‘Nova’ delivers stories from the front lines of science

“Nova” explores new discoveries and how we have come this far. Except where otherwise noted, all times below are Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Arizona PBS.

Feb. 5: “Polar Extremes”

Join renowned paleontologist and host Kirk Johnson on an epic adventure through time at the Polar Extremes of our planet. Following a trail of strange fossils found in all the wrong places, Johnson uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-high ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life. What caused such dramatic changes at the end of the earth? Watch online.

Feb. 12: “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 world, makes it clear why. Researchers reveal how humans tames fearsome canines over tens of thousands of years, and how modern dog intelligence and behaviors have made them indispensable companions. Watch online.

Feb. 19: “Cat Tales”

They may have stolen many hearts – and the internet – but cats can be perplexing pets. As much cuddly and playful as they are aloof and uncaring, they’ve often raised the question: Did humans ever really domesticate felines? And what more can science tell us about a relationship that predates history? Watch online.

Feb. 26: “Mysteries of Sleep”

From fruit flies to whales, virtually every animal sleeps. But why? 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. Watch online.

Mar. 18: “Japan’s Killer Quake”

The March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan was the world’s fourth-largest earthquake since record keeping began in 1900 and the worst ever to shake Japan. The seismic shock wave released more than 4,000 times the energy of the largest nuclear test ever conducted; it shifted the earth’s axis by six inches and shortened the day by a few millionths of a second. The tsunami slammed Japan’s coast with 30-feet-high waves that traveled six miles inland, obliterating entire towns in a matter of minutes. “Japan’s Killer Quake” combines authoritative on-the-spot reporting, personal stories of tragedy and survival, compelling eyewitness videos, explanatory graphics and exclusive helicopter footage for a unique look at the science behind the catastrophe. Watch online.

Mar. 25: “Transplanting Hope”

Witness organ transplant teams transferring organs from donors to recipients. Meet families navigating both sides of a transplant, and researchers working to end the organ shortage. Their efforts to understand organ rejection, discover ways to keep organs alive outside the body, and even grow artificial organs with stem cells, could save countless lives. Watch online.

Apr. 1: “Cuba’s Cancer Hope”

When the U.S. trade embargo left Cuba isolated form medical resources, Cuban doctors 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.

Apr. 8: “The Truth About Fat”

For generations, fat has been the enemy, and overweight individuals have been stigmatized and shamed. But scientists are coming to understand fat as a fascinating and dynamic organ – one whose size has more to do with biological processes than personal choices. Through real life stories, explore how fat plays a role in hormone production and can even affect hunger levels and a woman’s ability to get pregnant.

Apr. 22 at 9 p.m.: “Killer Floods”

All over the world, scientists are discovering traces of ancient floods on a scale that dwarfs even the most severe flood disasters of recent times. What triggered these cataclysmic floods, and could they strike again? Over a vast expanse of Washington State called the Channeled Scablands, the level prairie gives way to bizarre geological formations. Like forensic detectives at a crime scene, geologists study these strange features and reconstruct catastrophic Ice Ace floods more powerful than all the world’s top ten rivers combined.

Apr. 29 at 9 p.m.: “Poisoned Water”

Water. Turn on the faucet and it’s always there. Without it we perish. But how safe is our tap water? In this special report “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 to dangerous levels of poison. The situation at Flint raises an important question. How can we protect ourselves from poisoned water?

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'Nova' delivers stories from the front lines of science

"Nova" explores new discoveries and how we have come this far on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Arizona PBS.