The Best Episodes of NOVA

#1 - Einstein Revealed

Season 24 - Episode 1

This two-hour program chronicles Albert Einstein's life and scientific achievements from his birth in 1879 to his death in 1955. The first hour follows Einstein in his quest to understand the nature of light. Graphics depict some of Einstein's famous thought experiments, including his eventual understanding of the interplay between the speed of light and time and his development of the special theory of relativity. The program also goes into great depth about Einstein's personal life, including his romance with and marriage to fellow student Mileva Maric and the death of his father. The second hour unfolds with Einstein preoccupied with finding a theory that accounts for gravitation and determining what orders the universe. Einstein addresses gravitation in the universe with his general theory of relativity. This is confirmed experimentally in 1919 when a solar eclipse reveals stars in positions that could best be explained by his theory: that gravity causes light to bend.


#2 - Memories From Eden

Season 5 - Episode 19

Traditionally zoos were designed neither for people nor animals; barred cages taught people more about their separation from nature than about an animal and its habitat. But just as man has realized that he has all but destroyed much of the world's wilderness and its wildlife, he is realizing that the zoo may be the last refuge for wildlife. NOVA visits several United States zoos to examine a variety of activities of concern today: breeding, public education, creative new animal habitats, and the reintroduction of animals to their natural environment.


#3 - Infinite Secrets

Season 31 - Episode 1

A battered manuscript turns up after 1000 years revealing the mind of the Greek genius Archimedes

Directors: Liz Tucker

#4 - Building the Great Cathedrals

Season 38 - Episode 1

Take a dazzling architectural journey inside those majestic marvels of Gothic architecture, the great cathedrals of Chartres, Beauvais and other European cities. Carved from 100 million pounds of stone, some cathedrals now teeter on the brink of catastrophic collapse. To save them, a team of engineers, architects, art historians, and computer scientists searches the naves, bays, and bell-towers for clues. NOVA investigates the architectural secrets that the cathedral builders used to erect their towering, glass-filled walls and reveals the hidden formulas drawn from the Bible that drove medieval builders ever upward.

Directors: Scott Tiffany

#5 - Mystery Of The Megaflood

Season 33 - Episode 1

It was the greatest flood of the past two million years, and it posed a giant scientific riddle. A maverick geologist became convinced that thousand-foot-deep floodwaters had scoured out vast areas of the American northwest near the end of the last ice age. Mainstream scientists scorned his theory while he searched patiently for answers to what could have triggered such an inconceivably violent event. Finally, an ingenious solution silenced the skeptics: traces of an enormous ice dam half a mile high, which had blocked a valley in present-day Montana and created an enormous lake behind it. With the help of stunningly realistic animation, NOVA takes viewers back to the Ice Age to reveal what happened when the dam broke, unleashing a titanic flood that swept herds of woolly mammoth and everything else into oblivion.

Directors: Ben Fox

#6 - The Making Of A Natural History Film

Season 1 - Episode 1

NOVA premieres on public television with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a nature film. Oxford Scientific Films Unit shows how it tackles such problems as filming a wood-wasp laying its egg inside trees, the hatching of a chick and the courtship rituals of the stickleback.


#7 - Secrets of the Samurai Sword

Season 35 - Episode 1

NOVA follows the long and exacting centuries-old process of making a Japanese samurai sword, from smelting the ore to the finished katana.

Directors: John Wate

#8 - Anastasia Dead or Alive?

Season 23 - Episode 1

Shortly after midnight on 17 July 19l8, at a house in the town of Ekaterinburg in the Ural mountains, Bolshevik guards awakened the deposed Tsar Nicholas II together with his family and forced them into the basement, where they were shot and clubbed to death. NOVA follows forensic tests of skeletons discovered in Ekaterinburg in 1979 that are alleged to be the remains of the Russian royals, and explores the intriguing claim that Anna Anderson of Charlottesville, Virginia, was really the long lost Anastasia


#9 - The Hidden City

Season 17 - Episode 1

Four of the major systems forming the infrastructure of an urban center are examined. Judd Hirsch narrates as Nova looks at the distribution and disposal of electricity, water, sewage and garbage in New York City.


#10 - Edgerton and His Incredible Seeing Machines

Season 12 - Episode 1

NOVA explores the fascinating world of Dr. Harold Edgerton, electronics wizard and inventor extraordinaire, whose invention of the electronic strobe, a "magic lamp," has enabled the human eye to see the unseen.


#11 - Doctors of Nigeria

Season 8 - Episode 1

Is the fagara root a match for the stethoscope? This program looks at the contributions of both traditional herbal medicine and western orthodox medicine to the health of the Nigerian people.


