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Scientific American Frontiers

Grade Levels: 6 - 12
Core Subject(s): Science
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  • Scientific American Frontiers. 21st Century Medicine.

    Alan Alda explores the many ways in which computers are pushing the frontiers of medicine. Features include the use of virtual reality to treat phobias and assist in brain surgery; the use of human gene manipulation to help regrow blood vessels to bypass blocked or damaged arteries; Alda's operation of a robotic "surgeon" that can perform delicate surgery hundreds of miles from the doctor controlling it; and the use of computers to send messages to the legs of paraplegics to help them strengthen their unused muscles and, someday, regain the ability to walk.

    Length: 00:56:24
  • Scientific American Frontiers. A Different Way to Heal?

    Acupuncture. Herbal remedies. Magnet therapy. Do these and other alternatives to traditional Western medicine really work? Consumers and patients seem to think so: alternative and so-called complementary medicine is now a multi-billion dollar industry. There are lots of claims for the efficacy of such treatments, but very little scientific testing and evidence to support them. In this episode we'll follow research projects and clinical trials that are attempting to test these claims with scientific methods.

    Length: 00:56:56
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Affairs of the Heart

    This program examines advances in fixing broken hearts -- and at ways to prevent them from breaking. The program presents the dramatic story of a Texas toddler who underwent surgery immediately after birth due to his defective heart. Sixteen months later, the program observes an attempt to fix his heart permanently. The FRONTIERS PROFILE offers a look at the famous Framingham Heart Study, from which most of the risk factors involved in heart disease were revealed.

    Length: 00:56:33
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Alien Invasion.

    Globalization of trade and travel has brought increased threats from alien species: plants, animals, insects and diseases that wreak havoc when introduced into regions without natural defenses against them. Alda examines the cases of the gypsy moth, brown tree snake and Asian longhorn beetle.

    Length: 00:56:43
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Animal Einsteins

    If only they could talk! Humans have always wanted to find out what's going on inside the minds of animals, but how? In ANIMAL EINSTEINS, scientists show that their latest experiments are beginning to reveal how animals think. Clever pigs do what they are told; wily ravens pull the right string; smart chimps do the math; enthusiastic sea lions sort out groups; and wise monkeys can't be fooled. The startling conclusion--move over, Einstein--animals think pretty much the way humans do!

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Beneath the Sea.

    Until very recently the vast area under the world's ocean surfaces was virtually unknown and unreachable by humans. Now, with new technologies and research techniques in hand, the undersea world is starting to yield its secrets. In this program we'll see how scientists using new technologies are exploring life in the undersea world. Stories will include a profile of pioneering ocean explorer Robert Ballard.

    Length: 00:56:55
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Beyond Science?

    What's science fact and what's science fiction? Who's a crank and who's a scientific visionary? Scientific American Frontiers explores the evidence both for and against the claims made for therapeutic touch, dowsing, graphology and palm reading; and investigates the Roswell UFO crash, as well as the possibility of building free energy machines.

    Length: 00:56:48
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Bionic Body.

    This episode examines the re-engineering of the human body, including recent advances in nerve regeneration to treat spinal cord injuries. Host Alan Alda looks at artificial nerve stimulation on paralysis victims using implanted electrodes and implanting silicon chips in retinas. The program also features a moving conversation between Alda and Christopher Reeve about Reeve's advocacy of increased research in this field.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Body Building.

    Our BODY BUILDING episode is about the remarkable advances being made to repair and replace damaged human body parts. We'll tell the story behind one of 2001's biggest medical developments, when a totally self-contained artificial heart called the Abiocor was first implanted into human patients, replacing their own failing hearts and prolonging their lives. Alan visits Robert Langer's lab at MIT where progress is being made in growing tissue for body parts like livers, heart muscle, cartilage and eye retina. Also at MIT, Alan takes a look at the innovative "liver chip," a microscopic array of living liver cells that are the first step in modeling all the key functions of the body on the lab bench. We report on efforts at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and at Washington University in St. Louis to grow new nerve cells and help injured spinal cords to heal themselves. And Alan goes to the Cleveland Metrohealth Center to meet some courageous paralyzed volunteers as they test out Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) systems, a technology that bypasses the damaged spine to send electric signals directly to arm and leg muscles, allowing individuals to walk, grip objects, and to literally stand tall once more.

