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.
Black holes are the most enigmatic and exotic objects in the universe. They’re also the most powerful, with gravity so strong it can trap light. And they’re destructive, swallowing entire planets, even giant stars. Anything that falls into them vanishes…gone forever. Now, astrophysicists are realizing that black holes may be essential to how our universe evolved—their influence possibly leading to life on Earth and, ultimately, us. In this two-hour special, astrophysicist and author Janna Levin takes viewers on a journey to the frontiers of black hole science. Along the way, we meet leading astronomers and physicists on the verge of finding new answers to provocative questions about these shadowy monsters: Where do they come from? What’s inside? What happens if you fall into one? And what can they tell us about the nature of space, time, and gravity?
For the first time, two intrepid pilots fly a solar-powered airplane around the world.
The remains of a 13,000-year-old skeleton of a prehistoric teenager are located in an underwater cave in Mexico. One unlucky day 13,000 years ago, a slight, malnourished teenager missed her footing and tumbled to the bottom of a 100-foot pit deep inside a cave in Mexico’s Yucatán. Rising seas flooded the cave and cut it off from the outside world—until a team of divers chanced upon her nearly complete skeleton in 2007. Intricate detective work reveals that the young woman’s bones are among the earliest known human remains in the Americas. What drove her to venture nearly a mile underground inside a vast cave? Where did her people come from, and why does she look so distinct from today’s Native Americans? From a stunning Mexico cave to the wilderness of the Yukon, from the genetics lab to the forefront of forensics, NOVA pursues tantalizing new clues that are rewriting the story of the forgotten first people who ventured into our continent.
As France fell to the German armies in May 1940, 300,000 Allied troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Their annihilation seemed certain - a disaster that could have led to Britain's surrender. But then, in a last-minute rescue dramatized in Christopher Nolan's recent film, Royal Navy ships and a flotilla of tiny civilian boats evacuated hundreds of thousands of soldiers to safety across the Channel - the legendary "miracle of Dunkirk." Now, NOVA follows a team of archaeologists, historians, and divers as they recover the remains of ships, planes, and personal effects lost during the epic operation. With access to previously classified files recently released by the UK government, they also uncover the truth behind the myths of Dunkirk - notably, a claim that the Royal Air Force failed to protect the stranded men from the Luftwaffe's constant bombing of the beaches. Featuring an exclusive excavation of a newly-found Spitfire wreck, NOVA debunks the myth and highlights the essential role that the RAF's iconic fighter played in reversing the desperate stakes that played out in the air above the beleaguered men.
Predictions underlie nearly every aspect of our lives, from sports, politics, and medical decisions to the morning commute. With the explosion of digital technology, the internet, and “big data,” the science of forecasting is flourishing. But why do some predictions succeed spectacularly while others fail abysmally? And how can we find meaningful patterns amidst chaos and uncertainty? From the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election, “Prediction by the Numbers” explores stories of statistics in action. Yet advances in machine learning and big data models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions. How much should we trust predictions made by algorithms when we don’t understand how they arrive at them? And how far ahead can we really forecast?
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 two-hour documentary, NOVA will cut through the confusion around climate change. Why do scientists overwhelmingly agree that our climate is changing, and that human activity is causing it? How and when will it affect us through the weather we experience? And what will it take to bend the trajectory of planetary warming toward more benign outcomes? Join scientists around the world on a quest to better understand the workings of the weather and climate machine we call Earth, and discover how we can be resilient—even thrive—in the face of enormous change.
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. First, Harvey brought catastrophic rain and flooding to Houston, causing $125 billion in damage. Less than two weeks later, Irma lashed the Caribbean with 185 mile per hour winds - and left the island of Barbuda uninhabitable. Hot on Irma's heels, Maria intensified from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane in just 15 hours, then ravaged Puerto Rico and left millions of people without power. As the planet warms, are these superstorms the new normal? How well can we predict them? And with hurricane season just around the corner, does the U.S. need to prepare for the reality of climate refugees? NOVA takes you inside the 2017 superstorms and the cutting-edge research that will determine how well equipped we are to deal with hurricanes in the future.
The experience of organ donation, including patients who need transplants and families who make the choice to donate organs of deceased family members; the critical shortage of organs; research into "organs by design."
Follow the race to rebuild the Old Blenheim Bridge in New York State, an icon of 19th century American engineering, destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Watch a team of elite craftsmen faithfully reproduce the massive, intricate wooden structure under grueling time pressure as flooding threatens their worksite. In China, witness craftsmen restoring thousand-year-old covered bridges based on ingenious frameworks of woven timber beams. Discover how Chinese artisans are keeping traditional skills alive to ensure the survival of these stunning ancient structures.
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.
Explore Nyamuragira, one of the world’s most active and mysterious volcanoes in Africa. Decades of civil strife have prevented scientists from investigating the volcano, but a brief pause allows an international team of experts to fly by helicopter to the summit to investigate. Discover the volcano’s hidden dangers and probe whether magma pressure is building up to threaten another eruption.
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.
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.
Underwater archaeologists and technical divers excavate the wreckage of the B-24 Liberator bomber Tulsamerican in hopes of finding out what happened to the three airmen who went missing when the plane crashed off the coast of Croatia in 1944.
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. Hear how rescuers explored every option—from pumping water, to drilling a new exit, to ultimately cave diving with the children through the treacherous, flooded passages.
Peregrine falcons are examined in order to learn how they achieve such incredible speed.
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.