PBS' premier science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines. Along the way, NOVA demystifies science and technology, and highlights the people involved in scientific pursuits.
Best Episodes of NOVA
Whales, Dolphins, and Men
17th Mar 1974
NOVA explores the impact of whaling and the goods it produces for the industry, verses the grace and beatury of this intelligent mammal of the sea.
Ocean Animal Emergency
25th Nov 2008
NOVA takes you inside a very special ER to witness the efforts of wildlife veterinarians as they fight to save their animal patients as well as to uncover the cause of a mysterious neurological illness plaguing marine mammals like California sea lions and harbor seal pups. Part emergency room, part rehab facility, and part research lab, the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California means the difference between life and death for sick and injured ocean animals. Not only are the animal patients endearing, they are also sending us an urgent message about the health of our oceans.
Surviving the Tsunami
28th Sep 2011
The earthquake that hit the northern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, was recorded at magnitude 9.0 the worst ever recorded in Japan. It generated an unprecedented tsunami, obliterating coastal villages and towns in a matter of minutes. In some areas, the tsunami climbed above 100 feet in height and traveled miles inland. Amazingly, amateur and professional photographers captured it all on video, including remarkable tales of human survival, as ordinary citizens became heroes in a drama they never could have imagined. As the waves rush in, a daughter struggles to help her elderly mother ascend their rooftop to safety; a man climbs onto an overpass just as the wave overtakes his car. These never-before-seen stories are captured in video and retold after the fact by the survivors who reveal what they were thinking as they made their life-saving decisions. Their stories provide lessons for how we should all act in the face of life-threatening disasters.
Ghost in Your Genes
16th Oct 2007
Experts investigate how a mysterious "second genome" helps determine our biological fates.
Hunting the Elements
4th Apr 2012
Where do nature’s building blocks, called the elements, come from? They’re the hidden ingredients of everything in our world, from the carbon in our bodies to the metals in our smartphones. To unlock their secrets, David Pogue, the lively host of NOVA’s popular "Making Stuff" series and technology correspondent of The New York Times, spins viewers through the world of weird, extreme chemistry: the strongest acids, the deadliest poisons, the universe’s most abundant elements, and the rarest of the rare—substances cooked up in atom smashers that flicker into existence for only fractions of a second.
Engineering Ground Zero
7th Sep 2011
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, NOVA presents an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit. With extraordinary access granted by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, “Engineering Ground Zero” follows the five-year construction of One World Trade Center (1 WTC) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Apollo's Daring Mission
26th Dec 2018
Apollo astronauts and engineers tell the inside story of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. The U.S. space program suffered a bitter setback when Apollo 1 ended in a deadly fire during a pre-launch run-through. In disarray, and threatened by the prospect of a Soviet Union victory in the space race, NASA decided upon a radical and risky change of plan: turn Apollo 8 from an earth-orbit mission into a daring sprint to the moon while relying on untried new technologies. Fifty years after the historic mission, the Apollo 8 astronauts and engineers recount the feats of engineering that paved the way to the moon.
4th Jan 2012
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, we will 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 it might happen, and exactly how deadly they could prove to be.
19th Feb 2008
At a research site in Fongoli, Senegal, a female chimpanzee breaks off a branch, chews the end to make it sharp, and then uses this rudimentary spear to skewer a tasty bush baby hiding inside a hollow tree. It’s an astonishing breakthrough for primate researchers—the first time anyone has documented a chimpanzee wielding a carefully prepared, preplanned weapon. But it's only the latest in a slew of extraordinary new findings about ape behavior. The more researchers learn about the great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans—the more evidence they find of creative intelligence. What, then, is the essential difference between them and us? "Ape Genius," a NOVA-National Geographic special, explores that provocative question and examines research that is illuminating the ape mind. Bit by bit, investigators are finding an explanation for why the non-human great apes never made the breakthrough into a human-style culture that builds on the achievements of previous generations.
17th Apr 2007
In the remote mountains of China, scientist come closer to understanding the origins of flowers.
Shadow of the Condor
2nd Nov 1993
NOVA soars with the condor, an extraordinary bird that lives a tenuous existence in the California mountains and the Andes of South America. Footage includes never-before-photographed nesting sites in the cliffs of Patagonia.
8th Feb 2012
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 that will prepare them for the ultimate challenge: a marathon separation surgery that will allow them to live truly separate lives. Since the beginning, 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 to this extraordinary human and medical drama, our cameras have been with Trishna and Krishna and their caregivers at each moment of their journey.
Making Stuff: Cleaner
2nd Feb 2011
Can innovations in materials science help clean up our world? In "Making Stuff: Cleaner," David Pogue explores the rapidly developing science and business of clean energy and examines alternative ways to generate it, store it, and distribute it. Is hydrogen the way to go? What about lithium batteries? Does this solve an energy problem or create a new dependency? Pogue investigates the latest developments in bio-based fuels and in harnessing solar energy for our cars, homes, and industry in a program full of the stuff of a sustainable future.
Space Shuttle Disaster
14th Oct 2008
At the end of a nearly flawless 15-day mission in early 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry into Earth's atmosphere, killing the crew of seven men and women. In this documentary, NOVA probes the accident and the decisions stretching back four decades that made the tragedy almost inevitable. It offers a penetrating look at the history of the shuttle program and the political pressures that made the shuttle a highly complex engineering compromise, which fell short of its ambitious goal to make space travel routine, cheap, and safe.
3D Spies of WWII
18th Jan 2012
During World War II, Hitler’s scientists developed terrifying new weapons of mass destruction. Alarmed by rumors of 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 dealt 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 the Nazis.
8th May 2007
The recent archeological discovery of the Native American Powhatan village of Werowocomoco, sheds new light on the Jamestown story of Pocahontas.
Life's Greatest Miracle
20th Nov 2001
A sequel to the most popular NOVA of all time, "Miracle of Life," the program once again uses the extraordinary microimagery of Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson to track human development from embryo to newborn.
Crash of Flight 447
16th Feb 2011
On June 1, 2009, Flight AF447, an Air France Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean with the loss of all 228 lives. How could a state-of-the-art airliner with elaborate electronic safety and navigation features and a faultless safety record simply fall out of the sky? NOVA assembles a team of seasoned pilots, engineers, and safety experts to examine the evidence that emerged in the weeks following this horrific disaster. What led Flight 447's crew to fly straight into a towering thunderstorm? With expert testimony, satellite weather images, and messages transmitted by the doomed plane's computer system, NOVA pieces together the fatal chain of events.
Emergency Mine Rescue
26th Oct 2010
This one-hour film chronicles the fate of the 33 miners trapped in a collapsed Chilean gold and copper mine in August 2010 and investigates the many challenges faced by both the miners and those working around the clock to bring them safely to the surface. NOVA was on-site at the San José mine in Chile by early September. Conferred special access, NOVA's film crew interviewed engineers, NASA experts, medical personnel, and key figures from the companies that provided drills and crucial rescue equipment to give a more detailed scientific account of the unfolding events. The resulting film, using footage from the scene as well as advanced animation, showcases the extraordinary feats of engineering as well as the biological and geological factors inherent in the rescue. "Emergency Mine Rescue" also examines the psychological and physiological impact of this kind of prolonged ordeal on the miners and those involved in the rescue efforts.
Ice Age Death Trap
1st Feb 2012
In a race against developers in the Rocky Mountains, archeologists uncover a unique fossil site packed with astonishingly well-preserved bones of mammoths, mastodons, and other giant extinct beasts. The discovery opens a highly focused window on the vanished world of the Ice Age in North America.
Trapped in an Elevator
2nd Nov 2010
A documentary examining the ubiquitous transportation device as used in modern day and features a recounting of a real-life horror story of one individual's experiences when stuck in an elevator for an extraordinarily long period of time.
The Deadliest Plane Crash
17th Oct 2006
On March 27, 1977, on the island of Tenerife, two fully loaded 747 jumbo jets collided on a fog-blanketed runway, claiming the lives of 583 people in what is still the deadliest crash in aviation history. Now, almost 30 years later, near misses on the ground are the leading cause of aviation accidents, raising the question of what can be done to improve runway safety. Featuring moving interviews with the few survivors of the disaster and with top accident investigators, this program examines the fateful confluence of events that led to the Tenerife tragedy and its continuing relevance for air travel today.
The Most Dangerous Woman in America
12th Oct 2004
Examine the complex case of Typhoid Mary, a cook that was quaratined for life against her will in the early 1900s.
30th Sep 2003
A battered manuscript turns up after 1000 years revealing the mind of the Greek genius Archimedes
Sinking City of Venice
19th Nov 2002
Experts struggle to save the City of Canals before it vanishes beneath the waves.
Secrets of Lost Empires: Medieval Siege (1)
1st Feb 2000
In the film, which is a part of the NOVA series Secrets of Lost Empires, a team of timber framers and other specialists design, build, and fire a pair of trebuchets, a devastating engine of war popular in the Middle Ages.
Three Men and a Balloon
15th Oct 1996
One of the final aeronautics challenges left in the world today does not involve the use of a plane, a rocket, or even an engine. No one has yet been able to circumnavigate the earth in a balloon. Any team attempting the feat would have to fly higher than most planes ever fly and would need a passenger capsule that could both offer protection from extreme cold and carry the proper navigation and life support equipment. Depending on the powerful jet stream to propel them, crew members would have to plot their course carefully and plan their schedule to coincide with the most advantageous winds. Even landing would be a risky venture. This program follows a team of three adventurers as they attempt to make just such a journey.
The NOVA Quiz
5th Oct 1993
NOVA fans from around the country match wits in a fast-paced contest of general science knowledge celebrating NOVA's 20th anniversary. Famous guests pose questions for the viewers at home. Marc Summers hosts.
