‘NOVA: Human Nature’ Succeeds In Its Gene Editing, Bioethics Discussions

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Technology can be a very good thing.  It can also be very bad.  It all depends on who uses it and how.  That is the central discussion of the recently debuted episode of PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA, Human Nature.  The episode, which debuted in September, was released Dec. 1 on DVD.  The 90-minute documentary is a presentation that is certain to engage and entertain viewers from start to end.  That is due in no small part to the program’s central discussion topic.  This will be discussed shortly.  The way in which the program is presented adds to the program’s appeal even more and will be discussed a little later.  Considering these aspects collectively, they make the DVD’s average price point a positive in its own right.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this DVD.  All things considered, they make the DVD’s a presentation overall that many audiences will find a must in their personal documentary libraries.

NOVA: Human Nature is a powerful new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series that stands as one of the best of the series’ episodes this year.  That is proven in part through its central discussion topic.  The topic in question is that of the use of what is known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or “CRISPR” for short.  As is revealed through the discussion, “CRISPR” as something genetic has been happening for eons.  If what is discussed is understood correctly, it has played a big part in the evolution of many if not most biological creatures.  It has helped protect biological beings safe from viruses, allowing them to survive.  From there, the discussion turns to the use of “CRISPR” as a technological tool for humans.  Some of America’s top scientific minds discuss the possibility of using “CRISPR” to potentially eliminate diseases, such as cancer and sickle cell anemia, and to even alter genes of embryos so that couples can have potentially disease-free babies.  The topics of whether even doing that is ethical and the long term impact – whether humans would even remain disease free throughout life – branch out from the central theme along the way.  No bias is shown one way or the other, as supporters are interviewed along with opponents to the use of “CRISPR.”  One of the noted scientists who comes across as a supporter of “CRISPR” points out that despite popular belief, scientists are not looking to use “CRISPR” to bring back dinosaurs and wooly mammoths.  Another points out that at this point, the military is not working to use
”CRISPR” to make “super soldiers” and other military technology.  Yet another even points out that “CRISPR” is in fact being used to potentially create plants that are able to adapt to the world’s changing climate conditions.  To its defense, this aspect of “CRISPR’s” potential positives is rather interesting.  Humans need agriculture in order to produce food, and with climate change’s impact on the planet (and the human impact on the naturally occurring process) so clear, creating plants that are adaptable (or resistant to) the impacts of climate change could proof beneficial for humans.  As one of the interviewed scientists points out in the program’s end (not to give away too much), hopefully the day won’t come anytime soon that humans would decide to use this clearly divisive tool that is “CRISPR” for anything bad.  Regardless of which side one takes on the ongoing discussion over the use of “CRISPR” it is clear in watching this episode of NOVA that the discussions likely will not end anytime soon.  That is not a bad thing, either, considering all of the issues raised through the program.  To that end, the central topic featured in this in-depth documentary creates a solid foundation for the program.  It is just one of the aspects that makes NOVA: Human Nature a success.  The way in which the program is presented adds to its appeal.

A lot of ground is covered over the course of NOVA: Human Nature’s 90-minute run.  It is all presented in one continuous program, too.  Keeping that in mind, the manner in which the episode is presented is key in its own right in order to keep viewers watching.  In order to keep viewers engaged, those behind the episode divided the episode into “chapters.”  The “chapters” are clearly pointed out on screen as the documentary progresses.  This leaves no doubt that the overall discussion is changing direction.  What’s more, the transitions between chapters are solid in their own right.  There is just enough space between the “chapters” to let viewers know that the program’s discussion is changing.  That and the visual presentation of each “chapter’s” title collectively makes for a wonderful presentation for the episode.  It breaks things up just enough to keep viewers from getting bored with the topic and its discussion.  That and the central topic collectively make NOVA: Human Nature even more successful, especially in the way it plays into the program’s pacing.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is one more aspect of the episode to discuss, the program’s average price point.

The average price point for NOVA: Human Nature is $21.52.  That price is reached by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and PBS’ online store.  At the time of this review’s posting, the DVD was not listed through Target or Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Best Buy offer the least expensive of the noted retailers, at $17.99.  PBS’ listing once again is the most expensive at $24.99 while Walmart’s listing of $24.13 is just below PBS’ price.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ listing of $22.49 also exceeds the average price point.  So in the bigger picture of the DVD’s price, its average price point barely tops the $20 mark along with the majority of its single listings.  Two of the noted listings are well below that mark.  Now given the breadth and depth of the content featured in the DVD and its pacing (which works so well because of the episode’s construction) those less expensive listings prove to be money well spent.  They are prices that will not break any viewer’s budget.  The same can be said of the more expensive listings, even being that they exceed the DVD’s average price point.  Regardless of which retailer one chooses, at least some of the money spent on this fully engaging program will go back to PBS.  So it is a win for everyone.  Audiences get a documentary that they are sure to watch time and again, and PBS receives financial support that allows it to continue providing such top notch programming.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Human Nature proves itself to be a presentation that is one of this year’s best new documentaries.

