NOVA Mini Marathon

NOVA Mini Marathon

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Pictured: Mt. St. Helens

Credit: Gary Rosenquist ©Joel E. Harvey

PBS' premier science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines.

NOVA "Mount St. Helens Back from the Dead" airs Thursday, November 4 at 7 p.m., followed by NOVA "Mystery of the Megavolcano" at 8 p.m. and NOVA "Trapped in an Elevator" at 9 p.m. on WXXI World (cable 524/DT21.2).

NOVA "Mount St. Helens Back from the Dead"

Plant and animal life has returned to the barren landscape of Mount St. Helens after the eruption in 1980. But there’s a new threat: The mountain, too, is coming back to life.

When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, every living thing in the blast zone was buried beneath 300 feet of avalanche debris, covered with steaming mud and, finally, topped with a superheated layer of frothy rock from deep within the earth. It seemed as though Mount St. Helens might remain a wasteland forever. Then, to everyone’s surprise, life began to bloom again. Over the course of 30 years, biologist Charlie Crisafulli has been documenting the dramatic return of plant and animal life to the barren landscape. But he has also tracked a new threat: The mountain, like the wildlife, is coming back to life. Soon after the 1980 eruption, new lava was bubbling up to the surface, and in 2004, a flurry of explosions blasted steam and ash thousands of feet into the air over Mount St. Helens. NOVA presents a pioneering look at the interplay between biology and geology that may help scientists predict future volcanic eruptions.

NOVA "Mystery of the Megavolcano"

The Toba eruption during the Ice Age may have helped kick the climate into a freeze and perhaps pushed ancestral human populations to the brink of extinction. A remote lake in Southeast Asia conceals evidence of Earth's greatest volcanic cataclysm of the last 100,000 years. Miles beneath its placid surface lies a magma chamber that exploded so violently during the Ice Age that gases and ash may have encircled the globe and blotted out the sun for years on end. The Toba eruption may have helped kick the climate into an unprecedented freeze and perhaps even pushed ancestral human populations to the brink of extinction. In a classic science detective story, NOVA pieces together the clues about this great catastrophe and probes questions about human evolution and Earth's fragile ecosystems.

NOVA "Trapped in an Elevator"

Across North America, elevators move 325 million passengers every day, and, most of the time, people don’t give them a second thought. In Trapped in an Elevator, NOVA reveals the secret life of these ubiquitous machines and investigates personal stories of those who have been caught inside when they fail.

NOVA cameras ride the world’s fastest elevator to the top of the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, and test whether the Burj’s elevator system is ready for the task of moving people to unprecedented heights. On the other side of the world, NOVA follows one of the thousands of elevator maintenance crews in Manhattan that keep New Yorkers moving up and down every day. Then, at the Otis Test Tower—a 28-story high-rise that’s the most over-elevatored building in the world—viewers experience a few heart-pumping moments as a test elevator is sent into free fall. Once brawny but simple machines, elevators are getting a brainy makeover. Computer controls, like those in the elevators at the Marriot Marquis in Times Square, are getting passengers to their destinations faster and more safely than ever before. But will the elevator-wary be comfortable handing over the reins to computers?

This program is offered with Descriptive Video (DVi), which provides concise descriptions of the sets, scenery, costumes, action, and other important visual elements between the dialogue of the program.