NOVA: Season 36 (2009)

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Season 36
NOVA

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Episodes

Air date: Oct 7, 2008

For many years, scientists concurred with the imagery associated with dinosaurs; that is, they lived their lives deep inside prehistoric jungles, where their needs were supported by a tropical ecosystem. However, the discovery of fossils in cold, harsh climates have led scientists to question how, exactly, would a cold-blooded creature such as a dinosaur survive in such an environment? This program documents the journey of a group of researchers attempting to answer these questions through a large-scale, at times treacherous dig for 70 million-year-old fossils buried deep beneath the Alaskan Tundra.

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Air date: Oct 14, 2008

Tragically, the space shuttle Columbia was unable to remain intact during its reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, where the shuttle was destroyed, leaving no survivors in its wake. This program offers a probing study into not only what caused the malfunction, but the political and economical factors that may have contributed to the disaster. Several engineers predicted the accident, and interviews with NASA personnel appear to confirm that damage reports went ignored by their superiors. In addition, the decision to retire old "space planes" such as the Columbia for another model, the Orion, which is not scheduled to come out until 2015, is also examined, for this too could have far-reaching international consequences.

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Air date: Oct 21, 2008

Follow EELS frontman Mark Oliver Everett on his quest to comprehend the theory of parallel universes while unraveling the remarkable life story of his iconoclastic father Hugh -- creator of the radical quantum physics theory -- in this installment of the popular PBS series Nova. Dubbed "one of the most important scientists of the 20th century" by Scientific American, Hugh Everett III proposed the controversial Many Worlds Theory back in 1957. The basis of that theory is the idea that parallel universes are constantly spinning off from reality as we know it. Though generally ignored at the time, that theory has gone on to become not just a popular topic of study among respected physicists, but the inspiration for such popular films, television shows, and books as Star Trek and The Golden Compass. As a young boy growing up, Mark never understood why his father was so distant. It wasn't that Hugh didn't care about his family, just that his brain was constantly swirling with ideas and concepts, and that anything that pulled him out of his own thoughts was considered something of a distraction. Now the last surviving member of his troubled family, Mark interviews his father's old college friends, colleagues, and admirers -- including MIT physicist Max Tegmark -- in an emotional journey to not only better understand the man he barely knew in life, but also to gain a greater understanding of the ideas that still inspire physicists to this very day.

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Air date: Oct 28, 2008

Fractals -- that is, irregular geometric patterns -- are found virtually everywhere, from stalks of broccoli and cauliflower, to jagged mountain peaks. This phenomenon has long been considered beyond traditional mathematical understanding; however, a group of "maverick" mathematicians are determined to discover the mathematical laws that result in these strange patterns. Their findings have the potential for great scientific progress in a variety of areas, particularly in the field of medicine, where an understanding of fractal geometry could lead to improved treatment of cardiovascular illnesses.

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Air date: Apr 1, 2009

An investigation of a possible comet strike in the Great Lakes region some 12,900 years ago, which could explain the extinction of such mega-creatures as the saber-toothed cat and woolly mammoth in North America. Included: the discovery of nanodiamonds created from the heat and impact of extraterrestrial objects; remarks from climate scientist Paul Mayewski, geologists James Kennett and Allen West, archaeologist Vance Haynes and physicist Mark Boslough.

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Air date: Nov 18, 2008

Golden Globe nominated actor Leiv Schreiber narrates this feature-length documentary taking viewers on a remarkable scientific journey that began 3000 years ago, and presents findings that stand as the culmination of over 100 years of excavation and centuries of biblical scholarship. By delving deep into the origins of the Old Testament, archeologists attempt to find answers to such timeless questions as where the ancient Israelites came from, who wrote The Bible, and why the world that was once polytheistic began a gradual movement towards monotheism. As the biblical texts continue to resonate through history, The Bible's Buried Secrets takes viewers to the intersection of scholarship, science, and scripture in order to explore the questions that Christians and theologians have been asking for centuries.

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Air date: Nov 25, 2008

This riveting documentary from the filmmakers at Nova follows a team of wildlife veterinarians at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California as they engage in heart-pounding rescues to save the lives of the ocean's beautiful and often endangered animals.

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Air date: Dec 30, 2008

It lingers as one of the great unknown questions associated with extraterrestrial exploration - one that has intrigued astronomers and stirred imaginations for centuries: Does life exist on Mars? In the early 21st century, NASA began a series of systematic attempts to definitively answer this question, initially by sending twin robot explorers, the Spirit and the Opportunity , to the legendary Red Planet in 2003. Over the ensuing four-year period, the robots dramatically superseded the expectations set forth for them by NASA, by traveling 20x farther and lasting 16x longer than predicted. Inspired by this success, with the said question still unanswered, NASA supplemented the exploratory missions with an armada of cutting edge satellites that enabled scientists to begin to piece together a definitive history of Mars. The documentary Nova: Is There Life on Mars systematically reviews the findings obtained via these efforts.

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Air date: Oct 6, 2009

Conclusion. A dramatization of the dilemma Charles Darwin (Henry Ian Cusick) faced when, after years honing his theory of evolution, he learned in 1858 that naturalist Alfred Wallace was preparing to beat him to the punch. To come forward would upset the Church and his wife Emma (Frances O'Connor), who believed the creation story, but to not come forward would relegate his life's work to the ashbin of history.

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Air date: Oct 6, 2009

Part 1 of 2. A dramatization of the dilemma Darwin (Henry Ian Cusick) faced when, after honing his theory of evolution, he learned in 1858 that naturalist Alfred Wallace was preparing to beat him to the punch. To come forward would upset the Church and his wife Emma (Frances O'Connor), who believed the creation story but felt that to not come forward would relegate his life's work to the ashbin of history.

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