In 1957, decades before Steve Jobs dreamed up Apple or Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, a group of eight brilliant young men defected from the Shockley Semiconductor Company in order to start their own transistor business. Their leader was 29-year-old physicist with a brilliant mind and the affability of a born salesman who would co-invent the microchip -- an essential component of nearly all modern electronics today, including computers, motor vehicles, cell phones and household appliances.
Science on TV
In “Understanding the Natural World,” Sir David Attenborough shares his memories of the scientists and the breakthroughs that helped shape his own career. He also recalls some of his more hair-raising attempts to bring new science to a television audience: standing in the shadow of an erupting volcano as lumps of hot lava crashed around him or being charged by a group of armed New Guinean tribesmen.
Drones. These unmanned flying robots—some as large as jumbo jets, others as small as birds—do things straight out of science fiction. Much of what it takes to get these robotic airplanes to fly, sense, and kill has remained secret. But now, with rare access to drone engineers and those who fly them for the U.S. military, NOVA reveals the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful as we see how a remotely-piloted drone strike looks and feels from inside the command center.
In the Rocky Mountains, archeologists uncover a unique fossil site packed with astonishingly well-preserved bones of mammoths, mastodons, and other giant extinct beasts. The discovery opens a highly focused window on the vanished world of the Ice Age in North America.
One hundred thousand years ago, on planet Earth, huge sheets of ice surge and retreat. Now, a stunning find in an ancient lake promises a glimpse into this exotic Ice Age realm and at the fantastic creatures that ruled the land: ancient elephants like mammoths and mastodons; giant bison; sloths and camels.
Over 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans—people physically identical to us today—left their African homeland and entered Europe, then a bleak and inhospitable continent in the grip of the Ice Age. But when they arrived, they were not alone: the stocky, powerfully built Neanderthals had already been living there for hundreds of thousands of years.
So what happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did we make love or war? That question has tantalized generations of scholars and seized the popular imagination.
Thought by many to be the stuff of legend, it was only in the late-19th century that the giant squid was first officially recorded by scientists, after one leviathan washed up on a New Zealand beach. Related to slugs and snails, this monster from the deep, along with its cousin the colossal squid, is the largest invertebrate in the world. It's never been filmed in its natural habitat, thousands of feet underwater, but occasionally specimens are brought to the surface by deep-sea trawlers.
Based on the true story of writer and naturalist Joe Hutto, portrayed by wildlife photographer Jeff Palmer, Nature: My Life as a Turkey chronicles Hutto’s remarkable experience of imprinting wild turkey eggs and raising the hatchlings to adulthood.
In August, a rover named Curiosity touched down inside Mars’ Gale Crater, carrying 10 new instruments that will advance the quest for signs that Mars might once have been suitable for life. But Curiosity’s mission is risky. After parachuting through the Martian atmosphere at twice the speed of sound, Curiosity was gently lowered to the planet’s surface by a “sky crane.” This first-of-its-kind system has been tested on Earth, but there was no guarantee it would work on Mars.
Have you ever wondered what's going on inside an animal's head? How does an animal see the world — and us? Is your dog really feeling guilty when it gives you that famous “guilty look?” Do pigeon brains possess “superpowers” that allow them to find their way home across hundreds of unfamiliar miles? Is it possible that swarms of bees communicate in patterns similar to human brain cells?