Marine biologists examine an animal that looks alien enough to be from another planet. Through their studies the scientist learn how cuttlefish make their skin flash like a neon sign, the secrets of their mating behavior and if they are poisonous. But they have barely scratched the surface to understand their intelligence.
Nova follows the excavation of a paleontologist's gold mine, an Australian cave containing fossils of eight new species of kangaroo, and the ultimate prize, a complete skeleton of the marsupial lion, thylacoleo carnifex, previously know only from fragments. The complete skeleton enables scientists to predict the animals appearance, method of locomotion and hunting behavior.
Recent archaeological research begins to reveal how a small number of Spanish fortune hunters could conquer the mighty Inca Empira. The evidences calls into question the accepted story of the conquest recorded by Spanish scribes. More likely, the Spanish were aided by native allies rebelling against Inca rule.
Sleep's link to learning and memory is examined in visits to research labs at Harvard, MIT and Penn; the Large Hadron Collider, a 16-mile-long particle accelerator nearing completion at the international particle-physics lab CERN in Geneva; the phenomenon of emergence (coordinated mass movement, such as a flock of birds or a school of fish); University of Oregon archaeologist Julie Schablitsky on Chinese railroad laborers in Oregon.
A look at how environment may affect DNA, turning on and off specific genes; the "Kryptos" sculpture at CIA headquarters, which contains coded messages; homemaker-turned-paleontologist Mary Schweitzer, who discovered spongy tissue in a 68 million-year-old T. rex; Duke mathematics and physics professor Arlie Petters, who is working to prove the "braneworld" theory of gravity, which posits that there are five dimensions (four spatial, plus time).
Nova follows the creation of a katana from raw iron ore to finished masterpiece, through the hands of fifteen master artisans as scientists explain the chemistry and physics at each step that makes it a superb piece of engineering.
Following the mapping of the human genome scientists discovered there is a huge new chapter in the genetics story. Dubbed epigenetics, it involves the chemical markers on DNA that effectively turn genes on or off dramatically influencing growth and development. The markers vary widely from person to person and tissue to tissue and are influenced not just by the environment but by experiences. Most remarkably the markers can be inherited generation after generation.
What does it take for the average person to run one of the world's toughest races? NOVA finds out in a program that's both a human story and an intriguing scientific exploration of the way our bodies respond to intense exercise demands. Filmed in cooperation with the Boston Athletic Association, NOVA has been granted unprecedented access to the Boston Marathon course and will take viewers on a unique adventure inside the human body. Every year thousands of athletes from across the globe flock to Boston to run the city's marathon, known worldwide as the ultimate test ...
Nova examines the goals of the highly secretive American space program prior to Sputnik. The Eisenhower Administration's covert objectives in space gave the impression that the Soviets had a commanding lead in space technology.
When the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania votes to require science teachers to read a statement touting Intelligent Design as a scientific alternative to Darwin's Theory of Evolution parents sue the district, leading to a trial in which the judge must decide if Intelligent Design is merely a new name for creationism, already banned in public schools as being religious in nature.
Nova reviews the air war between Russian Mig 15s and American F86 Sabres over Korea. With the Russians anxious for information about American aerial combat tactics and the F86, many people speculate that some American pilots who are still MIA were taken to Russia for interrogation. Their families hope they may still be alive.