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Nova

Inside Animal Minds: Dogs & Super Senses

What would it be like to go inside the mind of an animal? We have all gazed into a creature's eyes and wondered: what is it thinking about? What does it really know? Now, the revolutionary science of animal cognition is revealing hard evidence about how animals understand the world around them, uncovering their remarkable problem-solving abilities and exploring the complexity of their powers of communication and even their emotions. In this mini-series, NOVA explores these breakthroughs through three iconic creatures: dogs, birds and dolphins. We'll travel into the spectacularly nuanced noses of dogs and wolves, and ask whether their reliance on different senses has shaped their evolution. We'll see through the eyes of a starling in flight and test the tool-using skills of the smartest of birds, the crow. We'll listen in as scientists track dolphins in the Caribbean and elephants on the African savannah, trying to unlock the secrets of animal communication. As we discover how researchers are pushing the animal mind to its limits, we'll uncover surprising similarities to -- and differences from -- the human mind. What is it like to be a dog, a shark or a bird? This question is now getting serious attention from scientists who study animal senses. Humans rely on smell, sight, taste, touch and sound; other animals have super-powered versions of these senses, and a few have extra senses we don't have at all. From a dog that seems to use smell to tell time to a dolphin that can "see" with its ears, discover how animals use their senses in ways we humans can barely imagine. But it's not just the senses that are remarkable - it's the brains that process them. NOVA goes into the minds of animals to "see" the world in an entirely new way.

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Episode
53:47
Nova

Looking for Life on Mars

NASA launches its most ambitious search yet for traces of ancient life on Mars.
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Episode
53:26
Nova

Secrets in our DNA

More than 12 million Americans have sent their DNA to be analyzed by companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA, but what actually happens once the sample is in the hands of testing companies? What are they looking at and how accurate are they?
The sun from outer space shines down on Earth. | From "NOVA: Can We Cool the Planet?"
Episode
53:31
Nova

S47 E16: Can We Cool The Planet?

As global temperatures rise, scientists are exploring geoengineering solutions, from planting trees to sucking carbon out of the air to physically blocking out sunlight. But would it work? And what are the risks of engineering Earth's climate?
A spacecraft floating in space over an asteroid. | From "NOVA: Touching the Asteroid"
Episode
54:03
Nova

S47 E15: Touching The Asteroid

If spacecraft OSIRIS-REx can grab a piece of an asteroid and bring it back to Earth, scientists could gain great insight into our planet's origins, and even how to defend against rogue asteroids. But NASA only gets three shots at collecting a sample.
An early printing press. | From "NOVA: A to Z - How Writing Changed The World"
Episode
53:31
Nova

S47 E14: A to Z – How Writing Changed The World

Just as handwritten records changed how societies work, the printing press transformed the spread of information, igniting the Industrial Revolution. How did technologies — from pen to paper to printing press — make it all possible?
A person doing calligraphy on a piece of paper. | From "NOVA: A to Z - The First Alphabet"
Episode
54:01
Nova

S47 E13: A to Z – The First Alphabet

Writing shaped civilization itself, from the trading of goods to tales of ancient goddesses and kings. Follow the evolution of the written word, from millennia-old carvings in an Egyptian turquoise mine to our modern-day alphabets.
Closeup of slime branching out. | From "NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime"
Episode
53:17
Nova

S47 E12: Secret Mind of Slime

Scientists investigate the bizarre "intelligence" of slime molds, which appear to learn and make decisions — without a brain. These cunning, single-celled blobs can navigate mazes and create efficient networks. Can they also redefine cognition?
Microscopic image of DNA. | From "NOVA: Human Nature"
Episode
1:33:41
Nova

S47 E11: Human Nature

Our DNA can determine attributes from eye color to medical predispositions. An extraordinary technology called CRISPR allows us to edit human DNA, possibly eliminating genetic diseases or choosing our children's features. But how far should we go?
An illustration of the coronavirus. | "Nova: Decoding COVID-19"
Episode
53:38
Nova

S47 E9: Decoding COVID-19

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has upended life as we know it in a matter of mere months. But at the same time, an unprecedented global effort to understand and contain the virus-and find a treatment for the disease it causes-is underway.
A graphic depicting wolf-like animals from Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. | From "NOVA: Nature's Fear Factor"
Episode
53:31
Nova

S47 E9: Nature's Fear Factor

When top predators disappeared from Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park, other animals fell into unusual patterns. Now scientists are reintroducing wild dogs to restore the park's "landscape of fear" and with it the natural balance of the ecosystem.
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