Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: South America at 7 pm
Condors and scarlet macaws take us to the Andes and the Amazon. Giant petrels in Patagonia shadow killer whales. Hummingbirds feed at Iguazu Falls, vultures ride the thermals over Rio de Janiero, and black vultures target turtle eggs in Costa Rica.
Nova, Secrets of the Viking Sword at 8 pm
A modern-day swordsmith reverse engineers the ultimate weapon of the Middle Ages — a sword both prized and feared.
Skeletons of the Sahara at 9 pm
This film tells the story of scientist Paul Sereno’s amazing discovery of a prehistoric human burial ground in the middle of one of the world’s most forbidding desert. Like many great scientific discoveries, this one happens by accident. Sereno, one of the world’s leading experts in finding fossils of dinosaurs and ancient crocodiles, is on an expedition to Niger, in Saharan Africa. Six weeks into a three-month journey, Sereno’s team makes an unexpected discovery. They find bones all right, but these bones don’t belong to prehistoric beasts — they are human bones, the last remnants of a people who lived from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago when this now forbidding landscape was a thriving culture on the edge of a vast lake. “Skeletons of the Sahara” tells the story of this find and what it reveals to us about two civilizations that once thrived in what is now the world’s largest desert.
Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: Europe at 7 pm
Cranes and geese rise over Venice, Dover, Edinburgh and the monkey-guarded Rock of Gibraltar. In Rome, the Loire Valley, Holland and Hungary, birds gather by the millions to breed and two by two to raise their families.
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?
Brains on Trail with Alan Alda: Deciding Punishment at 9 pm
Jimmy Moran is found guilty of badly injuring a woman during a robbery. In the sentencing phase of the trial, Judge Rakoff hears arguments from the court-appointed psychiatrist, the attorneys, the victim’s husband and Jimmy himself. Meanwhile, Alan Alda discovers how neuroscience is already influencing the sentencing of defendants – especially young defendants – by revealing how the immature teenage brain is vulnerable to foolish and impulsive acts. Before Judge Rakoff pronounces Jimmy’s sentence, Alda meets a judge who has volunteered to have his own brain probed as he makes sentencing decisions. This episode focuses on the sentence phase of Moran’s trial. We investigate Moran’s brain and look into what factors could have played into pulling the trigger.
Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: Africa at 7 pm
Fly and arrow-dive with cape gannets among sharks, dolphins, whales and the great sardine run. Soar with fish eagles, flamingoes, kelp gulls and vultures to see the most animal-packed continent with fresh eyes.
Nova Ground Zero Supertower at 8 pm
NOVA returns to Ground Zero to witness the final chapter in an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit: the completion of One World Trade Center, the skyscraper rising up 104 stories and 1,776 feet from the site where the Twin Towers once stood. In this update of NOVA’s “Engineering Ground Zero, ” which featured behind-the-scenes access to the struggles of the engineers and architects working at 1 WTC and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, NOVA goes inside the construction of the new tower’s final floors and the installation of its soaring, 800-ton spire and beacon. But 1 WTC isn’t the only engineering marvel taking shape here: NOVA goes underground to see the construction of a multi-billion dollar transit center whose sweeping, sinuous design is said to be inspired by the shape of a bird being released from a child’s hand. Will the buildings be completed on time under competing business, environmental, and safety demands? And will the final product be a fitting site for national remembrance?
Brains on Trail with Alan Alda: Determining Guilt at 9 pm
On trial is Jimmy Moran, who at 18 took part in a store robbery during which the storeowner’s wife was shot and grievously injured. Presiding is distinguished U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who has a longstanding interest in neuroscience and its conceivable effect on criminal law. The trial raises common questions: Is a witness lying? How reliable is eyewitness testimony? What’s the best way to avoid a biased jury? How well can the defendant’s intentions be judged? Alan Alda explores how brain-scanning technology is providing insights into these questions and discusses the implications of neuroscience entering the courtroom. This episode showcases the guilt phase of Moran’s trial. We peer into the brains of others in the courtroom: the witnesses, judges and jurors.
Earthflight, A Nature Special Presentation: North America at 7 pm
Snow geese, pelicans, and bald eagles fly over the Great Plains, the Grand Canyon, Alaska and the Golden Gate Bridge as they encounter and engage with bears, dolphins, bison, and spawning fish.
National Parks: America’s Best Idea at 8 pm
In John Muir’s absence, a new leader steps forward on behalf of America’s remaining pristine places; a new federal agency is created to protect the parks; and in Arizona, a fight breaks out over the fate of the grandest canyon on earth.
Nature Cracking the Koala Code at 7 pm
From the miracle of marsupial birth to tender moments of discovery between mother and newborn joey, encounters with threatening forest creatures, battles between rival males and the complex chorus of bellows and grunts that have become so important to science — join leading scientists as they unravel just what a forest needs to support a healthy population of koalas by listening to these marsupial.
Nova Making Stuff Cleaner at 8 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Cleaner – Host David Pogue is on a quest to clean up, using new green materials to build and power the devices of the future. Batteries grown from viruses, plastics made of sugar and solar cells that cook up hydrogen are just the beginning of a new generation of clean materials.