    Length: 00:56:53
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Calls of the Wild.

    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS eavesdrops on creatures as diverse as elephants and spiders, warblers and bees, crickets and bats. What are they saying -- and why?

    Length: 00:56:53
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Cars That Think.

    Not too far down the road, the kinds of technologies Alan learned about in "Cars That Think" will be commonplace in our vehicles. Tag along on an imaginary ride in the not-too-distant future to see what a driver's life might be like before too long. All the features mentioned in this fictitious tale really are under development or available on car lots now...

    Length: 00:26:36
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Changing Your Mind

    Alda meets two young women whose brains have remodeled themselves -- one temporarily in response to a week of being blindfolded, the other permanently after a devastating brain injury before birth. They are dramatic examples of "neuroplasticity" -- today's hot topic in brain research. Alda also joins researchers who have overthrown the conventional wisdom that adults can't grow new brain cells.

    Length: 00:56:33
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Chimps R Us.

    This episode takes a close-up look at humans' closest primate cousin, the chimpanzee. In the FRONTIERS PROFILE, Alan Alda meets groundbreaking chimp researcher Jane Goodall, who devotes her energies now to chimp conservation. Alda also visits the Center for Orangutan and Chimpanzee Conservation in Florida that works to provide long-term care for chimpanzees discarded by the entertainment industry, medical researchers and pet owners. The program also revisits Frans de Waal's classic research on social cooperation in chimps, in which he discovered the very human golden rule that chimps use to get along.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Coming into America.

    Who were the first Americans? Did they get here by land or sea? Did a single group populate the continent, or did many? Experts used to agree that the first Americans walked across the Bering land bridge from Asia about 12,000 years ago, eventually colonizing all of North and South America. But exciting recent finds at sites on both continents have triggered new theories. Alan Alda tries to find out who's saying what, and why.

    Length: 00:56:54
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Creatures of the Deep.

    This program probes the earth's most mysterious inner space and is highlighted by an oceanographic expedition to study the seas' least-known region--the vast, permanently dark depths. Alan Alda joins teams of researchers and scientists looking at this under-explored realm, including: researchers looking at shark populations in Hawaii and their relationship with humans; scientists seeking previously unknown -and bizarre--deep-sea creatures; a blind biologist who interprets the history of sea shells and their inhabitants using his sense of touch; a scientist in Naples, Italy looking at how octopi learn; and researchers who dissect a humpback whale's ear to find out exactly what frequencies they can hear.

    Length: 00:56:52
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Dead Men's Tales.

    In this program, Alda meets scientists reconstructing mysterious past events from the evidence of excavated remains. Stories in the episode include the unexplained loss of the Confederate submarine Hunley, which sank off Charleston after successfully attacking and sinking the battleship USS Housatonic; the mysterious destruction of the Jamestown colony; and discovering whether or not outlaw Wild Bill Longley actually escaped hanging.

    Length: 00:56:35
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Deep Crisis.

    It's no accident that the ocean inhabitants we humans like to eat are the ones with the most uncertain futures. We follow efforts by biologists to figure out what's going on with salmon, once abundant on both East and West coasts of North America and now in catastrophic decline; and with the ocean-ranging giant bluefin tuna, which scientists have recently succeeded in tracking on its epic journeys between Europe and America.

    Length: 00:56:54
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Don't Forget.

