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NOVA
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PBS' premier science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines. Along the way, NOVA demystifies science and technology, and highlights the people involved in scientific pursuits.


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  • 1974-03-03
  • 7.2
  • Documentary /

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Seasons & Episodes

Season 47 | 9 Episodes
  • EP9 Eagle Power

    Eagles dominate the skies. But what makes these predators so special? Researchers study one special bird—and stunning up-close footage reveals her exceptional strength, eyesight, and flying skills. With intimate access to a new bald eagle family, NOVA takes you into the nest to witness the drama of chicks struggling to survive.

  • EP8 Decoding COVID-19

    The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has upended life as we know it in a matter of months. But at the same time, an unprecedented global effort to understand and contain the virus—and find a treatment for the disease it causes—is underway. Join doctors on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as they strategize to stop the spread, and meet the researchers racing to develop treatments and vaccines.

  • EP7 The Truth About Fat

    The mysteries of fat and its role in hormone production, hunger and pregnancy.

  • EP6 Cuba's Cancer Hope

    When the U.S. trade embargo left Cuba isolated from medical resources, Cuban scientists were forced to get creative. Now they’ve developed lung cancer vaccines that show so much promise, some Americans are defying the embargo and traveling to Cuba for treatment. In an unprecedented move, Cuban researchers are working with U.S. partners to make the medicines more widely available.

  • EP5 Mysteries of Sleep

    From fruit flies to whales, virtually every animal sleeps. But why? Why do we need to spend nearly a third of our lives in such a defenseless state? Scientists are peering more deeply into the sleeping brain than ever before, discovering just how powerful sleep can be, playing a role in everything from memory retention and emotional regulation to removing waste from our brains.

  • EP4 Cat Tales

    Worshipped as a goddess, condemned as satanic, and spun into a stunning array of breeds, cats have long fascinated humans. But did we ever really domesticate them? And what can science tell us about our most mysterious companions?

  • EP3 Dog Tales

    Dogs have long been dependable companions by our sides. But it wasn’t always that way, and a look at their closest living relative, the wolf, makes it clear why. Research into dog domestication and intelligence offers clues into the human-dog relationship. And analyzing dogs’ brain activity and genes may even help answer whether dogs are in it for the food—or if they really love us.

  • EP2 Polar Extremes

    Following a trail of fossils found in all the wrong places–beech trees in Antarctica, redwoods and hippo-like mammals in the Arctic–NOVA uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-thick ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life.

  • EP1 Episode 9

  • EP23 Animal Espionage

    Camera technology is revolutionizing the study of animals—without them even noticing.

  • EP22 The Violence Paradox

    Is violence actually declining? If so, why? And can we build a more peaceful future?

  • EP21 Decoding Da Vinci

    How Leonardo da Vinci used science to create his legendary artwork. Included: why Mona Lisa's smile is so captivating—and what it took to create it.

  • EP20 Dead Sea Scroll Detectives

    Since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, these fragile parchment relics have intrigued scholars, religious leaders, and profiteers alike. The 2,000-year-old scrolls include the oldest-known versions of the Hebrew Bible and hold vital clues about the birth of Christianity. While certain scrolls have survived intact, others have been ravaged by time—burnt, decayed, or torn to pieces—and remain an enigma. Now, scientists are using new technologies to read the unreadable, solve mysteries that have endured for millennia, and even discover million-dollar fakes.

  • EP19 Rise of the Mammals

    Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs in a fiery global catastrophe. An amazing trove of fossils reveals how mammals took over, ultimately evolving into the huge array of species—including humans—that rule the Earth today.

  • EP18 Look Who's Driving

    Self-driving cars may one day be big business, but will they ever be safer than human drivers?

  • EP17 Why Bridges Collapse

    Join experts as they compare what happened in several deadly bridge collapses across America.

  • EP16 The Planets: Ice Worlds

    Uranus and Neptune's unexpected rings, supersonic winds and dozens of moons; an up-close view of Pluto before exploring the Kuiper belt.

