The Best Episodes of NOVA scienceNOW

Dark Matter, Of Mice and Memory

#1 - Dark Matter, Of Mice and Memory

Season 3 - Episode 1

Dark Matter - Turns out most of the universe is held together by a mysterious, invisible substance. Of Mice and Memory - Mice placed in enriched environments can recover lost memories, giving hope to those who study Alzheimer's. Profile: Hany Farid - This self-proclaimed "accidental scientist" is a digital detective inventing new ways to tell if photos have been faked. Wisdom of the Crowds - Ask enough people to estimate something, and their combined guesses will get you surprisingly close to the right answer.

How Does the Brain Work?

#2 - How Does the Brain Work?

Season 5 - Episode 3

This episode of NOVA scienceNOW delves into some pretty heady stuff, examining magic and the brain, artificial intelligence, magnetic mind control, and the work of neuroscientist and synesthesia researcher David Eagleman. Can we really believe our own eyes? Will machines one day think like us? Can magnetic wands effectively control brain functions and treat depression? Explore this and more.

Diamond Factory, Anthrax Investigation, Auto-Tun

#3 - Diamond Factory, Anthrax Investigation, Auto-Tun

Season 4 - Episode 1

Personal DNA Testing, Art Authentication, Capturing Carbon

#4 - Personal DNA Testing, Art Authentication, Capturing Carbon

Season 3 - Episode 2

Personal DNA Testing - Genetic testing to assess risk factors for a handful of serious illnesses is now commercially available. But is it a good idea? Art Authentication - See how clever computer algorithms can distinguish a master fake from a masterpiece. Capturing Carbon - An eighth-grader's science fair project prompts her scientist father to develop a new way to pull excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Profile: Pardis Sabeti - By night she's a rocker. By day, she's a Harvard geneticist tracking the evolution of the human genome.

Can We Live Forever?

#5 - Can We Live Forever?

Season 5 - Episode 2

This provocative episode of NOVA scienceNOW examines whether we can slow down the aging process, looks at the latest on human hibernation, and checks in with bioengineers and a computer scientist inventing ways to keep us "going forever." Neil deGrasse Tyson also takes a lighthearted look at whether the tricks that have kept a 1966 Volvo running for 2.7 million miles can also help the human body go the extra mile.

Can We Make It to Mars?

#6 - Can We Make It to Mars?

Season 5 - Episode 1

Can humans survive a trip to Mars and back that could take two to three years? This episode of NOVA scienceNOW examines all of the perils of this journey, including deadly meteoroids, bone and muscle deterioration, and cosmic radiation. Host Neil deGrasse Tyson checks in with scientists who are developing new ways to keep astronauts alive on such a journey. Among the innovations covered are meteoroid-proof materials, new space foods and spacesuits, and novel modes of transport, such as plasma rockets. This episode also profiles young female scientist and daredevil Vandi Verma, part of the team that drives the Mars rovers on the martian surface.

What Makes Us Human?

#7 - What Makes Us Human?

Season 6 - Episode 1

Scientists have struggled for centuries to pinpoint the qualities that separate human beings from the millions of other animal species that have evolved on this planet. David Pogue explores the traits we once thought were uniquely ours—language, tool-making, even laughter—to uncover their evolutionary roots. He'll trace some of the crucial steps that transformed cave men to accountants, and find out if any of his own DNA came from a Neanderthal ancestor.

How Smart Can We Get?

#8 - How Smart Can We Get?

Season 6 - Episode 3

How do you get a genius brain? Is it all in your genes? Or is it hard work? Is it possible that everyone’s brain has untapped genius–just waiting for the right circumstances so it can be unleashed? From a man who can immediately name the day of the week of any date in history to a “memory athlete” who can remember strings of hundreds of random numbers, David Pogue meets people stretching the boundaries of what the human mind can do. Then, Pogue puts himself to the test: after high-resolution scanning, he finds out how the anatomy of his brain measures up against the greatest mind of the century: Albert Einstein.