NOVA: Human Nature is a powerful addition to the series.  Now that it is available on DVD, it is a presentation that so many audiences will want to watch time and again.  That is proven in part through its central discussion topic, that of the use of “CRISPR” and the ethics related to its use.  The unbiased discussions are sure to keep viewers engaged and entertained in their own right.  The episode’s construction works directly with the overall discussion to keep viewers engaged and entertained, too.  It keeps the whole from becoming monotonous.  That is especially important considering the amount of content covered in the discussions and the program’s overall 90-minute run time.  Keeping in mind the content featured in this episode and its delivery, the DVD’s average price point proves to be money well-spent, as audiences will, again, find themselves watching it more than once.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the episode a welcome addition to most audiences’ home libraries and one of the year’s top new documentaries.  NOVA: Human Nature is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

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‘NOVA: Secret Mind Of Slime’ Is An Intriguing Study On Evolutionary Science

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Defining intelligence is not an easy task.  The common belief among scientists and people in general is that in order for a being to have “intelligence” it has to have a brain, central nervous system, etc.  But what if that criteria might not necessarily be accurate?  That is the discussion at the base of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime.  The hour-long NOVA episode was released on DVD Dec. 8.  This recently premiered episode is a presentation that will appeal just as much to those with any interest in the biological sciences as evolutionary sciences.  Its foundation is formed through its main feature, which will be discussed shortly.  Considering how much is discussed in this episode in terms of theory and science, the program’s pacing turns out to be stable throughout.  This aspect will be discussed a little later.  The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime proves to be its own positive for this presentation, considering the episode’s content and pacing.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime a presentation that should be anything but a secret.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s recently released DVD presentation of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining program that will appeal to students and lovers of the biological sciences just as much as those of the evolutionary sciences.  That is proven in part through the program’s main feature.  The feature in question examines how a slime mold called Physarum polycephalumdoes what it does.  Audiences will be amazed as they watch the literally brainless organism find its way through mazes, make its way across salt bridges, and even “deciding” which sources of nutrients it “prefers.”  Again, this is all done without a brain.  What is ultimately discovered is that what is going on is that the slime mold is using what is known as bioelectricity and even a form of adaptation in order to accomplish everything.  Bioelectricity is exactly what it sounds like.  They are electric currents produced within living organisms that regulate organisms’ behaviors.  The revelation is made through examinations of how plants react to their surroundings, which is itself also documented in this episode.  Observing this ability of organisms that lack nervous systems or even brains to “make decisions” and react “intelligently” to given situations will leave many viewers’ minds blown.  As is noted in the narration, it is collectively an example of the earliest form of sentience in Earth’s biological organisms.  It is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences in itself.

While the content featured in NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime goes a long way toward making the program appealing, it is just one aspect of the episode that audiences will appreciate.  The program’s pacing adds its own touch to the show’s interest.  As noted, a lot of ground is covered in this hour-long program.  There is the examination of the slime mold’s ability to navigate mazes and to adapt to different situations (E.g. changing so as to deal with salt as it makes its way to a “food source” and even its ability to connect with other slime molds from other parts of the world in order to survive).  There is also the examination of how plants spread out their roots in much the same way that the Physarum polycephalum spreads out its “veins” as well as that of how ants use pheromone trails in equally similar fashion to find food sources.  Again, this is a lot of information.  Considering how much ground is covered through all of this, it would have been easy for the program to get bogged down in itself.  Thankfully, those behind the episode’s creation and assembly did not let that happen.  From start to end, the discussions ensure viewers’ engagement and entertainment, presenting topics rarely if ever considered by audiences.  The discussions remain mostly in layman’s terms, ensuring even more that noted engagement and entertainment.  That presentation style plays a big role in the program’s pacing if not the episode’s biggest role.  Between that aspect and the ability of the topics to move so fluidly from one to the next, audiences will never feel lost within the program or even bogged down.  The result is that that the program moves easily from one point to the next, never losing viewers along the way.  Keeping this in mind with the very content in the program’s main feature, the two elements collectively show even more why the documentary is such an appealing new presentation from PBS and PBS Distribution.  It also plays its own collective importance in considering the DVD’s average price point.

