Updated Tue, Oct 2, 2012 4:30 pm
PBS' premier science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines. Along the way, NOVA programs demystify science and technology, and highlight the people involved in scientific pursuits.
"Secrets of the Viking Sword"
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 mystery of the Viking sword.
"Forensics on Trial"
There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of “CSI” and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab. With few established scientific standards, no central oversight and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the U.S. is in a state of crisis. NOVA investigates how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, ballistics, hair and tool marks, can send innocent men and women to prison — and sometimes even to death row. Of more than 250 inmates exonerated by DNA testing over the last decade, more than half of the wrongful convictions stemmed from invalid or improperly handled forensics. With the help of vivid recreations of actual trials and cases, NOVA investigates today’s shaky state of crime science as well as cutting-edge solutions that could help investigators put the real criminals behind bars.
"Iceman Murder Mystery"
He’s been dead for more than 5,000 years — and been poked, prodded and probed by scientists for the last 20. Yet today, Otzi the Iceman, the famous mummified corpse pulled from a glacier in the Italian Alps nearly two decades ago, continues to keep many secrets. Now, through an autopsy like none other, scientists will attempt to unravel more mysteries from this ancient mummy, revealing not only the details of Otzi’s death, but an entire way of life. How did people live during Otzi’s time, the Copper Age? What did they eat? What diseases did they cope with? The answers abound miraculously in this one man’s mummified remains. Join NOVA to defrost the ultimate time capsule, the 5,000-year-old man.