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“The producers of PBS’s best science show, NOVA, have posted an excellent gallery of online experiments: Skydive from 100,000 feet. Replicate Shackleton’s 800-mile open-boat journey from the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia. Tweak the variables in a steroid, a rice paddy, or a rocket. Perform a virtual heart transplant. You may get so caught up you never escape.

Our favorite experiment involves Bill Goldfinch — a British prisoner in a Nazi POW camp who looked out the window, saw snowflakes rising, and had an epiphany: Could he glide to freedom on the same updraft? Together with another prisoner, he constructed a false wall, then built a handmade, two-passenger glider behind it. They were almost finished when the war ended — but decades later, some of Goldfinch’s fellow POW-camp alums used his design to build and launch another glider, one that actually flew. Here you can test-fly a virtual version — and at far less risk of crash or capture than Goldfinch might have faced.” – – VSL

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

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“Mark Oliver Everett is a bona fide rock star and the son of a physicist, Hugh Everett III, who was also father to the theory of multiple worlds. The scientist died when the son was 19; for Mark (who flunked out of ninth-grade algebra), Hugh Everett became even more of a mystery than the formulas he left behind. And when Mark set out to understand his father, and his father’s work, he took a camera crew along with him.

The resulting BBC4 documentary — which makes its American debut on PBS next Tuesday — is a tearjerker that doubles as an excellent primer on quantum theory. The science is fascinating. The structure is simple (Mark retraces his father’s career, meeting friends and colleagues and conducting experiments designed to illustrate his father’s ideas). But the story itself becomes more complex, and more compelling, as we learn more about the Everett clan. (“In her suicide note, she wrote that she was going off to meet her father in a parallel universe,” Mark says, recalling his late sister, Liz; Mark also survived his mother, who died of cancer in 1998, and his cousin Jennifer, who was a stewardess on the 9/11 Flight 77.) Mark’s father never received the recognition he desired, kept the world at arm’s length, and died of a heart attack at the age of 51 (Mark discovered the body). “If he’d had the emotional vocabulary, he’d have been very, very pleased with what you did with your music,” a friend of his tells Mark. But if Hugh Everett was right — that every possibility does, in fact, play out in any number of parallel universes — then somewhere out there, he is.” – – VSL

Watch Online at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/manyworlds/ 

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