NOVA

Zombies and Calculus, Part 2

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Learn about tangent vectors in this video from NOVA Digital. In this hypothetical world, zombies always move straight toward humans. This means that the tangent vector of a zombie's path points at the intended target. However, when the human moves, the zombie's tangent vector points to where the human is at that instant, not to where the human is going. The zombie is not smart enough to move toward where the human will be. Therefore, the zombie takes a longer path, giving the human the chance to get away. If the human moves faster than the zombies in a circular path, multiple zombies will eventually converge on a smaller circular path that follows the human's path.

Ancient Math & Music

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Explore how Pythagoras and Plato found mathematics in music and nature in this video from NOVA: The Great Math Mystery. The ancient Greeks identified three pleasing musical intervals: an octave, a fifth, and a fourth. Pythagoras discovered that the beautiful musical relationship between the notes was also a mathematical relationship: the harmonious sounds are produced by vibrating strings with particular ratios of string length. Plato believed geometry and mathematics exist in their own ideal world and that certain shapes (now known as the Platonic solids) were associated with the classical elements from which the world was made: earth, fire, air, water, and the universe.

Pi & The Fibonacci Sequence

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Explore intriguing appearances of pi and the Fibonacci sequence outside of mathematics in this video from NOVA: The Great Math Mystery. Although well-known in mathematics, the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence are also frequently found in the natural world, such as in the number of petals on flowers and the number of spirals of a pinecone. Pi is commonly recognized as a number that relates a circle's circumference to its diameter but it also appears in many other phenomena. For example, pi is related to the probability that a dropped needle will cut a series of parallel lines; it also can be used to calculate the length of a meandering river. 

The Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers | Caryn Babaian

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Meet biology professor Caryn Babaian in these videos from NOVA's "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers." Caryn uses art to help her students learn about biology and living systems.  She explains that, "The person who draws a leaf will tell you a lot more than the person who just looked at it." She is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks. This resource is part of the NOVA: Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers Collection.

How Cancer Cells Grow and Divide

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Discover the role of oncogenes in uncontrolled cancerous growth and depicts the journey of cancer cells from where they originate, into the circulatory system, and then on to other parts of the body. This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Ethanol Biofuel

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Discover ethanol, a cleaner-burning fuel alternative to gasoline, and the efforts to produce it more efficiently in this video segment adapted from NOVA. Today, most ethanol in the United States is made from corn kernels. But converting corn into ethanol requires lots of energy as well as corn, which might otherwise be used to feed people and livestock. The video features research efforts to use less valuable plant matter, called cellulosic biomass, and microorganisms that may be able to accomplish the conversion from plant matter to fuel in a single step.

Extracting Mummy DNA

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This video from NOVA: "Iceman Murder Mystery" describes the process of testing the DNA of a mummy called Ötzi who died over 5,000 years ago in the European Alps. Getting DNA samples from human remains that are this old is very difficult; however, when DNA can be tested, it can give us very detailed information on how humans lived, what they ate, what illnesses they suffered, and, as seen in the video, even whether they were lactose intolerant.

NOVA, Vol. 6

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Life's Greatest Miracle (2001)

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Once again, Lennart Nilsson's cameras take us into the mysterious and beautiful world of the human body, capturing incredible never-before-seen footage.

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Middle
High
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01:00
Life's Greatest Miracle

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