  • EP15 The Planets: Saturn

    Nasa's Cassini reveals the mysteries of Saturn's rings and new hope for life on one of its moons.

  • EP14 The Planets: Jupiter

    Jupiter's gravitational force made it a wrecking ball as it barreled through the early solar system, but it also helped shape life on Earth as it brought comets laden with water and possibly the asteroid that put an end to the dinosaurs.

  • EP13 The Planets: Inner Worlds

    The rocky planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars all have similar origins, but only one supports life.

  • EP12 The Planets: Mars

    The dry, red planet Mars was once a blue water world studded with active volcanoes and may have even had the ingredients to support life.

  • EP11 Back to the Moon

    On the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, NOVA looks ahead to the hoped-for dawn of a new age in lunar exploration. This time, governments and private industry are working together to reach our nearest celestial neighbour. But why go back? The Moon can serve as a platform for basic astronomical research; as an abundant source of rare metals and hydrogen fuel; and ultimately as a stepping stone for human missions to Mars and beyond. Join the next generation of engineers that aim to take us to the Moon, and discover how our legacy of lunar exploration won't be confined to the history books for long.

  • EP10 Lost Viking Army

    Forensic archaeologist Cat Jarman and her team investigate the Great Heathen army, a legendary Viking fighting force that invaded England in the 9th century.

  • EP9 First Horse Warriors

    Canadian anthropologist Niobe Thompson travels to sites in Kazakhstan, genetics labs in Denmark and anthropology museums in Russia to unlock mysteries surrounding the first riders of wild horses.

  • EP8 Inside the Megafire

    Scientists try to determine the cause for the increasing megafire threat by exploring the physics of fire, how firestorms move and travel and by analyzing aerial drone and satellite data to catch fires before they start.

  • EP7 Saving the Dead Sea

    Scientists, engineers and political leaders devise a plan to save the Dead Sea, whose levels have declined by more than 65 feet since 1976.

  • EP6 The Next Pompeii

    In the shadow of Vesuvius and Pompeii, a lesser-known volcano puts the city of Naples at risk.

  • EP5 Rise of the Rockets

    With new technologies, NASA and private companies are promising a new renaissance in space travel.

  • EP4 Decoding the Great Pyramid

    New archeological evidence sheds light on the stunning engineering of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

  • EP3 Kïlauea: Hawai'i on Fire

    Journey to Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, which sent rivers of lava through communities and into the sea when it erupted in 2018. A group of scientists and locals investigate the spike in volcano activity that turned paradise into an inferno.

  • EP2 Einstein's Quantum Riddle

    Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance,” but today quantum entanglement is poised to revolutionize technology from computers to cryptography. Physicists have gradually become convinced that the phenomenon—two subatomic particles that mirror changes in each other instantaneously over any distance—is real.

  • EP1 Pluto and Beyond

    Since it explored Pluto in 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft has been zooming toward NASA’s most distant target yet. Join the mission team as the probe attempts to fly by Ultima Thule, an object 4 billion miles from Earth.

  • EP17 Apollo's Daring Mission

    Apollo astronauts and engineers tell the inside story of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. The U.S. space program suffered a bitter setback when Apollo 1 ended in a deadly fire during a pre-launch run-through. In disarray, and threatened by the prospect of a Soviet Union victory in the space race, NASA decided upon a radical and risky change of plan: turn Apollo 8 from an earth-orbit mission into a daring sprint to the moon while relying on untried new technologies. Fifty years after the historic mission, the Apollo 8 astronauts and engineers recount the feats of engineering that paved the way to the moon.

  • EP16 World's Fastest Animal

  • EP15 Thai Cave Rescue

  • EP14 Last B-24

  • EP13 Flying Supersonic

  • EP12 Addiction

  • EP11 Volatile Earth: Volcano on Fire

  • EP10 Volatile Earth: Volcano on the Brink

  • EP9 Operation Bridge Rescue

  • EP8 Transplanting Hope

  • EP7 Rise of the Superstorms

  • EP6 Decoding the Weather Machine

    Disastrous hurricanes. Widespread droughts and wildfires. Withering heat. Extreme rainfall. It is hard not to conclude that something’s up with the weather, and many scientists agree. It’s the result of the weather machine itself—our climate—changing, becoming hotter and more erratic. In this 2-hour documentary, NOVA will cut through the confusion around climate change.