17th Oct 1989
Five architects compete for the approval of architecture-obsessed Chicagoans in the contest to build the city's new public library. NOVA looks at the strengths and weakness of each of the suprisingly varied entries.
The Last Journey of a Genius
24th Jan 1989
NOVA looks at the bongo-playing scientist, adventurer, safecracker and yarn-spinner Richard Feynman, most recently famous for his role as gadfly of the Presidential Commission investigating the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
Is Anybody Out There?
18th Nov 1986
Could there be life beyond Earth? Only recently has it become possible to scan the skies in a systematic attempt to find out. NOVA joins the search with guest host Lily Tomlin.
The Planet that Got Knocked on its Side
21st Oct 1986
The adventures of the Voyager 2 spacecraft continue as it passes the rings of Uranus. Scientists suspect that violent events in the early history of the planet may have shaped Uranus and its strange collection of moons.
Acid Rain: New Bad News
11th Dec 1984
The debate over acid rain continues to grow. NOVA travels to West Germany, the mid-Atlantic states and New England to examine the controversy surrounding this phenomenon.
Will I Walk Again?
28th Feb 1984
Is there a cure for paralyzing spinal injuries? Most neurosurgeons are doubtful, pointing to the central nervous system's most apparent inability to heal itself. But others dispute the point. NOVA explores the debate, the hopes for a cure and recent breakthroughs to help paralyzed patients.
Asbestos: A Lethal Legacy
1st Mar 1983
Every 58 minutes between now and the end of the century, one American will die from asbestos exposure. NOVA turns its spotlight on the tragic consequences of asbestos use and on the current controversy over who is responsible.
8th Feb 1983
A gripping docudrama about a mysterious, highly lethal disease which struck a village in Nigeria in 1969, and the frustrating, seesaw battle against it. NOVA recounts how public health workers came perilously close to accidentally releasing a deadly virus in the US.
The Making of a Natural History Film
4th Jan 1983
To celebrate its 10th broadcast season, NOVA repeats the very first NOVA program every aired, a fascinating and delightful program about how wildlife films are made.
The Fabric of the Cosmos: Quantum Leap
16th Nov 2011
Join Brian Greene on a wild ride into the weird realm of quantum physics, which governs the universe on the tiniest of scales. Brian 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.
Dogs and More Dogs
3rd Feb 2004
NOVA goes beyond the wagging tails and floppy ears to reveal surprising insights into the origin and evolutionary strategy of our canine companions. From a wolf research facility in rural Indiana to New York’s Westminster Dog Show, you’ll discover some amazing dog facts. Did you know the Saluki can beat any other mammal on earth in a three-mile race? That dogs developed spots for a specific reason? And that their evolution is helping us learn about our own?
Roman Catacomb Mystery
5th Feb 2014
Beneath the streets of Rome lies a city of the dead known as the Catacombs—a labyrinth of tunnels, hundreds of miles long, lined with the neatly laid out tombs of the citizens of ancient Rome. Here, in 2002, maintenance workers fixing a broken water main stumbled upon a previously unknown burial chamber like none other in the complex. It was a mass grave of hundreds of bodies spread across six roughly carved caverns, locked away for nearly 2000 years. Who were these people? And can we discover, after all these centuries, what killed them? Could they be Christian martyrs massacred by the Emperor? Or were they felled by a deadly plague? In “Roman Catacomb Mystery,” NOVA’s forensic investigation follows a trail of ancient clues to uncover new secrets of life, death, and disease in the heyday of a mighty empire.
20th Apr 2011
Can emerging technology defeat global warming? The United States has invested tens of billions of dollars in clean energy projects as our leaders try to save our crumbling economy and our poisoned planet in one bold, green stroke. Are we finally on the brink of a green-energy "power surge," or is it all a case of too little, too late? From solar panel factories in China to a carbon capture-and-storage facility in the Sahara desert to massive wind and solar installations in the United States, NOVA travels the globe to reveal the surprising technologies that just might turn back the clock on climate change. NOVA will focus on the latest and greatest innovations, including everything from artificial trees to green reboots of familiar technologies like coal and nuclear energy. Can our technology, which helped create this problem, now solve it?
Ghosts of Machu Picchu
2nd Feb 2010
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.
Saved by the Sun
24th Apr 2007
As the Earth heats up at a dangerous rate and fossil fuels become scarcer, ordinary citizens and businesses are bypassing the federal government to lead the way in exploring a clean, renewable source of power: the sun. In this report, NOVA shines a light on how and why people across America and the world are "going solar," using radiant energy of the sun to power homes, businesses, and even entire communities. But can everyday people really make a difference by using solar power? And can solar technologies, with their high cost and logistical challenges, truly play a bigger role in powering the future of humanity? The grand hopes, latest innovations, roiling controversies, and practical realities of solar power all come to the fore in this program.
Mystery of the Megavolcano
26th Sep 2006
Researchers unearth clues about the greatest Volcanic eruption of the past 100000 years.
16th Nov 2004
Archeologists excavate Stalag Luft 3, the site of the greatest WWII prisoner escape. Prisoners of the camp are also interviewed.
Descent Into the Ice
10th Feb 2004
A team of "glacionauts" verntures into a labyrinth of unexplored and hazardous glacier caves on France's Mt. Blanc.
The Orchid Hunter
26th Nov 2002
For nine months in 2000, Tom Hart Dyke was a captive of guerrillas who seized him while he was collecting wild orchids in the Colombian rain forest. Now Hart Dyke is at it again in the most orchid-rich and one of the most politically unstable parts of Irian Jaya, the western half of the island of New Guinea.
Secret of the Wild Child
18th Oct 1994
NOVA profiles "Genie," a girl whose parents kept her imprisoned in near total isolation from infancy. When social workers discoverd her as a teenager, Genie had not learned to walk or talk. This NOVA documentary includes never-before-seen footage of Genie during her rehabilitation and probes how and when we learn the skills that make us "human."
Salmon on the Run
10th Jan 1982
NOVA captures the breathtaking power and determination of these amazing creatures and examines how business and technology are changing the fishing industry—and the salmon itself.
Ultimate Mars Challenge
14th Nov 2012
Why go back to Mars? Far from dead, Mars holds untold potential. Nearly half a century of Mars exploration has yielded tantalizing clues that Mars may once have harbored life—and may harbor it still. The extraordinary landing of a revolutionary rover named Curiosity—which successfully touched down inside the Gale Crater—means we have wheels down on the planet once again, in the form of the most sophisticated robot ever to rove the Mars surface. Will NASA's bold mission and this marvel of technology answer some of our biggest questions and usher in a new golden age of exploration? NOVA goes behind the scenes on NASA’s quest to solve the riddles of the red planet.
Finding Life Beyond Earth: Are We Alone?
19th Oct 2011
Take a spectacular trip to distant realms of our solar system to discover where secret forms of life may lie hidden. Combining the latest telescope images with dazzling animation, this program immerses audiences in the sights and sounds of alien worlds, while top astrobiologists explain how these places are changing how we think about the potential for life in our solar system. We used to think our neighboring planets and moons were fairly boring—mostly cold, dead rocks where life could never take hold. Today, however, the solar system looks wilder than we ever imagined.
26th Sep 2018
NOVA takes you inside the operating room to witness organ transplant teams transferring organs from donors to recipients. Meet families navigating both sides of a transplant, and researchers working to end the organ shortage. Their efforts to understand organ rejection, discover ways to keep organs alive outside the body, and even grow artificial organs with stem cells, could save countless lives.
Secret Tunnel Warfare
6th Jan 2016
During World War I, the Allies and Germans repeatedly struggled to break the hideous stalemate of trench warfare. In the winter of 1916, Allied engineers devised a massive surprise attack: over 1 million pounds of explosives hidden in secret tunnels driven under German lines. Building the tunnels was desperate work, with tunnelers at constant risk from flooding, cave-ins, and enemy digging teams. In June of 1917, the planted mines at Messines were simultaneously triggered, killing an estimated 10,000 German troops instantly. Now, archaeologists are revealing the extraordinary scale and risks of the Allied tunneling operations in one of the biggest excavations ever undertaken on the Western Front. “Secret Tunnel Warfare” opens a unique window on the frenzy of Allied mining activity that led up to the attack and its bitter aftermath.
Making North America: Origins
4th Nov 2015
The epic 3 billion-year story of how our continent came to be. From the palm trees that once flourished in Alaska to titanic eruptions that nearly tore the Midwest in two, discover how forces of almost unimaginable power gave birth to North America.
8th Oct 2014
As the Ebola epidemic threatens to spiral out of control, NOVA reports from the hot zone, where courageous medical teams struggle to cope with a flood of victims, to labs where scientists are racing to test vaccines and find a cure. "Surviving Ebola" includes chilling first-hand interviews of what it's like to contract — and survive — this terrible affliction.
Can Psychedelics Cure?
19th Oct 2022
Hallucinogenic drugs—popularly called psychedelics—have been used by human societies for thousands of years. Today, scientists are taking a second look at many of these mind-altering substances – both natural and synthetic – and discovering that they can have profoundly positive clinical impacts, helping patients struggling with a range of afflictions from addiction to depression and PTSD.
Manhunt - Boston Bombers
29th May 2013
NOVA follows the manhunt for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers examining the role modern technology played in the case.
Bird Brain: The Mystery of Bird Navigation
21st Apr 1974
Birds migrate in search of perpetual summer, sometimes traveling as much as 20,000 miles every year. NOVA uses radar to track and identify migrating birds that travel at night, focusing on how they coose routes tat avoid bad weather and make the best of prevailing winds—information that can aid meteorologists.