The average price point of NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime barely tops the $20 mark.  This is determined by averaging prices listed through PBS’ online store, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Walmart presents the least expensive listing, at $16.61 while Amazon and Best Buy are the mid-point price, at $17.99.  PBS’ listing of $24.99 is actually the most expensive while Barnes & Noble Booksellers is just a step below that at $22.49.   Looking at these listings, viewers have at least three retailers from which to choose that are below the noted average price point.  The noted listings will not break audiences’ bank accounts.  The more expensive listings will not hurt viewers’ checkbooks either, even being a bit more pricey.  Regardless of which outlet consumers choose, audiences will still get their money’s worth while also bringing in more money for PBS, the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.  When this is considered along with the pacing of this program and the content presented in its main feature, the whole of the program proves itself well worth the watch among students and lovers of the biological and evolutionary sciences.  NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

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Corinth Films Resurrecting Einstein Documentary

Courtesy: Corinth Films

Independent movie studio Corinth Films is set to release a vintage documentary about legendary physicist Albert Einstein next month.

Einsteins Universe is scheduled for release Aug. 25 on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and digital.  It marks the first time that the vintage documentary, based on author Nigel Caulder’s biography by the same name, has received a home release on any platform.

It originally premiered on television on March 14, 1979 in celebration of what would have been Einstein’s 100th birthday.  The broadcast was made possible through a partnership between the BBC and WGBH (America’s leading public television network).

Peter Ustinov — SpartacusLogan‘s RunDeath on the Nile — narrated the original broadcast.  As part of the documentary, Ustinov visited the University of Texas-Austin McDonald Observatory in his quest to learn about Einstein and the significance of his work.  He learns about topics, such as Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the “Doppler Effect,” and how the universe was formed.

The documentary’s run time is 118 minutes.  A trailer for the documentary is streaming here.

More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available at:

 

Websitehttp://www.corinthfilms.com

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Animal Lovers, Biologists Everywhere Will Enjoy ‘NOVA: Cat And Dog Tales’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Almost 30 years ago this year, the timeless animated series Garfield & Friends presented one of its most notable shorts, “For Cats Only.”  The episode is a hilarious telling of the history of cats (and to a point dogs) on Earth.  It is a laugh riot story that while largely fictitious, apparently had some truths, according to PBS’ recently aired NOVA episode Cat and Dog Tales.  Released to DVD in May, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is its own telling of the history of dogs and cats.  That story, complete with revelations about some other items – also addressed in the noted Garfield & Friends short – makes for its own reason to watch this episode of NOVA.  It will be addressed shortly.  The program’s general presentation adds to the DVD’s presentation.  It will be discussed a little later.  The DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.  All things considered, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales a presentation that will appeal to any feline fanatic and canine companion.

NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a presentation that pet parents and pals alike will enjoy.  That is proven in part through its central story.  The story in question tells the history of cats and dogs and how they came to become humans’ beloved companions.  Now unlike in the noted Garfield & Friends short, audiences learn here that cats did not come from another planet, but in fact from Europe and Asia while dogs descended from wolves that had existed around the world for thousands of years.  At the same time though, that noted short apparently proves right about cats being domesticated according to his real life documentary.  The documentary points out that humans did not domesticate cats, but that in fact they domesticated themselves.  The same can be said of dogs, according to this program.  It points out in its central story, that dogs (like cats) domesticated themselves over time.  How each species’ domestication happened is interesting to learn in its own right.  Another item addressed in the overall story is that of whether cats and dogs actually love us or if they love the food that we provide.  Not to give away too much, but owners of cats and dogs alike should find no surprise in either revelation here.  All things considered, the overall story of feline and canine history is certain to keep audiences wholly engaged and entertained throughout each segment of the two-part program.

As noted, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a two-part program.  This is important to note as it plays directly into the episode’s general presentation.  Rather than bundling everything together into a single, nonstop, two-hour presentation, audiences can watch each “story” in itself.  As a result, audiences won’t have to worry about feeling mentally spent.  They will then have an easier time remembering everything presented in each story.  This is something that audiences are sure to appreciate.  To that end, those responsible for making the decision to separate the segments are to be commended for that decision.  It proves to be just as positive as the program’s overall, in-depth story to the DVD’s overall presentation.  Together with the noted content, this element gives viewers even more to appreciate in the DVD’s overall presentation.  It is just one more aspect that audiences will appreciate about the DVD.  Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The average price point of NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is $19.32.  That price is obtained by averaging price listings through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  That is a price point that will not break anyone’s budget.  The same can be said of most of the separate listings.  While PBS’ listing, and that of Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ listings exceed that average, they are not by much.  Meanwhile, the listing of $24.99 at Books-a-Million once more far exceeds the average.  Amazon, Walmart and Target each have the lowest price listing at $16.99 while Best Buy’s listing of $17.99 also comes in below that average.  It is not the least expensive listing, but is still less expensive than the average, proving once again that for the most part, the price for this DVD is not prohibitive for any viewer(s).  Considering all that the DVD offers in terms of its content and how said content is presented, it makes the DVD even more affordable and worth the price – save of course for that one noted listing.  Even with the listing at Books-A-Million noted, audiences should keep in mind that regardless of the retailer from which they buy the DVD, at least a portion of the price paid will go to benefit PBS.  That is always important to note considering how little funding PBS gets from the federal government.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales proves itself to be a DVD that pet parents and pals alike will appreciate.

NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales is a presentation that animal lovers everywhere will enjoy.  That is due in part to its central story, which presents the history of cats and dogs and much more.  The manner in which the overall story is presented adds to the appeal of the DVD’s presentation.  Considering all that the noted items show in themselves and collectively, audiences will agree that the DVD’s average price point is money worth spending.  Each item noted here is important in its own way.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Cat and Dog Tales a presentation that any animal lover will enjoy.  It is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http:///philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘NOVA: Look Who’s Driving’ Will “Drive” Plenty Of Discussion Among Audiences

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Just because we can, should we?  That is the basis of Look Who’s Driving, another new episode from PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA.  Having originally premiered on PBS last year, the episode was released on DVD in January.  The hour-long episode is an insightful look at the evolving technology of driverless vehicles and the divide that it has created among proponents and opponents.  That story and how the topic is examined serve as the foundation for this episode of NOVA and will be addressed shortly.  The program’s pacing plays its own part in its presentation, and will be addressed a little later.  Keeping all of this in mind, the DVD’s average price point proves just as much a positive as the DVD’s other noted items.  It will also be discussed later.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Look Who’s Driving a presentation that paints a thorough picture of the future of transportation on America’s roads.

NOVA: Look Who’s Driving is a thorough and rich examination of the possible future of transportation on America’s roads as it relates to automated vehicles.  The story featured within this documentary opens with the story of a bicyclist who was killed when an automated car hit the cyclist, who was walking with her bicycle across the road while the car’s driver was busy looking at her cell phone.  From that point on, the discussion begins on the growing presence of automated vehicles on the nation’s roads and the issue of responsibility that drivers have as they ride in the vehicles.  Audiences will be interested to see just how many companies are working to this day, to create fully autonomous vehicles.  Additionally, brief comments are made through the story about not only safety concerns, but also concerns about the potential economic and ecological impacts of increasing numbers of automated vehicles on the planet.  Again, these notes are brief, so they make for a good starting point on deeper discussions on said topics, but the bigger discussion featured in the story is whether there is a place or even a need for autonomous vehicles.  Officials with many of the companies that are working to create said vehicles are interviewed throughout the course of the program.  While they allege that autonomous vehicles will make the nation’s (and world’s) roads safer and driving easier, none of those noted officials ever actually provide any solid proof to support their allegations.  Officials with two companies – Uber and Tessla – declined to take part in the investigatory program, as is noted in the documentary.  Ironically, those companies are the ones whose vehicles were shown to have been involved in at least a handful of fatal wrecks that involved automated vehicles.  The opponents to self-driving vehicles are also interviewed, so there is no bias featured in this documentary.  Their comments and the hard evidence shown throughout the program showing all of the complications that companies face in trying to make automated vehicles a full reality prevents anyone from trying to claim bias one way or the other here.  Keeping all of this in mind, the program’s central story in itself more than ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  It is just one part of what makes the program such an interesting presentation.  The program’s pacing adds to the episode’s strength.

The pacing of NOVA: Look Who’s Driving is important to note in its own right, as it is a counterpoint of sorts to the extensive discussion that takes place throughout the course of this episode of NOVA.  There is a lot of data presented throughout the episode that explains all of the concerns related to the matter of self-driving cars.  From the stories of people connected to the noted fatal, incidents to the clearly pointed concerns about cars not being fully intelligent – this in itself can lead to discussions on concerns about computers going from being AI to sentient, especially with the concept of “training” computers that run said vehicles – to the economic and ecological concerns, a lot of ground is covered here.  Add in the arguments made by the proponents of self-driving vehicles and even more ground is covered, even without any real substantive evidence supporting their allegations.  Considering all that is presented on both sides of the overall discussion, there is so much to follow.  Luckily, those behind the episode’s editing and general writing served to keep its pacing solid from start to end.  The result is a program that flows cleanly from one discussion point to another throughout the episode, and in turn ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment that much more.  Keeping all of this in mind, the pacing works with the episode’s story and proves without doubt, the program’s overall success.  While the episode’s overall content leaves zero doubt as to its success, said content is not all that will appeal to audiences.  The DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The DVD’s average price point is right at $19.  That price is obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million and PBS’ online store.  While some of the listings — $14.98 at Amazon and Target; $17.55 at Walmart; $17.99 at Best Buy – are below the noted average price, others — $19.99 at PBS’ store; $22.74 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and $24.99 at Books-a-Million – exceed that point.  Considering that PBS’ listing is just barely over the average price point, it is still relatively affordable, meaning once more, the listings at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million are once again the most expensive.  The other listings are all prices that audiences will not mind paying, considering again that noted average price point.  They are price listings that will not break any viewer’s budget.  What’s more, considering the fact that the overall program will remain timely for the foreseeable future, this means that it is a DVD that audiences will not find themselves selling away or even donating.  Keeping that in mind, this price point once again proves without doubt why, coupled with the program’s content, the DVD is well worth the purchase and the watch.  It will certainly “drive” plenty of people to start their own discussions on the topic, leading it to be one more of this year’s top new documentaries.

