PBS has made shopping for those last-minute holiday gifts for the DVD lover on your list a bit easier. They offer so many great programs, documentaries and specials that we sat down with some hot cocoa and viewed a bunch of them. Here are our picks for those worthy of placing under the tree.
The sixth season of NOVA scienceNOW, the critically acclaimed science magazine series, is hosted by David Pogue and features the following tales.
Can I Eat That?
What are the scientific secrets behind your favorite foods? Why are some treats – such as chocolate chip cookies–delectable, while others–such as cookies made with mealworms – disgusting?Join host David Pogue as he ventures into labs and kitchens to uncover the hidden truths behind the flavors and textures we take for granted every day.
Secrets of the Turkey
With help from food scientists and the staff of America’s Test Kitchen, NOVA reveals the physics, chemistry and biology that go into making the perfect Thanksgiving dinner.
Gulp! Why Do We Cook?
Why are humans the only animals who cook? Could cooking have played a major role in human evolution and helped build our brains? David explores this controversial theory and meets scientists studying the biology of digestion with the help of some surprising creatures.
The Neuroscience of Taste
Why are some foods delectable, while others disgusting? Not only is our perception of taste far more complex than we imagine, but once you master the secrets of flavor, our taste buds can be easily fooled. We explore the neuroscience of taste to discover how “flavor makers” perform tricks on our senses.
Profile: Nathan Myhrvold
Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft, and a team of chefs are using advanced lab equipment to cook up dishes that look and taste like nothing else, revealing in dazzling visual detail the physical and chemical changes that take place in food as it cooks.
Plenty of more Pogue can be found in NOVA scienceNOW What Makes Us Human?
Scientists have struggled for centuries to pinpoint the qualities that distinguish humans from the millions of other animal species with which we share the vast majority of our DNA. Now, we explore those traits, (language, tool making, even laughter) once thought to be uniquely human to discover their evolutionary roots. As host David Pogue traces some of the crucial steps that transformed cave men into accountants, he’ll investigate the fate of our close cousins the Neanderthals. Not only will Pogue be trans- formed into a Neanderthal before our eyes, he’ll discover why Neanderthal genes live on today and find out if any are hidden in his own DNA.
The DVD features the four intriguing stories detailed below.
Neanderthals ‘R’ Us
Is there a Neanderthal in your family tree? Recently, geneticists shocked the scientific community when they announced they ha d found evidence suggesting that ancient humans may have interbred with Neanderthals. Watch as Pogue delves into his own genetic makeup.
Stone Age Language Mystery
Could two of our species’ defining achievements–tool use and language–be intimately connected? Anthropologists are studying what happens in the brain when people make stone tools; their results suggest that language and tool use might go hand in hand.
Evolution of Laughter
Humans may be the only species that appreciates jokes, but we’re not the only one that laughs. We’ll meet researchers who are tickling baby chimps, bonobos and orangutans to record their giggling and uncover the evolutionary roots of laughter.
Profile: Zeresenay Alemseged
Ethiopian anthropologist Alemseged struggled against all odds to make one of the biggest recent discoveries in human origins: the 3.3 million-year-old fossil bones of Selam, an ancient cousin of our human ancestors.