13th May 2015
Sharply rising carbon emissions are entering Earth's seas at a staggering rate, raising their acidity. Learn how scientists are researching the effects and looking for solutions.
Secret Mind of Slime
16th Sep 2020
Scientists investigate the bizarre “intelligence” of slime molds, which appear to learn and make decisions—without a brain. These cunning, single-celled blobs can navigate mazes and create efficient networks. Can they also redefine cognition?
Decoding the Weather Machine
18th Apr 2018
Disastrous hurricanes. Widespread droughts and wildfires. Withering heat. Extreme rainfall. It is hard not to conclude that something’s up with the weather, and many scientists agree. It’s the result of the weather machine itself—our climate—changing, becoming hotter and more erratic. In this 2-hour documentary, NOVA will cut through the confusion around climate change.
The Fabric of the Cosmos: What is Space?
2nd Nov 2011
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.
Chinese Chariot Revealed
17th May 2017
For over 1000 years, chariots thundered across China's battlefields - dominating warfare longer than anywhere else on earth. Now, archaeological findings enable a team of experts to reconstruct and test China's first super-weapon.
Why Sharks Attack
7th May 2014
In recent years, an unusual spate of deadly shark attacks has gripped Australia, resulting in five deaths in ten months. At the same time, great white sharks have begun appearing in growing numbers off the beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, not far from the waters where Steven Spielberg filmed the ultimate shark fright film, Jaws. What's behind the mysterious arrival of this apex predator in an area where they've rarely been seen for hundreds of years? Are deadly encounters with tourists inevitable? To separate fact from fear, NOVA teams up with leading shark experts in Australia and the United States to discover the science behind the great white's hunting instincts. Do sharks ever target humans, or is each attack a tragic case of mistaken identity? And can a deeper understanding of shark senses lead scientists to design effective deterrents and help prevent future attacks?
The Fabric of the Cosmos: Universe or Multiverse?
23rd Nov 2011
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. In this show, 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.
Pluto and Beyond
2nd Jan 2019
Since it explored Pluto in 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft has been zooming toward NASA’s most distant target yet. Join the mission team as the probe attempts to fly by Ultima Thule, an object 4 billion miles from Earth.
Inside Animal Minds: Who's the Smartest?
23rd Apr 2014
What makes an animal smart? What forces of evolution drive brains to become more complex? Many scientists believe the secret lies in our relationships. Throughout the animal kingdom, some of the cleverest creatures—including humans—seem to be those who live in complex social groups, like dolphins, elephants, and apes. Could the skills required to keep track of friend and foe make animals smarter? To find out, NOVA goes inside the social lives of some of the smartest animals on the planet. Off the coast of Florida, we see dolphins team up to catch fish by whipping up a wall of muddy water that drives the meal right into their companions’ waiting mouths. It seems that the dolphins are working together to plan their hunt. But are they really? Biologists go on a quest to decipher the secrets of animal societies, from the seas of the Caribbean to the plains of Africa. Do dolphins and elephants have “language?" Do chimps have a sense of fairness? And are any animals besides ourselves capable of feeling empathy?
Secrets of the Sun
25th Apr 2012
It contains 99.9 percent of all the matter in our solar system and sheds hot plasma at nearly a million miles an hour. The temperature at its core is a staggering 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. It convulses, it blazes, it sings. You know it as the sun. Scientists know it as one of the most amazing physics laboratories in the universe. Now, with the help of new spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes, scientists are seeing the sun as they never have before and even recreating what happens at its very center in labs here on Earth. Their work will help us understand aspects of the sun that have puzzled scientists for decades. But more critically, it may help us predict and track solar storms that have the power to zap our power grid, shut down telecommunications, and ground global air travel for days, weeks, or even longer. Such storms have happened before—but never in the modern era of satellite communication. "Secrets of the Sun" reveals a bright new dawn in our understanding of our nearest star—one that might help keep our planet from going dark.
Death Dive to Saturn
13th Sep 2017
Aiming to skim less than 2000 miles above the cloud tops, no spacecraft has ever gone so close to Saturn, and hopes are high for incredible observations that could solve major mysteries about the planet’s core. Join NASA engineers for the tense and triumphant moments as they find out if their bold reprogramming has worked, and discover the wonders that Cassini has revealed over the years.
First Air War
29th Oct 2014
When World War I began in 1914, the air forces of the opposing nations consisted of handfuls of rickety biplanes from which pilots occasionally took pot shots at one another with rifles. By 1918, the fighter had become an efficient killing machine with a growing strategic impact on the outcome of the war. With the help of a unique collection of meticulously recreated flying replicas, NOVA traces the story of the designers, engineers, and brave pilots caught up in the race to dominate the skies over the western front.
15th Sep 2021
Bats have been implicated in deadly epidemics such as COVID-19 and Ebola, yet scientists are discovering evidence that they may hold a key to a longer and healthier life. From caves in Thailand and Texas to labs around the globe, NOVA meets the scientists who are decoding the superpowers of the bat.
The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time
9th Nov 2011
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?
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial
13th Nov 2007
Using courtroom reenactments based on transcripts and interviews with those present, NOVA looks at the events of the federal case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District.
The Elegant Universe: Welcome to the 11th Dimension (3)
4th Nov 2003
Part 3 of "The Elegant Universe” with host Brian Greene shows how 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 requires a total of eleven dimensions. Ten...eleven...who's counting? But the new 11th dimension implies that strings can come in shapes called membranes, or "branes" for short. These have 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 on one right now.
The Planets: Saturn
7th Aug 2019
Nasa's Cassini reveals the mysteries of Saturn's rings and new hope for life on one of its moons.
Crash of Flight 111
17th Feb 2004
One of the most exhaustive investigations in aviation history reveals telling clues to the cause of a dissaster off Nova Scotia.
The Planets: Ice Worlds
14th Aug 2019
Uranus and Neptune's unexpected rings, supersonic winds and dozens of moons; an up-close view of Pluto before exploring the Kuiper belt.
20th May 2020
Eagles dominate the skies. But what makes these predators so special? Researchers study one special bird—and stunning up-close footage reveals her exceptional strength, eyesight, and flying skills. With intimate access to a new bald eagle family, NOVA takes you into the nest to witness the drama of chicks struggling to survive.
Cracking Your Genetic Code
28th Mar 2012
What will it mean when most of us can afford to have the information in our DNA—all three billion chemical letters of it—read, stored, and available for analysis? In "Cracking Your Genetic Code," NOVA reveals that we stand on the verge of a revolution. We meet cancer patients returned to robust health and a cystic fibrosis sufferer breathing easily because scientists have been able to pinpoint and neutralize the genetic abnormalities underlying their conditions. What are the moral dilemmas raised by the new technology? Will it help or hurt us to know our genetic destiny? What if such information falls into the hands of insurance companies, employers, and prospective mates? One thing is for certain: The new era of personalized, gene-based medicine is relevant to everyone. Soon, all of us may be deciding whether to join the ranks of the DNA generation.
Australia's First 4 Billion Years: Monsters
24th Apr 2013
"Monsters" begins Down Under at the dawn of the Age of Dinosaurs. Host Richard Smith comes face-to-face with the previously unknown reptilian rulers of prehistoric Australia. NOVA resurrects the giants that stalked the Great Southern Land and discovers that some of these animals were among the largest ever to have walked the Earth. Others were some of the most dangerous. In the dry desert heart, scientists unearth an ancient inland ocean full of sea monsters. Opal fossils of some of these beasts paint a colorful picture of the exotic seascape, where long-necked plesiosaurs snacked on shelled creatures that grew as large as truck tires. The most fearsome was Kronosaurus, with a skull twice as long as T. rex. But reptiles didn't have the world all to themselves. Mammals like the enigmatic platypus lived alongside them, ready for their moment in the sun.
Monster of the Milky Way
31st Oct 2006
Astronomers are closing in on the proof they've sought for years that one of the most destructive objects in the universe—a supermassive black hole—lurks at the center of our own galaxy. Could it flare up and consume our entire galactic neighborhood? Join NOVA on a mind-bending investigation into one of the most bizarre corners of cosmological science: black hole research. From event horizon to singularity, the elusive secrets of supermassive black holes are revealed through stunning computer-generated imagery, including an extraordinary simulation of what it might look like to fall into the belly of such an all-devouring beast.
Ultimate Space Telescope
13th Jul 2022
How did NASA engineers build and launch the most ambitious telescope of all time? Follow the dramatic story of the James Webb Space Telescope—the most complex machine ever launched into space. If it works, scientists believe that this new eye on the universe will peer deeper back in time and space than ever before to the birth of galaxies, and may even be able to “sniff” the atmospheres of exoplanets as we search for signs of life beyond Earth. But getting it to work is no easy task. The telescope is far bigger than its predecessor, the famous Hubble Space Telescope, and it needs to make its observations a million miles away from Earth—so there will be no chance to go out and fix it. That means there’s no room for error; the most ambitious telescope ever built needs to work perfectly. Meet the engineers making it happen and join them on their high stakes journey to uncover new secrets of the universe.
Black Hole Apocalypse
10th Jan 2018
Astrophysicist and novelist Janna Levin talks about black holes and their importance to the universe.
A Walk to Beautiful
13th May 2008
In this award-winning documentary, a difficult journey that begins in hopelessness and shame for thousands of women in Ethiopia ends in a productive new life. The film tells the personal stories of rural women who make their way to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, seeking treatment for obstetric fistula, a life-shattering complication of childbirth. Filmed in a starkly beautiful landscape, the documentary juxtaposes the isolated lives of village women who are outcasts because of their medical condition, with the faraway hospital that offers a miracle after a long and arduous trek—a "walk to beautiful."