  • EP5 Prediction by the Numbers

    Discover why some predictions succeed and others fail as experts forecast the future.

  • EP4 Great Escape at Dunkirk

    How courage and ingenuity saved Allied troops during the epic Dunkirk operation in 1940.

  • EP3 First Face of America

    Discover remains of a 13,000 year-old teenager in an underwater cave in Mexico.

  • EP2 The Impossible Flight

    For the first time, two intrepid pilots fly a solar-powered airplane around the world.

  • EP1 Black Hole Apocalypse

    Astrophysicist and novelist Janna Levin talks about black holes and their importance to the universe.

  • EP21 Day the Dinosaurs Died

    66 million years ago, a seven-mile-wide asteroid collided with Earth, triggering a chain of events that coincide with the end of the dinosaurs. But experts have long debated exactly what happened when the asteroid struck and how the giant beasts met their end. Now, scientists have uncovered compelling new clues about the catastrophe.

  • EP20 Bird Brain

    Watch astonishing tests of avian aptitude: parrots that can plan for the future, jackdaws that can “read” human faces, and crows that can solve multi-step puzzles with tools like pebbles, sticks, and hooks. Could these just be clever tricks, based on instinct or triggered by subtle cues from their human handlers?

  • EP19 Extreme Animal Weapons

    From lobster claws and dog teeth to bee stings and snake fangs, every creature depends on a weapon. But some are armed to extremes that make no practical sense—whether it’s bull elks with giant 40-pound antler racks or tiny rhinoceros beetles with horns bigger than their body. What explains giant tusks, horns, and claws that can slow an animal down and even impair health and nutrition? NOVA investigates the riddle of outsize weaponry and uncovers a bold new theory about what triggers an animal arms race. In creatures as varied as dung beetles and saber-toothed tigers, shrimp and elephants, the same hidden factors trigger the race and, once started, these arms races unfold in exactly the same pattern. Join scientists as they crack the secret biological code that underlies nature’s battleground.

  • EP18 Eclipse Over America

    On August 21, 2017, millions of Americans will witness the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in 99 years. While hordes of citizens prepare to flock to the eclipse’s path of totality, scientists, too, are staking out spots for a very different reason: to investigate the secrets of the sun’s elusive atmosphere.

  • EP17 Poisoned Water

    NOVA investigates what happened in Flint, Michigan when local officials changed the city’s water source to save money, but overlooked a critical treatment process. As the water pipes corroded, lead leached into the system, exposing the community—including thousands of children—to dangerous levels of poison. NOVA uncovers the science behind this manmade disaster.

  • EP16 Chinese Chariot Revealed

    For over 1000 years, chariots thundered across China's battlefields - dominating warfare longer than anywhere else on earth. Now, archaeological findings enable a team of experts to reconstruct and test China's first super-weapon.

  • EP15 Building Chernobyl's Megatomb

    Engineers race to build a massive dome to contain the crumbling remains of the reactor.

  • EP14 Holocaust Escape Tunnel

    The Lithuanian city of Vilna, known also as the “Jerusalem of the North”, was one of the most important Jewish centers in the world until World War II, when the Nazis murdered about 95% of its Jewish population. Now, an international team of archaeologists is excavating the remains of its Great Synagogue and searching for a lost escape tunnel dug by Jewish prisoners inside a Nazi execution site.

  • EP13 Why Trains Crash

    From derailments to head-on collisions to drivers killed at road crossings, deadly train accidents claim dozens of lives each year. But just how unsafe are the railroads? NOVA investigates recent rail tragedies and advances in train tech that could help prevent them, taking a special look at Japan’s superefficient bullet trains, which have a perfect safety record. What would it take to usher in a new golden age of safer, faster, more modern and reliable train travel?

