"NOVA" EXPLORES HIDDEN ELEMENTS, A DA VINCI MYSTERY, AN ANCIENT U.S. DEATH TRAP, AND 3D SPIES AND DAMBUSTERS OF WWII IN NEW WINTER 2012 PROGRAMMING LINE-UP
NOVA airs Wednesday nights at 9PM/8c on PBS
Bombing Hitler's Dams (Premieres Wednesday, January 11 at 9PM/8c, 2 hours)
In 1943 a squadron of Lancaster bombers staged one of the most audacious raids in history - destroying two gigantic dams in Germany's industrial heartland and cutting the water supply to arms factories - with a revolutionary bouncing bomb invented by British engineer Barnes Wallis. Wallis and the pilots of 617 Squadron - a lively mix of Britons, Australians, Americans, and Canadians - were hailed as heroes who had dealt a mighty blow to the German war machine.
Now, with the aid of six spectacular experiments, NOVA will re-create the extreme engineering challenges faced by Wallis and the pilots in this new two-hour special program. Each experiment represents a technical challenge that the Dambusters had to solve to make their mission a success. A crack team of experts - from dam engineers to explosives specialists - will step into the shoes of the Dambusters and attempt to overcome each obstacle in turn. They will adapt a vintage Second World War II DC4 to carry a bomb the size of an oil drum; train it to drop it from a dangerously low altitude in pitch darkness; get it to bounce over obstacles and onto the tar- get; and finally, at a test site in Canada with a 1:6 scale model of one of the German dams, try to repeat history.
3D Spies of WWII ((Premieres Wednesday, January 18 at 9PM/8c)
NOVA tells the suspenseful, previously untold story of air photo intelligence that played a vital role in defeating Hitler. During World War II, Hitler's scientists developed terrifying new weapons of mass destruction. Alarmed by rumors about advanced rockets and missiles, Allied intelligence recruited a team of brilliant minds from British universities and Hollywood studios to a country house near London. Here, they secretly pored over millions of air photos shot at great risk over German territory by specially converted, high-flying Spitfires. Peering at the photos through 3D stereoscopes, the team spotted telltale clues that revealed hidden Nazi rocket bases. The photos led to devastating Allied bombing raids that were crucial setbacks to the German rocket program and helped ensure the success of the D-Day landings. NOVA uses 3D graphics that recreate exactly what the photo spies saw in this eye-opening documentary.
Mystery of a Masterpiece: Will this recently discovered portrait turn out to be a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece (Premieres Wednesday, January 25 at 9PM/8c)
In October 2009, a striking portrait of a young woman in Renaissance dress made world news headlines. Originally sold two years before for around $20,000, the portrait is now thought to be an undiscovered masterwork by Leonardo da Vinci worth more than $100 million. How did cutting edge imaging analysis help tie the portrait to Leonardo? NOVA and National Geographic meet a new breed of experts who are approaching "cold case" art mysteries as if they were crime scenes, determined to discover "who committed the art," and follow art sleuths - as well as renowned art historians, such as Martin Kemp--as they deploy new techniques to combat the multi- billion dollar criminal market in stolen and fraudulent art.
Ice Age Death Trap: High in the Rockies, scientists reveal the lost world of mammoths (Premieres Wednesday, February 1 at 9PM/8c)
During construction in Colorado, a bulldozer driver digs up something strange: a tooth so huge he had to hold in two hands. Scientists from the local Denver museum race to the scene. They can scarcely believe what they find: a vast trove of fossils from the depths of the Ice Age 100,000 years ago, when North America teemed with incredible beasts: massive mastodons, saber tooth cats and camels, giant bison with six-foot horns, and ground sloths as big as an elephant with huge claws. In the biggest-ever fossil dig in the Rockies, the team unearths a perplexing riddle: evidence that entire families of many mastodons died as they grazed beside an ancient lake. Patiently, clue-by-clue, the team reconstructs a macabre scenario in which the soil beside the lake liquefies then hardens, swiftly trapping entire mastodon families. Unable to move, the mighty tusked beasts slowly starve to death. Packed with ingenious scientific work and spectacular fossils, NOVA's Ice Age Death Trap reveals intimate secrets of the life and death of North America's most exotic and extreme creatures. Most tantalizing of all, the team unearths startling and controversial evidence that, if confirmed, would point to the earliest humans ever to venture into the untamed wilderness of Ice Age America.
