in the sand to an elaborate, multi-chambered tunnel – animal structures can be simple or architectural marvels. In each case, the goal is the same – protection from predators and a nearby source of food. These structures, whether a nest, a burrow or a mound, are also the site of great dramas and extraordinary behaviors. From master builders like termites and beavers, to master decorators like the bowerbird, which places colorful flowers at the entrance to its nest, “The Animal House” will be a global look at the “homelife of wildlife.”

NOVA: The Fabric of the Cosmos: “What Is Space?” 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. Space. It separates you from me, one galaxy from the next and atoms from each other. It is everywhere in the universe. But to most of us, space is nothing, an empty void. Well, it turns out space is not what it seems. From the passenger seat of a New York cab driving near the speed of light to a pool hall where billiard tables do fantastical things, Greene reveals space as a dynamic fabric that can stretch, twist, warp and ripple under the influence of gravity. Stranger still is a newly discovered ingredient of space that actually makes up 70% of the universe. Physicists call it dark energy because while they know it’s out there, driving space to expand ever more quickly, they have no idea what it is. Probing space on the smallest scales only makes the mysteries multiply down there; things are going on that physicists today can barely fathom. To top it off, some of the strangest places in space, black holes, have led scientists to propose that like the hologram on your credit card, space may just be a projection of a deeper two-dimensional reality, taking place on a distant surface that surrounds us. Space, far from being empty, is filled with some of the deepest mysteries of our times.

Steve Jobs: One Last Thing 9 pm
In the aftermath of the death of probably the most inspirational computer designers and innovators of the 21st century, this film takes an in-depth look at the life and work of Apple boss, Steve Jobs to examine how and why he revolutionized our world.

Science Night: 10/26

Nature: Invasion of the Giant Pythons
Florida’s Everglades National Park is one of the last great wildlife refuges in the United States, home to numerous unique and endangered mammals, trees, plants, birds and turtles, as well as half a million alligators. However, the Everglades is also the dumping ground for many animal invaders over 15 species of parrot, 75 kinds of fish and 30 different reptiles from places as far away as Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. All of the intruders found their way into the park either by accidental escape from pet owners or intentional releases by people no longer wishing to care for an exotic species. Add to the mix tens of thousands of giant pythons, snakes that can grow to 20 feet and weigh nearly 300 pounds, some released into the wild by irresponsible pet owners, some escapees from almost 200 wildlife facilities destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The predatory pythons slithered into this protected wilderness and thrived, and the refuge has consequently become less of a haven and more of a killing ground every day since then.

NOVA: Iceman Murder Mystery

He’s been dead for more than 5,000 years. He’s been poked, prodded and probed by scientists for the last 20. And yet today, Otzi the Iceman, the famous mummified corpse pulled from a glacier in the Italian Alps nearly two decades ago, continues to keep many secrets. Now, through an autopsy like no other, scientists attempt to unravel more mysteries from this ancient mummy than ever before, revealing not only the details of Otzi’s death, but an entire way of life. How did people live during Otzi’s time, the Copper Age? What did we eat? What diseases did we cope with? The answers abound miraculously in this one man’s mummified remains.