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NOVA scienceNOW Season 4 #403 1x53

After studying mice his team managed to genetically alter for heightened endurance, Ron Evans has found two drugs that have the same effect as gene modification. Now that both drugs have been approved by the FDA for other uses, will their promise — helping those with little to no muscle mass, such as kids with muscular dystrophy or the frail elderly, to build strength and endurance — be overshadowed by potential athlete abuse?

Renowned paleontologist George Poinar — whose study of extinct creatures exquisitely preserved in amber partly inspired Jurassic Park — has announced his discovery of multiple clues to parasitic pandemics that could have been just as instrumental in wiping out the dinosaurs as the hypothesized asteroid impact.

The son a Spanish Costa Rican mother and a Chinese and Costa Rican father, Chang-Diaz became the first astronaut who was a naturalized citizen. He also holds the record for the most space flights — and he’s designed a revolutionary new rocket that just might power a new generation of space explorers.

The northern lights are glorious, but what causes them? The most energetic displays are associated with violent space weather — the energetic interaction of radiation, magnetic fields, and charged particles from the sun — which could catastrophically disrupt the space-based technologies on which we increasingly rely. And the pressure is on: there’s a storm brewing in the next few years, marking the peak in the Sun’s 11-year cycle of maximum activity.