NOVA

NOVA
Making North America: Life

 

Mighty, elemental forces molded North America – fiery eruptions, titanic floods, the grinding of great ice sheets and massive impacts from space all shaped our homeland. The epic three-part series unfolds in a forgotten world that existed long before our own, crossed by lost mountain ranges, giant deserts and vast inland seas.

 

Making North America: Life
Discover the surprising intertwined story of life and landscape in North America – from origins to iconic dinosaurs to giant marine reptiles swimming in an ancient sea that once split the continent in two.

 

 

A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting

 

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A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting

 CEO Message: A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting. Ornithologist Auguste von Bayern with a jackdaw
Ornithologist Auguste von Bayern, with a jackdaw, from the NOVA episode Bird Brain

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEO“What a bird brain!” “You’re a Neanderthal!” Not so long ago, these were taunts. But, thanks to recent research by scientists and the fine documentaries on PBS, we know better.

 

And I’m just the person to be thrilled by these discoveries. When I was a kid, my no-nonsense grandmother called me a bird brain every time I forgot my rubber slippers on our neighbors’ porch, which was often. And just last month, a 23andme.com ancestry test turned up Neanderthal DNA in my family.

 

When you sit back and view Nature or NOVA on Wednesday nights on PBS Hawai‘i, you sometimes have a front row seat to myth-busting. In vibrant video, you see that some of the ideas and conclusions printed in our old textbooks have been blown away.

 

As depicted in the recent NOVA episode Bird Brain, birds are far from empty-headed. They make great use of their small neuron-packed brains. They turn pebbles and sticks into tools; they plan multiple steps to solve problems; and some even “read” human faces. Put birds to the test with puzzles – and they can figure out when to defer a reward in order to snag a bigger one later.

 

In NOVA’s Decoding Neanderthals, we learned that these hominoids were not the brutish, knuckle-dragging simpletons we’d conjured. They were powerfully built, yes, but they also had large brains. They were adept at tool-making, and in fact, may have developed the first synthetic product, a type of glue. It was a very tough life in the Ice Age, and it’s unlikely that most Neanderthals lived past age 30.

 

Within the last decade, it’s been confirmed that Neanderthals interbred with their close cousins, homo sapiens. Many of us of European or Asian ancestry carry snippets of Neanderthal DNA. That’s just what my brother’s genetic test showed. In fact, he has more than the average amount.

 

A prevailing theory holds that our homo sapiens ancestors vanquished the Neanderthals. With the recent genetic evidence, another theory merits consideration: Through mating, the Neanderthals – with their smaller populations – were simply absorbed into homo sapiens life. Look for a brand-new PBS program about Neanderthals this month, Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors on Wednesday, February 28 at 9:00 pm. [Note: Since publication, PBS has announced that the program has been postponed until further notice.] I suspect there’ll be further re-branding of my ancient forebears.

 

We want to thank Dr. Belinda A. Aquino for generously sponsoring the broadcasts of both Nature and NOVA on PBS Hawai‘i. A retired University of Hawai‘i political science professor, Dr. Aquino is an internationally recognized authority on contemporary Philippine affairs. She tells me that she savors these programs about natural phenomena because they inspire new ways to think about humanity and the world around us.

 

And I’d like to thank you, too, for your support of PBS Hawai‘i’s role of adding new perspectives and context to our collective understanding of history and current affairs. Myth-busting is a byproduct!

 

Aloha nui,

 

Leslie signature

NOVA
Petra: Lost City of Stone

 

More than 2,000 years ago, the thriving city of Petra rose up in the bone-dry desert of what is now Jordan. An oasis of culture and abundance, the city was built by wealthy merchants who carved spectacular temple-tombs into its cliffs, raised a monumental Great Temple and devised an ingenious system that channeled water to vineyards, bathhouses, fountains and pools. But following a catastrophic earthquake and a slump in its desert trade routes, Petra’s unique culture faded and was lost to most of the world for nearly 1,000 years. Now, in a daring experiment, an archaeologist and several sculptors team up to carve an iconic temple-tomb to find out how the ancient people of Petra built their city of stone.