World's Fastest Animal
21st Nov 2018
See the world through the eyes of nature’s fastest animal: the peregrine falcon. Though once perilously endangered in the U.S., this spectacular predator is now thriving again in American cities and on every continent but Antarctica. What is the secret to its predatory prowess? Join expert falconer Lloyd Buck as he trains a captive peregrine and puts its hunting skills to the test.
Quest for Solomon's Mines
23rd Nov 2010
Countless treasure-seekers have set off in search of King Solomon's mines, trekking through burning deserts and scaling the forbidding mountains of Africa and the Levant, inspired by the Bible's account of splendid temples and palaces adorned in glittering gold and copper. Yet to date, the evidence that has claimed to support the existence of Solomon and other early kings in the Bible has been highly controversial. In fact, so little physical evidence of the kings who ruled Israel and Edom has been found that many contend that they are no more real than King Arthur. In the summer of 2010, NOVA and National Geographic embarked on two cutting-edge field investigations that illuminate the legend of Solomon and reveal the source of the great wealth that powered the first mighty biblical kingdoms. These groundbreaking expeditions expose important new clues buried in the pockmarked desert of Jordan, including ancient remnants of an industrial-scale copper mine and a 3,000-year-old message with the words "slave," "king," and "judge."
Wild Predator Invasion
2nd Apr 2014
Over the last few centuries we have shot, trapped, and skinned the predators that formerly thrived at the top of the food chain in the wild. Wild bears, wolves, and big cats are all in retreat, and a growing number of scientists are discovering that by eliminating predators, we have changed the environment. Removing predators from the wild has thrown ecosystems off-kilter, triggering domino effects that scientists are just beginning to understand. In "Wild Predator Invasion," NOVA follows scientists who are trying a simple but controversial solution: returning apex predators—like wolves, bears, and panthers—to their natural environments. Can these newly reintroduced predators restore the natural balance of their ecosystems without threatening the humans who live among them?
Ghosts of Murdered Kings
29th Jan 2014
In the rolling hills of Ireland's County Tipperary, a laborer harvesting peat from a dried-up bog spots the remnants of a corpse and stops his machine just in time, revealing a headless torso almost perfectly preserved and stained dark brown by the bog. Archeologists recognize the corpse as one of Europe's rare bog bodies: prehistoric corpses flung into marshes with forensic clues often suggesting execution or human sacrifice. The corpse will eventually be dated to the Bronze Age, over 3,000 years ago. Many of these were victims of shocking violence, showing evidence of axe blows, hanging, and stab wounds. Like a crime thriller, NOVA follows archaeologists and forensic experts in their methodical hunt for clues to the identity and the circumstances of this and other violent deaths of bog body victims. A new theory emerges that they are those of ritually murdered kings, gruesomely slain to assure the fertility of land and people. NOVA’s ancient detective story opens a tantalizing window on the strange beliefs of Europe's long vanished prehistoric peoples.
Back to the Moon
10th Jul 2019
On the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, NOVA looks ahead to the hoped-for dawn of a new age in lunar exploration. This time, governments and private industry are working together to reach our nearest celestial neighbour. But why go back? The Moon can serve as a platform for basic astronomical research; as an abundant source of rare metals and hydrogen fuel; and ultimately as a stepping stone for human missions to Mars and beyond. Join the next generation of engineers that aim to take us to the Moon, and discover how our legacy of lunar exploration won't be confined to the history books for long.
Car of the Future
22nd Apr 2008
Tom and Ray Magliozzi of NPR's Car Talk, explore new technologies and ideas for the future of automobiles.
24th Feb 2009
Once every 48 years, bamboo forests in parts of northeast India go into exuberant flower. Then, like clockwork, the flowering is invariably followed by a plague of black rats that appear to spring from nowhere to spread destruction and famine in their wake. For the first time on film, NOVA and National Geographic capture this rat population explosion in vivid detail and show how scientists are unraveling the connections between bamboo flowering and rat outbreaks. Ultimately, their research should help local people better cope with the next attack—due in 2056.
Fighting for Fertility
12th May 2021
What causes infertility, and how can assisted reproductive technologies help? Follow the journeys of people navigating fertility challenges from structural inequalities and racism to falling sperm counts, egg freezing, and IVF.
27th Nov 2019
Camera technology is revolutionizing the study of animals—without them even noticing.
Decoding Da Vinci
13th Nov 2019
How Leonardo da Vinci used science to create his legendary artwork. Included: why Mona Lisa's smile is so captivating—and what it took to create it.
26th Oct 2022
Lionfish–long prized in home aquariums–have invaded the Atlantic, and are now one of the ocean’s most successful invasive species, wreaking havoc in waters across the globe. Join ocean explorer Danni Washington on a journey to find out how they took over, why they’re doing so much damage, and what can be done about it.
A to Z: How Writing Changed the World
30th Sep 2020
Just as writing changed the course of human history, the evolution of paper and printing revolutionized the spread of information. The printing press kicked off the Industrial Revolution that fast-tracked us to the current digital age. But as the 4,000-year-old tradition of penmanship falls out of favor, should we consider what might be lost in this pursuit of ever more efficient communication? (Premiered September 30, 2020)
13th May 2020
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has upended life as we know it in a matter of months. But at the same time, an unprecedented global effort to understand and contain the virus—and find a treatment for the disease it causes—is underway. Join doctors on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as they strategize to stop the spread, and meet the researchers racing to develop treatments and vaccines.
Inside the Megafire
8th May 2019
Scientists try to determine the cause for the increasing megafire threat by exploring the physics of fire, how firestorms move and travel and by analyzing aerial drone and satellite data to catch fires before they start.
Rise of the Superstorms
27th Jun 2018
In just one devastating month, Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean were changed forever. In summer 2017, three monster hurricanes swept in from the Atlantic one after another, shattering storm records and killing hundreds of people. As the planet warms, are these superstorms the new normal? How well can we predict them?
Why Planes Vanish
8th Oct 2014
NOVA tells the inside story of the search for Flight MH370 and meets the key players, from all corners of the globe, who have spent months searching for the lost plane. How easy is it to make a plane disappear? Or can new technology guarantee that in the future, nothing will ever be "lost" again?
Inside Animal Minds: Dogs & Super Senses
16th Apr 2014
What is it like to be a dog, a shark, or a bird? Long the subject of human daydreams, this question is now getting serious attention from scientists who study animal senses. The senses define our experience of the world—they shape our minds, and help make us what we are. Humans rely on smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound, but other animals have super-powered versions of these senses, and a few, like electrically-sensitive sharks, even have extra senses we don’t have at all. From a dog who seems to use smell to tell time, to a dolphin who can "see" with his ears, we will discover how animals use their senses in ways we humans can barely imagine. But it’s not just the senses that are remarkable—it's the brains that process them. How does a swallow’s tiny, one-gram brain take in the flood of visual information that enables the bird to whiz within inches of buildings while flying at 40 miles per hour? How does a dog’s mind turn the sight of a hand signal into the happy anticipation of a treat? How has the evolution of the dog—from its wolf ancestors–reshaped its brain? NOVA goes into the minds of animals to “see” the world in an entirely new way.
Japan's Killer Quake
30th Mar 2011
In its worst crisis since World War II, Japan faces disaster on an epic scale: a death toll likely in the tens of thousands, massive destruction of homes and businesses, shortages of water and power, and the specter of nuclear meltdown. With exclusive footage, NOVA captures the unfolding human drama and offers a clear-headed investigation of what triggered the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis. Can science and technology ever prevent devastation in the face of overwhelmingly powerful forces of nature?
The Pluto Files
2nd Mar 2010
When the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium stopped calling Pluto a planet, director Neil deGrasse Tyson found himself at the center of a firestorm led by angry Pluto-loving elementary school students. What is it about Pluto—a cold, distant, icy rock—that captures so many hearts? Four years after the IAU (International Astronomical Union) officially reclassified the ninth planet as a plutoid, NOVA travels cross-country with Tyson to find out.
Darwin's Darkest Hour
6th Oct 2009
This two-hour scripted drama tells the remarkable story behind the unveiling of the most influential scientific theory of all time, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The program is a special presentation from NOVA and National Geographic Television, written by acclaimed British screenwriter John Goldsmith and directed by John Bradshaw.
31st Mar 2009
An examination over whether a comet struck the Great Lakes region 12,900 years ago, and whether it caused the extinction of such mega-creatures as the woolly mammoth and the saber-toothed cat in North America. Also included is the discovery of nano-diamonds which are created by heat and objects from space.
The Big Energy Gamble
20th Jan 2009
As Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger launches a dramatic and controversial program to slash carbon dioxide emissions and promote energy efficiency. NOVA explores the pros and cons of California's bold approach, which calls for improvements in energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings; increased reliance on renewable power sources, primarily solar and wind; and major upgrades in car mileage. Hear from Governor Schwarzenegger, skeptics and supporters of the plan, and ordinary citizens and businesspeople whose lives are impacted. Among those interviewed is Steven Chu, who went on to become the U.S. Energy Secretary in the Obama Administration.
Is There Life On Mars?
30th Dec 2008
After four decades of fly-by probes, orbiters, landers, and rovers, the quest for life on Mars is as tantalizing as ever. NOVA goes behind the scenes of the latest NASA missions to the Red Planet to reveal new clues and challenges on the road to answering this ultimate question. With unique access to the NASA Phoenix and Mars Exploration Rover missions, NOVA shows scientists and engineers in action, directing the operations of spacecraft millions of miles away, as the robotic explorers drill into rock, claw into soil, analyze samples, and trundle across the rock-strewn landscape in search of signs that Mars once or maybe even still harbors some form of life.
Alien From Earth
11th Nov 2008
The 2004 discovery of tiny human fossil bones on the island of Flores, Indonesia, raised new—and controversial—speculation about the history of the human race. Ever since, scientists have been scrambling to find more information about these "hobbits."