  • EP12 Death Dive to Saturn

    Aiming to skim less than 2000 miles above the cloud tops, no spacecraft has ever gone so close to Saturn, and hopes are high for incredible observations that could solve major mysteries about the planet’s core. Join NASA engineers for the tense and triumphant moments as they find out if their bold reprogramming has worked, and discover the wonders that Cassini has revealed over the years.

  • EP11 Ultimate Cruise Ship

    Join pioneering shipbuilders as they embark on a feat of maritime engineering.

  • EP10 Search for the Super Battery

    Explore the hidden world of energy storage and how it holds the keys to a greener future.

  • EP9 The Nuclear Option

    Five years after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the unprecedented trio of meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, scientists and engineers are struggling to control an ongoing crisis. What’s next for Fukushima? What’s next for Japan? And what’s next for a world that seems determined to jettison one of our most important carbon-free sources of energy? Despite the catastrophe—and the ongoing risks associated with nuclear—a new generation of nuclear power seems poised to emerge the ashes of Fukushima. NOVA investigates how the realities of climate change, the inherent limitations of renewable energy sources, and the optimism and enthusiasm of a new generation of nuclear engineers is looking for ways to reinvent nuclear technology, all while the most recent disaster is still being managed. What are the lessons learned from Fukushima? And with all of nuclear’s inherent dangers, how might it be possible to build a safe nuclear future?

  • EP8 Secrets of the Sky Tombs

    The towering Himalayas were among the last places on Earth that humanity settled. Scaling sheer cliff sides, a team of daring scientists hunts for clues to how ancient people found their way into this forbidding landscape and adapted to survive the high altitude. They discover rock-cut tombs filled with human bones and enigmatic artifacts, including gold masks and Chinese silk dating back thousands of years, and piece together evidence of strange rituals and beliefs designed to ward off the restless spirits of the dead.

  • EP7 Treasures of the Earth: Power

    Drill down to discover how Earth's natural treasures provide bountiful energy to power our modern world yet are also driving us to seek new, cleaner alternatives that can help us keep the lights on.

  • EP6 Treasures of the Earth: Metals

    Gold, bronze, iron, steel... metals are pillars of our civilization, but what makes them so special? Discover their unique properties and explore how our mastery of metals has led us from the stone age to today's hi-tech world.

  • EP5 Treasures of the Earth: Gems

    Gemstones like diamonds, rubies, opal and jade are the ultimate treasures. Delve into Earth's depths to discover how these precious stones are forged and what explains the unique allure of each captivating gemstone.

  • EP4 Super Tunnel

    Join engineers as they build a massive new railway deep beneath the streets of London.

  • EP3 Great Human Odyssey

    Follow our ancient ancestors’ footsteps out of Africa and into every corner of our planet.

  • EP2 School of the Future

    How the science of learning may change education for all children.

  • EP1 15 Years of Terror

    From 9/11 to today’s crowd-sourced violence, trace how terrorists’ strategies have evolved.

  • EP22 Bombing Hitler's Supergun

    Engineers and World War II historians investigate Hitler's fearsome bank of "superguns."

  • EP21 Operation Lighthouse Rescue

    Engineers race to rescue the Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard from the ocean's erosion.

  • EP20 Wild Ways

    Explore how newly established wildlife corridors offer hope to endangered species.

  • EP19 Can Alzheimer's Be Stopped?

    Alzheimer's ravages the minds of over 40 million victims worldwide. Join scientists as they untangle the cause of this tragic illness and go behind the scenes of major drug trials to discover the therapies that may slow and even prevent the disease.

  • EP18 Vikings Unearthed

    Uncover the truth behind the legendary Vikings and their epic journey to the Americas.