    Alan Alda investigates how people create memories and how as they age, memories become slippery and elusive, sometimes vanishing forever. He visits two men who live entirely in the present or the distant past, unable to recall events that happened even a few minutes ago. He also meets a volunteer in an experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and gets the latest on the search for an Alzheimer's vaccine.

    Length: 00:56:33
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Dragon Science

    This program takes Alan Alda on a fascinating journey to China, from the dry western deserts and the site of the world's most dramatic mummy find--a trove of extraordinarily well preserved and richly robed individuals who died some 4,000 years ago--to the Yangtze River Valley, to the steamy south, where scientists developed a new type of rice that will help to feed more than one-fifth of the world's people. Alda talks with the doctors, engineers and scientists balancing past and future in the face of China's rapid development. He also explores the site of the controversial Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest construction project, and takes a dip with a Yangtze river dolphin, an endangered species that may be threatened further by the dam.

    Length: 00:56:15
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Expedition Panama.

    In the rain forest of Panama, Alan Alda joins the Scientific American Frontiers crew at STRI--the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute--on Borro Colorado Island. This program is about connections and how the formation of the isthmus of Panama allowed the wildlife of North and South America to mingle for the first time in history. Because of its biodiversity, STRI has several research posts, which Alda visits. He joins a researcher to learn about the sonar communications of bats; explores new farming techniques that use the forest, rather than slashes and burns them; investigates the communication skills of bees; and learns about the geology of Panama and how the isthmus was formed. In a moment of true daring, Alda eats a soup made from a relative of the rat.

    Length: 00:56:48
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Fat and Happy?

    This program tackles America's latest epidemic: obesity. Alda visits with Dr. George Blackburn of the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to explore society's obsession with diets that promise quick and painless results. In an alarming example of the health risks of obesity, Alda visits with the Pima and Tohono O'odham Indians of Arizona who have the world's highest rate of obesity-related diabetes, and follows the efforts of advocates of a return to traditional diets in order to save their culture but also their health. The program also explores important new research on how obesity develops in children. The Frontiers Profile focuses on Dr. Roy Walford of the UCLA School of Medicine who follows a "caloric restriction" diet he developed in an attempt to live longer.

    Length: 00:56:51
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Flying Free.

    Alda speaks with Paul MacCready, who set the world of aeronautical engineering on its head in the mid-1970s when he designed and built the first successful human-powered airplane. Now a vigorous 75-year-old, MacCready continues to build flying machines inspired by the way nature has taken wing. Alda and MacCready fly a variety of planes, ranging from a flying wing almost as long as a football field to a tiny and almost undetectable spyplane. The program also examines how nature itself first solved the problem of flight, when insects evolved wings more than 300 million years ago.

    Length: 00:56:48
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Flying High.

    This program takes viewers aloft to reveal the flight secrets of birds, insects and airplanes. Sequences using unique x-ray and high-speed cinematography include an exploration of how birds fly ; the flawless test-flight of a solar-powered "eternal plane" out to break the world's winged aircraft altitude record; an investigation into the evolutionary mystery of how insects first took flight; a look at how airline pilots cope with increasingly computerized navigation equipment; and a contest between aerial robots that navigate, fly and perform tasks without human guidance.

    Length: 00:56:48
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Forever Wild?

    What exactly does it take to make wild places work the way they must? How can you manage a South African game park so the rhinos inside behave as if the land is as wild as ever? How can bison help return an Oklahoma cattle ranch to the prairie it once was? This episode includes the first important results to emerge from research being conducted inside Biosphere 2 in Arizona. Now completely reorganized as a climate research institute, with facilities like no other in the world, Biosphere explores the reactions of miniature wild ecosystems like rainforests and coral reefs to the kinds of global atmospheres that we may experience 50 or 100 years from now.

    Length: 00:56:55
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Future Car.