Hunting The Hidden Dimension
28th Oct 2008
Fractals are more than just pretty pictures. These simple but sophisticated equations describe the world we live in, from forest growth patterns to the beating of a human heart, and they are inspiring new investigation in myriad fields of science and technology.
Missing in MiG Alley
18th Dec 2007
In the early 1950s, epic battles unfolded in the skies over North Korea as American and Russian fighters faced off in history's first jet war. This program explores the Korean War's aerial tactics, technology, and grim aftermath for downed pilots, many of whom disappeared without a trace. The Korean War pitted the two most advanced fighters of their day, the American F-86 Sabre and the Soviet MiG-15, in furious air battles in North Korea's notorious "MiG Alley." With the help of dramatic reconstructions, rare archival footage, and interviews with veteran American and Soviet pilots, NOVA puts viewers in the cockpit to experience the lethal split-second duels that erupted in MiG Alley.
6th Feb 2007
The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy Julian met with every possible barrier in a deeply segregated America. He was a man of genius, devotion, and determination. As a black man he was also an outsider, fighting to make a place for himself in a profession and country divided by bigotry—a man who would eventually find freedom in the laboratory. By the time of his death, Julian had risen to the highest levels of scientific and personal achievement, overcoming countless obstacles to become a world-class scientist, a self-made millionaire, and a civil-rights pioneer.
Voyage to the Mystery Moon
4th Apr 2006
A mission to Saturn and its enigmatic sattelite, Titan, looks for clues to the origins of life.
Jewel of the Earth
14th Feb 2006
David Attenborough probes the mystery of ancient life-forms perfectly preserved in amber.
Storm That Drowned a City
22nd Nov 2005
In less than 12 hours on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana coast, leading to more than a thousand deaths and transforming a city of over one million into an uninhabitable swamp. NOVA investigates the science of Hurricane Katrina, combining a penetrating analysis of what went wrong with a dramatic, minute-by-minute unfolding of events told through eyewitness testimony. What made this storm so deadly? Will powerful hurricanes like Katrina strike more often? How accurately did scientists predict its impact, and why did the levees protecting New Orleans fail?
Sinking the Supership
4th Oct 2005
The search for the wreck of the Yamato, the largest and mightiest battleship ever floated and the pride of the Japanese Imperial Fleet. Constructed in absolute secrecy and sunk by American planes toward the end of World War II, her rapid demise had been a mystery, rather like a military Titanic.
Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land
23rd Nov 2004
Follow an expedition to a remote cave in the Judean desert, first excavated by the famed Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin in 1960-61. Yadin uncovered a cache of ancient documents, human skulls, and artifacts that shed light on a legendary revolt by Jews against the Roman Empire in the year 132. The uprising, led by Jewish patriot Shimon Bar-Kokhba, is said to have resulted in the Roman slaughter of 580,000 Jews. NOVA explores the last refuge of one group of Bar-Kokhba's followers with an historian whose bold theories have rocked the world of biblical archeology.
America's Stone Age Explorers
9th Nov 2004
Who were the first Ameicans and where did they come from?
Origins: Back to the Beginning
29th Sep 2004
"Origins: Back to the Beginning" explores how the colossal, mind-boggling forces of the early universe made it possible for habitable worlds to emerge. The clues begin with a race among scientists to capture lingering echoes of the big bang's ferocious energy in a microwave "whisper" from deep space. The race pits underdog astronomer Tony Readhead and his improvised detector in the high Andes against NASA scientists and their state-of-the-art satellite probe. Host astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shares his excitement with viewers as computer animation of the big bang's echo emerges on the screen. It's as close as we can get to a "photograph" of the primordial universe. Here we glimpse the seeds from which all the galaxies, stars, and planets eventually grew.
Life and Death in the War Zone
2nd Mar 2004
While other reporters were embedded in fighting units during the Iraq War, NOVA was covering the emergency medical response, living night and day with the doctors, nurses, and medics in a frontline Combat Support Hospital (CSH). The program captures a period of the conflict in April and May of 2003 when CSH units faced a deluge of injured Iraqi soldiers and civilians who had little support from their country's collapsed health-care system.
Secrets of the Crocodile Caves
20th Jan 2004
Rare lemurs and crocodiles with bizarre cave-dwelling behavior draw scientists to remote corner of Madagascar.
Why the Towers Fell
30th Apr 2002
Can lessons learned from the Twin Towers' collapse make new buildings safer?
Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies
5th Feb 2002
The program chronicles the lives and covert activities of the so-called "atom spies" in the 1940's, including the big one that got away, Theodore Alvin Hall.
30th Jan 2001
The program investigates the mysterious disappearance -- and, half a century later, reappearance -- of Stardust, a civilian aircraft that crashed in the Andes in 1947.
Dying to Be Thin
12th Dec 2000
The film examines a disturbing increase in the prevalence of debilitating and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders, particularly anorexia and bulimia.
Lost Tribes of Israel
22nd Feb 2000
At the heart of Jewish tradition lies the haunting mystery of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Ever since their defeat and banishment by the Assyrians in 722 BC., the Lost Tribes fate has inspired countless claims to Jewish ancestry by groups scattered on every continent. But now, surprisingly, new advances in genetics are dispelling myth and fantasy, and raising a curtain on the forgotten reality of the dispersal that happened so many centuries ago. This story will follow the first attempt to use the new tests to investigate a seemingly improbable African candidate for a Lost Tribe. It will dramatize a scientific quest that leads from the gene labs of London to the remote bush country of Zimbabwe and the lunar-like desert wilderness of southern Yemen.
Trillion Dollar Bet
8th Feb 2000
The film tells the fascinating story of the invention of the Black-Scholes Formula, a mathematical Holy Grail that forever altered the world of finance and earned its creators the 1997 Nobel Prize in Economics.
The Beast of Loch Ness
12th Jan 1999
Is it just a fairy tale, or could a primeval beast lurk in the deep, dark waters of a Scottish lake? Since it was first reported more than 60 years ago, hundreds claim to have witnessed the Loch Ness Monster, while one scientist after another has brought the latest technology to the loch to probe the phenomenon. Twenty-five years after their first, groundbreaking expedition to Loch Ness, NOVA joins two American scientists as they return to Scotland for one last go at Nessie. During a three-week expedition, they use state-of-the-art sonar and sensitive underwater cameras in an attempt to track down and identify the elusive beast. Biologists study the ecosystem of the loch to determine if it could support a large animal. Geologists study its history, looking for clues about what kind of creature might have colonized it, and when. NOVA examines the photographic evidence in the case. And eyewitnesses vividly recount their sightings. Could this legendary creature be real, perhaps a relic from the time of dinosaurs? Or is it a shared illusion—a product of myth, mirage and wishful thinking?
1st Oct 1996
This two-hour program chronicles Albert Einstein's life and scientific achievements from his birth in 1879 to his death in 1955. The first hour follows Einstein in his quest to understand the nature of light. Graphics depict some of Einstein's famous thought experiments, including his eventual understanding of the interplay between the speed of light and time and his development of the special theory of relativity. The program also goes into great depth about Einstein's personal life, including his romance with and marriage to fellow student Mileva Maric and the death of his father. The second hour unfolds with Einstein preoccupied with finding a theory that accounts for gravitation and determining what orders the universe. Einstein addresses gravitation in the universe with his general theory of relativity. This is confirmed experimentally in 1919 when a solar eclipse reveals stars in positions that could best be explained by his theory: that gravity causes light to bend.
B-29 Frozen in Time
30th Jan 1996
Travel on a perilous mission to repair and refly a rare B-29 bomber stranded on a Greenland icecap for almost 50 years.Gleaming like a jewel this well preserved bomber from World War II rests on the Arctic tundra where it was abandoned when it crash landed in 1947. This plane has long been a legend and now facing incredible hardship a team of adventurers struggle to bring the frozen warbird back to life.NOVA follows bold pilot Darryl Greenamyer and his team on two expeditions to revive Kee Bird and make it fly again in one of the most isolated and harshest environments on Earth. Despite severe weather illness and difficulties with the shuttle plane in 1994 Greenamyer returns in May 1995 with a larger crew a more reliable shuttle plane and a new plan to bring Kee Bird back to life and back home.
Treasures of the Great Barrier Reef
28th Nov 1995
Recording sights that will astonish even experienced divers, NOVA documents an extraordinary day in the life of the largest coral reef in the world, capturing for the first time the annual spawning of coral and other unusual creatures of the reef.
Mystery of the Senses—Smell
20th Feb 1995
NOVA unravels baffling cases of bad air in buildings all over the world. Even hospitals are on the "sick building" list - along with offices, schools, homes and just about any enclosed space.
Confronting the Killer Gene
28th Mar 1989
Arlo, Nancy and Janice each have a 50/50 chance of developing a devastating nerve disorder. A laboratory test can tell them if in fact they will fall victim. In their shoes, would you take the test? Thousands of others face a similar choice: to know, or not know, if they will carry the genetic time bomb of Huntington's disease. NOVA looks at this incurable disease which affects 20,000 people in the US and threatens tens of thousands of others.
How Good is Soviet Science?
17th Nov 1987
Princeton professor and author Robert Mark tracks down the engineering secrets of some of the beautiful buildings in the world including Notre Dame in Paris, St. Paul in London and the Roman Pantheon.
Why Planes Crash
3rd Feb 1987
Between 60 and 80 percent of all commercial airplane accidents are attributable to pilot error. NOVA looks at some shocking instances of pilot negligence and what airlines are doing to solve the problem.