  • EP17 Rise of the Robots

    Machines are everywhere. They run our factory assembly lines and make our coffee. But humanoid robots—machines with human-like capabilities—have long been the stuff of science fiction. Until now. Fueled by an ambitious DARPA challenge, the race is on to design a robot that can replace humans in disaster relief situations. Follow the robots and the engineers that program them as they strive to make their way out of the lab and into the real world. But how capable are they, really? How close are we to a future where humanoid robots are part of our everyday lives? And what will the future look like with robots that can do a human’s job? NOVA investigates the cutting-edge technologies that are advancing robotics—and the enormous challenges that robots still face.

  • EP16 Iceman Reborn

    He was stalked, attacked and left to die alone. Murdered more than 5,000 years ago, Otzi the Iceman is Europe’s oldest known natural mummy. Miraculously preserved in glacial ice, his remarkably intact remains continue to provide scientists, historians, and archeologists with groundbreaking discoveries about a crucial time in human history. But in order to protect him from contamination, this extraordinary body has been locked away, out of reach, in a frozen crypt—until now. NOVA joins renowned artist and paleo-sculptor Gary Staab as he has been granted rare access into the Iceman’s frozen lair. Gary has been charged with creating an exact replica of the mummy, which scientists and the public alike can then study up close and in person. As we see the Iceman reborn from 3D printing, resin, clay and paint, new revelations about Otzi’s life and legacy come to light, including surprising secrets hidden in his genetic code.

  • EP15 Memory Hackers

    Memory is the glue that binds our mental lives. Without it, we’d be prisoners of the present, unable to use the lessons of the past to change our future. From our first kiss to where we put our keys, memory represents who we are and how we learn and navigate the world. But how does it work? Neuroscientists using cutting-edge techniques are exploring the precise molecular mechanisms of memory. By studying a range of individuals ranging—from an 11-year-old whiz-kid who remembers every detail of his life to a woman who had memories implanted—scientists have uncovered a provocative idea. For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays intact. But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories. The question is—are we ready?

  • EP14 Creatures of Light

    On a summer’s night, there’s nothing more magic than watching the soft glow of fireflies switching on and off. Few other life forms on land can light up the night, but in the dark depths of the oceans, it’s a different story: nearly 90% of all species shine from within. Whether it’s to scare off predators, fish for prey, or lure a mate, the language of light is everywhere in the ocean depths, and scientists are finally starting to decode it. NOVA and National Geographic take a dazzling dive to this hidden undersea world where most creatures flash, sparkle, shimmer, or simply glow. Join deep sea scientists who investigate these stunning displays and discover surprising ways to harness nature’s light—from tracking cancer cells to detecting pollution, lighting up cities, and even illuminating the inner workings of our brains.

  • EP13 Himalayan Megaquake

    On April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake rocked Nepal. As it ripped across the Himalayas, it wiped out villages and left thousands dead. Hear the harrowing stories of the Nepalese people who lived near the epicenter and of survivors trapped on Everest. Through dramatic eyewitness footage, expert interviews, and stunning graphics, NOVA reveals the anatomy of this megaquake while scientists race to answer urgent questions—Is another big one just around the corner? What can we learn from the deadly combination of earthquakes and landslides? And can we rebuild to survive the next big one?

  • EP12 Mystery Beneath the Ice

    Tiny, transparent, and threatened, krill are crucial to the Antarctic ecosystem. But the population of krill is crashing for reasons that continue to baffle the experts. A leading theory says that krill’s life cycle is driven by an internal body clock that responds to the waxing and waning of the Antarctic ice pack, and as climate change alters the timing of the ice pack, their life cycle is disrupted. To test it, NOVA travels on the Polarstern, a state-of-the-art research vessel, to the frigid ice pack in the dead of winter. From camps established on the ice, scientists dive beneath the surface in search of the ice caves that shelter juvenile krill during the winter. There, they hope to discover what’s causing the krill to vanish and, ultimately, how the shifting seasons caused by climate change could disrupt ecosystems around the world.