NOVA: Look Who’s Driving is a presentation that is well worth viewing.  It covers a very hot button issue without all of the typical talking head figures.  Yes, the proponents are there from the companies that are working to create autonomous vehicles, and so are their opponents.  It’s not one of those typical news style talking head programs.  Rather, it is a full-on investigative piece whose overall story will keep viewers watching through that presentation style.  The program’s pacing adds even more reason for audiences to watch.  The DVD’s relatively affordable price point rounds out its most important elements.  It is a point that will not break audiences’ budgets.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Look Who’s Driving one more of this year’s top new documentaries.  It is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http:///philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Distribution To Release Fujita Documentary on DVD This Month

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/WGBH

PBS is presenting a biography of the man who created the Fujita measurement scale in a new episode of its hit biography series American Experience.

American ExperienceMrTornado is scheduled for release July 21.  The hour-long documentary features the story of Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita, the man who developed the system that measures the strength of tornadoes.

The story starts in the Super Outbreak of 1974, which was the most extensive tornado outbreak in American history.  It spread a path of destruction across 13 states, generating 148 tornadoes from Alabama to Ontario, Canada.  More than 300 people died as a result of the storm outbreak, and thousands were left homeless.

Fujita spent months examining the result of the outbreak, using an aerial study, and mapped the path of destruction in the process.  His extensive study led to the discovery of microbursts — winds strong enough to knock planes out of the air — and to advance warning systems that have since saved thousands of lives as well as the Fujita scale, which is used to measure the intensity of tornadoes.

American ExperienceMrTornado will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 through PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanExperiencePBS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Forget Dinosaurs, ‘NOVA: Rise Of The Mammals’ Tells A Much Needed Post Dino Pre-History Story

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Everybody loves dinosaurs, right?  Okay, well if not everybody then lots of people.  From movies to television, people of all ages love dinosaurs.  The reason for that popularity is anyone’s guess.  They are so popular that Discovery Channel is even launching a new paleontology –based reality TV series Friday titled Dino Hunters. For all of the popularity of dinosaurs, it seems that few if any movie and television companies have ever actually focused on what happened after the age of dinosaurs.  That is until recently.  Late last year, PBS became one of the rare companies to examine the aftermath of the extinction of dinosaurs in a new episode of its hit science-based series NOVA titled Rise of the Mammals.  The episode was subsequently released on DVD in January.  The program is an interesting starting point on the discussion of what happened after dinosaurs died off.  It serves as the primary element to examine in this episode and will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured with the episode.  It will be discussed a little later.  Considering the overall content featured in this DVD, its average price point is a cost that audiences will find acceptable to pay.  This will also be addressed later.  All three items noted here are key in their own way to the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Rise of the Mammals a presentation that while brief, is a welcome continuation of the story of the dinosaurs’ extinction.

NOVA: Rise of the Mammals is an engaging new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series that audiences of all ages will *ahem* dig.  Yes, that terrible pun was intended.  The program’s success is due in part to the episode’s central story.  The story in question is that of the effort by paleontologists to find out what happened after the extinction of the dinosaurs.  The story centers on one young paleontologist in particular who started his career before he was even an adult.  It tells of his efforts to do what few have ever done, find proof of the time when dinosaurs went extinct and of the flora and fauna that survived.  Audiences will be interested to learn of how difficult that task was until a chance discovery was made at a museum.  That underlying story will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  From there, the story, ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment as the young paleontologist goes on his quest to find said evidence.  It goes without saying that he makes the hoped for discoveries, which has gone on to lead to other important scientific knowledge about what happened as Earth finally started recovering from its literal and figurative darkest time.  The story may not have the bombast of its Hollywood counterparts, but is still just as engaging and entertaining as those movies and TV shows.  To that end, it gives audiences more than enough reason to watch this episode.  The story is just one of the elements that makes NOVA: Rise of the Mammals such a worthwhile watch.  The bonus content that accompanies the story adds more interest to the program’s presentation.

