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What's The Next Big Thing?

Greet the future: social robots, a "smart" electric grid, microbes that make diesel fuel, and more.
Runtime: 0:30Topic: Tech + EngineeringTech & EngineeringNova

(This program is no longer available for online streaming.) In this episode of NOVA scienceNOW, come face to face with social robots that understand human feelings, carry on conversations, even make jokes. Then travel to Haiti, where geologists investigate the 2010 earthquake not long after it struck for clues to how to better forecast future quakes. Afterwards, join engineers at General Motors who are testing tiny, two-wheeled cars called EN-Vs, which one day might drive themselves through city streets. Learn about proposals for making our outdated electric grid "smart." And meet Nebraska native Jay Keasling, a pioneer in synthetic biology who shares his work on developing "designer" microbes that produce biofuels and medicines.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0917517. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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(social robots)
©Leo Blanchette/iStockphoto
Courtesy General Motors
© TebNad/iStockphoto
(Jay Keasling)
© WGBH Educational Foundation
Dieuseul Anglade, Christopher Borroni-Bird, Rodney Brooks, Eric Calais, Chad Cohen, Daniel Darancou, Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Hanson, Thomas Jordan, Jay Keasling, Max Keasling, Charlie Kemp, Eric Lightner, Ernest Majer, Andrew Phillips, Blake Simmons, Ziya Tong, Sherry Turkle, Vijay Vaitheswaran, Eric Wolfinger
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