NOVA scienceNOW “What’s the Next Big Thing?”
Feb. 23, 2011
Thrilling innovations and new discoveries are being made all the time in science, and there are a few things on the horizon in the fields of medicine and technology and energy that are really poised to change the way we live—from friendly robots to smart grids and better earthquake detection. First, viewers will meet the engineers designing social robots with the smarts to understand human feelings, learn from human teachers, carry on conversations, and even make jokes. Robots already build our cars and vacuum our floors. One day soon, they could also serve as teachers' helpers, companions for the elderly, and even babysitters. NOVA scienceNOW also asks if the car of the future will be able to drive itself. The team heads to the General Motors Tech Center, where engineers are testing tiny, two-wheeled, battery-powered cars called EN-Vs, which one day might drive themselves through city streets. Then, Nebraska native Jay Keasling, a leading pioneer in the cutting-edge field of synthetic biology, shares his work on developing “designer” microbes that generate biofuels and medicines, which could save millions of lives and dollars with low-cost malaria drugs and clean-burning fuels . NOVA scienceNOW also takes an intriguing look at the science used by geologists to forecast earthquakes, like the devastating quake in Haiti that claimed the lives of nearly a quarter million people in January 2010. Scientists had forecast that tragedy with amazing accuracy two years earlier. NOVA scienceNOW shares exclusive coverage obtained while accompanying geologists as they first entered Haiti and then travels to where scientists are digging deep underground and uncovering weaknesses that could soon cause massive destruction in California. “What's the Next Big Thing?” airs Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011 at 8 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.
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