The bonus content that is featured with the home release of NOVA: Rise of the Mammals is noteworthy because it isolates specific aspects of the program that can be used as educational points for perhaps high school and college level courses.  The high school level discussions are noted because as the episode shows, there are students within that age range who are interested in paleontology.  One of the three topics addressed in the bonus content is that of concretions.  Audiences learn through the isolated segment, which is also featured in the program’s story, what concretions are and how they are formed.  Viewers learn that they are made in a manner similar to that of general fossils, just with some variation.  The even more brief discussion on finding flora in the concretions adds its own tiny touch to the presentation while also serving as another starting point for another discussion makes for its own share of interest.  The examination of the work done on the bluff where the extinction line was discovered is worth its own note, too.  All things considered, the noted bonus content is not necessarily unique from its source material, since it is all included in the story itself, but having specific topics isolated for more direct discussion points in classrooms is noteworthy in its own right.  Together with the DVD’s central story, the overall content gives audiences plenty of reason to watch.  Keeping all of this in mind, the DVD’s average price point proves to be its own positive.

The average price point of NOVA: Rise of the Mammals is $18.69.  That price os obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million and PBS’ online store.  Once again, audiences get a DVD here from PBS that stays below the $20 mark.  In other words, audiences will not break their budget in purchasing the DVD for the most part.  Unlike other previously released NOVA DVDs, there are fewer listings that exceed that average.  The lowest price — $15.29 – comes from Amazon and Target.  Walmart, for once, does not have the lowest price, listing the DVD at $17.27.  Even despite this, the store’s listing is still below the average, so that is notable in its own right.  Best Buy’s listing of $17.99 is just below the noted average price while Barnes & Noble Booksellers and PBS’ listing of $19.99 are just over said price.  Books-a-Million once again far exceeds the average price at $24.99.  Simply put, for the most part, audiences can purchase this DVD at a relatively affordable price, save for that one listing at Books-A-Million, that will not break budgets.  Any copies not directly sold by PBS, but through other retailers, will still see a portion of said sales go to PBS.  To that end, audiences will still be supporting PBS no matter what they do.  That is the most important aspect to note.  Keeping the DVD’s relative affordability in mind along with the presentation’s content, each element does its own part to make the DVD appealing.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Rise of the Mammals another interesting addition to PBS’ ongoing “Rise of…” series of NOVA episodes.

PBS’ latest addition to its ongoing “Rise of…” NOVA episodes (the series includes titles, such as Rise of the Rockets, Rise of the Drones and Rise of the Robots) is another engaging addition to said series of episodes.  That is proven in part through the episode’s central story, which finds its main figure on a journey to find out what happened following the extinction of the dinosaurs, rather than just doing what everybody else does, looking for dino skeletons.  The bonus content featured with the story adds its own interest because of its ability to serve as starting points for so many classroom discussions on the noted topics.  The overall content featured in the DVD makes the DVD’s average price point notable in its own right.  The price in question once again stays below the $20 mark, meaning it will not break any viewer’s budget.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Rise of the Mammals another enjoyable addition to NOVA’s “Rise of…” episodes and another equally engaging episode of NOVA.  It is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

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‘NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse’ Is A Good Companion Piece To ‘NOVA: Operation Bridge Rescue’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Early last year, PBS Distribution presented an episode of NOVA titled Operation Bridge Rescue in which the story was told of a group’s efforts to rebuild the Blenheim covered bridge in New York State after it was destroyed by a hurricane in 2011.  The story also focused on efforts in China to protect existing ancient covered bridges from the elements.  That dual presentation is a story that while maybe not the stuff of blockbusters, is still an engaging and entertaining work.  More than a year after that episode of NOVA was released to DVD, PBS Distribution has released a companion piece of sorts to that episode with the recently released episode Why Bridges Collapse.  This episode of NOVA continues the theme of preserving bridges that was featured in the aforementioned episode Operation Bridge Rescue, and builds on that theme by taking the story in a new direction.  This will be addressed shortly.  The episode’s secondary story, which addresses the concerns about the nation’s aging infrastructure, is another important element to address.  It will be discussed a little later.  When these two elements are considered together, they make the DVD’s average price point such that audiences will not mind paying said cost.  Each item noted here is important in the overall presentation of NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse its own engaging presentation and an equally interesting companion piece to Operation Bridge Rescue.

