This week, Science Night explores wild animals and primitive humans. Operation Wild dives into the sea as a manta ray receives an ultrasound and First Peoples journeys to land as we learn how our ancestors’ DNA has helped us to survive.
Operation Wild at 7 pm
On Operation Wild, learn whether an ingenious idea could help save giant pandas, and if an operation deep in the jungle can transform the life of a young gorilla. Watch as an elephant with a gunshot wound makes an extraordinary journey.
First Peoples Asia at 8 pm
What happened when we expanded out of Africa and into Asia — where did we go and whom did they meet along the way? The latest evidence suggests we left far earlier than previously thought and interbred with a newly-discovered type of ancient human — the Denisovans.
On this week’s Science Night, we explore the minds of animals and the history of people. NOVA brings you inside the brains of birds to discover if their talents are evidence of high intelligence or the result of training and instinct. And First Peoples explains how diversity was created in humans.
NOVA Inside Animal Minds: Bird Genius at 7 pm
What would it be like to go inside the mind of an animal? The revolutionary science of animal cognition is revealing hard evidence about how animals understand the world around them, uncovering their remarkable problem-solving abilities and exploring the complexity of their powers of communication and even their emotions. Meet a cockatoo with a talent for picking locks; a wild crow on a mission to solve an eight-step puzzle; and a tame raven who can solve a puzzle box so quickly that his performance has to be captured with high-speed photography.
First Peoples Americas/Africa at 8 pm
How closely related were the First Americans and today’s Native Americans? It’s a matter of huge controversy. There are very few other skeletons in the world that engender such strong feelings. Africa – 200,000 years ago, a new species appeared on the African landscape — Homo sapiens. Scientists imagined eastern Africa was a Garden of Eden, but the latest research suggests we evolved in many places across the continent at the same time. DNA from a 19th Century African-American slave is forcing geneticists to re-think the origins of our species.
This week, Science Night takes a look at World War II. NOVA tells the story of how a group of British officers dreamt of escaping a Nazi prisoner camp, while Nazi Mega Weapons tells you the history of the Atlantic Wall, Hitler’s massive defense structure. Plus, Nature takes you to Indonesia to discover why the number unique macaque monkeys is dwindling.
Nature The Funkiest Monkeys at 7 pm
Filmmaker Colin Stafford-Johnson returns to Sulawesi in Indonesia after twenty-five years to understand why numbers of feisty, expressive and unusual macaque monkeys have dropped dramatically. Teaming up with a local expert and creating the film allows him to share the macaques’ story with local schools and communities.
NOVA Escape from Nazi Alcatraz at 8 pm
This episode tells the story of Colditz Castle, a prisoner of war camp in Nazi Germany that was supposedly escape-proof. But at the end of World War II, a group of British officers dreamt up an elaborate escape plan involving a two-man glider made of bed sheets and floorboards. Now, a team of engineers and carpenters rebuilds the glider to see if the daring escape would have succeeded.
Nazi Mega Weapons Atlantic Wall at 9 pm
To protect occupied Europe from an Allied invasion, Hitler demanded the construction of a defensive wall stretching thousands of kilometers from France in the south to Norway in the north. This is the story of how this vast engineering project sucked in huge quantities of raw materials and men from all over the Third Reich and faced its ultimate test on D-Day.
Science Night this week explores the World War II underwater archaeological site left behind from one of history’s deadliest events: D-Day. Plus, Nature covers Florida Everglades National Park’s giant pythons, the park’s biggest and deadliest visitors to date.
Nature Invasion of the Giant Pythons at 7 pm
Florida’s Everglades National Park is one of the last great wildlife refuges in the United States. However, the Everglades is also the dumping ground for many animal invaders. 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, some released into the wild by irresponsible pet owners, some escapees from wildlife facilities destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The pythons slithered into this protected wilderness and thrived, and the refuge has become less of a haven and more of a killing ground every day since then.
NOVA D-Day’s Sunken Secrets at 8 pm
On June 6, 1944, 3,000 planes dropped 23,000 airborne troops behind German lines, and 7,000 ships delivered around 20,000 military vehicles and 130,000 allied soldiers, who stormed five heavily defended French beaches in an all-or-nothing assault on Nazi occupied Europe. Dive teams, submersibles, and robots alike now explore a massive underwater World War II site left behind from that fateful day.
Nature White Lions at 7 pm Wednesday tells the story of two remarkable and extremely rare white lion cubs on their journey to adulthood.
The earthquake that hit the northern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011 was recorded at magnitude 9.0 the worst ever to strike Japan. It generated an unprecedented tsunami. Surviving the Tsunami: A Nova Special at 8 pm Wednesday retold after-the-fact by the survivors who reveal what they were thinking as they made their life-saving decisions.
Ghost Army at 9 pm Wednesday tells the true story of American G.I.s who tricked the enemy with rubber tanks, sound effects and visual illusions during the World War II.
