PBS to Present 3-Part Series NOVA: MAKING NORTH AMERICA This November
Mighty, elemental forces molded North America. Fiery eruptions, titanic floods, the grinding of great ice sheets, and massive impacts from space all shaped our land. Now, for the first time, NOVA ? a production of WGBH Boston ? presents a bold and sweeping three-billion-year biography of our continent and how it came to be in an epic new three-hour series. Hosted by renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson, this spectacular road trip through our nation?s tumultuous deep past sets out to answer three fundamental questions: How was the continent built? How did life evolve here? And how has its spectacular landscape shaped human lives and destinies?
NOVA?s MAKING NORTH AMERICA, premieres on three consecutive Wednesday nights on November 4, 11, and 18, 2015 at 9PM/8C on PBS (check local listings).
North America is a vast and vibrant continent full of towering summits, rugged coastlines, abundant wildlife and stunning natural wonders. But the land, its creatures and its people have not always existed as they are today. In this new NOVA series, an extraordinary tale of violent creation and destruction unfolds in a forgotten world that existed long before our own--one that was crossed by long-lost mountain ranges, deserts the size of Africa, and vast inland seas spanning the length of the continent. Beloved landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Rockies are explored from the inside out as viewers witness the clash of continents and nature?s forces colliding. Enhanced by dazzling, hyper-realistic CGI animations, immersive geological field missions, and the latest scientific research, the MAKING NORTH AMERICA series reveals the incredible story of a majestic continent.
?Our young continent experienced some pretty intense growing pains during its formation,? said Paula S. Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA. ?Kirk Johnson is the perfect guide to reveal the secrets in the land beneath our feet and to show viewers the intimate connection between geology and biology that allowed life to flourish here.?
MAKING NORTH AMERICA: ORIGINS
(Premieres November 4, 2015 at 9PM/8c on PBS)
In the series? first hour, Origins, host Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Smithsonian Institution?s National Museum of Natural History, criss-crosses the continent searching for evidence of the powerful forces that gave birth to North America. Viewers will join Johnson as he rappels down the steep cliffs of the Grand Canyon to examine rock layers up to 1.7 billion years old, flies over active volcanoes in Hawaii to witness new land being formed, heads to Alaska to uncover fossil evidence that palm trees once flourished there, and descends deep into the palladium mines of Ontario, Canada, where geologists have dated some of the oldest ever found in North America. Off the coast of Lake Superior in Minnesota, Kirk meets up with geophysicist Emily Wolin, part of the Earthscope project team deploying portable seismic sensors across the country, to examine an ancient geological wound: a rift caused by titanic eruptions that once threatened to split the budding continent in half. Scientists believe a giant ?group hug? a billion years ago by converging neighboring land masses may have held us together. The film also looks at the Ancestral Rockies, a mountain chain that rose and fell before the modern-day majestic range, and was just as mighty. The team then travels to New York City to see what clues to the past the bedrock holds, and reveals that ancient mountains, not skyscrapers, once towered over Manhattan. The journey ends in Tomales Bay, California, where geologist Lisa White reveals how travelling land masses and tectonic plates are still reshaping the dynamic Pacific coastline.
MAKING NORTH AMERICA: LIFE
(Premieres November 11, 2015 at 9PM/8c on PBS)
The second hour of the series investigates the mystery of how life emerged on our primeval continent. Why was NORTH AMERICA home to so many iconic dinosaurs like T-Rex? How did a huge inland sea filled with giant marine creatures end up covering Kansas? In Life, NOVA tells the surprising intertwined story of life and the landscape in North America, and shows just how much the geology has shaped every creature that has ever lived here and colonized the continent. Viewers will dive with host Kirk Johnson and marine scientist Pamela Reed in the Bahamas to see firsthand rare living fossils and some of the oldest organisms on the planet, and will go fossil-hunting in the Midwest to uncover new dinosaur species and search for clues to explain how the dinosaurs flourished, then perished. In Western Kansas, the team unveils an 80-million-year-old, 14-foot fish skeleton?evidence of the massive inland sea that once submerged the Great Plains and accounts for much of the diversity of dinosaurs in North America. NOVA also illustrates the changes in the geology of NORTH AMERICA that once altered the landscape from wet swamplands into lush tropical forests where early primates once flourished, and unravels the mystery of why they disappeared, leaving NORTH AMERICA mostly primate-free, until the arrival of humans millions of years later.
MAKING NORTH AMERICA: HUMAN
(Premieres November 18, 2015 at 9PM/8c on PBS)
From the GOLD RUSH to the oil boom, the hidden riches of our landscape have helped Americans prosper. In Human, the third and final hour of MAKING NORTH AMERICA, NOVA reveals the surprising ways that the continent has shaped human life. How did we humans manage to migrate to this continent some 14,000 years ago, and what challenges were we up against once we got here? North America?s spectacular landscape has had a profound impact on civilization and the way our continent has been settled. Humans have exploited its enormous resources, created vast wealth and supported a bustling population with the riches of the land. As a result, we have altered the continent on a time scale tens of thousands of times faster than the powerful geological forces that shaped the land over billions of years before. And as the cities and populations grow, so, too, does the potential risk of catastrophe posed by natural disasters?including a supervolcano under Yellowstone that could one day obliterate half the continent. Old Faithful is a constant reminder of the forces beyond our control that lurk below the surface and that a future natural apocalypse could strike at any time. In the final hour, viewers will scale Alaska?s Mendenhall Glacier with host Kirk Johnson, to explore what the earliest
Native Americans would have confronted as they first entered the continent at the end of the Ice Age, tour a goldmine in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and head down into California?s tar pits to see how oil is formed. NOVA explores the coal and iron that fueled the growing industrial cities on the East Coast, until the discovery of gold triggered a stampede westward. And finally, NOVA touches on how overexploiting our natural resources could have serious consequences for North America?s future.
Our continent has seen some amazing transformations over millions of years, and we are far from reaching the end of this RESTLESS land?s unique story. As NOVA?s wild ride back in time and across NORTH AMERICA reveals, nature?s forces are relentlessly at work and nothing is ever permanent.
To coincide with the MAKING NORTH AMERICA premiere, NOVA is developing a number of unique components--including special interactive digital elements and educational companion events at the local, national and global level.
A special MAKING NORTH AMERICA interactive map has been created for the NOVA website (www.pbs.org/nova)- putting users in the driver?s seat on a journey to discover how our amazing continent came to be through a game-like web experience of exploration and expeditions that reveal the powerful geological forces in action.
As part of its longtime commitment to Science education and engagement through community outreach programs, NOVA Education is working locally with stations, natural history museums and Science centers to support screening events where families can bring in their geological finds for identification by an expert. In partnership with the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), NOVA is convening its large and active network of STEM educators to bring MAKING NORTH AMERICA content to grades 6-12 classrooms nationwide. NOVA is also tapping its global network of 400 Science Cafés?casual Science lecture events held in pubs, coffee houses, and community spaces?to focus on geology-themed topics in 2015.
National corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Google and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and public television viewers. Major funding for MAKING NORTH AMERICA is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.