Saving Hubble, First Primates

#9 - Saving Hubble, First Primates

Season 3 - Episode 3

Saving Hubble - Two teams of spacewalkers take on the risky mission of reviving the ailing Space Telescope. First Primates - Our most distant primate ancestors, which lived about 55 million years ago, were tree-dwellers the size of mice. Profile: Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa - He jumped the fence from Mexico to work as a farmhand and ended up a leading brain surgeon. Killer Microbe - A relatively benign bug becomes a highly lethal pathogen, known to U.S. soldiers as Iraqibacter.

Bird Brains, Space Storms

#10 - Bird Brains, Space Storms

Season 3 - Episode 4

Bird Brains - Clues to the origins of human language are turning up in the brains of birds. Space Storms - Behind the dazzling display of the aurora borealis are space storms that could turn the lights off here on Earth. Profile: Yoky Matsuoka - A former tennis prodigy aims to create advanced prosthetic limbs controlled by human thought. Smart Bridges - Can we engineer bridges that tell us what's wrong with them before it's too late?

Where Did We Come From?

#11 - Where Did We Come From?

Season 5 - Episode 5

In this episode of NOVA scienceNOW, journey back in time to the birth of our solar system to examine whether the key to our planet's existence might have been the explosive shockwave of an ancient supernova. Meet a chemist who has yielded a new kind of "recipe" for natural processes to assemble and create the building blocks of life. And see how the head louse, a creepy critter that's been sucking our blood for millions of years, is offering clues about our evolution. Finally, meet neuroscientist André Fenton, who is looking into erasing painful memories with an injection.

How Smart Are Animals?

#12 - How Smart Are Animals?

Season 5 - Episode 4

Would you care to match wits with a dog, an octopus, a dolphin, or a parrot? You may think twice after watching the segments in this NOVA scienceNOW episode. While we may not be ready to send pets to Harvard, the remarkable footage and findings presented here demonstrate that many animal species are much smarter than we assume and in ways we had never imagined.

Picky Eaters, Capturing Carbon, Sea Lions and Walruses

#13 - Picky Eaters, Capturing Carbon, Sea Lions and Walruses

Season 4 - Episode 4

Discover why picky eaters may have a genetic excuse, learn about a new strategy for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, see just how intelligent marine mammals can be, and meet a biomedical engineer who has figured out a way to make tiny livers in her lab.

Phoenix Mars Lander, Brain Trauma, Mammoth Mystery

#14 - Phoenix Mars Lander, Brain Trauma, Mammoth Mystery

Season 3 - Episode 6

Phoenix Mars Lander - NASA's latest robot has already found frozen water and is looking for more signs that the Red Planet could support life. Brain Trauma - Even so-called "mild" head injuries turn out to be anything but. Mammoth Mystery - A pair of mammoth skeletons is found locked together by their tusks. What happened? Profile: Judah Folkman - Once scorned for his ideas about how cancer grows, the late Judah Folkman is now hailed as a visionary.

Moon Smasher, Secrets in the Salt, Bird Brains

#15 - Moon Smasher, Secrets in the Salt, Bird Brains

Season 4 - Episode 5

Follow a NASA satellite looking for water on the moon, see what ancient salt deposits reveal about life 250 million years ago, learn how bird brains are remarkably similar to our own, and meet a climatologist who digs for clues to climate change in the world's highest glaciers.

Leeches, The Search for ET, Stem Cells Breakthrough

#16 - Leeches, The Search for ET, Stem Cells Breakthrough

Season 3 - Episode 5

Leeches - A century after falling out of favor, medicinal leeches are back in hospitals, sucking away on patients' wounds. SETI - Astronomers have their radio telescopes tuned to receive signals from alien worlds. But is anybody out there? Stem Cells Breakthrough - Three separate teams overcome a biomedical hurdle—creating stem cells without the use of human embryos. Profile: Edith Widder - Meet a marine biologist and explorer who has engineered new ways to spy on deep-sea creatures.