The disaster began during a routine systems test at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant located near the town of Pripyat, on April 26, 1986. After a power surge, an emergency shutdown was attempted and after a subsequent power spike, there was a reactor vessel rupture and a series of steam explosions. The cascading course of events led to exposing the graphite moderator of the reactor to the air, causing it to catch fire. This sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. The fallout from Chernobyl prompted mass evacuations as it drifted over an extensive geographical area, including the western Soviet Union and Europe. Over 350,000 people were resettled from contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine. Thirty-one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, and all the deaths were among reactor staff and emergency workers. This is the kind of atmosphere Nelson and Ochota are investigating on Life After: Chernobyl as they attempt to determine how the radiation continues to impact the affected areas. They are allowed to stay for as long as they need to in order to conduct their ground-breaking research, but the duo must also be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. Broadway World noted in their Life After: Chernobyl article that by staying in the area for too long, the radiation exposure could reach dangerously high levels in their bodies, and they must always monitor the radiation levels.
Earthquakes have always been a terrifying phenomenon, and they’ve become more deadly as our cities have grown — with collapsing buildings posing one of the largest risks. But why do buildings collapse in an earthquake? And how can it be prevented? Vicki V. May explains the physics of why it is not the sturdiest buildings, but the smartest, that will remain standing.
Liz Bonnin works with some of the world's leading marine biologists and campaigners to discover the true dangers of plastic in our oceans and what it means for the future of all life on our planet, including us. Trillions of pieces of plastic are choking the very lifeblood of our earth, and every marine animal, from the smallest plankton to the largest mammals, is being affected. Can we turn back this growing plastic tide before it is too late?
2018 • Environment
All over the world, scientists are discovering traces of ancient floods on a scale that dwarfs even the most severe flood disasters of recent times. What triggered these cataclysmic floods, and could they strike again? In the Channeled Scablands of Washington State, the level prairie gives way to bizarre, gargantuan rock formations: house-sized boulders seemingly dropped from the sky, a cliff carved by a waterfall twice the height of Niagara, and potholes large enough to swallow cars. Like forensic detectives at a crime scene, geologists study these strange features and reconstruct catastrophic Ice Age floods more powerful than all the world’s top ten rivers combined. NOVA follows their efforts to uncover the geologic fingerprints of other colossal megafloods in Iceland and, improbably, on the seabed of the English Channel. There, another deluge smashed through a land bridge connecting Britain and France hundreds of thousands of years ago and turned Britain into an island for the first time. These great disasters ripped through terrain and transformed continents in a matter of hours—and similar forces reawakened by climate change are posing an active threat to mountain communities throughout the world today.
Ben Fogle and Victoria Pendleton are guided by professional mountaineer Kenton Cool, a veteran of twelve Everest summits. As they head up the mountain, into the notorious "death zone", physical exhaustion, extreme conditions and misfortune will test the pair to their limits, 65 years after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit. Since that day in 1953, more than 4000 people have successfully climbed Everest but nearly 300 climbers have died on her icy slopes. As Ben and Victoria begin their expedition and face their fears, they know Everest will be life-changing.
2018 • Environment