  • EP11 Life's Rocky Start

    Four and a half billion years ago, the young Earth was a hellish place—a seething chaos of meteorite impacts, volcanoes belching noxious gases, and lightning flashing through a thin, torrid atmosphere. Then, in a process that has puzzled scientists for decades, life emerged. But how? NOVA joins mineralogist Robert Hazen as he journeys around the globe. From an ancient Moroccan market to the Australian Outback, he advances a startling and counterintuitive idea—that the rocks beneath our feet were not only essential to jump-starting life, but that microbial life helped give birth to hundreds of minerals we know and depend on today. It's a theory of the co-evolution of Earth and life that is reshaping the grand-narrative of our planet’s story.

  • EP10 Secret Tunnel Warfare

    During World War I, the Allies and Germans repeatedly struggled to break the hideous stalemate of trench warfare. In the winter of 1916, Allied engineers devised a massive surprise attack: over 1 million pounds of explosives hidden in secret tunnels driven under German lines. Building the tunnels was desperate work, with tunnelers at constant risk from flooding, cave-ins, and enemy digging teams. In June of 1917, the planted mines at Messines were simultaneously triggered, killing an estimated 10,000 German troops instantly. Now, archaeologists are revealing the extraordinary scale and risks of the Allied tunneling operations in one of the biggest excavations ever undertaken on the Western Front. “Secret Tunnel Warfare” opens a unique window on the frenzy of Allied mining activity that led up to the attack and its bitter aftermath.

  • EP9 Inside Einstein's Mind

    On November 25th, 1915, Einstein published his greatest work: general relativity. The theory transformed our understanding of nature’s laws and the entire history of the cosmos, reaching back to the origin of time itself. Now, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s achievement, NOVA tells the inside story of Einstein’s masterpiece. The story begins with the intuitive thought experiments that set Einstein off on his quest and traces the revolution in cosmology that is still playing out in today’s labs and observatories. Discover the simple but powerful ideas at the heart of relativity, illuminating the theory—and Einstein’s brilliance—as never before. From the first spark of an idea to the discovery of the expanding universe, the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, NOVA uncovers the inspired insights and brilliant breakthroughs of “the perfect theory.”

  • EP8 Making North America: Human

    The history of North America since the arrival of humans is chronicled. Natural resources, including gold and oil, have enabled humans to transform the land almost as much as the geological forces that created it. However, geology may, some day, play another role in reshaping the continent: the Cascadia fault line in the Pacific Northwest could unleash a massive earthquake and tsunami; and the super-volcano beneath Yellowstone could obliterate half the continent if it erupts.

  • EP7 Making North America: Life

    How did life emerge on our primeval continent? Why was North America home to so many iconic dinosaurs like T. rex? And how did a huge sea filled with giant marine reptiles end up covering Kansas? We tell the surprising intertwined story of life and the landscape in North America.

  • EP6 Making North America: Origins

    The epic 3 billion-year story of how our continent came to be. From the palm trees that once flourished in Alaska to titanic eruptions that nearly tore the Midwest in two, discover how forces of almost unimaginable power gave birth to North America.

  • EP5 Animal Mummies

    NOVA joins a team of leading Egyptologists who deploy the latest medical imaging to peer beneath the wrappings of Egyptian mummified beasts without damaging the animal bodies inside. The results are enlightening, often surprising insights into the weird beliefs and practices that clung to the Egyptian quest for immortality.

  • EP4 Cyberwar Threat

    NOVA examines the science and technology behind cyber warfare and asks if we are already in the midst of a deadly new arms race.

  • EP3 Secrets of Noah's Ark

    A team of historians and expert boat builders investigates the fascinating Noah's Ark flood legend and sets out to rebuild a tantalizing, ancient forerunner of the Ark.

