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You're going see several stories in each show, and we're going to do several shows each year. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the Park Foundation. Microsoft is proud to sponsor NOVA for celebrating the potential in us all. But in my face I see moods, I see shifts of feeling.And because we're new, we have a, well, sort of a new name. What explains this terror, this pain, this joy when people watch football on TV? Science: it's given us the framework to help make wireless communications clear. Major funding for NOVA science NOW is provided by the National Science Foundation, America's investment in the future. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology, the George D. We humans are really good at reading faces and bodies.
PETER STANDRING (science NOW Correspondent): When most people think of New Orleans, they think of the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, jazz, gumbo.DANIEL GLASER: What we've found is the mechanism that underlies something which is absolutely fundamental to the way that we see other people in the world.ROBERT KRULWICH: And it began entirely by accident, at a laboratory in the lovely old city of Parma, Italy, where a group of brain researchers was working with monkeys, and they were testing a neuron—that's a brain cell—that always fired..this sound... ROBERT KRULWICH: ...whenever the monkey would grab for a peanut. Scientists thought, "Now here's a neuron that's essential to motion. Now, the monkey hadn't moved, it was the human that had moved, suggesting that this neuron up here couldn't tell the difference between seeing something and doing something—seeing and doing were the same—or more intriguingly, that for this neuron, watching somebody do something is just like doing it yourself.And, if your mirror neurons are working properly, when you see anything, even a wishbone walking, you know, along, you won't just watch that bone, you are going to be that bone.The walking bone was created and designed by artist Arthur Ganson, and later in the program we will show you a host of Ganson gadgets in glorious motion.But speaking of motion, I wonder if I could have a hurricane, just a small one please. Now, the thing about hurricanes is, if there's one in the neighborhood and you are, say, over here, the first thing you want to know is: "Is it coming at me? Hurricanes, because of changes in terrain and in water temperature, and all kinds of things down below, can suddenly swell and then diminish and then swell again.
" Because, if you're in its path, you're going to want to leave. But over the years, scientists have gotten pretty good at predicting the direction of a hurricanes but not so good at predicting a hurricane's intensity. And because scientists don't have the tools to read hurricanes that well, these changes are very, very hard to predict—until recently... ...'cause now there's a new development, a kind of CAT scan for hurricanes.
WALTER MAESTRI (Jefferson Parish Emergency Management): If Ivan made that direct hit, this is what we'd be looking at. Well, as it happens, scientists have an explanation for this strange ability to connect. DANIEL GLASER: It had never been found on a cellular level before.
ROBERT KRULWICH: A set of brain cells, found on either side of the head, among all the billions of long branching cells in our brain, these so-called "mirror neurons," have surprising power.
Like, with just thirteen moving dots—that's all there are here—you'll have no trouble recognizing these very ordinary activities. MARCO IACOBONI: We're going do, right away, another one. Then he said "Okay, same faces, but this time, don't move a muscle, just look." So I looked. And, in fact, at that moment I was looking at the happy face, my brain—and this is my brain at that instant—see that red area here, it shows activity in the "happy" emotional part of my brain. ROBERT KRULWICH: You are saying that there's a place in my brain, which...whose job it is to live in other people's minds, live in other people's bodies? HELEN HAYES in A FAREWELL TO ARMS: Oh, darling, I'm going to die! There'd be a good point in having a visual system if you lived on your own. The mirror system is probably the most basic social brain system.
What's more, tests have shown that when a person sees a movie like this of his own movement, he'll recognize it immediately as his own. It's a brain system which there's no point in having if you don't want to interact or relate to other people. And maybe now, as never before, we will understand why.
MAN: I've been through a couple of hurricanes but this one looks like a monster. PETER STANDRING: Luckily for New Orleans, Ivan veered east at the eleventh hour, and the Big Easy dodged a bullet. And this can extend up to 25 feet, and it shows us just how deep the water would be here if Ivan came through. WALTER MAESTRI: If Ivan made that direct hit, this is what we'd be looking at. And in order to build it, they had to put a wall, a levee, around the swamp, and then pump all the water out.