Nova to Tackle Vaccines, Hackers, Ben Franklin, Landslides and More This Fall on PBS
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December 17, 2014
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NOVA has announced its upcoming fall programming on PBS. Scroll down to learn more about each episode, including "Vaccines - Calling The Shots," "Why Planes Vanish" (search for Flight MH370), "Rise of the Hackers," "First Man on the Moon" and many more!
VACCINES -- CALLING THE SHOTS
Premieres Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago--whooping cough, measles, mumps--are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children's shots. The new NOVA special Vaccines--Calling the Shots takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, and shed light on the risks of opting out. It features scientists, pediatricians, psychologists, anthropologists, and parents wrestling with vaccine-related questions.
RISE OF THE HACKERS
Premieres Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
Our lives are going digital. We shop, bank, and even date online. Computers hold our treasured photographs, private emails, and all of our personal information. This data is precious-and cybercriminals want it. Now, NOVA goes behind the scenes of the fast-paced world of cryptography to meet the scientists battling to keep our data safe. They are experts in extreme physics, math, and a new field called "ultra-paranoid computing," all working to forge unbreakable codes and build ultra-fast computers. From the sleuths who decoded the world's most advanced cyber weapon to scientists who believe they can store a password in your unconscious brain, NOVA investigates how a new global geek squad is harnessing cutting-edge science-all to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
WHY PLANES VANISH
Premieres Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 9m ET/8pm CT on PBS
The disappearance of Flight MH370 stunned the world. In an era of smart-phones and GPS, how could a 270-ton passenger jet vanish into thin air? It was a rude awakening for all of us, showing just how far we are from the world we imagined we lived in--in which every move is monitored all the time. NOVA tells the inside story of the search for Flight MH370 and meets the key players from all corners of the globe who have spent months searching for the lost plane. How easy is it to make a plane disappear? Or can new technology guarantee that in the future, nothing will ever be 'lost' again?
BEN FRANKLIN'S BALLOONS
Premieres Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
The epic first stage in the adventure of human flight didn't begin with the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk but with daring inventors and aeronauts in 18th century Paris. In a period of just 19 months, humanity not only left the ground for the first time--a moment as significant as the Apollo moon landing--but a handful of brilliant and colorful pioneers developed all the essential features of today's hot air and gas balloons. Their exploits fascinated Benjamin Franklin, who was serving in Paris as the American ambassador, and created a sensation in the city, bringing tens of thousands of citizens into the streets to watch the novel spectacle of humans in flight. To explore this extraordinary burst of innovation, NOVA recreates key flights, including the world's first manned voyage on November 21, 1783. A descendant of the Montgolfier brothers, who invented the hot-air balloon, will join a team to build a highly accurate replica of the fragile paper and canvas craft using 18th century tools and materials. NOVA reveals the secrets of how the Montgolfiers invented flight, and evokes the thrilling and daunting prospect that the balloon pioneers faced as they left Earth for the first time.
FIRST AIR WAR
Premieres Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
When World War I began in 1914, the air forces of the opposing nations consisted of handfuls of rickety biplanes from which pilots occasionally took pot shots at one another with rifles. By the war's end, the essential blueprint of the modern fighter had emerged: it was now an efficient killing machine that limited the average life expectancy of a front line pilot to just a few weeks. To trace the story of this astonishingly rapid technological revolution, NOVA takes viewers inside The Vintage Aviator, a team of New Zealand-based aviation buffs dedicated to bringing back classic World War One fighters such as the SE5A and Albatros DV. NOVA joins the team as they discover the secrets of some of aviation's most colorful and deadly early flying machines, and explores how their impact played a key role in the nightmare slaughter of the Western Front.
BIGGER THAN T.REX
Premieres Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
Almost a century ago, paleontologists found the first tantalizing hints of a monster even bigger than Tyrannosaurus Rex, perhaps the largest predator ever to walk the Earth: spectacular fossil bones from a dinosaur dubbed Spinosaurus. But the fossils were completely destroyed during a World War II Allied bombing raid, leaving only drawings, lots of questions, and a mystery: What was Spinosaurus? Now, the discovery of new bones in a Moroccan cliff face is reopening the investigation into this epic beast. What did it feed on and how? Why did it grow so big? We follow the paleontologists who are reconstructing this terrifying carnivore piece by piece, revealing a 53-foot-long behemoth with a huge dorsal sail, enormous, scimitar-like claws, and massive superjaws, tapered toward the front like a crocodile, hosting an army of teeth. It is a painstaking puzzle, and it is missing many of its pieces. NOVA follows researchers on the hunt for more fossils, tracing ancient history along with the very modern drama of how the bones of the Spinosaurus were discovered, seized, bombed, stolen and smuggled across international borders. Bringing together experts in paleontology, geology, climatology and paleobotany, this NOVA/National Geographic special brings to life the lost world over which Spinosaurus reigned more than 65 million years ago.