Separating Twins: Joined at the head two girls undergo a daring operation to save their lives (Premieres Wednesday, February 8 at 9PM/8c)
This is the incredible story of Trishna and Krishna, twin girls born joined at the head. Abandoned shortly after birth at an orphanage in Bangladesh, they had little chance of survival, until they were saved and taken to Australia by an aid worker. After two years battling for life, the twins are ready for a series of delicate operations, which will prepare them for the ultimate challenge: a marathon separation surgery that will allow them to live truly separate lives. Since the beginning, surgeons knew there was no guarantee of survival for either of the girls - but without surgery there was no hope at all. With exclusive access to this extraordinary human and medical drama, NOVA cameras have been with Trishna and Krishna and their caregivers at each moment of their journey.
Bioethics (wt) (Premieres Wednesday, March 28 at 9PM/8c)
What will it mean when most of us can afford to have the information in our DNA - all three billion chemical letters of it--read, stored and available for analysis? In Bioethics, NOVA reveals that we stand on the verge of a revolution. We meet cancer patients returned to robust health and a cystic fibrosis sufferer breathing easily because scientists have been able to pinpoint and neutralize the genetic abnormalities underlying their conditions. What are the moral dilemmas raised by the new technology? Will it help or hurt us to know our genetic destiny? What if such information falls into the hands of insurance companies, employers, and prospective mates? One thing is for certain: the new era of personalized, gene-based medicine is relevant to everyone. Soon, all of us may be deciding whether to join the ranks of the DNA generation.
Hunting the Elements (Premieres Wednesday, April 4 at 9PM/8c, 2 hours)
What are things made of? It's a simple question with an astonishing answer. Fewer than one hundred naturally occurring elements form the ingredients of everything in our world - from solid rocks to ethereal gases, from scorching acids to the living cells in our body. David Pogue, lively host of NOVA's popular Making Stuff series and personal technology correspondent for The New York Times, spins viewers through the world of weird, extreme chemistry on a quest to unlock the secrets of the elements in a special two-hour program. Why are some elements, like platinum and gold, relatively inert while others, like phosphorus and potassium, are violently explosive? Why are some vital to every breath we take while others are potentially lethal? Punctuated by surprising and often alarming experiments, David Pogue takes NOVA on a roller coaster ride through nature's hidden lab and the compelling stories of discovery that revealed its secrets.
Now in its 39th season, NOVA is the most-watched primetime science series on American television, reaching an average of five million viewers weekly. The series remains committed to producing in-depth science programming in the form of hour-long (and occasionally longer) documentaries, from the latest breakthroughs in technology to the deepest mysteries of the natural world. NOVA airs Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT on WGBH Boston and most PBS stations. The Director of the WGBH Science Unit and Senior Executive Producer of NOVA is Paula S. Apsell.
Funding for NOVA is provided by David H. Koch, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Lockheed Martin Corporation and public television viewers.
Additional funding for NOVA is provided by Millicent Bell through the Millicent and Eugene Bell Foundation.
Additional funding for Mystery of a Masterpiece and Bioethics (wt) is provided by Millicent Bell through the Millicent and Eugene Bell Foundation.
NOVA is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers and described for people who are blind or visually impaired by the Media Access Group at WGBH. The descriptive narration is available on the SAP channel or stereo TV and VCRs. To order NOVA direct from WGBH Boston Video, visit shop.wgbh.org or call 800.949.8670. call 800.949.8670.