Nature My Bionic Pet at 7 pm Wednesday explores how technology can save injured animals. Left disabled without fins, flippers, beaks or tails because of disease, accidents or even human cruelty, these unfortunate creatures need what amounts to a miracle if they are to survive.
He risked his life for the nation and became a world icon, but who was Neil Armstrong? Find out on NOVA First Man On The Moon, Wednesday at 8 pm.
John Glenn: A Life of Service, Wednesday at 9 pm, chronicles the extraordinary life and career of an American legend. The documentary surveys Glenn’s distinguished military, NASA and political careers through archival footage and interviews with lawmakers, journalists, historians and NASA colleagues
Nature Sagebrush Sea, Wednesday at 7 pm, explores of the most overlooked ecosystems on the continent: a massive sea of sagebrush that stretches across 11 states in the American West.
NOVA Rise Of The Hackers, Wednesday at 8 pm, goes behind the scenes of the fast-paced world of cryptography to meet the scientists battling to keep our data safe. They are experts in extreme physics, math, and a new field called “ultra-paranoid computing,” all working to forge unbreakable codes and build ultra-fast computers.
Michael Palin’s epic voyages have seen him circumnavigate the globe, travel from the North to the South Pole and circle the countries of the Pacific Ocean, but perhaps the greatest challenge facing an intrepid explorer is crossing the vast and merciless Sahara Desert. Sahara With Michael Palin Dire Straits shows the explorer-adventurer at his very best, Wednesday at 9 pm.
Growing up is never easy, and finding food, avoiding predators and making friends does not always come naturally on Nature Animal Childhood at 7 pm Wednesday.
A deadly recipe threatens the survival of countless creatures throughout Earth’s oceans as carbon dioxide levels rise on Nova Lethal Seas at 8 pm Wednesday.
Michael Palin’s epic voyages have seen him circumnavigate the globe but perhaps the greatest challenge facing an intrepid explorer is crossing the vast and merciless Sahara Desert on Sahara with Michael Palin at 9 pm Wednesday.
Nature Mystery Monkeys of Shangri-la at 7 pm
This is the true story of a family of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys living in the highest forests in the world. Only recently discovered, snub-nosed monkeys are hauntingly beautiful primates, gentler than others of their kind. Elfin-like, they seem both childlike and wise beyond their years. The family is led by a formidable fighter and his fighting force who guard a troop of 8-10 families. The survival of this unique monkey society, formed in response to the hardships of the Himalayas, depends on strong defensive strategies and the cooperation and interdependence of them all.
Nova Manhunt: Boston Bomber at 8 pm
Which technologies worked—and which didn’t—in the race to track down the men behind the marathon attack?
Sahara with Michael Palin A Land in the Sand at 9 pm
Michael Palin’s epic voyages have seen him circumnavigate the globe, travel from the North to the South Pole and circle the countries of the Pacific Ocean, but perhaps the greatest challenge facing an intrepid explorer is crossing the vast and merciless Sahara Desert. There is no easy way to do it. This is Michael Palin, explorer-adventurer, at his very best. As the journey unfolds, the Sahara reveals not the emptiness of endless sand dunes, but a huge and diverse range of cultures and landscapes and a long history of civilization, trade, commerce and conquest stretching from the ancient Egyptians to the oil-rich Islamic republics of today.
Science Night this week celebrates the 25th anniversary of one of NASA’s most beloved projects – the Hubble Space Telescope – on NOVA. Plus: the final installment of Nature’s Animal Homes, and the story of Hitler’s Seigfried Line.
Nature Animal Homes: Animal Cities at 7 pm
For some animals, living in the midst of huge colonies of their own kind is the most secure and rewarding housing arrangement. Icelandic puffins form nesting colonies of more than a million, providing shared information about food sources and reducing the odds of attacks on individual birds. But colonies are useful for predators, too. Social spiders in Ecuador work together to capture prey 20 times the size an individual might subdue on its own.
NOVA Invisible Universe Revealed at 8 pm
Twenty-five years ago, NASA launched one of the most ambitious experiments in the history of astronomy: the Hubble Space Telescope. In honor of Hubble’s landmark anniversary, NOVA tells the remarkable story of the telescope that forever changed our understanding of the cosmos and our place in it. From its inception through its early days, when a one-millimeter engineering blunder turned the telescope into an object of ridicule, to the five heroic astronaut missions that returned Hubble to the cutting edge of science, NOVA hears from the scientists and engineers on the front line who tell the amazing Hubble story as never before.
Nazi Mega Weapons: The Siegfried Line at 9 pm
Five times the length of Hadrian’s Wall, Hitler’s Siegfried Line was one of the greatest fortifications in the history of warfare. The campaign to breach it took six months and cost the American forces close to 140,000 casualties. This is the story of the men who built it and those who gave their lives fighting to defend it and destroy it.