Archive for the ‘science’ category

KPI, DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg to work together on new Science Channel series “Rebuilding Ground Zero.”

January 20, 2010

Science Channel announced today that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg will join forces with the network, DreamWorks Television and KPI Productions to create the definitive documentary series about the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in New York City.  Under the agreement, Spielberg will serve as executive producer and creative advisor on REBUILDING GROUND ZERO (wt), a six-part television event set to premiere on Science Channel in 2011.

The brainchild of professional architect Danny Forster (host and producer of Science Channel’s BUILD IT BIGGER) and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock, REBUILDING GROUND ZERO (wt) will chronicle the uplifting, innovative reengineering of the World Trade Center site through the eyes of the people – architects, engineers, construction workers and city planners – charged with making One World Trade Center and its surrounding area a reality.  Their amazing story is one of inventive architectural design and brand new science powered by an emotional determination to help heal their wounds, their city and their country.


What makes an earthquake “swarm”?

November 4, 2009

Reno, Nevada may be known as a popular gambling destination, but it is also the site of thousands of earthquakes that rocked the city last year. Scientists call the mysterious quakes a “swarm,” but what causes them is unclear – and the term itself is a bit ambiguous. In fact, my first question upon assignment to the project was, “What exactly is a swarm?”

There is no precedent for the growing frequency and intensity of the earthquakes in Reno last year. Unlike a typical mainshock-aftershock earthquake sequence, the Reno earthquakes struck with increasing magnitude hundreds, even thousands of times over a period of less than one year. Over the course of ten days, our crew questioned seismologists, geodesists and emergency responders for answers as to why this phenomenon occurred. Their insight into potential causes of the earthquakes astonished me. But I still couldn’t conceptualize just what a swarm is–-what hundreds of small earthquakes hitting every day must have felt like.

Fortunately, my confusion cleared up on the last day of our shoot. And ironically, it wasn’t a scientist who provided the answer. While sitting on a dusty slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I asked our Production Assistant, a student at the University of Nevada in Reno, “How would you define the swarm?” Her explanation was a real eye-opener: “It was like someone playing a drum nonstop. You couldn’t hear the beats, but you could feel the vibrations.”

Katherine de Gaullier des Bordes, Associate Producer

Naked Science: Reno Earthquake Swarm

Naked Science: Earthquake Swarm airs Thursday, November 5th at 10PM/9C on National Geographic Channel


October 13, 2009

Area 51 - sat photo

Tikaboo Peak rises several thousand feet above Area 51 in southern Nevada. Yes–“ground zero” for UFO theorists. We’re here at 5 AM for a purely recreational hike, of course. It would be about 2 hours with a daypack, but we’ve decided to take a 200-pound lens with us, along with the rest of our gear.
Very slow-going up the mtn. There’s no clear trail and it’s straight uphill on slippery rock and gravel. We hired 4 locals to help carry extra weight, but the lens can only be carried about 30 feet before they have to put it down to rest. We should have hired three more.
About a third of the way up, an F-16 zooms right past us. Holy sh*t. Our guides are excited that he’s this
close, but, hey, could be just a coincidence.
Then the jet circles back again and then a third time, doing crazy turns and maneuvers. Our guys are starting to wonder if the military knows we’re here.
Suddenly a helicopter appears from the other side of the mtn–starts circling overhead as the F-16 continues to buzz us.
Now our guides are sure: This show is all for us. Area 51 knows we’re out here, climbing up this mtn with a box that looks suspiciously like a missile.
Our guys speculate about how they knew we were coming. One is very concerned about getting arrested and contemplates bailing out. We’re concerned we’ll get down the mtn and the local cops will be waiting for us to confiscate our tapes and gear.
The air show goes on for about 30 minutes. Our DP sees thru the viewfinder a guy in the helicopter, perched on the edge, staring straight down on us.
We finally make it to the peak around noon… More than 6 hours after we started. It’s 95 degrees. Everyone is tired and dehydrated, but we get to work. Below us is the U.S. Air Force military base known as Area 51, aka Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Extraterrestial Highway. We have a great view of the base, but we see no aliens tap dancing on the runway. Why would they in this heat?

Area 51 from Peak

MYSTERYQUEST: ALIEN COVER-UP airs Wednesday October 14, 10PM/9c on HISTORY.

