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The Spark of Life [electronic resource]: Tinkering With the Genetic Toolbox

From hydras to humans, every organism on Earth can trace its ancestry back to the first primitive cell. Will biotechnology one day create a cell outside of that family tree? This program looks at 21st-century genetic science and its search for the secret of life's creation. Background information highlights the Oparin-Haldane Hypothesis and its vision of a prebiotic soup as well as Stanley Miller's famous experiment, the central role of RNA in protein synthesis, and Herbert Boyer's achievement in gene-splicing. A visit with Dr. Stephen del Cardayre of biotech start-up LS9 reveals ways to remodel an existing cell-while Dr. George Church of Harvard Medical School hints at building one from scratch.
2010; 2009

Did Cooking Make Us Human? [electronic resource]

The use of heat and utensils to process food may be more than a by-product of human evolution. According to theories presented in this program, cooking began much earlier than previously thought and ignited a series of changes that shaped our physical and mental abilities. Viewers visit South African caves containing evidence, including tools and charred bone material, that pushes back the timescale during which proto-humans began to hunt and tame fire. Meanwhile, several noted anthropologists share other ideas concerning the evolution of the human jaw, stomach, and cranium-asserting that the digestion of cooked meat instead of raw helped our ancestors build bigger brains.

Unlocking the Code [electronic resource]: Genetics and Medicine

Although the impact of genetic research on human life is an ever-changing and often theoretical prospect, our current knowledge of the human genome already has direct, real-world applications. This program looks at several ways in which genetic breakthroughs have improved health care technology and enriched the study of human physiology. Case studies focus on DNA screening and its benefits-for both parents and children-in identifying hereditary problems, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington's disease, and congenital and developmental abnormalities. The film also explores implications for type-2 diabetes, the complex area of multifactorial genetic disorders, the chain termination method of DNA sequencing, and more.

The Book of Life [electronic resource]: Genetics and Evolution

Likening the beauty and complexity of DNA to an epic poem, this program revolves around the idea that we all carry the story of life on Earth in our genes, and that the similarities between species may play a more significant role in that story than previously thought. A visit to Iceland's hot springs reveals heat-, acid-, and salt-resistant organisms called Archaea-primordial versions of which may have set the stage for multi-cellular life. Moving to more advanced species, the film looks at bone-development genes in boa constrictors that are comparable to those of humans. Such parallels, the program says, indicate not only shared genetic origins but also the notion that particular clusters of genes are focal points of evolutionary importance.

Genetic Detectives [electronic resource]

Mapping the human genome was only the first step in the process of decoding our DNA-and that process is far from over. This film follows the work of genetic researchers as they press forward, slowly but surely, in the task of interpreting and understanding life's greatest enigma. Highlighting the surprising finding that the human genome contains only about 32,000 genes (pre-map predictions were in the hundreds of thousands), the program describes a growing interest among geneticists on proteins and their role in cellular processes. The overlap between genetics and cancer research, particularly the battle against breast cancer, is also a major topic, as is the use of Iceland's unique gene pool as a scientific resource. Eye-catching animation helps illustrate the complexities of DNA co [...]
2011; 2002

Attack of the Mutants [electronic resource]: Will Genetic Doping Replace Steroids?

In the not-so-distant future, athletes and other physically active people won't use needles, pills, or stick-ons for extra strength and endurance-those traits will be cultivated genetically. But one person's athletic utopia is another's sci-fi nightmare, and the World Anti-Doping Agency is already raising the alarm. This program examines the controversy in the wider context of biomedical advances as well as in the arena of sports. Featured case studies include gene therapy experiments with mice conducted by famed researcher Dr. Nadia Rosenthal and several other genetically relevant medical examples. Renowned geneticist Dr. Theodore Freidmann is also interviewed.
2011; 2010

Are We Still Evolving? [electronic resource]

Assume, for the sake of argument, that our species has created everything it needs-all the comfort and protection that technology can provide. Does that mean our biological evolution has come to an end? Not necessarily, says anatomist and anthropologist Alice Roberts. In fact, technology may be driving human evolution, and at breakneck speed. Dr. Roberts meets scientists who are detecting and analyzing recent changes in the human genome and visits other researchers who have been able to, in effect, alter the development of some plant and animal species. In addition, the program examines the highly significant role of disease in evolution and the possibility that humanity could evolve into two distinct species.

DNA [electronic resource]: Secret of Photo 51

One of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century was the discovery of DNA's double helix structure. James Watson and Francis Crick published their findings on April 25, 1953, but it's been revealed that their crucial breakthrough depended on the work of another biologist, Rosalind Franklin, whose X-ray image, 'Photo 51' held the vital clue to decode the double helix. This program from NOVA reveals the shocking truth of this DNA discovery and details how close Franklin came to making the discovery herself.

Genetic Engineering [electronic resource]

It's one of the greatest breakthroughs in scientific history, but genetic engineering has also brought disturbing new questions. Should we push genetic research to its absolute limit, exploiting every discovery? What are the consequences of intervening in nature's processes at their most fundamental level? Outlining the potential benefits of genetic engineering, such as the treatment or cure of hereditary diseases and the creation of better, more efficient crops, this program also explores the moral dilemma over cloning and the controversy that surrounds stem-cell research. Viewers encounter both secular and religious perspectives in those debates-which will only acquire greater urgency as the scientific frontier advances.

