NOVA scienceNOW: Hubble’s Amazing Rescue; Gangster Birds; Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa; How Memory Works
Airs Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
"Hubble’s Amazing Rescue" - The best-known scientific instrument in history was dying. After nearly 20 years in space and hundreds of thousands of spectacular images, the Hubble Space Telescope's gyroscopes and sensors were failing, its batteries running down, and some of its instruments were already dead. The only hope to save Hubble was a mission so dangerous that in 2004 NASA cancelled it because it was considered too risky.
Scientists and the general public alike stubbornly refused to abandon the telescope, and a new NASA administrator revived the mission. This program takes viewers behind the scenes on a riveting journey with the team of astronauts and engineers charged with saving the famous "orbiting observatory" against all odds.
"Gangster Birds" - Woodpeckers watch out: Cowbirds might make you an offer you can't refuse. The common cowbird, a species found in backyards throughout North America, is a "brood parasites"—a phrase ecologists use to describe animals that skip out on parenting by depositing their young in the care of another. In this program, see how ecologist Jeff Hoover has stumbled on a clue that might unravel the most brutal reign of terror in the avian world.
"Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa Profile" - It's been two decades since Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa jumped the border fence separating Mexico and the U.S. and established himself as a farmworker in southern California.
Today "Dr. Q," as his patients and students know him, is an associate professor of neurosurgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins University, where he is in hot pursuit of a breakthrough in the treatment of brain cancer. His research looks at neural stem cells to answer a critical question: How does brain cancer originate and spread? Dr. Q., who treats the direst of medical cases, understands the stakes all too well.
"How Memory Works" - What are memories? How do they form, and why do they seem so real? How could a famous psychology subject named H.M. retain long-term memories of his childhood yet not recall short-term memories, like what he ate for lunch? Neurobiologists and psychologists are discovering the details of how memory works, including pinpointing molecules that can create memories as well as those that can erase memories forever.