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*TUESDAY

Nova (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): If long-term success in life is measured by thriving and proliferating, then ants take the prize. They've been around for some 30 million years, long enough to watch many other life forms rise and fall.

In ''Little Creatures Who Run the World,'' the life of ants is probed by those nosy Johnny-come-latelies, human beings. The host is Harvard University's Edward O. Wilson, who won a Pulitzer Prize for co-authoring the monumental 1990 tome ''Ants.''

Close-up photography and sometimes startling film footage reveal a not-always-pretty world of wars and predatory raids, but also what looks a lot like family life.

*WEDNESDAY

Biography ''Sammy Davis Jr.: Mr. Entertainment'' (A&E, 8-9 p.m.): You may have seen that old clip on TV: a small, smiling child sings and dances with astonishing poise and panache. The kid may have been in danger of peaking early -- at age three, when he was already a hit. But Sammy Davis Jr. went on to become the most polished and charismatic singer-dancer of his era, some say.

The show also covers the rough side of the late Davis's life: He lost an eye in an auto accident; he was embroiled in many controversies over his marriages and his politics. But his soaring talent overcame all.

Boys and Girls Are Different: Men, Women, and the Sex Difference (ABC, 10-11 p.m.): The title makes a point that was once a truism: The different ways that boys and girls approach life goes beyond societal conditioning. But today that's an explosively controversial claim in some quarters.

John Stossel traces the women's movement and finds its justified goals haven't been fully realized yet. In exploring why, the program consults experts, talks with families, looks at test results, and concludes that perhaps gender differences -- but not inequality -- should be acknowledged, and that naturally different talents should be allowed to flourish.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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