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Season 26 1999

  • 1999-01-13T02:00:00Z on PBS
  • 60 mins
  • 20 hours, 0 mins
  • United States
  • English
  • Documentary

Seen in more than 100 countries, NOVA is the most watched science television series in the world and the most watched documentary series on PBS. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over.


20 episodes

26x01 The Beast of Loch Ness

  • Season Premiere

    1999-01-13T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

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?

26x02 Submarines, Secrets & Spies

  • 1999-01-20T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

At the height of the Cold War, US subs gathered secrets that neither spies nor satellites could expose. Until recently, almost nobody knew the hidden history of their tragedies and triumphs. As the US strove for supremacy in the Cold War, it pushed submarine technology to its limits. Breakthroughs led to unparalleled triumphs of espionage. And, missteps cost hundreds their lives. With recently declassified film, NOVA lifts the veil on tragic and mysterious submarine accidents and their high-risk spy missions that helped win the Cold War. Along with celebrated oceanographer and explorer, Robert Ballard (discoverer of the Titanic), NOVA goes in search of clues to two tragedies of the Cold War, the wrecks of the nuclear submarines Thresher and Scorpion. Recently declassified footage gives a unique glimpse of the wrecks and a chance to investigate the catastrophic accidents that overtook these subs and their crew.

26x03 Surviving AIDS

  • 1999-02-03T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

The past five years have seen remarkable progress in both treatment and basic understanding of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. In laboratories and clinics across the country and around the world, scientists and doctors have pooled their expertise to keep people infected with HIV alive and disease-free longer than was imaginable at the start of the epidemic. And now, through what may well be an unprecedented cross-fertilization process among molecular biologists, immunologists, geneticists, and practicing physicians, a series of discoveries about HIV-infected patients who have successfully fought off AIDS for as long as 20 years are being closely analyzed for clues to the ultimate goal in this fierce scientific battle—a vaccine. NOVA tells the story of this ongoing battle through the experiences of patients like Robert Massie, a "long-term non-progressor." Massie, a 43-year old environmental activist and Episcopalian minister was infected by a blood transfusion in 1978 and after an acute period of illness, somehow his immune system has kept the HIV virus at bay without drugs. Surviving AIDS reveals the scientific community engaged in an enormous and ongoing struggle, with discoveries traveling from labs to patients and back. And NOVA brings together the most promising research with compelling human stories of the patients and doctors who are devoting themselves to unraveling one of the most complicated mysteries in scientific history.

26x10 Fall Of The Leaning Tower

  • 1999-10-06T01:00:00Z — 60 mins

The film explores why the famous tower of Pisa hasn't fallen over yet and investigates the many efforts taken to preserve this medieval treasure.

26x11 Time Travel

  • 1999-10-13T01:00:00Z — 60 mins

Is time travel anything more than sci-fi fantasy? Many leading physicists now believe that time travel is not only possible in theory but are discussing how to build a time machine. Physicist Kip Thorne tells NOVA how humankind's infinitely advanced descendants might go about achieving it with "quantum wormholes" and some "exotic matter." Demonstrating that faster-than-light travel may be possible, German physicist Guenter Nimtz claims to have transmitted Mozart's 40th Symphony across his lab at 4.7 times the speed of light. Impossible, yes, but recorded by NOVA's cameras and perhaps another step on the road to reaching the future or the past. The truth about time travel is wrapped up in the detail of how our universe works and how it all began. Mind-boggling as these perspectives are, NOVA dramatizes them in a playful and visually dazzling style that will captivate viewers and sweep them along on the ultimate thrill ride.

26x12 The Killer's Trail

  • 1999-10-20T01:00:00Z — 60 mins

The death of Marilyn Sheppard in 1954 is one of the most famous unsolved murders in America. The indictment of her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, quickly became the "Trial of the Century," then the "Re-Trial of the Century," making a celebrity out of lawyer F. Lee Bailey. Although most of the forensic evidence gathered in 1954 was ignored during Sheppard's trial, it is being re-examined with today's advanced technology. Like an intricate puzzle, the clues come together to overturn previous assumptions about the killer and point to an entirely new suspect. NOVA assembles a notable team of experts—including Barry Scheck, a well-known lawyer from the O.J. Simpson trial—and builds a precise replica of the Sheppard house, complete with the original furniture. With this unique revisiting of a vanished crime scene, NOVA investigates a horrifying and sensational milestone in forensic science.

26x13 Island of the Spirits

  • 1999-11-03T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

In the far north of Japan, thrust out into the north Pacific, is the remote island of Hokkaido. It's a land of towering volcanoes and steaming lakes, marshy valleys and fairy tale forests. Among this magical scenery, where summers are brief and winters are fierce, lives an extraordinary spectrum of life, found nowhere else in Japan. Here among the coastal lowlands, grizzly bears plunge into icy streams for salmon, Japanese cranes perform balletic courtship dances to one another, the rare and enormous Blakistons fish owl swoops on flying squirrels, and white-tailed eagles scan the rugged ocean cliffs for unsuspecting seabirds. HIgh on the mountains Asiatic pikas, arctic hares and Siberian chipmunks gather food, ever-watchful for the predatory sable. We think of Japan as a highly-populated, ultra modern society, and yet it remains a highly spiritual place where wildlife is treasured and carefully protected. Weaving Ainu legend with fascinating natural behavior, this film will follow the lives of Hokkaido's special creatures through the seasons, to capture the true essence and beauty of this other-worldly place.

26x14 Decoding Nazi Secrets

  • 1999-11-10T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

Most historians agree that by enabling Allied commanders to eavesdrop on German plans, Station X shortened the war by 2 or 3 years. Its decoded messages played a vital role in defeating the U-boat menace, cutting off Rommel's supplies in North Africa, and launching the D-Day landings. Now, for the first time on television, a 2-hour NOVA Special tells the full story of Station X, drawing on vivid interviews with many of the colorful geniuses and eccentrics who attacked the Enigma. Wartime survivors recall such vivid episodes as the British capture of the German submarine U-110; one of its officers describes how he saved a book of love poems inscribed to his sweetheart but failed to destroy vital Enigma documents on board. "Decoding Nazi Secrets" also features meticulous period reenactments shot inside the original buildings at Station X, including recreations of the world's first computing devices that aided codebreakers with their breakthroughs. Station X not only helped reverse the onslaught of the Third Reich, but also laid the groundwork for the invention of the digital computer that continues to transform all our lives.

26x15 Voyage Of Doom

  • 1999-11-24T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

Buried in mud beneath the shallow waters of Matagorda Bay in Texas, lay a glorious remnant of one of the most ill-fated voyages of the Age of Discovery. After years of searching the area, nautical archaeologists doing a magnetometer survey honed in on a promising site. And on the first day of diving, they were astounded to feel the distinctive outlines of a cannon, and sense the massive size of the wreck. When the cannon was hauled from the water, their hunch was confirmed: This ship, called La Belle, belonged to the 17th Century French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle. NOVA follows the building of a coffer dam and subsequent complete excavation of this remarkable site. Preserved were not only armaments and trade beads, but also a wealth of organic material—the wooden hull, leather shoes, and even a skeleton—that brings the voyage to life.

26x16 Electric Heart

  • 1999-12-22T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

The program tells the story of a handful of brilliant, obsessed surgeons and researchers who have pursued the target of a practical artificial heart for decades.