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NOVA scienceNOW: What’s The Next Big Thing?

Airs Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Roadbed collapse near the interface of the cantilever and truss sections of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Collapsed sections of the Cypress viaduct of Interstate 880
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Above: Collapsed sections of the Cypress viaduct of Interstate 880

Hosted by renowned astrophysicist, author and director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson, NOVA scienceNOW covers four timely science and technology stories per one-hour episode. Each episode of the upcoming season of "NOVA scienceNOW" explores one of six “big” science questions: can we live forever?; how smart are animals?; where did I come from?; how does the brain work?; what’s the next big thing?; and can we live in space?

In this episode of NOVA scienceNOW, come face to face with social robots that understand human feelings, carry on conversations, even make jokes. Then travel to Haiti, where geologists investigate the 2010 earthquake not long after it struck for clues to how to better forecast future quakes.

Afterwards, join engineers at General Motors who are testing tiny, two-wheeled cars called EN-Vs, which one day might drive themselves through city streets. Learn about proposals for making our outdated electric grid "smart."

And meet Nebraska native Jay Keasling, a pioneer in synthetic biology who shares his work on developing "designer" microbes that produce biofuels and medicines.

Video

Preview: NOVA scienceNOW: What's The Next Big Thing?

Above: What are the technologies most likely to revolutionize life in the future? In this episode of "NOVA scienceNOW," come face to face with social robots that understand human feelings, carry on conversations, even make jokes. Then travel to Haiti, where geologists investigate the 2010 earthquake not long after it struck for clues to how to better forecast future quakes. Afterwards, join engineers at General Motors who are testing tiny, two-wheeled cars called EN-Vs, which one day might drive themselves through city streets. Learn about proposals for making our outdated electric grid "smart" and more.