Mystery of the Animal Pathfinders
25th Nov 1986
Birds do it; bees do it, butterflies, bats and eels do it—all leave one habitat to migrate to another, often thousands of miles away. NOVA penetrates the mystery of where animals migrate, why and how they get there.
Conquest of the Parasites
29th Jan 1985
NOVA examines the complex world of parasites, parasitic diseases and the exciting work currently being done by a new breed of medical researchers as they meet the challenge of conquering the world's number one medical problem.
The Garden of Inheritance
8th Jan 1985
In this docudrama presentation, NOVA looks at the life, times and work of Gregor Mendel, the 19th century Augustinian friar whose revolutionary scientific Experiments in selective breeding have made him the "Father of Genetics."
Stephen Jay Gould: This View of Life
18th Dec 1984
What do dinosaurs, a panda's thumb and a peacock's tail have in common? Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, the internationally renowned paleontologist and Evolutionary theorist, provides some surprising answers in this NOVA profile.
Antarctica: Earth's Last Frontier
31st Jan 1984
An astronaut once observed a great white light shining out from the bottom of our world: Antarctica, the ice-covered continent we are only just beginning to understand. NOVA visits this wilderness of ice, larger than the United States and Mexico combined, whose only warm-blooded residents are seals, skuas, penguins and scientists.
Signs of the Apes, Songs of the Whales
11th Oct 1983
The dream of talking with animals has been with us for centuries. NOVA explores the latest research, from language experiments with dolphins and apes to studies of animal calls in the wild.
Sixty Minutes to Meltdown
29th Mar 1983
The accident at Three Mile Island made front page news all over the world and rocked the entire nuclear power industry. In this special 90-minute broadcast, NOVA presents a docudrama chronicling the minute-by-minute events leading up to the accident and examines the questions raised about safety confronting nuclear power industry today.
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
25th Jan 1983
NOVA captivates a remarkably candid portrait of Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, a man of few pretensions and tremendous personal charm, who speaks with the same passion about a child's toy wagon and the frontiers of subatomic physics.
7th Dec 1982
NOVA follows the great grey whales along their annual marathon migration from the Arctic to the Mexican coast and reveals little known facts about the mating and feeding habits of the gentle giants.
14th Mar 1982
In this vivid study of mimicry and camouflage NOVA shows dramatically how snakes, butterflies, fish, turtles and many other kinds of animals, both predators and their intended victims, use remarkable forms of deception to achieve their goal: to eat, or avoid being eaten.
The Red Deer of Rhum
23rd Dec 1980
The cuddly image of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has become an integral part of the jollity of the Christmas season. NOVA takes a timely look at how real deer live by visiting Rhum—an island off the coast of Scotland inhabited by red deer.
The Sea Behind the Dunes
14th Oct 1980
One year in the intricate life of a coastal lagoon unfolds in an hour's time when NOVA documents the fragile tidal ecosystem which supports the entire ocean.
A World Of Difference
18th Jan 1979
In 1945, B.F. Skinner shocked the world by putting his 13 month-old daughter, Deborah, into a "box." The box was actually a climate-controlled crib designed for comfort and protection, and the young psychologist was merely testing his theory that environment controls behavior. NOVA portrays the life of this famous behavioral psychologist now in his 70's and living quietly in Cambridge as Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.
The Overworked Miracle
21st Mar 1976
Today we take antibiotics for granted, and by doing so are steadily eroding their medical value. NOVA examines the problem of resistance to antibiotics in the bacteria they are designed to kill.
The Renewable Tree
7th Mar 1976
Each Sunday edition of the New York Times consumes 153 acres of trees. The paper packs, napkins, paper cups and packing used by McDonald's gobble up 315 square miles of trees every day. NOVA asks if, at this rate, trees can remain a renewable resource.
Ninety Degrees Below
15th Feb 1976
There's one place on earth where no one will ever catch a cold. And the freezing waters are so bitter there that a fish has been discovered to have developed its own anti-freeze. NOVA explores Antarctica—the coldest desert in the world.
A Small Imperfection
8th Feb 1976
Every year, some 5,000 babies are born in the US with spina bifida, a congenital abnormality of the central nervous system. NOVA explores the mystery of what causes spina bifida and raises the issues of whether heroic measures should be taken to preserve the life of severely malformed babies.
The Hunting Of The Quark
17th Nov 1974
Smashing matter into ever smaller pieces in an attempt to find its fundamental building blocks has produced a confused nightmare of particles. NOVA looks at this on-again, off-again story—one of sciences's most mysterious—and, one of the most expensive, involving some of the biggest machines in the world.
Are You Doing This for Me, Doctor?
28th Apr 1974
The advance of medicine depends inevitably on the testing of experimental procedures on human volunteers from either the healthy or the sick. Yet such procedures are often dangerous, and may not be of direct benefit to the subject. NOVA examines how individuals' interests are safeguarded, and asks, under what circumstances experiments should be conducted on children.
The Crab Nebula
14th Apr 1974
In 1054 AD, the Chinese recorded the explosion of a star so bright that it lit the sky for three weeks, even during the day. It was the explosion of a dying star that was bigger than our sun. NOVA explores this mysterious explosion that led to the discovery of Crab Nebula.
Why Trains Crash
22nd Feb 2017
From derailments to head-on collisions to drivers killed at road crossings, deadly train accidents claim dozens of lives each year. But just how unsafe are the railroads? NOVA investigates recent rail tragedies and advances in train tech that could help prevent them, taking a special look at Japan’s superefficient bullet trains, which have a perfect safety record. What would it take to usher in a new golden age of safer, faster, more modern and reliable train travel?
Day the Dinosaurs Died
27th Dec 2017
66 million years ago, a seven-mile-wide asteroid collided with Earth, triggering a chain of events that coincide with the end of the dinosaurs. But experts have long debated exactly what happened when the asteroid struck and how the giant beasts met their end. Now, scientists have uncovered compelling new clues about the catastrophe.
Kïlauea: Hawai'i on Fire
23rd Jan 2019
Journey to Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, which sent rivers of lava through communities and into the sea when it erupted in 2018. A group of scientists and locals investigate the spike in volcano activity that turned paradise into an inferno.
The Origami Revolution
15th Feb 2017
The centuries-old tradition of folding two-dimensional paper into three-dimensional shapes is inspiring a scientific revolution. The rules of folding are at the heart of many natural phenomena, from how leaves blossom to how beetles fly. Engineers and designers are applying its principles to reshape the world around us—and even within us, designing new drugs, micro-robots, and future space missions.
Inside Animal Minds: Bird Genius
9th Apr 2014
When it comes to intelligence, we humans are clearly the most gifted animals around. But what make us so special? Is it our ability to make and use tools? To solve complex problems? Or plan for the future? It might seem that way, but today, researchers are discovering other creatures with impressive brains that have mastered all those skills. Surprisingly, many are bird brains. Crows bend and shape sticks to create custom-made spears for hunting grubs, and they are just one among a growing list of bird species whose impressive problem-solving abilities are shocking scientists and revolutionizing our understanding of animal intelligence. At the head of the class, we meet animals like Muppet, a cockatoo with a talent for picking locks; 007, a wild crow on a mission to solve an eight-step puzzle for the first time ever; and Bran, a tame raven who can solve a puzzle box so quickly that his performance has to be captured with high-speed photography. But are these skills really evidence of high intelligence, or just parlor tricks, the result of training and instinct? To find out, NOVA tests the limits of some of the planet’s brainiest animals, searching for the secrets of a problem-solving mind.
6th Apr 2016
Uncover the truth behind the legendary Vikings and their epic journey to the Americas.
17th Oct 2018
Hear firsthand from individuals struggling with addiction and follow the cutting-edge work of doctors and scientists as they investigate why addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition. Easy access to drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and even prescription medications like OxyContin has fueled an epidemic of addiction—the deadliest in U.S. history.
Inside Einstein's Mind
25th Nov 2015
On November 25th, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: general relativity. The theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back to the origin of time itself. Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Discover the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory—and Einstein’s brilliance—as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory.”
Lost Viking Army
22nd May 2019
Forensic archaeologist Cat Jarman and her team investigate the Great Heathen army, a legendary Viking fighting force that invaded England in the 9th century.
The Planets: Inner Worlds
24th Jul 2019
The rocky planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars all have similar origins, but only one supports life.
24th Oct 2018
NOVA takes you inside the historic international race to develop the first supersonic airliner, the Concorde. Hear stories from those inside the choreographed effort to design and build Concorde in two countries at once—and the crew members who flew her. Then, follow Concorde’s legacy to a new generation of innovators reviving the dream of supersonic passenger travel today.
The Planets: Jupiter
31st Jul 2019
Jupiter's gravitational force made it a wrecking ball as it barreled through the early solar system, but it also helped shape life on Earth as it brought comets laden with water and possibly the asteroid that put an end to the dinosaurs.
Holocaust Escape Tunnel
19th Apr 2017
The Lithuanian city of Vilna, known also as the “Jerusalem of the North”, was one of the most important Jewish centers in the world until World War II, when the Nazis murdered about 95% of its Jewish population. Now, an international team of archaeologists is excavating the remains of its Great Synagogue and searching for a lost escape tunnel dug by Jewish prisoners inside a Nazi execution site.
28th Oct 2015
NOVA joins a team of leading Egyptologists who deploy the latest medical imaging to peer beneath the wrappings of Egyptian mummified beasts without damaging the animal bodies inside. The results are enlightening, often surprising insights into the weird beliefs and practices that clung to the Egyptian quest for immortality.