  • EP2 Arctic Ghost Ship

    NOVA presents an exclusive breakthrough in the greatest unsolved mystery in Arctic exploration. In 1845, British explorer Sir John Franklin set off to chart the elusive Northwest Passage, commanding 128 men in two robust and well-stocked Royal Navy ships, the Erebus and Terror.  They were never heard from again.  Eventually, searchers found tantalising clues to their fate: a hastily written note left on an island, exhumed bodies suggesting lead poisoning, discarded human bones with marks of cannibalism and Inuit legends of ghost ships.  But no trace of the ships was ever found. Then, in 2014, after seven years of searching, an official Parks Canada expedition finally located the Erebus, intact and upright on the sea floor. With exclusive access, NOVA tells the inside story of the risky Canadian expedition, which involved constant battles with crushing sea ice, bad weather, and disappointing dead ends. Culminating in the historic discovery of the Erebus, NOVA tells the gripping story of the ill-fated expedition and reveals exclusive new clues from the sea floor that may finally unravel what happened to Franklin’s men more than 160 years ago.

  • EP1 Dawn of Humanity

    NOVA and National Geographic present exclusive access to a unique discovery of ancient remains. Located in an almost inaccessible chamber deep in a South African cave, the site required recruiting a special team of experts slender enough to wriggle down a vertical, pitch-dark, seven-inch-wide passage. Most fossil discoveries of human relatives consist of just a handful of bones. But down in this hidden chamber, the team uncovered an unprecedented trove—so far, over 1,500 bones—with the potential to rewrite the story of our origins. They may help fill in a crucial gap in the fossil record and tell us how Homo, the first member of the human family, emerged from ape-like ancestors like the famous Lucy. But how did hundreds of bones end up in the remote chamber? The experts are considering every mind-boggling possibility. Join NOVA on the treacherous descent into this cave of spectacular and enigmatic finds, and discover their startling implications for the saga of what made us human.

  • EP22 Nuclear Meltdown Disaster

    NOVA reveals the minute-by-minute story of the Fukushima nuclear crisis—the one you know about, and the one you likely don’t: the perilously close call at the other Fukushima nuclear power plant a few miles away from the meltdowns. With unprecedented access inside both Fukushima nuclear power plants, NOVA speaks with workers who were there during the harrowing days—a crisis that began as a natural a disaster but was made worse by human beings. But why did the worst happen at one plant while another that faced nearly identical challenges emerged unscathed? It may come down to the skill and knowledge of one man, who has worked there since they started construction. These are crucial questions as the company that runs both plants, TEPCO, tries to clean up an unprecedented radioactive mess and seeks to reopen the plant that was just barely saved.

  • EP21 Chasing Pluto

    On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft, one of the most advanced ever built, is scheduled to fly by Pluto to take the very first detailed images of the dwarf planet. After nine years and 3 billion miles, we will finally get a close look at this strange, icy world, but only if the craft can survive the final, treacherous leg of its journey, which could take it through a dangerous field of debris. If it does, New Horizons is poised to make dramatic new discoveries, not just about Pluto, but about the vast realm of icy bodies lurking beyond Neptune, relics of the earliest days of the solar system’s formation. Back on Earth, the planetary scientists who have spent decades working on this mission anxiously await a signal from their spacecraft. Our cameras will be there to witness the moment. If all goes well, we’ll see Pluto’s mysterious surface in unprecedented detail and learn new secrets about other alien worlds at the far limits of our solar system.

  • EP20 Lethal Seas

    Sharply rising carbon emissions are entering Earth's seas at a staggering rate, raising their acidity. Learn how scientists are researching the effects and looking for solutions.

  • EP19 Nazi Attack on America

    Long before 9/11, a far deadlier, little-known attack from the ocean depths struck our shores, lasting three-and-a-half years and claiming 5,000 lives. Now, famed undersea explorer Bob Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, investigates the wreck of one of the attack craft, a German submarine that lies at the bottom of the gulf just a few miles off New Orleans. U-166 was part of Operation Drumbeat, a highly successful U-boat operation that caught East Coast cities and shipping almost completely unprepared. Ballard probes the wreck and unravels a dramatic mystery in the official story of the sub's sinking.

  • EP18 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. But Hubble's early days nearly doomed it to failure: a one-millimeter engineering blunder had turned the billion-dollar telescope into an object of ridicule. It fell to five heroic astronauts in a daring mission to return Hubble to the cutting edge of science. This single telescope has helped astronomers pinpoint the age of the universe, reveal