IVF [electronic resource]

Jokes about test-tube babies may have faded into pop-culture history, but today, even though in vitro fertilization has helped millions of people become parents, the technology still leads some cultural observers to question its methods, applications, and moral impact. IVF can be used to weed out hereditary diseases, but this ability to select embryos based on DNA testing also raises fears about choosing gender, hair color, eye color, and other aspects. Furthermore, what are the economic implications? Should IVF be affordable for everyone? This program shows how different countries have dealt with IVF-related controversies and looks at the often opposing stances which various religions take towards the procedure.

Mutations [electronic resource]: Changing the Code

Some of the most fascinating research in genetics today involves mutagens-physical, chemical, and biological agents capable of altering the structure of DNA. This program looks at the characteristics and behavior of mutagens and shows how they are prevalent in the world around us-for example, in the form of UV radiation, cosmic rays, and some radioactive isotopes, as well as synthetic chemicals and natural mutagens that may arise during the metabolism of certain foods. Viewers learn how mutagens either act directly on DNA or produce chemicals that cause rearrangements of the genetic code-leading, in some cases, to cancer and inherited disease.
2010; 2009

Did Darwin Kill God? [electronic resource]

In this program, philosopher and theologian Conor Cunningham argues that only extremist viewpoints-Creationism and ultra-Darwinism-make evolution and religion mutually exclusive. Experts from across the gamut of opinions frame the debate and trace its origins, including Father Gregory Tatum of the Ecole Biblique; University of Oxford historian Pietro Corsi; Darwin scholar Nick Spencer, author of Darwin and God; "Answers in Genesis" lecturer Terry Mortenson; Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project; philosophers Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse; Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine; and University of Cambridge paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris.
2010; 2009

Journey of Man [electronic resource]: The Story of the Human Species

Fossil evidence more or less proves that humanity sprang from an African cradle. But what can the science of genetics tell us about our origins? Researchers have arrived at a startling conclusion: the global family tree can be traced to one African man who lived 60,000 years ago. Eminent geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells hosts this innovative program, traveling to every continent in search of the people whose DNA holds humanity's secret history: the Namibian Bushmen, the Chukchi reindeer herders of the Russian Arctic, Native American tribal groups, and indigenous Australians. The program also features commentary by historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists.

African-American Lives 2 [electronic resource]: The Past Is Another Country

The science of genetics has created an exciting new dimension in the study of black history and heritage. In this program, DNA analysis leads to fascinating discoveries about the lineages of participants-and the ancestry of host Henry Louis Gates, Jr., himself. A groundbreaking study links Professor Gates to a powerful ancient Irish warlord, while genetic evidence suggests that Peter Gomes' direct paternal line reaches back to a Portuguese Jew who fled the country in the early 1500s to escape the Inquisition.

Epigenetics [electronic resource]: The Hidden Life of Our Genes

How is it that the genetically identical clone of a tortoiseshell cat turned out to be a gray-striped tabby? The answer lies in epigenetics. This program presents evidence that DNA is not necessarily destiny, and that diet, stress, and environmental exposures can all modify gene expression. With commentary from experts, detailed animations of cell mechanics, and examples from everyday life, Epigenetics succeeds in delivering an informative and entertaining explanation of how cell memory, methylation, and RNA interference cause these changes to occur. The video also examines the role of epigenetics in stem cell function, and the promising developments the field holds for treating cancer and neurological disease.

Darwin's Evolution [electronic resource]

As a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle, a Royal Navy survey ship charting the coast of South America, Charles Darwin encountered evidence on the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere that encouraged him to question the biblical story of creation. This program explores the intellectual journey he undertook as a result. Presented by British scientist Adam Hart-Davis, the film invokes specimens in Great Britain's Natural History Museum, especially "Darwin's Finches," that were of fundamental importance to the naturalist's ideas; the two major components of his theory, common ancestry and natural selection; Darwin's sudden urgency regarding the publication of On the Origin of Species after Alfred Russel Wallace presented similar breakthroughs; Darwin's gradual confidence that evidence supportin [...]

Mendel and the Gene Splicers [electronic resource]

Darwin's theory of natural selection paved the way for the field of genetics. But the concept of a gene didn't exist in Darwin's time, and it was several more decades before science could clearly show how an organism passes characteristics on to its offspring. This program spotlights the life and work of Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk living in what is today the Czech Republic - and the father of modern genetic science. The film follows Mendel's studies of the reproduction of pea plants in his monastery garden, studies which noted the effects of cross-breeding on flower color, pod color, and pod shape; his awareness that, while only one "factor" or genetic characteristic may be visibly inherited, others lie dormant and can reappear in later generations; and the scant recognition [...]

The Creationist Argument [electronic resource]

Luther Sutherland presents what he considers scientific-rather than philosophical or religious-inconsistencies in Darwin's theory which provide, he says, the scientific basis for discrediting the theory of evolution.
2005; 1992

The Ethics of Cloning [electronic resource]

The technology of cloning has raised a host of moral, ethical, and religious questions, and this program examines many of them. The "dangers" of cloning, from shrinking gene pools, to the development of a "super race," to fears that cloned DNA could introduce genetic flaws into the population, are examined. A theologian discusses how cloning changes our notion of soul. Harold Shapiro, chairman of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, comments on the recent ban on the cloning of humans, and a cloning expert discusses government regulation versus the freedom of scientific inquiry. A panel discussion in which experts debate ethical issues concludes the program.
2008; 1997

The Evidence for Evolution [electronic resource]

Distinguished evolutionary biologists among the auditors of the foregoing lectures take on not only Luther Sutherland
2010; 1992