#12 - The NOVA Quiz

Season 21 - Episode 1

NOVA fans from around the country match wits in a fast-paced contest of general science knowledge celebrating NOVA's 20th anniversary. Famous guests pose questions for the viewers at home. Marc Summers hosts.


#13 - Ground Zero Supertower

Season 41 - Episode 1

NOVA kicks off the fall season with a return to Ground Zero to witness the final chapter in an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit. “Ground Zero Supertower” examines the new skyscraper, One World Trade Center, rising up 104 stories and 1,776 feet from the site where the Twin Towers once stood. NOVA also goes underground to see another engineering marvel taking shape here: the construction of the National September 11 Memorial Museum that will house almost a thousand artifacts from that devastating day. In this update of NOVA’s Emmy-nominated special “Engineering Ground Zero,” which featured extraordinary behind-the-scenes access to the struggles of the engineers and architects working at 1 WTC and the 9/11 Memorial, NOVA goes inside the construction of the tower’s final floors and the installation of its soaring, 408-foot spire and beacon. The greatest test is still to come, though: Will One World Trade Center, a multi-billion dollar supertower, live up to its promise to be safe, beautiful and ahead of its time?

Directors: Terri Randall

#14 - Secrets of the Viking Sword

Season 40 - Episode 1

The Vikings were among the fiercest warriors of all time. Yet only a select few carried the ultimate weapon of their era: the feared Ulfberht sword. Fashioned using a process that would remain unknown to the Vikings’ rivals for centuries, the Ulfberht was a revolutionary high-tech tool as well as a work of art. Considered one of the greatest swords ever made, it remains a fearsome weapon more than a millennium after it last saw battle. But how did Viking sword makers design and build the Ulfberht, and what was its role in history? Now, NOVA uses cutting edge science and old-fashioned detective work to reconstruct the Ulfberht and finally unravel the "Secrets of the Viking Sword."

Directors: Peter Yost

#15 - Engineering Ground Zero

Season 39 - Episode 1

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, NOVA presents an epic story of engineering, innovation, and the perseverance of the human spirit. With extraordinary access granted by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, “Engineering Ground Zero” follows the five-year construction of One World Trade Center (1 WTC) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Directors: David Shadrack Smith

#16 - Killer Disease On Campus

Season 30 - Episode 1

Doctors combat the deadliest for of meningitis which strikes young people out of the blue.

Directors: Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones

#17 - Fall Of The Leaning Tower

Season 27 - Episode 1

The film explores why the famous tower of Pisa hasn't fallen over yet and investigates the many efforts taken to preserve this medieval treasure.


#18 - Lincoln's Secret Weapon

Season 28 - Episode 1

The film chronicles an expedition to study and retrieve parts of the USS Monitor, the famous Civil War ironclad, which sank off North Carolina only months after its famous battle with the CSS Virginia.

Directors: Kirk Wolfinger

#19 - Arctic Dinosaurs

Season 36 - Episode 1

A field expedition to collect new fossil clues on Alaska's North Slope reveals details of the lives of polar dinosaurs.

Directors: Jackie Mow, Chris Schmidt

#20 - Building On Ground Zero

Season 34 - Episode 1

Can lessons learned from the Twin Towers' collapse make new buildings safer?


#21 - Dawn of Humanity

Season 43 - Episode 1

Deep in a South African cave, an astounding discovery reveals clues to what made us human.

Directors: Graham Townsley

#22 - The KGB, The Computer and Me

Season 18 - Episode 1

This documentary covers the surprising tale of an average systems administrator who stumbled upon a KGB spy operation. Clifford Stoll carried out one of the first successful digital forensics investigations by tracking down Markus Hess, a KGB hacker, after noticing a discrepancy in the logs of a University of California computer.


#23 - In The Event Of Catastrophe

Season 5 - Episode 1

Can a nuclear war be survived? Some members of the defense community say yes. NOVA explores the possibility.


#24 - Darwin's Darkest Hour

Season 37 - Episode 1

This two-hour scripted drama tells the remarkable story behind the unveiling of the most influential scientific theory of all time, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The program is a special presentation from NOVA and National Geographic Television, written by acclaimed British screenwriter John Goldsmith and directed by John Bradshaw.

Directors: John Bradshaw

#25 - The Search for the Disappeared

Season 14 - Episode 1

NOVA joins scientists in Argentina as they help locate kidnapped children and identify thousands of dead in the aftermath of a military reign of terror.