Tonight on NOVA: Manhunt—Boston Bombers

For the past few weeks, I've been in Boston, hanging out at WGBH as Miles O'Brien and the PBS science program NOVA worked to put together this documentary on the science and technology inside the Boston bombing manhunt and investigation. It airs tonight, and it's pretty phnomenal. "Manhunt—Boston Bombers" premieres Wednesday, May 29th at 9PM/8c (check local listings).

Above, PBS NewsHour has a breakout piece related to the documentary: Understanding the Bombs Used at the Boston Marathon. It's a visit to the nation's most active explosives testing facility in New Mexico to learn more about how the Tsarnaev brothers may have made the pressure cooker bombs believed to have been used at the Boston Marathon. Investigators often use the center to test theories and find new ways to defend against future attacks. Below, the PBS NOVA trailer. From the description:

At 2:50 pm on April 15, two bomb blasts turned the Boston Marathon finish line from a scene of triumph to tragedy, leaving three dead, hundreds injured, and a city gripped by heartbreak and terror. Less than five days later, the key suspects were identified and apprehended with one dead, the other in custody. How did investigators transform the chaos of the bombing into a coherent trail of clues, pointing to the accused killers? NOVA follows the manhunt step by step, examining the role modern technology—combined with old-fashioned detective work—played in cracking the case. Given hundreds of hours of surveillance and bystander videos, how did agents spot the suspects in a sea of spectators? Why couldn't facial recognition software I.D. the criminals? How much could bomb chemistry analysis, cell phone GPS, infrared imagery, and crowdsourcing reveal about the secrets behind this horrific crime? With the help of top criminal investigators and anti-terrorism experts, NOVA explores which technological innovations worked—and which didn't—and how the world of crime fighting could be transformed tomorrow.


  1. “learn more about how the Tsarnaev brothers made the pressure cooker bombs used at the Boston marathon”  ……um did I miss the part where they were found guilty at a trial?

  2. Anyone remember when Nova was a science program?  Now it seems half the time they use it as another Frontline.  I don’t care about the Boston bombing.  I do however like science programming.  

  3. Notice they did not replace the rubber blowout plug in the lid with a bolt, see the jet of flame when it pops soon after ignition. 

  4. I hope this episode takes a real, non-sensationalized, unbiased tone. The days following the attack and the arrest were full of talk about how sophisticated everything was. I can’t recall the specific network, but a former federal agent (ATF or FBI) implied that the use of soldered connections indicated a high level of skill on the part of the bomb makers. Oh really? 

    I am in no way downplaying the significance of the attack or the suffering of the victims, but it is ridiculous to suggest that the attackers were anything other than bumbling amateurs or that the devices and plans were sophisticated. 

    What’s more ridiculous: serious discussions about security implications for upcoming marathons around the world, as though marathons and fun-runs are the new battlefield. Give me strength.

Comments are closed.