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The Nature of Things

Season 1 1960 - 1961

  • 1960-11-06T19:00:00-06:00 on CBC (CA)
  • 45 mins
  • 18 hours, 53 mins
  • Canada
  • English
  • Documentary

The Nature of Things is one of the most successful series in the history of Canadian television. Hosted by the world-renowned geneticist and environmentalist, David Suzuki, the program is in its 57th season, a landmark by any standard.

Every week, the influential program presents stories that are driven by a scientific understanding of the world. Stories full of adventure, drama and insight. Our programs entertain and inspire audiences by engaging with the people and personalities behind the science.

From the search for other life in the universe to the psychology of babies, from the furry animals that invade your backyard to the consequences of human progress, The Nature of Things throws open the door to the wonder and accomplishments of science.

25 episodes

1x01 Why Is It So

  • Series Premiere

    1960-11-06T19:00:00-06:00 — 53 mins

First program in a new series on science. This program looks ahead to some of the subjects to be examined in the ensuing weeks. Seen are: Dr. J.W.R. Steacie, President of the National Research Council, discussing changing attitudes to science; Dr. Wilder Penfield, of the Montreal Neurological Institute, describing his work with the human brain; and Dr. Abraham Hoffer, University of Saskatchewan, discussing mental illness.

1x02 The Roar of the Crowd : Brain Surgery

  • 1960-11-13T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

A look at research on the human brain at the Montreal Neurological Institute under Dr. Wilder Penfield. Program includes: host Lister Sinclair and Dr. Donald Ivey on the basic scientific data on the brain and epilepsy research; Penfield talks about epilepsy and the measurement of electrical discharges in the brain; Dr. Allan Elliott demonstrates the effect of a chemical on the nervous system; Dr. Herbert Jasper explains his research on electrical brain activity; Dr. Penfield, relates his accidental discovery of electrical stimulation of memory; and film footage of open brain surgery to cure epilepsy performed by Professor Rasmussen.

1x03 The future of science

  • 1960-11-20T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

This week's program will probe the attitudes and working habits of the scientist, and try to decide where the future of science lies.

1x04 Schizophrenia

  • 1960-11-27T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

Presents a study of the most prevalent of mental diseases, schizophrenia.

1x05 Engineering

  • 1960-12-04T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

This show will discuss Engineering as a Science.

1x06 Man as an Environment

  • 1960-12-11T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

Members of the plant and animal kingdom will be shown at work and at war. Films for the show were collected by science writer Maurice Constant. They show that man is the most successful of animals in changing his environment. He also has the power, through drugs, of protecting himself from bacilli which find his body a salubrious environment. The audience will see body cells under attack by viruses and bacilli, and will see drugs actually working within the body to destroy harmful, living bacteria. These rare films, made by the advanced techniques of microphotography, were shot in Canadian, U.S., European and Japanese laboratories. Dr. Donald Ivey is host.

1x07 Science Fiction

  • 1960-12-18T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

In this program, American scientist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov examines a selection of brief science fiction plots by Toronto writer Rod Coneybeare in an attempt to explain how this kind of fiction confuses the public about the potential and motives of science.

1x08 A special Christmas edition

  • 1960-12-25T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

The program takes a light-hearted look at the scientific aspects of a modern Christmas. For instance, ingenious new methods of turkey carving will be demonstrated; flashing and bubbling tree lights will be explained; complex Christmas toys will be demonstrated. Our host, Dr. Donald Ivey, welcomes Iris associate from the department of physics at the University of Toronto, Dr. Patterson Hume, to the program. John Livingstone, the director of the Audubon Society of Canada, will also be on the program. In addition, sketches by George Feyer will be seen and a series of puzzles and optical illusions will be presented.

1x09 The Aurora-Borealis

  • 1961-01-01T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

An examination of scientific theories about the aurora borealis or the Northern Lights. Includes: readings from historical literature describing the phenomenon; Dr. B.W. Curie, Physics, University of Saskatchewan, relates folk theories about the aurora, the beinning of his own scientific studies, and the extent of scientifically certain knowledge about the aurora; Dr. Ray Montalbetti explains theories of the aurora and their inadequacies; Dr. Peter Forsyth, Physics, University of Saskatchewan, discusses scientific knowledge of the aurora gained through radio techniques. Includes some graphic illustrations and simulations.

1x10 Man as an Environment - Human Body

  • 1961-01-08T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

An examinaton of the human body as an environment for the billions of tiny organisms living within it. Includes film footage of: underwater life - crab, octopus, eel; amoeba; human cells; blood circulation; breathing; digestion (animated simulation); white corpuscles; tapeworm organism; fungus; skin lice; malarial organism; skin bacteria; plague bacteria; cholera organism; flu and polio virus; white corpuscles; antibodies; and penicillin attacking alien organisms in the human body.

