NOVA scienceNOW Collection

Expand/Collapse NOVA scienceNOW Collection


From the award-winning producers of NOVA comes NOVA scienceNOW, the fast-paced, innovative, and entertaining science program featuring timely science and technology stories along with biographical profiles of intriguing science personalities on the cutting edge of their fields.

  • Food Is Fuel

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about the potential energy contained in food. Correspondent and technology columnist David Pogue explores how a rat is digested by a snake and how food fuels the body. Scientist Stephen Secor demonstrates how to measure the amount of energy stored in a food using a bomb calorimeter. Portions of a dehydrated cupcake and rat are burned in a special tank; the results show that the cupcake has twice as many calories as the same amount of rat.

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • NOVA: Can I Eat That? | What Is a Supertaster?

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn why some people experience taste more intensely than other people. With the help of scientist Linda Bartoshuck, correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores what taste buds are and how people experience taste. Bartoshuck explains that some people, called “supertasters,” have a higher than average number of taste buds and are more sensitive to tastes. In addition, because taste buds are surrounded by pain fibers, supertasters are more sensitive to the burn from certain foods, such as hot peppers.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Chemistry of Tender Turkey

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about the chemistry behind brining meat. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores how the process of brining can ensure a tender and moist cooked turkey. A raw turkey is mostly water, but the muscle fibers of the meat dry out as the meat is cooking. Guy Crosby of America’s Test Kitchen demonstrates how soaking a raw turkey in salt water adds moisture to the meat through the process of osmosis. Pogue participates in a taste test to identify samples of turkey cooked with and without brining. 

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Chemistry of Onions

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue learns how cutting an onion triggers chemical reactions that change the properties of the onion. Animations illustrate how enzymes are separated from other molecules inside the cells of an onion; cutting the onion breaks the barrier and allows the molecules to chemically react and create new molecules. Cutting changes the flavor of the onion and releases molecules that can make you cry.

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • NOVA: Can I Eat That? | The Science of Flavor

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue learns about the perception of flavor. Professional food taster Barb Stuckey leads Pogue through several experiences to demonstrate how smell, sight, and sound can influence the experience of flavor. With Stuckey’s help, Pogue experiences how dulling the sense of smell can make something taste flavorless, how the look of something can be deceiving, and how sound also provides information about food. Stuckey describes how food scientists try to appeal to all of the senses when engineering a new product.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Brain Waves Reveal Deception

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn how a person’s brain activity can reveal when he or she is lying. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores how deception can be identified from images of brain waves. Scientist Jennifer Vendemia uses electrodes placed on the scalp to measure electrical impulses from brain cells while a test subject lies and tells the truth about different statements. When a person lies, it takes longer to process the information than when he or she is telling the truth and a type of brain wave (P300) is often missing from the images of brain activity.

    Grades: 6-12
  • How Does A Polygraph Test Work?

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about polygraph tests and lie detection. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue commits a staged crime and undergoes a polygraph test to find out how it works. Lying can cause stress, which produces common physiological responses, such as an increased heart rate and sweating. Polygraph testing experts explain what the test measures, why the questions are reviewed in advance, and why the test doesn't always work.

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • Car-Hacking

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, explore how advances in information technology are making cars increasingly susceptible to cyber attacks. Modern cars are highly dependent on computers to control many features including lights, braking, steering, door locks, and GPS. A team of security experts demonstrates how it is possible to hack into a car and gain control of it from a remote location by taking advantage of its built-in cell phone system. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Do Dogs Understand Fairness?

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn how scientists are studying basic moral behavior in animals. Correspondent David Pogue, New York Times technology columnist, visits Friederike Range's Clever Dog Lab to find out whether dogs have a sense of fairness. If two dogs are asked to do a trick and only one of them gets rewarded, the unrewarded dog soon stops cooperating. This experiment, along with investigations of other animal species, can provide insight into the evolution of human morality. 

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • Do Rats Feel Empathy?

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about an investigation into empathy and helping behavior in rats. Two rats are placed in a pen: one is trapped inside a see-through tube placed in the center of the cage while the other is free to roam. The free rat tries to find a way open the tube and release the trapped rat, even when given the choice to eat five chocolate chips instead. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue visits neuroscientist Peggy Mason, who explains the details of the experiment and how the findings relate to human empathy. 