Nova Making Stuff Smarter at 9 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Smarter – An army tanker truck that heals its own bullet wounds. An airplane wing that changes shape as it flies. Clothing that can monitor its wearer’s heart rate, health and mood. Host David Pogue looks into the growing number of smart materials that can respond, change and even learn.
Nature Bird of the Gods at 7 pm
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.
Nova Making Stuff Stronger at 8 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Stronger – What is the world’s strongest material? From steel to Kevlar and spider silk to carbon nanotubes, host David Pogue looks at the ways in which science and nature work to make strong stuff.
Nova Making Stuff Smaller at 9 pm
From carbon nanotubes to artificial skin, our world is poised at the frontier of a revolution in materials science as far-reaching as the biotech breakthroughs of the last two decades. This series explores how materials changed history and are shaping the future, ranging from cost-effective fuel cells and solar panels to quantum computers and ultra-light automobiles. The New York Times’ technology correspondent and best-selling author David Pogue brings his trademark goofball humor and techie zeal to this exploration of the future of “stuff.” Each episode explores the talent, luck and determination that can turn a wild idea into a cutting-edge material or high-tech breakthrough. Making Stuff Smaller – Here in the information age, smaller is better: transistors, microchips and the laptops and cell phone that they power are triumphs of tiny. Now, host David Pogue takes us to an even smaller world, as he profiles the latest in high-powered nano-circuits and micro-robots that may one day hold the key to saving lives and building materials from the ground up.
Nature Outback Pelicans at 7 pm
In years of heavy rain, the inhospitable Australian outback transforms into a surprising oasis for Australia’s pelicans. They leave coastal homes for the outback. The abundance of food and water makes it the perfect place to breed and raise families. But much about their lives and their journey remain a mystery that researchers are only now beginning to unravel.
NOVA Kings of Camouflage at 8 pm
Cuttlefish are one of the strangest animals on our planet. These shape-shifting creatures can hypnotize their prey, impersonate the opposite sex and even kill with lightening fast speed. More accomplished masters of disguise than any chameleon, they have an incredible ability to morph their skin color — even their shape — to blend into most any background. They have the largest brain-to-body ratio of all the invertebrates. But are they capable of learning and remembering complex tasks? With beautiful underwater footage and in-depth expert interviews, NOVA gets up close and personal with these bizarre and amazing animals.
The Truth About Exercise with Michael Mosley at 9 pm
Whether you’re running, swimming, cycling or hula hooping, we have always been told that doing regular exercise will improve our bodies and is one of the keys to a healthy and happy life. Our one-size-fits-all approach to maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is very rarely questioned, but with recent advances in genetic testing technology and brain stimulation techniques, scientists are uncovering the new and surprising truths about what exercise is really doing to our bodies, and why we all respond to it differently. In this program, Michael Mosley uses himself as a human guinea pig to discover the truth about exercise.
Nature Odd Couples at 7 pm
Love apparently knows no boundaries in the animal kingdom. Despite the odds, there are countless stories of the most unlikely cross-species relationships imaginable. Instincts gone awry? NATURE investigates why animals form these special bonds and what these relationships suggest about the nature of animal emotions.
Nazi Mega Weapons V2 Rocket at 10 pm
The first ever long-range rockets were designed and built by the Nazis in a network of top-secret research labs, underground silos and hi-tech launch pads. This is the story of how scientist Werner von Braun heralded the birth of ballistic missiles and laid the technological foundations for the space race.
Nature Siberian Tiger Quest at 7 pm
Conservation ecologist Chris Morgan embarks on a challenge that will fulfill a lifelong dream — to find and film a Siberian tiger living wild and free in Russia’s far eastern forests. To help him, Morgan turns to Korean cameraman Sooyong Park, the first individual ever to film Siberian tigers in the wild.
NOVA 3D Spies of WWII at 8 pm
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.
Nazi Mega Weapons U-Boat Base at 9 pm
To create a haven in port for their lethal U-boat submarines, the Nazis built massive, impenetrable concrete submarine pens. Structures too immense to be hidden, they were constructed to withstand direct hits from even the biggest Allied bombs. Such was their size and strength that these pens survive today, a testament to their engineering.
Nature Elsa’s Legacy at 7 pm
“Born Free” – a book and then a film that changed forever the way we think about wildlife, marked its 50th anniversary of the publication in 2010. What has happened to lions since this story? And what has happened to the people featured in the film? What has “Born Free” taught us?
Nova Ghosts of Machu Picchu at 8 pm
Perched atop a mountain crest, mysteriously abandoned more than four centuries ago, Machu Picchu is the most famous archeological ruin in the Western hemisphere and an iconic symbol of the power and engineering prowess of the Inca. In the years since Machu Picchu was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, there have been countless theories about this “Lost City of the Incas,” yet it remains an enigma. Why did the Incas build it on such an inaccessible site, clinging to the steep face of a mountain? Who lived among its stone buildings, farmed its emerald green terraces, and drank from its sophisticated aqueduct system? NOVA joins a new generation of archeologists as they probe areas of Machu Picchu that haven’t been touched since the time of the Incas and unearth burials of the people who built the sacred site.
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.