1x11 Kept Alive

  • 1961-01-15T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

An examination of the newest methods of "quick freezing" animal tissues and organs by immersion in -321 Fahrenheit liquid nitrogen. Dr. Louis Rey shows and discusses his experiments on this subject in Paris.

1x12 Physics and Games - Laws of Probability

  • 1961-01-22T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

An examination of the laws of probability and their uses in science. Co-hosts Professor Donald Ivey and Professor Patterson Hume demonstrate the laws of probability in games of chance such as coin-flipping and dice-throwing. A geiger counter is used to demonstrate that radioactive material can be located in a similar manner to the prediction of the outcome of games of chance.

1x13 The Face of the Moon

  • 1961-01-29T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

Donald MacRae, Professor of Astronomy at David Dunlap Observatory, Richmond Hill, explains what man knows about the moon and how he knows it. The program includes detailed photographs of the moon never before seen on television. Professor MacRae also explains how some popular folk tales about the moon actually have some basis in scientific fact, and compares the two methods for determining what he know about the moon, radio and optical astronomy.

1x14 Hibernation

  • 1961-02-05T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

An examination of the phemonena of winter hibernation and how its study may assist those with heart defects.

1x15 Man and His Environment

  • 1961-02-12T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

An examination of how man adapts to the various environments on earth - the arctic, the tropics, the desert - and what the consequences are for man and for the other living organisms sharing his environment. The film was shot in remote areas of the world.

1x16 Eclipse

  • 1961-02-19T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

A special half-hour Eurovision program from the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Yugoslavia, covering the eclipse of the sun by the moon shortly after dawn on 15 February 1961. After a a partial eclipse is seen in Britain and in the following minutes as the moon's shadow races across Southern Europe at several thousand miles per hour, television broadcast units in France, Italy and Yugoslavia, in succession, show the sun's disc for the period, lasting approximately 1.25 minutes, during which it becomes totally eclipsed. The commentators are Tom Margerison in Britain, Hugh Butler in France, Colin Ronin in Italy and Patrick Moore in Yugoslavia.

1x17 Animal Communication

  • 1961-02-26T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

An examination of the various forms and modes of animal communication. Sound, colour, odour, pattern, and movement together or separately can tell animals much about their enemies, the source of food and the mood of a prospective mate. John Livingston, executive director of the Audubon Society of Canada, explains what constitutes communication in animal communities. Dr. Bruce Falls of the Zoology Department at the University of Toronto describes how scientists have worked to understand the nature of bird songs and calls. He demonstrates equipment he uses to study bird calls and shows how birds stake out their nesting territories by means of their calls.

1x18 The Speed of Light

  • 1961-03-05T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

This program shows how the speed of light is measured and what it means. Although light's speed in a vacuum seems a universal absolute, research now suggests the presence of varieties of light that move even faster.

1x19 Monotony

  • 1961-03-12T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

Dr. John Zubec of the University of Manitoba explains some of his experiments and studies on boredom and its effects on the human mind.

1x20 The Chemical Senses

  • 1961-03-19T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

Dr. R. Wright of the British Columbia Research Council discusses his theory of how our senses of taste and smell work, and how they serve the biological system. Film demonstrates these functions in animals and humans. Includes a demonstration of shark repellant.

1x21 The Mohole : Earth's Crust

  • 1961-04-02T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

Dr. J. Tuzo Wilson, University of Toronto, talks with host Dr. Donald Ivey about the nature of the earth's core beneath its crust and the ways scientists have of finding out about it. Dr. William Bascom, National Academy of Science (U.S.) and head of Project Molhole, talks about the project, an attempt to drill through the ocean floor to penetrate the earth's crust. He discusses technical problems and what scientists hope to learn from the project. Includes: film footage of volcanoes; scientific research on earthquakes; oil-will drilling on land and off-shore; and animated graphic simulation of volcanos and earthquakes.

1x22 Laws of Conservation

  • 1961-04-16T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

Hosts Dr. Patterson Hume and Dr. Donald Ivey of the University of Toronto explain the laws of conservation of matter and energy.

1x23 Photosynthesis

  • 1961-04-23T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

How plants live is one of the classic problems confronting biochemists. Guest Professor R.G.S. Bidwell, Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, demonstrates the way in which simple inert matter is raised to the complexity and reactivity that is the essence of life through experiments with radio-active plants.

1x24 Physics of Clouds

  • 1961-04-30T19:00:00-05:00 — 45 mins

Drs. Stewart Marshall and W.F. Hitschfield of the Stormy Weather Group at McGill University explain what clouds are and how they form. The program makes use of film shot in Alberta and at the Puy de Dome Observatory in southern France. Includes time-lapse photography of clouds flowing like turbulent water over the mountains and valleys of southern France.

1x25 The Sources of Science

  • 1961-04-07T19:00:00-06:00 — 45 mins

What is science and where does it come from? Through a study of one of the oldest scientific societies in the world, the Hoyal Society of London, this program shows science at work, and suggests the scope and nature of the life in science.