 

 

NOVA
Hagia Sophia: Istanbul’s Ancient Mystery

 

Istanbul’s magnificent Hagia Sophia has survived on one of the world’s most active seismic faults, which has inflicted a dozen devastating earthquakes since Hagia Sophia was built in 537 AD. As Istanbul braces for the next big quake, a team of architects and engineers is investigating Hagia Sophia’s seismic survival secrets. NOVA follows the team’s discoveries as they examine the building’s unique structure and other ingenious design strategies that have insured the dome’s survival. The engineers build a massive eight-ton model of the building’s core structure, place it on a motorized shake table and hit it with a series of simulated quakes.

 

NOVA
Invisible Universe Revealed

 

Twenty-five years ago, NASA launched one of the most ambitious experiments in the history of astronomy: the Hubble Space Telescope. In honor of Hubble’s landmark anniversary, NOVA tells the remarkable story of the telescope that forever changed our understanding of the cosmos and our place in it. From its inception through its early days, when a one-millimeter engineering blunder turned the telescope into an object of ridicule, to the five heroic astronaut missions that returned Hubble to the cutting edge of science, NOVA hears from the scientists and engineers on the front line who tell the amazing Hubble story as never before. This single telescope has helped astronomers pinpoint the age of the universe, revealed the birthplace of stars and planets, advanced our understanding of dark energy and cosmic expansion and uncovered black holes lurking at the hearts of galaxies. For more than a generation, Hubble’s stunning images have brought the beauty of the heavens to millions, revealing a cosmos richer and more wondrous than we ever imagined. Join NOVA for the story of this magnificent machine and its astonishing discoveries.

 

NOVA
First Man on the Moon

 

When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, he won instant fame. Yet this accomplished engineer and test pilot was so determined to stay out of the limelight that few know the personal story of how his rare combination of talent, luck and experience led to his successful command of Apollo 11. NOVA presents an intimate portrait of an unassuming American hero through interviews with Armstrong’s family and friends.

 

This program will encore Sat., Nov. 18, 10:00 pm.

 

NOVA
Mystery of Easter Island

 

A remote, bleak speck of rock in the Pacific, Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, has mystified the world ever since the first Europeans arrived in 1722. How and why did the ancient islanders build and move nearly 900 giant statues, or moai, weighing as much as 86 tons each? And how did they transform a presumed paradise into a treeless wasteland, bringing ruin upon their island and themselves? NOVA explores controversial recent claims that challenge decades of previous thinking about the islanders, who have been accused of everything from ecocide to cannibalism. Among the radical new theories is that the islanders used ropes to “walk” the statues upright, like moving a fridge. With the help of an accurate 15-ton replica statue, a NOVA team sets out to test this high-risk, seemingly unlikely theory – serving up plenty of action and surprises in this fresh investigation of one of the ancient world’s most intriguing enigmas.

 

NOVA
Arctic Ghost Ship

 

Unravel the greatest mystery in Arctic exploration: 160 years ago, the Franklin Expedition to chart the Northwest Passage vanished. Now, a Canadian team discovers one of Franklin’s lost ships – a vital clue to the fate of the ill-starred expedition.

 

NOVA
Sunken Ship Rescue

 

NOVA follows the epic operation to secure, raise and salvage the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground and capsized off the coast of Italy on January 13, 2012, killing 32 people. The wreck stretches the length of three football fields, weighs 45,000 tons and lay half submerged on the site of a protected reef, with a 160-foot-long hole in its hull. Moving it from its precarious perch on the edge of an underwater cliff is a huge technical and logistical challenge. NOVA joins a team of more than 500 divers and engineers working around the clock as they attempt the biggest ship recovery project in history.

 

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