NOVA

Solar Wind and Storms

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In this video from NOVA's Sun Lab, explore the relationship between solar activity and space weather. Images and animations show how the Sun releases energy and matter that travel through the solar system. There are two main kinds of solar storms: solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Solar storms are related to fluctuations in the Sun's magnetic fields; sunspots are indicative of solar activity. Only a small percentage of solar particles affect Earth, but solar storms have the potential to cause serious damage.

Making North America | How to Make Gold

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Explore a historically preserved gold mine in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and learn how earthquakes bring gold to the surface, in this video from NOVA: Making North America: Human. Geologist Lisa White points out that quartz veins can contain gold and explains why this happens. As earthquakes fracture rocks, the cracks provide pathways for superheated water from deep in the Earth to rise. As the water rises, it cools and the minerals it carries crystallize. Over time, this forms a vein of quartz. This resource is part of the NOVA: Making North America Collection.

Animals & Numeracy

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Explore how humans and many other animals share a primitive sense of numbers in this video from NOVA: The Great Math Mystery. Scientific experiments with lemurs and rhesus monkeys have shown that animals can compare quantities of objects even without language or symbols for numbers. Similar tests that ask humans to respond quickly to a touchscreen to compare quantities (without counting) produce similar results. The ability to perceive number may be preprogrammed into our brains and may have been fundamental to the invention/discovery of mathematics and the transformation of human culture through science, technology, and engineering.

Black Hole Apocalypse | Stellar Life Cycles

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Learn how the life cycles of low-mass and high-mass stars differ, in this video from NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse. Although all stars start by fusing hydrogen into helium, high-mass stars subsequently fuse increasingly massive elements to create elements up to iron. Animations illustrate how the outward pressure from fusion in the star’s core balances the inward force of gravity. In a high-mass star, after it begins to fuse iron, there is not enough outward pressure to remain stable and the star collapses rapidly, creating a supernova. If the core is massive enough, it can collapse to become a black hole. This resource is part of the NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse Collection.

Gross Science | The Food Poisoning Lurking in Your Freezer

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Learn about listeria, a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning, in this video from NOVA’s Gross Science series. Listeriosis is a serious disease that can kill up to 20 percent of people infected. Listeria grows on food and is tough enough to survive and even reproduce in cold refrigerators. When food contaminated with listeria is consumed, the body’s immune system recognizes the bacteria as a danger and mounts an immune response. White blood cells engulf the bacteria in phagosomes; however, listeria can escape this initial immune response by hijacking the cell’s cytoskeleton to move inside the cell, where it collects nutrients and reproduces. Eventually, the bacteria burst from the cell to infect other cells; the infection can become deadly as it spreads through the bloodstream to major organs. This resource is part of the NOVA: Gross Science Collection.

Killer Hurricanes | Hurricane Frequency Over Time

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Find out what scientists are learning about the relationship between sea surface temperature and the frequency of powerful North Atlantic hurricanes in this video from NOVA: Killer Hurricanes. By measuring the relative concentrations of two different oxygen isotopes present in the annual growth layers of fossil corals, scientists can discern relative near-surface ocean temperatures over thousands of years. Looking over the past 1,400 years, scientists have determined that the North Atlantic was generally warmer and had more major hurricanes in the first 700 years than in the more recent 700 years. Identifying trends like this can help scientists predict hurricane activity in the future. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

What the Physics?! | Nature's Speed Limit

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Explore three things that seem to be faster than the speed of light, in this episode of What the Physics?! from NOVA. According to Einstein, no matter or information can travel faster than the speed of light. However, at first glance, distant galaxies, clever paper slicing, and quantum-entangled particles all seem to exceed the speed of light. Do these examples disprove the fundamental notion of a cosmic speed limit? This resource is part of the NOVA: What the Physics?! Collection.

Parachute Problems | NOVA

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While testing Curiosity's parachute in the world's largest wind tunnel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientists and engineers were confounded by a failed trial run. The parachute had never failed to open in the past, so why this strange anomaly? See how they were able to pinpoint the problem by replicating the error and analyzing it in high-resolution footage in this video from NOVA: "Ultimate Mars Challenge."

Fabric From Hagfish Slime

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Learn about the potential for a new type of fiber that is stronger than nylon and made from a renewable resource in this video from NOVA: “Making Stuff Wilder.” Host and technology columnist David Pogue meets with scientists at the University of Guelph to investigate how hagfish are inspiring the development of new materials. Hagfish are eel-like animals that protect themselves from predators by releasing mucin and thread cells to create a slime. The threads are very strong; researchers are seeking a way to synthesize hagfish proteins to artificially produce similar threads.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Gross Science | Recycling Poop

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Learn how poop can be recycled to produce fertilizer, heat, and electricity, in this episode of Gross Science from NOVA. At Jordan Dairy Farms in Massachusetts, poop is collected from cows to power and fertilize the farm. Animal poop contains microorganisms that produce an energy-filled gas called methane. On the farm, manure is pumped to a giant tank called an anaerobic digester, where the methane gets funneled into an electricity-producing engine. Methane is used to produce electricity, and the leftover digestate is used to make fertilizer. Human sewage can also be treated in huge anaerobic digesters, such as those at the Deer Island Treatment Plant, to produce heat, electricity, and fertilizer. This resource is part of the NOVA: Gross Science Collection.

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