PBS’ recently released NOVA episode Why Bridges Collapse is an engaging new look at America’s aging infrastructure.  Specifically, it is an engaging new chapter in the look at the matter of the world’s aging bridges.  This topic was already addressed last year in another episode of NOVA, Operation Bridge Rescue.  This episode essentially picks up where that aforementioned prior episode left off.  It left off with the happy ending of the reconstruction of the Blenheim Covered Bridge, which was destroyed by mother nature in 2011.  This episode continues the discussion by turning the attention to bridge collapses that happened not because of mother nature, but because of age.  One of the bridges in question – the Morandi Bridge, located in Genoa, Italy – serves as the basis for the discussion.  The episode follows authorities’ efforts to find out why the bridge collapsed in 2017, claiming more than 40 lives in the process.  Along the way, audiences are also reminded of the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35 West bridge in Minneapolis, MN that happened in 2007 and the equally tragic collapse of the Silver River Bridge in1967 in Point Pleasant, WV.  No, there is no mention of the alleged Mothman here.  Rather, that story finds that an aged portion of the bridge is what led to the collapse.  In the same vein, it is also found that aging (and improper construction) is what led to the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis.  These revelations eventually lead to the same finding in the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy.  As it turns, out, poor construction of that bridge led to corrosion over the decades since its completion.  That corrosion eventually led the noted supports to break, and to the bridge’s collapse.  In the same manner, improper construction of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis led to the corrosion and weakening of that structure to happen at an increased rate than otherwise would have.  Corrosion was also found to be an issue in the Silver River bridge collapse.  Simply put, aging of the bridges, and lack of proper attention to the structures is what ultimately led to the tragedies.  This brings things full circle back to Operation Bridge Rescue.  It has to be assumed that those who rebuilt the Blenheim Covered Bridge took that issue into consideration in their construction efforts.  This discussion in itself more than makes this episode of NOVA engaging.  When it is tied into the episode’s secondary topic, that of the need to address the nation’s (and world’s) aging infrastructure, it makes the episode even more interesting.

The matter of addressing America’s (and the world’s) aging infrastructure is noted in this episode, but is limited to a minimum.  Even with that limitation, it is still there.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle have talked for ages about the need to address America’s infrastructure (including bridges), but sadly for all the talk, no action has resulted.  Bridges are economic lifelines for nations around the world.  They ensure that people and goods can get to where they need to go every day, but unless governments at every level actually address the concerns surrounding bridges, these tragedies are likely to continue happening.   So while the comment made here about making sure bridges are cared for is brief, it is an important portion of the program in its own right.  It is a starting point in much-needed discussions on getting our nation’s infrastructure updated.  Hopefully those discussions will lead to actual action regardless of which side of the aisle that action comes from.  Keeping this aspect of the program in mind, it works alongside the program’s overall story to make the episode that much more engaging.  Keeping all of that in mind, the episode’s primary and secondary content makes the documentary well worth the watch.  They also make the DVD’s average price point positive.

The average price point of NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse is $19.44.  That price  was obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million and PBS’ online store.  The lowest list price among the listings was $16.79 (Amazon, Walmart, and Target).  The price went up from there, coming in at $17.99 at Best Buy, $19.99 at PBS’ online store, $22.74 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and $24.99 at Books-A-Million.  While Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million once again break the average price point for a PBS DVD, PBS’ own price is just barely over that point, making it a worthy choice for consumers.  What’s more, save for the two noted higher-priced listings, most of the listings don’t break the $20 mark.  That means that once again, save for the two noted outlets’ listings, audiences will not break the bank when they purchase the DVD.  What’s more, the money spent on the DVD will go back to PBS, if only a portion when purchased through retailers other than PBS.  Keeping this in mind along with the impact and value of the DVD’s content, all three items come together to make this latest addition to PBS’ bridge-centered NOVA episodes another positive presentation both by itself and in conjunction with its companion program, Operation Bridge Rescue.

NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse is a positive new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series that will appeal to anyone having anything to do with the world of engineering and to audiences in general.  That is proven in part through the program’s primary content, which tells the story of how construction and age is what leads to so many of America’s (and the world’s) bridges collapsing.  The secondary content – the message about the need to address that aging infrastructure – adds to its interest.  That is because it is a message that the world’s leaders (especially America’s elected officials) need to hear.  All of this together makes the DVD’s average price point of less than $20 a cost that audiences will appreciate.  It is a point that is affordable for any viewer.  Keeping that in mind along with the DVD’s primary and secondary content, the whole of the DVDs presentation proves another successful offering from PBS.  The DVD is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http:///philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘NOVA: Mysteries Of Sleep’ Will Keep Audiences Awake, Engaged

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Broadcast news agencies love using stories about the importance of sleep to fill space on slow news days.  The little 30-second blurbs always say pretty much the same thing from one station to the next:  Sleep affects people’s weight; It impacts overall health and people’s performance at school and work. The problem with these stories is that they never go into any real depth about the relation between sleep and said issues.  Now thanks to PBS, audiences are getting a deeper look into the mechanics of sleep in a new episode of its hit science-based series NOVA, Mysteries of Sleep.  Released May 19 on DVD, this episode of NOVA delves into how the brain works both with and without sleep, and why sleep is so important for everyone.  That aspect forms the foundation for this episode.  The transitions that are used throughout the program play their own part to the program’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The program’s pricing rounds out its most important elements, considering the content and way in which that content was presented.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, no mystery is left why this documentary will engage and entertain audiences.  As a matter of fact, it will do anything but put audiences to sleep.  Yes, those awful puns were wholly intentional.