Ice Scrapers vs. the Frost Giant

October 11, 2009

The final episode of season one of CLASH OF THE GODS is THOR.
Monday October 12, 10PM/9c on HISTORY.
Sweden runestone

Hundreds of runestones can be found scattered across the countryside in Scandinavia. Many are memorial stones erected after the death of a family member to honor them, but there are some that are clear depictions of the myths and stories that filled the lives of the Norse centuries ago.
In February I traveled to Sweden with my Director of Photography Bo Randulff, and set out on a cross-country treasure hunt trying to track down a few specific runestones that told the myth of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. It seems that no one has ever drawn a runestone map of Scandinavia, and there is no handy iPhone app, so we were relying on some long distance research and a little luck to find them. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack that was covered in snow!
As we arrived in a little clearing in the forest we were pretty sure that we had found the site of the large rock carving we were looking for, but it was nowhere to be seen. It suddenly occurred to us that it was most likely lying under a foot of snow. Armed with only our rental car’s ice and snow scrapers we started digging, much to the amusement of some local kids. Finally we found it, and it was worth the effort.
The evil Frost Giants of the Norse myths are certainly alive and kicking, and I would have loved a helping hand from the brave Thor and his magical hammer in defeating them. But this particular battle was between the Frost Giant’s snow and me, armed only with an ice scraper.
Thor runestone
–Sarah Hodgson
Associate producer, Clash of the Gods

DNA Casts Doubt on Hitler Suicide

September 29, 2009

Hitler skullKPI photo
From AOL News September 29
New DNA tests show that a skull long thought to be Adolf Hitler’s is not his after all. Scientists at the University of Connecticut conducted tests on the bullet-pierced skull — which had been secretly preserved for decades by Soviet intelligence — and discovered that it belonged to an unidentified woman under 40, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Sunday.
The results cast doubt on the long-held account that the Nazi dictator swallowed a cyanide pill and then committed suicide in his Berlin bunker as Allied forces were closing in on him in 1945. The story of the testing was also reported in a History Channel documentary, Hitler’s Escape.

[Note: the DNA testing was initiated by the KPI producing team and History Channel]

Click here to read the full story at AOL News


September 28, 2009

Beneath the surface of a frozen lake, armed with a magic sword, Beowulf fights past a supernatural serpent to reach the lair of his most seductive and deadly nemesis of all.

CLASH OF THE GODS: BEOWULF airs Monday September 28 10PM/9c on HISTORY


September 22, 2009


MysteryQuest, KPI’s new series for the History Channel, dispatches teams of experts throughout the world to solve some of mankind’s strangest and most persistent mysteries. In each episode, a science team conducts a forensic examination of the evidence using the latest technologies. By the end, the team reveals results that in some cases just may re-write history.

Airs Wednesday September 16, 10PM/9C
According the official public record, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker as allied troops stormed Berlin at the end of World War II. But no one actually saw him die. No body was ever produced. No photographs were ever taken. Some believe Hitler managed to escape, and for years there were sightings of the former dictator in many parts of the world. Hitler skull
Then, in the 1990s the Russians revealed secret evidence taken from Hitler’s bunker decades earlier that they said proved he had died there. Among the evidence is a piece of skull. MysteryQuest obtained access to this evidence for testing. The results are startling.

Airs Wednesday September 23, 10PM/9C
The Bermuda Triangle, a 500,000 square mile area in the Atlantic is the world’s greatest unexplained mystery. Ships and planes simply disappear without a trace.
The MysteryQuest team takes one of the few survivors of a Triangle encounter on a flight through it to try to determine what could be disorienting pilots. The expedition team dives in the waters of the Bahamas to try to locate the first wreckage of an aircraft lost in a Triangle disappearance.

Airs Wednesday September 30, 10PM/9C
A series of unsolved murders. A cryptic set of clues. A dead end at every corner. The serial killer known as “the Zodiac” long terrorized the residents of the San Francisco Bay area while taunting police. He was never caught.
MQ Zodiac Killer car
MysteryQuest’s team of investigators have identified a new suspect and with the aid of a groundbreaking new DNA technology have the chance to come one step closer to finally solving the mystery of the this murderous crime spree.

Airs Wednesday October 7, 10PM/9c
The lost city of Atlantis was said to be an incredibly advanced civilization that lived almost 12,000 years ago. Some believe they may have been capable of space travel or that it was they who showed the Egyptians how to build pyramids.
Atlantis Maps

But according to the writings of Plato, the city was swallowed by the ocean in a single day. Ever since, people have been trying to find it. Mysteryquest’s expedition team has new sonar evidence of underwater structures in the Atlantic off the Bahamas. The team will dive to these sites to retrieve samples and send them for carbon dating with the latest technology to try to confirm whether they could be part of the lost city.

Airdate TBD
This island in the middle of San Francisco Bay has a forbidding reputation. Native Americans believed it to be a place of evil spirits. When it became a federal prison in 1934, only the most violent and difficult prisoners in the U.S. were sent there.
Alcatraz off kilterIt was reputed to be escape proof; only three men have ever managed to get off the island. They left in 1962 and have never been found. MysteryQuest investigates to determine whether they could have survived the icy waters of San Francisco Bay.