    Alan Alda visits the research labs and test tracks of the Big Three auto makers to find out what people will be driving in the future. Alda test-drives several hydrogen-fueled cars still in development. The search for a fast, safe, exciting and non-polluting fuel-cell car takes Alda from Germany to California to Iceland, which is attempting to become the first nation to entirely replace imported petroleum with domestically produced hydrogen.

    Length: 00:56:33
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Games Machines Play

    To many educators, nothing beats a contest to bring out the best in their science and engineering students. We follow three such contests: the grand-daddy of them all, the MIT design contest (this year featuring a challenge in which pairs of robots face off on a gyrating teeter-totter); a human powered submarine race; and the series of contests pitting teams of robot soccer players against each other to win RoboCup 2001.

    Length: 00:56:56
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Gene Hunters.

    Alda meets some of the brightest gene-hunting scientists today, including Nobelist Jim Watson, the Human Genome Project's Eric Lander and developmental geneticist Nancy Hopkins. He also examines a controversial gene therapy project that's attempting to grow new blood vessels in diseased hearts.

    Length: 00:56:46
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Going to Extremes.

    In this program, Alan Alda visits scientists whose subjects take them to the extreme. Segments include studies of what makes cheetahs the fastest land animal; how some insects are still evolving to survive the intense heat and dryness of the desert; the wood frog's ability to freeze itself solid during hibernation; and the adaptation of deep-sea creatures to endure fierce pressure and darkness. Humans are the last subject, with scientists testing methods to predict "mountain sickness," a life-threatening condition that occurs at extreme altitudes.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Growing Up Different.

    Alda meets several kids who are growing up different and the doctors and researchers who are trying to mitigate the difficulties they face. Cochlear implants restore some hearing to a profoundly deaf child, the latest augmentative communication technology gives speech to a child without it, and new insights into the fundamental nature of autism may have implications for treatment.

    Length: 00:56:53
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Hot Planet- Cold Comfort.

    So you think global warming won't affect you? Wait until the great Atlantic Conveyor shuts down. And find out what's already happening in Alaska.

    Length: 00:26:23
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Hot Times in Alaska.

    Alaska is warming up. It's now a few degrees warmer than it was a century and a half ago, and the trend seems to be accelerating. Already the landscape is changing dramatically -- permafrost is thawing, glaciers are melting, forests are succumbing to drought and insect attack. Alan Alda meets Alaskan scientists who are working to find out if these are the first signs of global warming and what the future may hold.

    Length: 00:56:36
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Hydrogen Hopes.

    Hydrogen may be the fuel of the future, but what will it take to safely and efficiently make the transition from today's fossil fuels?

    Length: 00:26:35
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Inventing the Future.

    Alan Alda spends a fascinating week at MIT's famous Media Lab, meeting the scientists there who are inventing the future. He talks to researchers working on a variety of ways to enhance human-computer interaction. With the help of a virtual dog named Silas, Alda uses a computer designed with certain behavioral characteristics--a computer that actually learns from its experiences. He meets researchers who have created computers that can gauge human actions and emotions and react accordingly. With a group of Media Lab students who call themselves "cyborgs," Alda experiences what it is like to be permanently logged in. With specially designed hats and glasses so that they can constantly monitor their screens yet see where they are going, these students wear their computers wherever they go. Finally, Alda visits the "cube," an experimental media facility, where researchers make computer instruments that may revolutionize the way people create music and music performance in general.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Journey to Mars.

    With the presence of water, Mars is the only other planet in the solar system where humans could live. This program illustrates how people could be landing on Mars within the next 20 years. Currently, NASA and private enthusiasts are testing spaceships equipped with greenhouses, exercise machines and virtual reality systems designed to support the eight-month flight to Mars.

    Length: 00:56:50
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Life's Little Questions II.

    Once again, the series discovers that the trivial often yields the profound (or at least the unexpected). Questions examined this episode include why can't people tickle themselves?, why can't scientists cure the common cold? and why are peppers hot?

