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Season 32 2005

  • 2005-01-05T02:00:00+00:00 on PBS
  • 55 mins
  • 13 hours, 44 mins (15 episodes)
  • 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.

15 episodes

32x01 Welcome To Mars

  • Season Premiere

    2005-01-05T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

The great PBS science series Nova scores another hit with Mars: Dead or Alive, capturing all the excitement surrounding the Mars rover landings of early 2004. Originally broadcast just as the first of the twin rovers (”Spirit” and “Opportunity”) was experiencing temporary communication problems with Earth-bound mission controllers, this riveting hour-long episode chronicles the risky $820 million Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project from design to touchdown, dramatically illustrating (through the use of detailed simulations and sophisticated computer animation) the considerable chances of failure–a nail-biting gamble considering that fully two-thirds of all previous Mars missions never reached their destination. Through rigorous testing and initial failure of the MER parachute system to the celebrated transmission of pristine photos from the “Spirit” landing site, we see just how intensely complex and emotionally involving the missions are, especially for Cornell University astronomer and lead MER scientist Steve Squyres and his devoted team of colleagues at Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Careers are on the line as technical problems accumulate, and one feels the same mixture of dread, anxiety, and elation that accompanied the historic return of Apollo 13. A bonus interview with Mars-mission pioneer Donna Shirley puts everything into resonant perspective, celebrating science and the MER missions as an essential human endeavor. Inside NASA's risky field trip to the Red Planet. Two-thirds of all spacecraft previously launched to Mars never reached their destination. Now, in a pioneering and risky mission, twin rovers named Spirit and Opportunity hurtle toward Mars at 12,000 miles per hour, with Spirit scheduled to touch down first. In the final “six minutes of terror” a parachute will open, giant protective airbags will inflate around the lander, and retrorockets will fire for a few seconds before Spirit is cut loose, bouncing its way to what everyone hopes will be a safe landing. To survive, Spirit will have to function perfectly. It will also have to be lucky, since there's no way of knowing when a sharp rock or a gust of wind will ruin your day on Mars. Only then will Spirit be able to roll off the lander and begin its mission as a robot geologist, searching for clues that can tell us whether this harsh and barren planet was ever a place that could have supported life. Join NOVA for a tense and dramatic behind-the-scenes chronicle of the $820 million Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Beginning a year before launch, NOVA's cameras follow MER scientists and engineers through a gauntlet of potentially fatal problems such as shredding parachutes, punctured airbags, and short circuits, any one of which could scuttle the mission before the rovers ever reach the launchpad. Then, seven months after launch, re-join NOVA and the NASA team in mission control for the final nail-biting minutes of the journey, as Spirit successfully lands on Mars and begins sending back its first spectacular images of the Martian landscape.

32x02 The Boldest Hoax

  • 2005-01-12T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

For decades, a fossil skull discovered in Piltdown, England, was hailed as the missing link between apes and humans. Entire careers were built on its authenticity. Then in 1953, the awful truth came out: "Piltdown Man" was a fake! But who done it? In "The Boldest Hoax," NOVA gets to the bottom of the greatest scientific hoodwinking of all time.

32x03 Supersonic Dream

  • 2005-01-19T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

A chronicle of the turbulent birth, life and death of the Concorde, the world's first and only supersonic airliner.

32x04 The Viking Deception

  • 2005-02-09T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

Ever since its sensational unveiling by Yale University scholars in October 1965, the Vinland Map has been a lightning rod for passionate debate. Most reviews of the arguments, including NOVA's program, have focused on scientific tests designed to gauge the authenticity of the map's ink. The opinions of experts in cartography and historical manuscripts have commanded much less attention, yet from the outset scholars in these disciplines pointed out glaring anomalies in the case for the Vinland Map's authenticity.

32x05 Saving The National Treasures

  • 2005-02-16T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

A team of experts takes on the preservation of the origianl Constitution, Declaration of Indipendance and Bill of Rights.

32x06 A Daring Flight

  • 2005-02-23T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

In 1909, Louis Bleriot undertakes a heroic first-ever flight over the English Channel.

32x07 Wave That Shook The World

  • 2005-03-30T03:00:00+01:00 — 55 mins

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.

32x08 Mystery Of The Megaflood

  • 2005-09-21T02:00:00+01:00 — 54 mins

It was the greatest flood of the past two million years, and it posed a giant scientific riddle. A maverick geologist became convinced that thousand-foot-deep floodwaters had scoured out vast areas of the American northwest near the end of the last ice age. Mainstream scientists scorned his theory while he searched patiently for answers to what could have triggered such an inconceivably violent event. Finally, an ingenious solution silenced the skeptics: traces of an enormous ice dam half a mile high, which had blocked a valley in present-day Montana and created an enormous lake behind it. With the help of stunningly realistic animation, NOVA takes viewers back to the Ice Age to reveal what happened when the dam broke, unleashing a titanic flood that swept herds of woolly mammoth and everything else into oblivion.

32x09 Sinking The Supership

  • 2005-10-05T02:00:00+01:00 — 55 mins

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.

32x10 Einstein's Big Idea

  • 2005-10-12T02:00:00+01:00 — 55 mins

Exactly 100 years ago, Albert Einstein grappled with the implications of his revolutionary Special Theory of Relativity and came to a startling conclusion: mass and energy are one, related by the formula E = mc2. Among Einstein's ideas, E = mc2 is by far the most famous. Yet how many people know what it really means? In a thought-provoking and engrossing documentary, Einstein's Big Idea illuminates this deceptively simple formula by unrevealing the story of how it came to be.

32x11 Volcano Under The City

  • 2005-11-02T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

A restless mountain threatens a bustling metropolis perched on its flanks.

32x12 Hitler's Sunken Secret

  • 2005-11-09T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

One of the most daring clandestine operations of World War II was the 1944 sinking of the Norwegian ferry Hydro with its cargo of "heavy water" destined for the Nazis' secret atomic bomb project. Although the mission was declared a success, no one ever established if the special shipment was actually on board. In this program, NOVA descends 1,300 feet beneath a remote Norwegian lake to find the answer.

32x13 Newton's Dark Secrets

  • 2005-11-16T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

This docudrama looks at Isaac Newton's discoveries in mathematics, physics and optics, as well as his lesser known pursuit of alchemy and hidden meanings in the Bible.

32x14 Storm That Drowned A City

  • 2005-11-23T02:00:00+00:00 — 55 mins

The narration is melodramatic, some of the interviews feel stagy--but the footage of Hurricane Katrina and its horrendous aftermath is staggering. Hurricane Katrina - The Storm That Drowned a City, a NOVA special, begins a year earlier, when a team of scientists created a computer simulation of the destructive effect a powerful storm could have on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Though local officials took it seriously, the federal response was skeptical, and little was done to strengthen the city's protection. Using a combination of remarkable video of the developing storm and interviews with scientists, city residents (black and white), and member of the Army Corps of Engineers, Hurrican Katrina builds a compelling story of the disaster as it unfolded. Sophisticated graphics explain how hurricanes form and how the levees failed. The special touches lightly on the possibility that global warming may be exacerbating the intensity of hurricanes, but shies away from the political storm of the meager federal response to the devastation of New Orleans. The result is a vivid, detailed description of the natural disaster, but an incomplete portrait of the social one. --Bret Fetzer

32x15 Wave That Shook The World

  • 2005-03-30T03:00:00+01:00 — 55 mins

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.