Consider yourself lucky if you’ve never run out of gas while driving your car. This small and easily preventable inconvenience can be a real problem for getting to work on time or just looking smooth on a date. The problem becomes way worse when you’re far from the closest gas station. It’s bad enough to be stranded fifty miles away, but imagine being hundreds of miles away from the Earth’s surface and running into the same issue.
In Attenborough’s Life Stories, “Our Fragile Planet”, Sir David Attenborough reflects on the dramatic impact that we have had on the natural world during his lifetime, such as the disappearing rain forests and coral reefs, endangered species such as the blue whale, manatees, sea otters, chimpanzees, and orangutans. He notes how the vulnerable Panamanian golden frog is now quarantined for safety so it doesn’t succumb to a highly infectious fungus which has already made the Monteverde Toad from Costa Rica extinct.
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.
You don’t have to be Jerry Seinfeld to ask questions about the sleepier parts of your life. The average human spends nearly a third of their life sleeping! While you’re busy catching z’s, your brain is busy working on other tasks! Everything from healing your body to creating your memory structure happens while you’re off in dream land.
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.
If you’re reading this you must be using some sort of computer. Most of us have an idea about the origins of our modern computer units, but sometimes explaining the lineage of these machines leads only up to the first design. The big question is - how did we get all the way to a computing machine? We could not have gone from fire or the wheel straight to iTunes, right? What’s responsible for the giant leaps and bounds in technology that make our life what it is today?
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.
Anyone who has ever watched “Law and Order” or “CSI” knows: obtaining and analyzing DNA evidence features prominently in many of its fictional criminal cases. But leaving such TV dramatizations aside, over the last two decades, DNA evidence has come to play an increasingly routine and important role in the U.S. law enforcement and justice systems. Technological innovations within science and social policy have both played a role in this process.