    Length: 00:56:51
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Life's Really Big Questions

    Big questions don't have easy answers -- that's what makes them big -- but it's fun asking them anyway," says Alda in his introduction to this episode. Alda meets scientists tackling some of the biggest questions of the times: Is there other life in the universe? Why did animals suddenly appear on Earth when only microbes had existed for billions of years? What made humans different from other life forms that preceded them? And will robots one day surpass human intelligence?

    Length: 00:56:34
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Losing It.

    This sequel to a popular FRONTIERS episode, "Fat and Happy?," tackles the basic problem that confronts those who are overweight -- how to lose weight and keep it off over the long term. In a FRONTIERS-sponsored experiment, the cameras follow a dozen subjects for several months as they adopt different strategies for weight loss, ranging from online diet systems to gastric bypass surgery.

    Length: 00:56:56
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Make Up Your Mind.

    We discover the "you" inside your head--the part of your mind, sitting right behind your forehead, that decides what you do every waking second of the day. We reconstruct a 150-year-old accident that caused a railroad worker named Phineas Gage to lose his sense of self; see children's reasoning powers gradually come on line; and scan Alan Alda's brain as he struggles to make decisions while feeling cheated.

    Length: 00:56:23
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Mediterranean on the Rocks.

    For thousands of years the Mediterranean Sea has shaped the course of human events. But today, its priceless heritage of history and nature is at risk. This episode goes in search of killer algae that escaped from Monaco's aquarium, then meets an unlikely candidate to combat the algae: a voracious sea slug from Cape Canaveral, Florida. An ancient reed boat is reconstructed using the Mediterranean's last healthy patch of papyrus, while hi-tech subs search for shipwrecks. A look at the animals and mammals of the Mediterranean includes monk seals, whales and tuna.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Mysteries of the Deep.

    INTO THE DEEP- Scientist unlock secrets from the last frontier on Earth - the ocean's depths. The discoveries of intrepid explorer Bob Ballard change science, history and maybe our future. THE UNCIVILIZED ENGINE OF WAR- On February 17, 1864, the Confederate submarine Hunley carried out the world's first submarine attack on the Union sloop-of-war Housatonic. In 1995, after a 14-year search, a team led by author and shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler found the Hunley.

    Length: 00:56:56
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Natural Born Robots.

    Nature still trounces humans in designing machines that can live comfortably in the world around them. Taking the hint, engineers who are trying to create robots are increasingly turning to living creatures for inspiration. From a giant mechanical cockroach to robotic flying insects, from robotunas to robolobsters, viewers see how nature's ideas are leading to faster, cleverer, more robust robots--including robots modeled on the most complex animals of all--human beings.

    Length: 00:56:50
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Never Say Die.

    Is the ancient dream of eternal life becoming a reality? In the last few years, many barriers to understanding the aging process have come down. In this fast-growing field, scientists have already doubled the life span of lab animals such as nematodes and fruit flies.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Nordic Sagas.

    "Scientific American Frontiers" travels to Iceland, Sweden and Denmark to rediscover the secrets of the Viking longboats, witness the life arriving on a new volcanic island, and to track Iceland's isolated genealogy--a veritable "genetic tale" to scientists. Host Alan Alda tries out the Pictorium, a new communications technology for the disabled, and lassos a (slightly) radioactive reindeer.

    Length: 00:57:45
  • Scientific American Frontiers: On the Ball

    Increasingly science and technology are providing a crucial performance edge to athletes and officials and even enhancing the spectator's experience of the game. In Calgary, Alan visits with Joan Vickers, and finds out how her research on where athletes focus their gaze has improved the skills of basketball and tennis players, golfers -- even darts players. Alan goes to famed Fenway Park to checkout the high tech equipment -- a spin-off from research into tracking missiles -- helping baseball umpires separate balls from strikes. And Alan visits the Tennis Science Center at UC Davis to pick up some tips on his own favorite sport.

    Length: 00:56:56
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Pet Tech.

