TV edition of `Discover': wide-ranging survey of what's new

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Discover: The World of Science PBS, tomorrow, 8-9 p.m., check local listings. Narrator: Peter Graves. Writers: Marty Ostrow and Rolfe Tessem. Executive producers: John Angier and Graham Chedd. Once a month through February, ``Discover'' is bringing science and nature to PBS in incisive, human-scale segments with a kind of magazine version of that longtime favorite, ``Nova.''

Narrated by personable Peter Graves, who sounds as if he is really interested and involved in the material he introduces, ``Discover'' prides itself on the diversity of its subject matter.

This program focuses on avalanche forecasting, prenatal gene testing for disease, cockpit simulator training, and the loggerhead sea turtle.

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In the initial segment, ``Discover'' tracks avalanche scientists Sue Ferguson and Liam Fitzgerald as they go about their work, making certain that skiers and mountain dwellers are forewarned of snow avalanches.

In the second segment, viewers are confronted with one of today's developments in medical technology and the social and ethical questions it implies. Here the subject is a new prenatal test designed to inform parents whether an unborn child suffers from a disease diagnosed as without medical cure. The parents in this case are shown as prepared to use the test in deciding whether to seek an abortion.

The third segment takes the cameras into the cockpit of an airplane training simulator to see how the crew reacts during emergencies. According to the research gathered in such devices, a nonassertive copilot may be reluctant to differ forcefully with a forceful pilot, even when there is a need for collective decisions on handling technical failures. So both must learn to be team players.

The final episode is a repeat of last year's segment on the nesting of the giant loggerhead sea turtles that crawl up on the Florida shore to deposit eggs in warm sand nests. The hatched youngsters return in maturity instinctively to the same beach around 30 years later. ``Discover'' shows the cycle on film.

Science-lovers are discovering on PBS something that's missing from commercial television these days: an informative world of science-oriented entertainment -- the world of ``Discover.''

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