Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Search NOVA Teachers

Back to Teachers Home

Methuselah Tree

Program Overview


The discovery and analysis of a bristlecone pine tree that is more than 4,600 years old has provided scientists with an accurate and precise means of analyzing historical climate data.

The program:

  • highlights Edmund Schulman's 1957 discovery of the world's oldest living tree, Methuselah, which resides in the Inyo National Forest in the California White Mountains.

  • explains the process of tree-ring analysis, which in some cases can be a more accurate method than radiocarbon dating.

  • describes how the exact year of climatic events can be pinpointed from the evidence found in tree rings, such as an abnormally cold summer in 1628 b.c.

  • shows how Methuselah lived through and adapted to a harsh and changing environment that included human settlement, silver mining, and nuclear bomb testing.

  • takes the point of view of the tree in chronicling its history.

  • raises questions about whether bristlecone pines might hold the secret to extreme longevity, based on evidence that 100 percent of Methuselah seedlings germinated.

Teacher's Guide
Methuselah Tree
PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY IDEAS FROM TEACHERS RELATED NOVA RESOURCES INTERACTIVE FOR STUDENTS
   

Support provided by