    This episode explores the convergence of high technology and the family pet. Alda meets an African Gray parrot with the cognitive abilities of a four-year-old child, and tries out high-tech games for bored parrots and lonely dogs.

    Length: 00:56:35
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Pieces of Mind.

    Aiming for insights into his own brain, Alan Alda visits scientists studying how the brain dreams, stores memories and sorts language. Weighing just a few pounds, the brain is the most complex organ in the human body and is responsible for the body's complete function. In this episode, scientists strive to discover if memories can be manipulated or falsely created, if it's possible to learn as one sleeps and how age affects one's ability to learn a language.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Prime Time Primates.

    The study of primates often yields surprising messages: the traits that make people "unique" may not be so unique after all. Filmed on a Caribbean island where the only inhabitants were monkeys and at the Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta, this episode debated whether or not chimps have "culture"; demonstrated that primates share their possessions; and considered whether crowding breeds aggression or coping. The program also examined experiments in raising newborn chimps who cannot be raised by their mothers; focused on the intelligence and sensory perception of the aye-aye, a lemur native to Madagascar; and demonstrated chimps' surprising understanding of numbers.

    Length: 00:56:38
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Robots Alive!

    In recent years, robotics have become less visible due to their increasingly small size, but have become more prominent in everyday use. The technology explored in this episode could have an even larger impact when applied toward programs ranging from assisting in space exploration to helping the disabled. Host Alan Alda examines robots with minds of their own, such as Cog, an autonomous device with the mind of a six-month-old baby who "learns" through trial and error. Alda also introduces participants at an artificial intelligence convention, where robots compete to recognize and manipulate objects.

    Length: 00:56:50
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Science in Paradise.

    Alan Alda cruises the Caribbean and discovers the top beaches for turtles. Thanks to one of the world's most successful conservation programs, there are young hawksbill turtles on the reef at St. Croix. The next jaunt takes Alda to Montserrat, an island paradise for volcanologists who are learning to predict a volcano's violent eruptions. In St. John, Alda learns of a recent breakthrough in understanding coral disease and in Trinidad, he plays the steel drums.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Science Safari.

    As South Africa emerges from the shadow of apartheid, Alan Alda visits a country of spectacular beauty and abundant wildlife. He tours a wildlife park where managers help to keep nature in balance by controlling wildlife populations and maintaining a diverse landscape; travels to a black township that relies on herbal medicines to help keep the population healthy; and visits the shop were Mr. Cele prescribes special plants for his patients and helps to preserve endangered plants by keeping a garden of his own rare trees and shrubs. Alda then travels to some remote areas of the country to learn how South Africans are controlling malaria by finding new ways to control the mosquito population. Finally, he follows the progress of an archaeological dig near Capetown where human remains have been found, possibly 300,000 years old--the precursor of modern humans.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Spiders.

    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS explores the astonishing world of spiders: colonies of thousands - males, females and young - that live together in equality in huge silken nests in the Amazonian rain forest; nine-inch-long tarantulas that sing and reveal why they are so hairy; spiders that stalk other spiders by gently shaking their webs; spiders that get turned on by videos; cyberspiders that compete to build webs in the computer; and a virtual spider that cured a dramatic case of arachnophobia.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers: SuperPeople

    SUPERPEOPLE examines the incredible feats humans can accomplish. Imagine a person holding his breath for seven-and-a-half minutes or memorizing a series of 500 random numbers. From extreme deep diving and extraordinary memory feats to prolonged space travel, people are pushing themselves to the limits of human performance. In this episode, Alda visits with former NASA/Mir astronaut and record-setting space traveler Jerry Linenger, goes head-to-head with competitors in a national memory contest and meets a group of champion deep divers who will leave viewers breathless.

    Length: 00:56:33
  • Scientific American Frontiers. The Art of Science.

