Sculptors and archaeologists team up in an attempt to solve the mysteries of the lost city of Petra. Plus, a look at how owls’ keen senses work and an investigation of Earth’s oceans and the threats they face on the Feb. 18 Science Night.
Nature Owl Power at 7 p.m.
For centuries, owls have been fascinating hallmarks of children’s stories and folk tales the world over. What actually makes owls so special? Using the camera technology, computer graphics, x-rays and ultra-microscopes available in the modern world, take a new look at owls in more detail than ever before. The real stories behind how they hunt, how their vision and hearing work, and how they fly so silently are influencing 21st-century technology and design, from high-tech aircraft and submarines to innovative hearing aids.
NOVA Petra — Lost City Of Stone at 8 p.m.
More than two thousand years ago, the thriving city of Petra rose up in the bone-dry desert of what is now Jordan. An oasis of culture and abundance, the city was built by wealthy merchants whose camel caravans transported incense and spices across hundreds of miles from the Arabian Gulf. They carved spectacular temple-tombs into its soaring cliffs, raised a monumental Great Temple at its heart, and devised an ingenious system that channeled water to vineyards, bathhouses, fountains, and pools. But following a catastrophic earthquake and a slump in its desert trade routes, Petra’s unique culture faded and was lost to most of the world for nearly a thousand years. Now, in a daring experiment, an archaeologist and sculptors team up to carve an iconic temple-tomb to find out how the ancient people of Petra built their city of stone. And beyond Petra’s city of the dead, scientists using remote sensors and hydraulic flumes discover a city of the living-complete with a water system that not only supplied 30,000 people with enough to drink, but also filled bathhouses, fountains, and pools with such abundance that some scholars believe this desert metropolis may have been the Las Vegas of the ancient world. The race is on to discover how these nomads created this oasis of culture in one of the harshest climates on earth, and ultimately, why Petra disappeared.
Earth A New Wild Oceans at 9 p.m.
Starting on the most pristine reef on Earth, home to more predators than prey, Sanjayan draws on his own ocean experiences to reveal a vibrant community of scientists, engineers and fishermen who are providing solutions that can help restore the oceans in astonishing ways. He is aware of the vast scale of the threat to our oceans, but standing in the water playing midwife to a large lemon shark is just one of the moments that give him hope that we can turn around our influence on the most important habitat on Earth.