Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dinosaurs, Snakes and More: Curiosity Keeps Us Young

By Suzanne Kashuba

After just hitting the big 5-0, I’ve been thinking a lot about what truly differentiates “young” from “old.” I believe that -- if we’re lucky -- we never outgrow the curiosity of a child. I want to know what makes it tick, who influenced whom, what came before and what happens after. Thank goodness public broadcasting is there to help satisfy all the intellectually, scientifically, politically and generally curious minds out there, regardless of age.

NOVA: Arctic DinosaursNOVA , PBS’ premier science series (airing Wednesday nights at 9 on WNED-TV), explores the science behind the headlines, demystifies science and technology, and highlights the intriguing work of researchers and scientists. This month, in “Arctic Dinosaurs” (July 27 at 9 p.m.), NOVA travels to Alaska’s North Slope to learn how prehistoric beasts survived a brutal climate. You can tune in or watch “Arctic Dinosaurs” online.  NOVA also has a dynamite blog, “Inside NOVA.”  Recent posts have delved into the DNA process used to positively identify Osama Bin Laden.

The major new BBC mini-series Museum of Life airs on WNED-TV Mondays nights at 9, July 11 through August 15. It answers an intriguing question: “What goes on inside Britain’s world-class Natural History Museum? “
Museum of Life
Host Jimmy Doherty is joined by a team of curious, engaged presenters: engineer Kate Bellingham, doctor of tropical medicine Chris Van Tulleken, environmental scientist Liz Bonnin and zoologist Mark Carwardine. They introduce viewers to the scientists who are making discoveries among the 70 million items in the museum’s collection. They travel around the globe with researchers who are tackling diverse contemporary problems, such as environmental pollution and human diseases.  The stereotypical museum is a static, musty place, focused on the past. This documentary shatters that image, bringing to life the reality of a fascinating, dynamic institution.

What other questions can WNED programs answer this month?

  • Why is one of the most feared snakes just a misunderstood creature? (“NATURE Black Mamba,” July 31, 8 p.m.)
  • What secret weapon did Japan launch on North American soil during World War II? (“On A Wind and A Prayer,” July 26, 10 p.m.)
  • How did Richard Burton meet Elizabeth Taylor? (“Great Romances of the 20th Century,” July 22, 10 p.m.)
How about you – what topics do you enjoy exploring? What did you watch or listen to on public broadcasting that particularly stirred your curiosity?
Stay curious – and stay young.

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