Forensics on Trial
17th Oct 2012
There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of “CSI” and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab. With few established scientific standards, no central oversight, and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the U.S. is in a state of crisis. In "Forensics on Trial", NOVA investigates how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, ballistics, hair, and tool marks, can send innocent men and women to prison—and sometimes even to death row. Shockingly, of more than 250 inmates exonerated by DNA testing over the last decade, more than 50 percent of the wrongful convictions stemmed from invalid or improperly handled forensic science. With the help of vivid recreations of actual trials and cases, NOVA will investigate today’s shaky state of crime science as well as cutting-edge solutions that could help investigators put the real criminals behind bars.
Bombing Hitler's Dams
11th Jan 2012
In 1943 a squadron of Lancaster bombers staged one of the most audacious raids in military history: destroying two gigantic dams in Germany’s industrial heartland and cutting the water supply to arms factories. Their secret weapon? 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 who dealt a mighty blow to the German war machine. Now, NOVA recreates the extreme engineering challenges faced by Wallis and the pilots. A crack team of experts, including dam engineers, explosives specialists, mechanics, and aircrew, steps into the shoes of the "dambusters" and attempts to overcome each of the obstacles the original team faced. They must adapt a vintage World War II DC-4 to carry a bomb the size of an oil drum, train to drop it from a dangerously low altitude in pitch darkness, and get it to bounce over obstacles and onto the target, a scale model the German dam struck by the original dambusters. Can they succeed in destroying the dam and unraveling the mysteries of the one-of-a-kind bouncing bomb?
Search for the Super Battery
1st Feb 2017
Explore the hidden world of energy storage and how it holds the keys to a greener future.
Volatile Earth: Volcano on Fire
10th Oct 2018
Climb with volcano experts to the summit of Nyiragongo, a highly active volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Twice in recent memory it has erupted, devastating Goma, a neighboring city of 1 million people. To investigate when it might erupt next, scientists climb into its crater toward a bubbling lava lake to deploy sensors and monitor the volcano’s activity.
Mysteries of Sleep
26th Feb 2020
From fruit flies to whales, virtually every animal sleeps. But why? Why do we need to spend nearly a third of our lives in such a defenseless state? Scientists are peering more deeply into the sleeping brain than ever before, discovering just how powerful sleep can be, playing a role in everything from memory retention and emotional regulation to removing waste from our brains.
Extreme Cave Diving
9th Feb 2010
"Extreme Cave Diving" follows a fearless team of scientists as they venture into blue holes—underwater caves that formed during the last ice age, when sea level was nearly 400 feet below what it is today. These caves, little-known treasures of the Bahamas, are one of Earth's least explored and perhaps most dangerous frontiers. The interdisciplinary team of biologists, climatologists, and anthropologists, led by renowned cave explorer Kenny Broad, discover intriguing evidence of the earliest human inhabitants of the islands, find animals seen nowhere else on Earth, and recover a remarkable record of the planet's climate. The stakes are high as the scientists swim hundreds of feet through narrow, dark passages that have trapped and killed divers in the past, but the scientific payoff is considerable.
Building Chernobyl's Megatomb
26th Apr 2017
Engineers race to build a massive dome to contain the crumbling remains of the reactor.
Ben Franklin's Balloons
22nd Oct 2014
NOVA re-creates key flights, including the world’s first manned voyage on November 21, 1783. A descendant of the Montgolfier brothers, whose exploits fascinated Benjamin Franklin, will join a team to build an accurate replica of the fragile paper and canvas craft using 18th-century tools and materials.
Great Escape at Dunkirk
14th Feb 2018
How courage and ingenuity saved Allied troops during the epic Dunkirk operation in 1940.
Thai Cave Rescue
14th Nov 2018
In July 2018, the world held its breath as an international team of cave divers endeavored to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach stranded deep in a flooded cave in Thailand. Follow the harrowing operation and discover the scientific ingenuity that made the rescue possible.
Arctic Ghost Ship
23rd Sep 2015
NOVA presents an exclusive breakthrough in the greatest unsolved mystery in Arctic exploration. In 1845, British explorer Sir John Franklin set off to chart the elusive Northwest Passage, commanding 128 men in two robust and well-stocked Royal Navy ships, the Erebus and Terror. They were never heard from again.
Lord of the Ants
20th May 2008
At age 78, E.O. Wilson is still going through his "little savage" phase of boyhood exploration of the natural world. In "Lord of the Ants," NOVA profiles this soft-spoken Southerner and Harvard professor, who is an acclaimed advocate for ants, biological diversity, and the controversial extension of Darwinian ideas to human society. Actor and environmentalist Harrison Ford narrates this engaging portrait of a ceaselessly active scientist and eloquent writer, who has accumulated two Pulitzer Prizes among his many other honors. Says fellow naturalist David Attenborough: "He will go down as the man who opened the eyes of millions 'round the world to the glories, the values, the importance of—to use his term—biodiversity."
20th Apr 2016
Explore how newly established wildlife corridors offer hope to endangered species.
5th Feb 2020
Following a trail of fossils found in all the wrong places–beech trees in Antarctica, redwoods and hippo-like mammals in the Arctic–NOVA uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-thick ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life.
Rise of the Hackers
24th Sep 2014
NOVA 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. From the sleuths who decoded the world's most advanced cyber weapon to scientists who believe they can store a password in your unconscious brain, NOVA investigates how a new global geek squad is harnessing cutting-edge science—all to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
Making Stuff: Stronger
19th Jan 2011
What is the strongest material in the world? Is it steel, Kevlar, carbon nanotubes, or something entirely new? NOVA kicks off the four-part series "Making Stuff" with a quest for the world's strongest substances. Host David Pogue takes a look at what defines strength, examining everything from steel cables to mollusks to a toucan's beak. Pogue travels from the deck of a U.S. naval aircraft carrier to a demolition derby to the country's top research labs to check in with experts who are re-engineering what nature has given us to create the next generation of strong stuff.
Secrets of the Parthenon
29th Jan 2008
For 25 centuries the Parthenon has been shot at, set on fire, rocked by earthquakes, looted for its sculptures, almost destroyed by explosion, and disfigured by well-meaning renovations. It has gone from temple, to church, to mosque, to munitions dump. What could be next? How about a scientific search for the secrets of its incomparable beauty and astonishingly rapid construction? With unprecedented access, NOVA unravels the architectural and engineering mysteries of this celebrated ancient temple.
1st Nov 2017
Devastating hurricanes struck the U.S. mainland and Caribbean islands in 2017. But they weren’t the first. The Great Hurricane of 1780 took nine days to blast its way across the Caribbean, killing at least 20,000—the highest known death toll of any single weather event in history. What made this superstorm so deadly?
Prediction by the Numbers
28th Feb 2018
Discover why some predictions succeed and others fail as experts forecast the future.
9th Jan 2013
Examining evidence about Neanderthals that sheds light on the hominids, which died off some 30,000 years ago. Included: geneticist Svante Pääbo's 2010 reconstruction of the Neanderthal genome, which posits that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred at some point in the distant past.
10th Feb 2016
Memory is the glue that binds our mental lives. Without it, we’d be prisoners of the present, unable to use the lessons of the past to change our future. From our first kiss to where we put our keys, memory represents who we are and how we learn and navigate the world. But how does it work? Neuroscientists using cutting-edge techniques are exploring the precise molecular mechanisms of memory. By studying a range of individuals ranging—from an 11-year-old whiz-kid who remembers every detail of his life to a woman who had memories implanted—scientists have uncovered a provocative idea. For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays intact. But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories. The question is—are we ready?
A to Z: The First Alphabet
23rd Sep 2020
Writing shaped our world and the rise of human knowledge, from the trading of goods to tales of ancient goddesses and kings. Follow the evolution of the written word, from 4,000-year-old carvings in an Egyptian turquoise mine to modern-day alphabets.
11th Apr 2012
In April 2011, the worst tornado outbreak in decades left a trail of destruction across the U.S., killing more than 360 people. Why was there such an extreme outbreak? How do such outbreaks form? With modern warning systems, why did so many die? Is our weather getting more extreme—and, if so, how bad will it get? In this NOVA special, we meet scientists striving to understand the forces at work behind last year's outbreak. Could their work improve tornado prediction in the future? We also meet people whose lives have been upended by these extreme weather events and learn how we all can protect ourselves and our communities for the future.
31st May 2017
NOVA investigates what happened in Flint, Michigan when local officials changed the city’s water source to save money, but overlooked a critical treatment process. As the water pipes corroded, lead leached into the system, exposing the community—including thousands of children—to dangerous levels of poison. NOVA uncovers the science behind this manmade disaster.
22nd Jan 2014
It was the strongest cyclone to hit land in recorded history. On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines, whipping the low-lying and densely-populated islands with 200 mph winds and sending a two-story-high storm surge flooding into homes, schools, and hospitals. It wiped villages off the map and devastated cities, including the hard-hit provincial capital Tacloban. Estimates count more than 5,000 dead and millions homeless. What made Haiyan so destructive? Meteorologists charged with tracking Pacific storms reveal why the Pacific is such fertile ground for cyclones, and NOVA’s film crew documents how conditions dramatically deteriorated in the storm’s aftermath, as impassable roads and shuttered gas stations paralyzed the critical relief effort, leaving food, water, and medicine to pile up at the airport. Disaster preparedness experts scramble to understand why the Philippines was so vulnerable. As climate change and sea level rise threaten millions of the world’s most impoverished people with stronger, and perhaps more frequent, storms, how can we prepare for the next monster typhoon?
Einstein's Quantum Riddle
9th Jan 2019
Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance,” but today quantum entanglement is poised to revolutionize technology from computers to cryptography. Physicists have gradually become convinced that the phenomenon—two subatomic particles that mirror changes in each other instantaneously over any distance—is real.
Treasures of the Earth: Metals
9th Nov 2016
Gold, bronze, iron, steel... metals are pillars of our civilization, but what makes them so special? Discover their unique properties and explore how our mastery of metals has led us from the stone age to today's hi-tech world.