EMPEROR'S GHOST ARMY
Premieres Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
In central China, a vast underground mausoleum conceals a life-size terracotta army of cavalry, infantry, horses, chariots, weapons, administrators, acrobats, and musicians, all built to serve China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di, in the afterlife. Lost and forgotten for over 2,200 years, this clay army, 8,000-strong, stands poised to help the First Emperor rule again beyond the grave. Now, a new archaeological campaign is probing the thousands of figures entombed in the mausoleum. With exclusive access to pioneering research,Emperor's Ghost Army reveals how the Emperor directed the manufacture of the tens of thousands of bronze weapons carried by the clay soldiers including lethal crossbows engineered with astonishing precision. NOVA tests the power of these weapons with high-action experiments and reports on revolutionary 3D computer modeling techniques that are revealing new insights into how the clay figures were made. The program reveals the secrets of one of archaeology's greatest discoveries and brings to life the startlingly sophisticated world of Qin's legendary empire.
Premieres Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
At 10:37 a.m. on a sunny Saturday morning in March, residents in 30 homes along a bend in a beautiful river in the mountains of Washington state were enjoying their morning coffee, many spending time with family on their day off, when a distant roar interrupted the routine: the terrifying sound of what would become the United States' deadliest landslide in decades. The equivalent of three million dump truck loads of earth came plummeting down the valley, snapping trees and shattering houses along with everything inside. In less than two minutes, a one-square-mile field of debris, 20 feet deep, slammed into the neighborhood. While a massive search and rescue effort continues at the site, geomorphologists are tracing the geological history of Oso, from the deposition of loose sand and gravel during the last Ice Age to modern-day logging to climate change, to explain why the site was so unstable. But all around the world, scientists have reason to fear that the worst is yet to come. Globally, landslides and other ground failures cost more lives and money each year than all other natural disasters combined, and climate change could cause an increase in landslide activity worldwide. The largest loss of life due to a landslide ravaged Afghanistan this spring, an estimated 400 people buried alive. In the Himalayas, where more than 1,000 people were killed in landslides in 2007 alone, the threat of devastating landslides is always lurking. As we survey the tell-tale signs of future colossal landslides that will strike when the next mega-earthquake hits Nepal, we will discover how scientists are revealing how and why landslides happen, and how new satellite monitoring technologies are giving researchers hope that they may be able to predict landslides and issue life-saving warnings to those in the path of nature's destruction.
FIRST MAN ON THE MOON
Premieres Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 9pm ET/8pm CT on PBS
Everyone knows Neil Armstrong was the first to set foot on the moon. But this modest and unassuming man was determined to stay out of the spotlight, so the rare combination of talent, luck and experience that led to his successful command of Apollo 11 is not widely known. Now, for the first time, NOVA presents an intimate portrait through interviews with Armstrong's family and friends, many of whom have never spoken publicly before. Seen through the eyes of those who were close to him, the film explores the man behind the myth, and also reveals his unsung achievements as a Navy combat veteran and pioneer of high speed flight. Before setting foot on the moon, Armstrong had already had two decades' worth of close calls: shot down by anti-aircraft fire during one of his 78 missions over North Korea, ejecting close to the ground when a NASA "flying bedstead" test vehicle failed, and and saving his own life and that of his fellow astronaut, David Scott when their Gemini spacecraft spun wildly out of control. NOVA revisits the legendary story of how Armstrong kept his cool during the final moments of the Apollo 11 landing, bringing the Eagle down on safe lunar terrain with seconds to spare. But Armstrong regretted that he got so much credit for the intense team effort that the lunar landing represented. In its groundbreaking exploration of this quietly effective man, NOVA explores his achievements following Apollo, which included his leading role in the inquiry into the Challenger disaster and efforts to encourage young people to share his lifelong passion for flight. This film is an inspiring story of heroic risk-taking and humble dedication to advancing humanity's adventure in space.