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  • NOVA scienceNOW

NOVA scienceNOW | Saving Hubble, First Primates, Alfredo Quinones Hinojosa, Killer Microbe | PBS

Duration: 51:45 (Full Program)
Program: NOVA scienceNOW #303
Broadcast Date: Jul. 9, 2008

“Hubble Repair”--NOVA scienceNOW covers the upcoming repair mission for the Hubble space telescope — one of the most famous orbiting telescopes — which has advanced our knowledge of the cosmos.

“First Primate”--If University of Florida paleontologist Jonathan Bloch is correct, we may have to downsize our image of what it means to be a primate. NOVA scienceNOW goes into the field with Bloch to search for our missing relatives from the shadowy period after the catastrophe that doomed the dinosaurs. There’s a ten-million-year gap between the demise of the giant reptiles and the appearance of the first known primates, and Bloch thinks that tiny bones embedded in limestone may be the evolutionary evidence for the creatures that evolved into primates. One of the problems is extracting the bones from the limestone and cleaning them to look for telltale clues that connect them to primates, but Bloch’s team manages to assemble three intriguing specimens.

“Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa”--It’s been two decades since Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa jumped the border fence separating Mexico and the U.S. and established himself as a farm worker in southern California. His goal: to earn enough to feed his family. Today he’s an assistant professor of neurosurgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins University, where he is in hot pursuit of a breakthrough in the treatment of brain cancer. By day, he operates on tricky brain cancer cases. By night, he researches how tumors grow and migrate. The extraordinary journey of “Dr. Q,” as his patients and students know him, is straight out of a storybook — or storyboard, since Hollywood is interested in making a movie about him. NOVA scienceNOW visits this remarkable man at work and at home to see how far he has come.

“Iraqi Bacteria”--There is a new enemy on the battlefields of Iraq, but it’s too small to be seen. It’s a bacterium, called Acinetobacter baumannii, isolated from already sick patients in hospitals overseas and in the U.S. It has become resistant to most antibiotics. Bob Woodruff, the embedded ABC reporter whose armored vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, couldn’t escape what has become known as “Iraqibacter.” NOVA scienceNOW reports on his recovery from an infection that endangered his life. But the big question remains: how has it become resistant to so many of drugs? Researchers in the U.S. are “looking under the hood” of the bacterium to understand what makes it work. Using genetic tools, they are finding that the bug has an enhanced ability to pick up nasty genes from its bacterial neighbors. Their hope is to use this information to ward off future attacks from this microscopic enemy.

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Post Date: June 10, 2009