PBS’s NOVA documentary Mysteries of Sleep is an intriguing investigation into the connection between sleep and its impact on the brain’s operation.  This investigation forms the foundation for this episode of NOVA.  Throughout the course of the roughly 53-minute program, the investigation shows the impact of sleep on the brain in different fashions.  Audiences see the impact of sleep on memory in one case, using the developing mind of children for the example in this discussion.  In this case children who had naps immediately after taking part in a memory exercise did better remembering words and toys from the exercise than children who either waited to take a nap or did not take a nap at all.  Another way in which the connection between sleep and mental health was examined was an exercise involving rats.  Rats were subjected to brief electric shocks after hearing an equally brief high pitched tone.  The purpose of the study was to discover the impact of sleep on people with post traumatic stress disorder.  The result of the study was that the rats who slept immediately after the shocks actually responded better to hearing the high-pitched tones than the rats who stayed awake.  The scientists who conducted the study admitted they did not like going that route in using the rodents, but it helped to understand how perhaps humans suffering from PTSD might actually benefit from having more sleep.  It is an interesting concept.  It’s just one more of the ways in which the program keeps audiences engaged in the program’s overall examination of the impact of sleep on the brain.  In yet another case, audiences learn that the brain does not necessarily go just through a REM sleep and deep sleep phase, but rather multiple instances of each phase throughout the course of the night, adding that the reams we have at night could in fact be the subconscious’ way of addressing thoughts and concerns that we have during the day.  Given, that is not exactly a groundbreaking statement.  This is something that has been known for some time.  However, the firsthand interview that is presented to drive home the statement gives the discussion more grounding.  Between this discussion, the others addressed here and the others not noted but that are presented in the program, the overall content in this presentation makes it one that puts those little TV news blurbs completely to shame and keeps viewers completely engaged from beginning to end.

While the content featured in NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep ensures audiences will not themselves fall asleep, the program’s transitions do their own part to keep audiences engaged, too.  As the various topics addressed throughout the course of the program are addressed, the transitions between those topics remain smooth.  From talking about the reality that the brain is actually quite active during sleep early on to the eventual discussion on what exactly is sleep to the examination of how sleep might help people suffering from PTSD recover to how sleep impacts memory, the program manages to smoothly transition from one item to another seamlessly.  Early on, that noted transition on the discussion of the brain’s activity during sleep and what is sleep, is bolstered by in-depth examinations of what the brain does during each stage of sleep and the different stages of sleep.  This helps audiences understand each concept while forming the foundation for the bigger program.  As the program progresses from the discussion on how sleep impacts memory, it moves just as smoothly by turning the attention on discussions of ways people can better get sleep.  That transition and discussion ensure audiences’ engagement just as much.  Eventually the program transitions to its final discussion in which it is stressed that we as living beings need sleep and why.  It points out the negative impact of lack of sleep and transitions from there to hope for people who can’t get the best sleep by examining possible therapies for those people.  Eventually, the program reaches its finale in which the statement is made that sleep is important for everything that we do and we must protect our sleep.  A lot has been noted here.  The big and small of things here is that the program’s transitions are solid from the program’s start to end.  Those transitions, together with the program’s content, fully insure audiences’ engagement and entertainment from beginning to end.  Keeping all of this in mind, the program’s average price point proves to be money well-spent.

The average price point for NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep is $19.84.  That price is obtained by collecting price listings from Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  PBS’ price listing is just barely above that point, listing the DVD at $19.99, while Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million are both well above that average at listings of $22.49 and $24.99 respectively.  Amazon and Walmart offer the DVD at the lowest price, $17.70.  Target and Best Buy are just above that listing, at $17.99 each.  What should be noted here is that the majority of the retailers list the DVD at a price that is just below the $20 mark.  In other words, it is largely being listed at a relatively affordable price that will not break anyone’s budget.  In fact, that is about on par with the price range for most normal DVD listings, save for the listings at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  To that point, the money that audiences will pay for this DVD is affordable and well-spent considering the content featured herein and the depth of said content.  Keeping all of this in mind, NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep becomes a presentation that will appeal as much to average audiences just as much as to students studying neuroscience and those scientists already studying the concept of sleep.  It is a presentation that will do anything but put audiences to sleep.  It is available now.  More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Takes On Sleep Science In New ‘NOVA’ Episode

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Much has been said and studied in the world of sleep science throughout the decades.

News agencies nationwide use stories of sleep as space fillers on slow news days all the time.  Now a more reputable source, PBS’ NOVA takes a deeper dive into the science of sleep in a new episode scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD.  The episode, Mysteries of Sleep, examines the benefits of good sleep and consequences of not so good sleep.

Additionally, it presents research on how something, such as pink noise, can possibly have a positive impact on sleep, and how sleep impacts children’s ability to learn.

NOVAMysteries of Sleep has a run time of one hour.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 through PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.