NOVA: Season 32 (2005)

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Season 32
NOVA

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Episodes

Air date: Sep 28, 2004

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson measures Earth's 4.5-billion-year history in terms of one 24-hour day. This episode covers the first hour, when, he says, the planet was "beaten, bombarded, mangled and melted" for several hundred million years. But this was, he adds, "the best thing to happen to planet Earth" because it set the stage for the appearance of life.

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Air date: Sep 28, 2004

NOVA chronicles the discoveries that led to scientists' current understanding of how the universe was formed. The program describes the serendipitous discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, a faint energy signal believed to be left o

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Air date: Sep 29, 2004

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explores whether life is unique to Earth. "The elements essential to life as we know it are widespread throughout the universe," Tyson says, but no extraterrestrial life has yet been found. Why? One reason is that light emitted by stars blinds astronomers to the planets revolving around them.

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Air date: Sep 29, 2004

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson goes back to the big bang to ponder "the grand mysteries of the universe," following scientists as they seek to answer questions that arose with the discovery of the big bang in the 1960s. They have only just begun, but, Tyson marvels, they already have found "a chain of connections that links the birth of the universe to us."

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Air date: Oct 12, 2004

This film examines the outbreak of Typhoid Fever that sacked the posh summer community of Oyster Bay, Long Island in 1906. Investigations later revealed that a single, Irish cook-a woman who was perfectly healthy by all appearances-was the source of the outbreak and was henceforth known as Typhoid Mary. Using modern technology to examine this event of the past, the film offers ideas about communicable disease and the role of the medical community in protecting the public at large.

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Air date: Nov 9, 2004

Did the first Americans come from...France? "America's Stone Age Explorers" examines several theories about how and when the New World was first populated. Many scientists dispute the long-standing theory that the first to arrive crossed a "land bridge" from Asia some 13,500 years ago, because artifacts much older have been found in Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Chile. Some believe the Solutreans crossed the Atlantic from France and Spain around 17,000 to 18,000 years ago.

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Air date: Nov 16, 2004

It was undoubtedly the most ingenious and brilliant act of self-liberation in contemporary history, rivaling anything undertaken by Henri Charrière or Harry Houdini and making any fictional prison escape accounts look broadly drawn and crude by comparison. It was an undertaking of humanistic triumph so astonishing that it might have risked denial in later years were it not for the wealth of overwhelming evidence and the testimonies of survivors. In the early '40s, over 600 members of the Nazi prison camp Stalag Luft III set about digging three carefully-concealed tunnels, over three stories underground and several miles long, nicknamed "Tom," "Dick," and "Harry" -- escape routes sophisticated enough to even incorporate railways and electric lights. On the evening of March 24, 1944, the inmates planned to spring two hundred men in this way. Only 77 entered one of the tunnels -- many of whom were recaptured and killed -- but a few emerged from their incarceration unscathed. Over 60 years later, historians have devoted a wealth of literature to this miraculous occurrence, and Hollywood cinematized the subterfuge in 1963 with The Great Escape, but in this astonishing 60-minute video, WGBH's NOVA series digs into an area that has eluded researchers for decades -- locating the third tunnel -- "Harry" -- which eluded the Nazis by virtue of its careful concealment. In NOVA: The Great Escape -- The Most Daring Allied Prison Escape of World War II, viewers can journey back to the site of Stalag Luft III with NOVA's camera crew and a team of archaeologists to uncover and tour this long-lost relic and listen to the miraculous accounts of surviving prisoners and escapees.

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Air date: Nov 23, 2004

This documentary takes a look at a number of 2000 year old artifacts found in a cave near the Dead Sea and the story they might tell. Could these ancient coins have been left behind by Bar-Kokhba, the Jewish upriser whled a rebellion against the Romans so many years ago?

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Air date: Jan 4, 2005

After a pair of near-disastrous incidents with the Space Shuttle, all eyes were on NASA in early 2004 when their latest project edged into the spotlight -- a pair of roving space probes, Spirit and Opportunity, were set to land on Mars and send back pictures and data on the planet's landscape. Despite technical glitches and other unexpected difficulties, the rovers proved to be a major success, running longer than expected and sending back crucial data that suggested the presence of water on Mars -- and with it, the possibility of life. Nova: Welcome to Mars is a documentary produced for the popular PBS science series which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Spirit and Opportunity missions -- how the rovers were created, how they made their way to Mars, and how NASA's crew was able to troubleshoot the machines from millions of miles away. Nova: Welcome to Mars originally aired on January 4, 2005.

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Air date: Jan 11, 2005

NOVA reconstructs and dissects a decades-old unsolved mystery in this 60-minute special from 2005. Proclaimed for years as the apotheosis of evolutionary theory and the final proof of a link between homo sapiens and primates, the "Piltdown Man" -- a series of bones excavated from Piltdown, England in 1913 -- was proven a hoax in 1953. But who could have perpetuated such a fraud? For years, researchers and historians have guessed about the red-handed party -- popular suspects including Sherlock Holmes godfather Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Martin Hinton of the Natural History Museum, and archaeologist Charles Dawson, each of whom is examined, in turn, by this film. In NOVA: The Boldest Hoax, we revisit Piltdown, review the available evidence, listen to interviews with authorities, and are asked to draw our own conclusions about the identity of the perpetrator.

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