     

    Grades: 6-12
  • Investigating Neanderthals

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue introduces the timeline of human evolution and explores the shapes of hominid heads. Early human ancestors migrated out of Africa and developed into different groups. Neanderthals evolved in Europe and western Asia and existed for hundreds of thousands of years before becoming extinct. Human evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman demonstrates how Neanderthal skulls differ from modern human skulls and how head shape may be the key to understanding why Neanderthals did not survive.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Evolutionary Roots of Language

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about an area of the brain that is involved with both language processing and the creation of stone tools. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores how tool-making (an ancient human skill that requires complex, sequential thought) may have evolved together with language. He speaks with scientist Cynthia Thompson who studies the parts of the brain that are active when computing sentences. Pogue also meets with scientists Dietrich Stout and Thierry Chaminade who research whether Broca's area, which is associated with sentence processing, is active when the brain is engaged in stone tool-making. Their findings are consistent with the idea that language and tool-making coevolved, known as the "tool-to-language hypothesis."

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • Mind-Controlled Robotic Arm

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, find out how a paralyzed woman manipulates a robotic arm with her mind to successfully drink from a cup. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores this experiment conducted by the BrainGate research team of doctors, scientists, and engineers. BrainGate investigators explain the placement of a sensor on the brain of a stroke victim, how a person's arm moves, and how complex the brain's control of movement is. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade 6-12 students.

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • Making a Humanoid Robot

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about some of the crucial components of DARwin-OP, a humanoid robot that walks on two legs. The act of walking involves senses (such as vision, balance, and touch) as well as movement. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores how the creators of DARwin-OP took inspiration from humans to make the robot, using metal, microchips, a webcam, sensors, and actuators. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Walking, Soccer-Playing Robots

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about the challenges of creating a humanoid robot that can walk and play soccer. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue visits a laboratory that studies how people walk using several sensors and an optical motion capture system. He learns about the complexities of walking and finds out why it is so difficult to develop a robot that can walk as well as a person. By developing robots that can play soccer, engineers are tackling some of the biggest challenges in robotics: robot vision, autonomous decision making, and bipedal walking.

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • Can a Computer Read Your Mind?

    In this video from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about a computer program that uses MRI brain scans to decipher what a person was thinking. Correspondent David Pogue, New York Times technology columnist, visits Carnegie Mellon University to find out about a mind-reading computer experiment conducted by psychologists and computer scientists. Particular areas of the brain are associated with thinking about certain words. The computer analysis identifies what object a person was thinking about based on brain scans that show the areas that were activated.

    Grades: 6-12
  • FoldIt: A Protein Puzzle Game

    In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about Foldit, an online game in which players contribute to scientific research by solving puzzles. The objective of the game is to fold proteins into optimal 3D configurations. By identifying the structural configurations of proteins, scientists can make advances in the treatment of diseases and other problems. One of Foldit’s creators describes the challenge of creating a game that nonscientists could play and take an interest in without necessarily understanding the science of proteins. In 2011, Foldit players identified the structure of a protein that helps HIV reproduce. This was a major accomplishment and will help researchers develop treatments for HIV.

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • Mapping the Brain

    In this interactive activity from the NOVA scienceNOW website, learn about several brain mapping techniques: MRI, fMRI, PET, MEG, DTI, and probabilistic. Imaging technology allows scientists and doctors to gather information about the human brain without cutting it open. Each technique has its advantages and disadvantages. The interactive activity shows sample brain maps created from each technique; the user can scroll through cross sections of the entire brain from different perspectives (coronal, sagittal, and axial) and highlight specific regions of the brain.

    This interactive activity requires Adobe Flash Player.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Dolphins Plan Ahead

    Learn about the cognitive abilities of dolphins in this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW: "How Smart Are Animals?" Correspondent Doug Hamilton meets with researcher Stan Kuczaj and dolphin trainer Teri Bolton to explore the intelligence of dolphins. In one experiment, dolphins display the ability to think and plan ahead to get a fish out of a box more efficiently. In another, two dolphins demonstrate their ability to plan and communicate with each other when they are signaled to create a new trick together. Dolphins vocalize with clicks and whistles, but scientists do not yet understand their language.

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

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Cephalopod Brain

    Learn about the neuroprocessing abilities of cephalopods such as octopus and cuttlefish in this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW: "How Smart Are Animals?" Correspondent Jake Ward meets with marine biologist Roger Hanlon to explore cephalopod intelligence and find out how these animals camouflage against different types of backgrounds. Cephalopods use their brains to quickly transform their shape, color, texture, and pattern to blend into their surroundings. Researchers have also documented evidence indicating that cephalopods have the ability to use tools and plan ahead. 

    Grades: 6-12

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