Saturday Morning Documentary: Nova ScienceNow

8 07 2011

Hosted by famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (who has appeared on other shows the Colbert Report Nova ScienceNow is a mix of typical informational PBS documentary series and kid’s show — if a little older.  A show like Nova can be super informational but at the same time, super serious to the point where learning becomes boring.  What Nova ScienceNow tries to do is have an intelligent, charming host + green screen cheesy graphics and animations + simple, easy to understand segments and instantly, the show becomes a lot more accessible, and, in essence, a lot more fun to watch.

I’ve only seen one season of the show but each episode is focused on a question; ie. Episode one asks, “Can we make it to Mars?”.  From there, the hour long episode is divided into various segments that explore the question.  Researchers go into the field, interviewing scientists and experts alike.  What I like about the show is that sometimes, the show attempts to try and get to actually know the researchers rather than interview them because their smart and that they’ll say intelligent things.  For instance, in the last episode, titled “What’s the Next Big Thing?”, one segment focuses on a scientist Jay Keasling, who is developing biofuels from bacteria that would hopefully replace oil in cars.  Instead of the segment just based on his research and the future of biofuel, they interviewed him on a bit of his life, and even mentioned briefly that he’s gay (which was a pleasant surprise).

Though the show borders on dumbing-down things sometimes, it’s all in all a good watch if you’re in the mood for some not-so serious learning.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Chaser, a super smart dog in Ep. 4