NOVA

Building Wonders | Roman Aqueducts in the Colosseum

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Learn how the Romans might have developed a plumbing system to pump enough water into and out of the Colosseum to stage mock naval battles, in this video from NOVA: Building Wonders: Colosseum. Romans relied on aqueducts to supply their city with water. According to an early Roman author, they may have also used the aqueducts to fill the Colosseum with enough water to float flat-bottomed boats. While 40 input channels could have sufficiently flooded the arena’s floor, the recent discovery of an ancient drain may have revealed how the emperor’s engineers could have emptied the water to hold gladiator fights the same day.

Swarm Robotics

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Learn how multiple robots can behave like a swarm in this video from NOVA: “Making Stuff Wilder.” Host and technology columnist David Pogue explores how individual robots can communicate and work together as a group, acheiving more as a group than on an individual basis. At the University of Pennsylvania, researchers demonstrate for Pogue how a swarm of robots can act as a search and rescue team. Swarm robotics has these guiding principles, inspired by swarms in nature: each robot is self-controlled as much as possible, each robot primarily acts on local information, and no one robot is in charge. 

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

Robofly

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During the process of evolution, the survival of plant and animal species depends upon their ability to successfully adapt to different challenges in life. Is it far-fetched, then, to look for lessons in nature that might be applied to some of the challenges we face in technology? In this video segment adapted from NOVA, engineers are studying insect flight and hoping to gain insights into ways of designing and developing miniature flying vehicles that we may one day use for a variety of purposes.

NOVA: Using Quantum Physics to Prevent Voter Fraud

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Learn how quantum physics is used to secure electronic communications and could be applied to electronic voting systems, in this video from NOVA Digital. Information that is transmitted electronically—like an email, text, or electronic vote—is protected by encryption. Quantum mechanics offers two methods of encryption. The first involves generating and distributing an encryption key using quantum particles such as photons. If a hacker intercepts this key, the quantum particles will be affected and the recipient will know the encryption is compromised. The second method relies on a process known as quantum teleportation—quantum-entangled particles transmit information instantly between them even at a distance. This resource is part of the NOVA: Web-Original Collection.

Driverless Vehicles Yield to Complex Issues | NOVA Wonders: Can We Build a Brain?

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Examine the benefits, risks, and unintended consequences of driverless vehicles, which promise to solve some growing problems in society but may create new ones in their place, in this video from NOVA Wonders: Can We Build a Brain? To many people, including daily commuters and those faced with congested roadways, a vehicle that can operate autonomously using artificial intelligence may sound like a great idea. But while it may be just a matter of time before self-driving cars and trucks dominate city streets and highways, this innovation raises complex issues related to jobs, safety, ethics, and more. This resource is part of the NOVA Wonders Collection.

Masters of Disguise

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The natural world is filled with animals trying to eat other animals and trying to avoid being eaten. This pressure to find food or to keep from becoming someone else's dinner has, over millions of years, produced an incredibly effective way to escape detection by predators or prey: camouflage. This video segment explores the world of camouflage, including some of the methods and benefits of this important evolutionary strategy. The footage comes from NOVA: Animal Impostors.

Ingredients for Life: Water

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Earth provides a comfortable and temperate environment for a wide variety of living organisms. However, in the past few decades, scientists have discovered unusual life forms thriving in areas where the majority of living things on Earth could never survive, such as by deep sea vents or in dry deserts. This video segment, adapted from NOVA, explores extreme forms of life on Earth, the importance of liquid water, and the possibilities of life elsewhere in the solar system.

A Fission Chain Reaction

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In this video excerpt from NOVA: "Hunting the Elements," New York Times technology columnist David Pogue investigates the radioactive elements located at the bottom of the periodic table. Discover how scientists once thought that uranium was the end of the periodic table and find out how the table has grown since atomic scientists created synthetic elements. Visit the Nuclear Museum in New Mexico to learn about the process of nuclear fission and to see a demonstration of what happens inside a nuclear reactor.

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

Sandy and Climate Change

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In this video excerpt from NOVA: “Inside the Megastorm,” learn how Earth's warming climate may have contributed to Hurricane Sandy's devastating impact. Hurricane Sandy was an extremely large storm that followed an unusual path, and its impacts were enhanced by climate change. Climate scientists Radley Horton and Adam Sobel explain how warming temperatures in the Arctic may have shaped a blocking pattern in the jet stream (causing the hurricane to turn toward the United States) and how rising sea levels undeniably contributed to the storm's destructiveness.

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

Hubble & the Expanding Universe

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Learn how Edwin Hubble made some of the most important discoveries in modern astronomy in this video from NOVA: Invisible Universe Revealed. In 1923, Hubble observed a Cepheid in what was called the Andromeda "nebula." When he calculated the distance to it, he discovered that the "nebula" was actually a galaxy outside of the Milky Way. At the time, the Milky Way was considered the entire universe, and so the discovery dramatically changed our view of the universe. Hubble went on to measure the relative speed of galaxies, using redshift, and found that the universe was expanding. His observations formed the basis of the Big Bang theory.

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