The Best Episodes of NOVA
Last Updated: Dec 7, 2018
Seen in more than 100 countries, NOVA is the most watched science television series in the world and the most watched documentary series on PBS. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over.
#1 - The Last Journey of a Genius
Season 16 - Episode 2
NOVA looks at the bongo-playing scientist, adventurer, safecracker and yarn-spinner Richard Feynman, most recently famous for his role as gadfly of the Presidential Commission investigating the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
#2 - Secrets Of Lost Empires: Medieval Siege
Season 27 - Episode 3
In the film, which is a part of the NOVA series Secrets of Lost Empires, a team of timber framers and other specialists design, build, and fire a pair of trebuchets, a devastating engine of war popular in the Middle Ages.
#4 - Fusion: The Energy Of Promise
Season 1 - Episode 12
Nuclear fusion offers the promises of an unlimited, clean source of energy. But achieving fusion has proved one of the most difficult and elusive goals of the physicist. NOVA tells the story of the twists and turns and the international competition along the road toward the achievement of fusion; and details the recent breakthroughs which seem at last to have brought it within reach.
#5 - Galileo's Battle For The Heavens
Season 29 - Episode 12
In this two-hour special, NOVA celebrates the story of the father of modern science and his struggle to get Church authorities to accept the truth of his astonishing discoveries. The program is based on Dava Sobel's bestselling book, Galileo's Daughter, which reveals a new side to the famously stubborn scientist—that his closest confidante was his illegitimate daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun.
#6 - The Miracle of Life
Season 10 - Episode 5
From inside the human body and the miracle of developing life to an insects world seen from the point of view of the insect, cinematographer Lennart Nilsson shows us the world in new ways. Part I, "The Ultimate Journey", moves from fertilization to birth of the human child, with excursions into comparative embryology. "The Unknown World" explores fur beetles and book worms and viruses among others - you will not be able to look at a fur coat the same way again. And in "The Photographer's Secrets" the technical people who developed the instruments he used explain how the cinemagic is done - a kiss from the inside, an opera singer's vocal cords, a tractor as seen 'over the shoulder' of an emerging worm. Mikael Agaton (additional writer)
#7 - Where Did The Colorado Go?
Season 1 - Episode 2
NOVA explores the mighty Colorado River which today has become the life-blood of the Southwest, providing water and electricity to the farms and cities of California, Nevada, and Arizona. The program examines the political expediency and technological over-optimism that has led to some major miscalculations of the river's capacity.
#8 - Whales, Dolphins, And Men
Season 1 - Episode 3
NOVA explores the impact of whaling and the goods it produces for the industry, verses the grace and beatury of this intelligent mammal of the sea.
#9 - Design Wars!
Season 16 - Episode 13
NOVA examines the entries put forward by five architects and their teams, in a tough competition to choose a design for the new Chicago Public Library. The show gives viewers a chance to see the variation between the designs, as well as taking a closer look at the winning plan.
#10 - Can Bombing Win a War?
Season 20 - Episode 2
The Gulf War was fought in 38 days of non-stop bombing and four days of swift ground action. Did bombing win it? NOVA looks at the history of strategic bombing and asks whether bombing has now achieved preeminence in warfare.
#13 - Saved By The Sun
Season 34 - Episode 5
NOVA explores solar energy and its contribution towards getting humanity off of fossil fuels.
#14 - Surviving the Tsunami
Season 38 - Episode 12
The earthquake that hit the northern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, was recorded at magnitude 9.0 the worst ever recorded in Japan. It generated an unprecedented tsunami, obliterating coastal villages and towns in a matter of minutes. In some areas, the tsunami climbed above 100 feet in height and traveled miles inland. Amazingly, amateur and professional photographers captured it all on video, including remarkable tales of human survival, as ordinary citizens became heroes in a drama they never could have imagined. As the waves rush in, a daughter struggles to help her elderly mother ascend their rooftop to safety; a man climbs onto an overpass just as the wave overtakes his car. These never-before-seen stories are captured in video and retold after the fact by the survivors who reveal what they were thinking as they made their life-saving decisions. Their stories provide lessons for how we should all act in the face of life-threatening disasters.
#15 - Ghost In Your Genes
Season 34 - Episode 10
Experts investigate how a mysterious "second genome" helps determine our biological fates.
#16 - Bird Brain: The Mystery Of Bird Navigation
Season 1 - Episode 8
Birds migrate in search of perpetual summer, sometimes traveling as much as 20,000 miles every year. NOVA uses radar to track and identify migrating birds that travel at night, focusing on how they coose routes tat avoid bad weather and make the best of prevailing winds—information that can aid meteorologists.
#17 - Lost Tribes Of Israel
Season 27 - Episode 10
At the heart of Jewish tradition lies the haunting mystery of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Ever since their defeat and banishment by the Assyrians in 722 BC., the Lost Tribes fate has inspired countless claims to Jewish ancestry by groups scattered on every continent. But now, surprisingly, new advances in genetics are dispelling myth and fantasy, and raising a curtain on the forgotten reality of the dispersal that happened so many centuries ago. This story will follow the first attempt to use the new tests to investigate a seemingly improbable African candidate for a Lost Tribe. It will dramatize a scientific quest that leads from the gene labs of London to the remote bush country of Zimbabwe and the lunar-like desert wilderness of southern Yemen.
#18 - Three Men and a Balloon
Season 23 - Episode 13
One of the final aeronautics challenges left in the world today does not involve the use of a plane, a rocket, or even an engine. No one has yet been able to circumnavigate the earth in a balloon. Any team attempting the feat would have to fly higher than most planes ever fly and would need a passenger capsule that could both offer protection from extreme cold and carry the proper navigation and life support equipment. Depending on the powerful jet stream to propel them, crew members would have to plot their course carefully and plan their schedule to coincide with the most advantageous winds. Even landing would be a risky venture. This program follows a team of three adventurers as they attempt to make just such a journey.
#20 - Infinite Secrets
Season 30 - Episode 10
A battered manuscript turns up after 1000 years revealing the mind of the Greek genius Archimedes
#21 - Underwater Dream Machine
Season 33 - Episode 17
Follow one man's dream to engeneer a submarine with panaramic views.
#22 - Dying To Be Thin
Season 27 - Episode 20
The film examines a disturbing increase in the prevalence of debilitating and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders, particularly anorexia and bulimia.
#23 - The Schoolboys Who Cracked the Soviet Secret
Season 16 - Episode 20
The Schoolboys Who Cracked the Soviet Secret recreates the story of a British schoolteacher and his students who discovered secrets of the Soviet space program. In the 1960s, Geoffrey Perry at the Kettering Grammar School gave his students used short wave radios for a science project, but the school project had international reach when the group connected with Soviet transmissions.
#24 - The Deadliest Plane Crash
Season 33 - Episode 13
On March 27, 1977, on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, two fully loaded 747 jumbo jets collided on a fogbound runway, killing 583 people in what is still the deadliest crash in aviation history. NOVA looks back at the crucial final hours before the disaster. Despite new technology to improve runway safety, near-misses on the ground are still the leading cause of deadly aviation accidents.
#25 - The Orchid Hunter
Season 29 - Episode 15
For nine months in 2000, Tom Hart Dyke was a captive of guerrillas who seized him while he was collecting wild orchids in the Colombian rain forest. Now Hart Dyke is at it again in the most orchid-rich and one of the most politically unstable parts of Irian Jaya, the western half of the island of New Guinea.