    Science and technology help bring back the art of the past and create new means of expression for the future. Highlighted in this program are a robot that paints original and striking pictures; the beautiful (and once thought to be deadly) sounds of Benjamin Franklin's glass harmonica; the restoration of one of America's most heroic monuments; and the creation of an all-digital Alan Alda.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. The Dark Side of the Universe.

    Alan Alda joins some of the world's leading astronomers as they wrestle with the startling implications of their latest discoveries: that everything we can see, from the world around us to the most distant galaxies, is only a tiny fraction of the entire cosmos. Most of what's out there is dark -- either dark matter or dark energy. And our universe is perhaps only one in an infinity of universes.

    Length: 00:56:34
  • Scientific American Frontiers. The Frontiers Decade.

    As SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS marks its 10th anniversary, Alda looks back over the years at some of his most memorable, hilarious, scary and significant experiences as host. Some of the highlights include 18-foot sharks, errant robots, radioactive reindeer and bowls of rat soup.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers. The Intimate Machine.

    We call them personal computers, but our interactions with them are utterly impersonal, via a keyboard and mouse. Alan Alda gets to communicate with computers that know who he is, where he is, what he's doing and even how he's feeling. The ultimate such computer--actually a cute and cuddly robot--is being developed in a unique collaboration between Hollywood and MIT.

    Length: 00:56:22
  • Scientific American Frontiers. The New Zoos.

    Alan Alda, who has been skeptical of zoos all his life, discovers that they are now working both to improve the lives of their captive inhabitants and to help restore wild populations. In San Diego, Alda visits polar bears and pandas that live in an environment designed with "enriching" simulations. He takes part in tuna tagging at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and assists in the ER at the New England Aquarium when a puffer fish has a bladder stone removed.

    Length: 00:56:50
  • Scientific American Frontiers. The Wild West.

    In this program, Alan Alda explores some myths and realities of the American West. He examines the use of technology to track rattlesnakes and scorpions; a high-tech prospector's efforts to locate a large diamond deposit in the Canadian Northwest; the work of archaeologists and a dentist to identify Custer's last troopers; a rodeo cowgirl's use of a computer to help improve her roping technique; and environmental manipulation within Biosphere 2.

    Length: 00:56:39
  • Scientific American Frontiers. The Wonder Pill.

    The placebo effect -- for years sneered at as a distraction from "real" medical treatment -- now turns out to be a true phenomenon and a potential addition to modern medicine.

    Length: 00:56:57
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Unearthing Secret America.

    The great arc of early American history is brought to life through three tremendous archeological finds. The Jamestown fort reveals the struggles of the colonists; slave quarters at Monticello and Williamsburg introduce us to a secret world for the first time.

    Length: 00:56:57
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Voyage to the Galapagos.

    Alan Alda follows in Charles Darwin's footsteps to meet face-to-face the animals and birds that inspired Darwin's theory of evolution. He joins scientists who still witness with extraordinary intimacy the daily struggle for survival that has shaped the islands' unique wildlife. And as he experiences the enchantment of the Galapagos islands, he learns of efforts to protect them from alien invaders -including the 60,000 ecotourists who visit every year.

    Length: 00:56:49
  • Scientific American Frontiers: Wild Places

    This episode provides an alarming look at extinction, emphasizing the new realization that saving wildlife means preserving or restoring habitat -- sometimes large areas of it. Alda travels the world examining innovative conservation efforts.

    Length: 00:56:50
  • Scientific American Frontiers. Worried Sick.

    Stress is the curse of modern living -- but is it actually so new? Does it only affect people? Can you really get sick from stress? Can relaxation make you better?

    Length: 00:56:54
  • Scientific American Frontiers. You Can Make it on Your Own.

    As digital technology gets smaller and less expensive, it is empowering people in unprecedented ways -- from villagers in rural India who use computers to monitor the quality of their food and water to children who use PCs to write and play music.

    Length: 00:56:56



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