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A Science Odyssey Title Promotion/Program Information Title

Program Descriptions
Series premieres on PBS January 11-15 (Check local listings)


Penicillin. The airplane. Pulsars. Organ transplants. The atomic bomb. Psychoanalysis. The Model T. DNA. Volcanoes. The computer. Apollo 8. Travel PBS to the dramatic frontier of scientific discovery and exploration as the most astonishing 100 years of science and technology dramatically unfold with the premiere of A Science Odyssey -- the journey of a century. Hosted by award-winning journalist Charles Osgood, this five-part, ten-hour series explores the sweeping changes that have revolutionized life and thinking in the twentieth century.

Each two-hour episode moves chronologically through the century, blending exciting historic adventures -- full of twists and turns, suspense and surprise -- with the political, economic, and cultural changes that have caused or come about because of scientific discovery. Through illuminating first-hand interviews, rare historical footage, and state-of-the-art computer animations, A Science Odyssey offers a rich behind-the-science chronicle of the century's most revolutionary scientific and technological discoveries.


Program One
"Matters of Life and Death" -- Medicine and Health
Premieres Sunday, January 11, 1998, 8-10pm ET (Check local listings)

From the days of house calls to the era of high-tech hospitals, "Matters of Life and Death" tracks the passion and determination of medical science in the twentieth century. Dramatic experiments, the politics of science, and races against the clock form a backdrop to the discovery of new treatments, antibiotics, and advances in surgery and medical technology that have lengthened our lives and force us to rethink our assumptions about life and death.

Highlights include: Bubonic plague. Joseph Goldberger and pellagra. Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and insulin. Chronic illness. Alexander Fleming and penicillin. Howard Florey and Ernst Chain. Open heart surgery. Kidney and heart transplants. The mechanics and politics of organ transplantation. Cancer.


Program Two
"Mysteries of the Universe" -- Physics and Astronomy
Premieres Monday, January 12, 1998, 8-10pm ET (Check local listings)

At the beginning of the century, discoveries about the hidden workings of the everyday world suggest all is not as it seems. Quantum theory, relativity, nuclear power, and clues about the birth and death of the universe have rocked our deepest beliefs. "Mysteries of the Universe" journeys from the subatomic world of the atom to the farthest reaches of space and time, and into the laboratories of the men and women whose work has forever altered physics and astronomy.

Highlights include: George Ellery Hale and the Mount Wilson telescope. Henrietta Leavitt. Edwin Hubble. Albert Einstein. Niels Bohr and the Quantum Theory of Matter. The structure of the atom. Jocelyn Bell and pulsars. The size of the universe. The Big Bang. Black holes. Quarks. Super colliders. Unified field and string theories.


Program Three
"In Search of Ourselves" -- Human Behavior
Premieres Tuesday, January 13, 1998, 8-10pm ET (Check local listings)

It's all in the genes. Or is it? In "Search of Ourselves" traces the pendulum swing of psychological theory from nature to nurture and back again. Case studies, classic experiments, and research on the brain blaze this trail of discovery, revealing what we have learned about ourselves and what still remains a riddle. We also see the dark side of our faith in the perfectibility of human nature, as scientific ideas are twisted to fit political agendas. "In Search of Ourselves" is a story of the lessons learned, as well as the ways which we have learned them. As the century draws to a close, human behavior remains an irresistible frontier.

Highlights include: Jean-Martin Charcot and hysteria. Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis. Shell shock. IQ tests. Eugenics. Scientist-turned-ad-man John B. Watson and the behaviorist movement. Conditioning. B. F. Skinner. Harry Harlow and the power of love and comfort. Frieda Fromm Reichmann and the treatment of schizophrenia at Chestnut Lodge. Mental institutions. Drug therapy. Alzheimer's disease.


Program Four
"Bigger, Better, Faster" -- Technology
Premieres Wednesday, January 14, 1998, 8-10pm ET (Check local listings)

Our science odyssey starts in a modest, turn-of-the-century home. Inklings of change are evident, but are the residents prepared for the technological transformation the coming years will bring? The startling view of gravity-defying humans flying free from the earth is just an introduction to the surprises ahead. And each new technological development, whether a car for the masses or a worldwide computer network, brings profound changes to homes across the country and the globe -- and to the lives of the people in them.

Highlights include: The Wright brothers. France and the US compete for first flying honors. Cal Rodgers, the "Vin Fiz" Flyer, and the first trans-American flight. The airplane goes to war. Henry Ford and the Model T. Mass production -- and consumption. Technology pushes social change. Radio. The 1939 World's Fair. Breaking the polymer barrier. Wallace Carothers and nylon. The Whirlwind. NASA and the space race. The Internet and the World Wide Web.


Program Five
"Origins" -- Earth and Life Sciences
Premieres Thursday, January 15, 1998, 8-10pm ET (Check local listings)

The earthquake that shatters San Francisco in 1906 opens a century of explosive discoveries and debates in the earth sciences. See the Earth through the eyes of Alfred Wegener, who struggles to convince the scientific establishment that continents move. Watch as radiodating techniques increase Earth's estimated age - sometimes inspiring skepticism if not outrage. Meanwhile, a parallel upheaval rumbles the life sciences, where new evidence of our primate ancestors and the discovery of DNA's structure stir up controversies of their own. Ancient fossils and living cells give up their secrets to change our view of our species and the mechanics of life.

Highlights include: Age and origins of the Earth. Volcanoes. Earthquakes. Alfred Wegener. Continental drift. Harry Hess. Plate tectonics. The Himalayas. The formation of mountains. Religion, myth, and science. Human origins. The Scopes trial. The legacy of Charles Darwin. Mutation and adaptation. Paleoanthropology. Louis and Mary Leakey. Donald Johanson and "Lucy." Primordial soup. DNA. Origins of life.


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Major funding is provided by the National Science Foundation.

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Corporate sponsorship is provided by IBM. IBM is a registered trademark of IBM Corporation.

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Additional funding comes from public television viewres, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Becton Dickinson and Company.


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