20th Dec 2017
Watch astonishing tests of avian aptitude: parrots that can plan for the future, jackdaws that can “read” human faces, and crows that can solve multi-step puzzles with tools like pebbles, sticks, and hooks. Could these just be clever tricks, based on instinct or triggered by subtle cues from their human handlers?
The Next Pompeii
20th Feb 2019
In the shadow of Vesuvius and Pompeii, a lesser-known volcano puts the city of Naples at risk.
Computers v. Crime
12th Oct 2022
In police departments and courts across the country, artificial intelligence is being used to help decide who is policed, who gets bail, how offenders should be sentenced, and who gets parole. But is it actually making our law enforcement and court systems fairer and more just? This timely investigation digs into the hidden biases, privacy risks, and design flaws of this controversial technology.
Rise of the Rockets
13th Feb 2019
With new technologies, NASA and private companies are promising a new renaissance in space travel.
Building the Great Cathedrals
19th Oct 2010
Take a dazzling architectural journey inside those majestic marvels of Gothic architecture, the great cathedrals of Chartres, Beauvais and other European cities. Carved from 100 million pounds of stone, some cathedrals now teeter on the brink of catastrophic collapse. To save them, a team of engineers, architects, art historians, and computer scientists searches the naves, bays, and bell-towers for clues. NOVA investigates the architectural secrets that the cathedral builders used to erect their towering, glass-filled walls and reveals the hidden formulas drawn from the Bible that drove medieval builders ever upward.
Building on Ground Zero
5th Sep 2006
Can lessons learned from the Twin Towers' collapse make new buildings safer?
The Ghost Particle
21st Feb 2006
A 40-year hunt for solar neutrinos leads to a new understanding of matter itself.
The Elegant Universe: Einstein's Dream (1)
28th Oct 2003
Part 1, "Einstein's Dream," introduces string theory and shows how modern physics—composed of two theories that are ferociously incompatible—reached its schizophrenic impasse: One theory, general relativity, successfully describes big things like stars and galaxies, while another, quantum mechanics, is equally successful at explaining 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 this 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.
The Planets: Mars
24th Jul 2019
The dry, red planet Mars was once a blue water world studded with active volcanoes and may have even had the ingredients to support life.
Saving the Dead Sea
24th Apr 2019
Scientists, engineers and political leaders devise a plan to save the Dead Sea, whose levels have declined by more than 65 feet since 1976.
Australia's First 4 Billion Years: Strange Creatures
1st May 2013
In the wake of the catastrophic asteroid impact believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs, Australia was set adrift on a lonely voyage across southern seas. With host Richard Smith, NOVA travels the walkabout continent to uncover how it became the strange land it is today. In this final episode, "Strange Creatures," NOVA traces the last 65 million years, revealing the events that shaped the Australia we know today. Prehistoric jungles retreated, replaced by eucalypt forests, grasslands, and deserts. When humans first arrived, giant marsupials dominated the land and the Great Barrier Reef was yet to form. This is a tale of calamity and conquest; how a conspiracy of climate, biology, and geology shaped the Earth we now call home.
Wave That Shook the World
29th Mar 2005
On December 26, 2004 a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean kills more than 250,000 people. NOVA takes an in depth look at just what happened on that fateful day.
Oklahoma's Deadliest Tornadoes
29th May 2013
On May 20, 2013, a ferocious EF5 tornado over a mile wide tore through Moore, Oklahoma, inflicting 24 deaths and obliterating entire neighborhoods. It was the third time an exceptionally violent tornado had struck the city in 14 years. Yet predicting when and where these killer storms will hit still poses a huge challenge. Why was 2011—the worst ever recorded tornado season that left 158 dead in Joplin, Missouri—followed by the quietest ever year of activity prior to the Moore disaster? Can improved radar and warning technology explain why so many fewer died in Moore than in Joplin? And will tornadoes get worse as Earth's climate heats up? In this NOVA special, we meet scientists in the front ranks of the battle to understand these extreme weather events. We also meet storm survivors whose lives have been upended and learn how we can protect ourselves and our communities for the uncertain future.
Who Killed Lindbergh's Baby?
30th Jan 2013
In the aftermath of his 1927 solo transatlantic flight, Colonel Charles Augustus Lindbergh–the Lone Eagle–became the most famous human being on earth. And when he and his lovely wife Anne produced an adorable baby son, Charlie, an eager press quickly dubbed him Little Lindy or sometimes just the Eaglet. But on the evening of March 1, 1932 Lucky Lindy's luck ran out. Bold kidnappers snatched his baby from the family home near Hopewell, New Jersey, while everyone in the house was awake. Negotiations with the kidnappers stretched out for weeks. But Little Charlie never came back. His body was discovered not five miles from Hopewell. Now, NOVA is reopening one of the most intriguing, grisly, and confounding crime mysteries of all time as a team of expert investigators employ state-of-the-art forensic and behavioral science techniques in an effort to determine what really happened to Lindbergh's baby and why.
Nuclear Meltdown Disaster
29th Jul 2015
NOVA reveals the minute-by-minute story of the Fukushima nuclear crisis—the one you know about, and the one you likely don’t: the perilously close call at the other Fukushima nuclear power plant a few miles away from the meltdowns. With unprecedented access inside both Fukushima nuclear power plants, NOVA speaks with workers who were there during the harrowing days—a crisis that began as a natural a disaster but was made worse by human beings. But why did the worst happen at one plant while another that faced nearly identical challenges emerged unscathed? It may come down to the skill and knowledge of one man, who has worked there since they started construction. These are crucial questions as the company that runs both plants, TEPCO, tries to clean up an unprecedented radioactive mess and seeks to reopen the plant that was just barely saved.
Great Cathedral Mystery
12th Feb 2014
The dome that crowns Florence’s great cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore—the Duomo—is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity and an enduring source of mystery. Still the largest masonry dome on earth after more than six centuries, it is taller than the Statue of Liberty and weighs as much as an average cruise ship. Historians and engineers have long debated how its secretive architect, Filippo Brunelleschi, managed to keep the dome perfectly aligned and symmetrical as the sides rose and converged toward the center, 40 stories above the cathedral floor. His laborers toiled without safety nets, applying novel, untried methods. Over 4 million bricks might collapse at any moment—and we still don’t understand how Brunelleschi prevented it. To test the latest theories, a team of U.S. master bricklayers will help build a unique experimental model Duomo using period techniques. Will it stay intact during the final precarious stages of closing over the top of the dome?
London Super Tunnel
1st Feb 2023
For over a decade, more than 10,000 engineers and construction workers race to build a brand-new subterranean railroad under London— the Elizabeth Line—London’s new Underground. One of Europe’s biggest engineering projects, the construction teams confront immense challenges, from building platforms and concourses the size of aircraft carriers hidden under London’s busiest shopping venue, Oxford Street, to designing, outfitting, and testing a fleet of 70 new high-speed trains from scratch in just two years. Facing delays and cost overruns worsened by the pandemic, the engineers and technicians race to create 10 new stations, learn to operate the new trains, and test out new 13-mile twin tunnels under London. Drawing on more than 1,500 hours of footage, NOVA provides intimate glimpses of the challenges, setbacks, and ingenious solutions that lead to ultimate success, as the Queen finally opens the Elizabeth Line on May 24, 2022.
Nazi Attack on America
6th May 2015
Long before 9/11, a far deadlier, little-known attack from the ocean depths struck our shores, lasting three-and-a-half years and claiming 5,000 lives. Now, famed undersea explorer Bob Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, investigates the wreck of one of the attack craft, a German submarine that lies at the bottom of the gulf just a few miles off New Orleans. U-166 was part of Operation Drumbeat, a highly successful U-boat operation that caught East Coast cities and shipping almost completely unprepared. Ballard probes the wreck and unravels a dramatic mystery in the official story of the sub's sinking.
9th Nov 2010
"Dogs Decoded" reveals the science behind the remarkable bond between humans and their dogs and investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs—with surprising implications for the evolution of human culture. Other research is proving what dog lovers have suspected all along: Dogs have an uncanny ability to read and respond to human emotions. Humans, in turn, respond to dogs with the same hormone responsible for bonding mothers to their babies. How did this incredible relationship between humans and dogs come to be? And how can dogs, so closely related to fearsome wild wolves, behave so differently?
What Darwin Never Knew
29th Dec 2009
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 in this absorbing detective story, the results are confirming the brilliance of Darwin’s insights while exposing clues to life’s breathtaking diversity in ways the great naturalist could scarcely have imagined.
The Spy Factory
3rd Feb 2009
In this program, an eye-opening documentary on the National Security Agency by best-selling author James Bamford and Emmy Award-winning producer Scott Willis, NOVA exposes the ultra-secret intelligence agency's role in the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent eavesdropping program that listens in without warrant on millions of American citizens.
Kings of Camouflage
3rd Apr 2007
Join NOVA on a voyage beneath the waves, where you'll discover a bizarre, alien-like creature like no other. It's an animal with eight sucker-covered arms growing out of its head, three hearts pumping its blue-green blood, and a doughnut-shaped brain. It has the ability to change its color and shape to blend in with seaweed and rocks, and it has a knack for switching on electrifying light shows that dazzle its prey. Perhaps most surprising of all, this animal is quite intelligent, with a highly complex brain. In this program, underwater cameras capture the extraordinary powers of the cuttlefish.
Who Killed the Red Baron?
7th Oct 2003
Forensic experts investigate the most famous aviation mystery of World War 1.
Great Human Odyssey
5th Oct 2016
Follow our ancient ancestors’ footsteps out of Africa and into every corner of our planet.
Volatile Earth: Volcano on th