Premieres Tuesday, May 2 at 10 PM ET/PT
on National Geographic Channel
National Geographic’s critically acclaimed global series BREAKTHROUGH, executive produced by Imagine Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment, returns for a second season on Tuesday, May 2, at 10/9c immediately following a new episode of Genius. The anthology series once again shines a light on the world’s leading scientists and how their cutting-edge innovations and advancements will change our lives in the immediate future and beyond. The series brings to life the stories, people and technology behind these breakthroughs, and shows how they are reshaping our world. Season two continues the tradition of tackling thought-provoking topics — including addiction, cyberterror, drones, cancer, big data and energy — with a uniquely scientific perspective. The new season will air on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages.
The new season, from executive producers Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg, Steven Michaels, Jonathan Koch, Mark Dowley, Kurt Sayenga and Ryann Lauckner, once again features a diverse lineup of talented directors turning their lenses toward the frontiers of science, technology and engineering, exploring the courage, imagination, passion and self-sacrifice of the men and women bringing these innovations to life. Season two directors are Ana Lily Amirpour (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”), Shalini Kantayya (“Catching the Sun”), David Lowery (“Pete’s Dragon”), Emmett and Brendan Malloy (“Tribes of Palos Verdes”) who also serve as executive producers on the series, Shane Carruth (“Upstream Color”), Kurt Sayenga (“Through the Wormhole”) and Steven Hoggard (“Inside the Green Berets”). And joining the line-up of executive producers for season two are Brendan Malloy and Emmett Malloy.
Season two episodes and stories include:
Director: David Lowery || Narrator: Mike Colter
Premieres: Tuesday, May 2, at 10/9c
Renegade researchers are fighting the medical establishment by exploring a controversial cure for our vices: psychedelic drugs. English countess Amanda Feilding (founder of the Beckley Foundation), Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College London and Dr. Matthew Johnson at Johns Hopkins University are reviving long-suppressed research into the therapeutic value of psychedelic drugs. Brain scans reveal that medically supervised trips may reboot the brains of addicts, but is this radical therapy powerful enough to break an opiate addiction?
Director: Steven Hoggard || Narrator: Barry Pepper
Premieres: Tuesday, May 9, at 10/9c
An exclusive look inside the shadowy world of hackers, where good battles evil with the security of the world at stake. This episode follows “white-hat” hackers Jayson Street, Darren Kitchen and Khalil Sehnaoui, security specialists who combine clever coding with “Mission: Impossible”-style “social engineering.” They have been hired to plan and execute a brazen hack: getting behind the teller wall and compromising the computers at five branches of a large bank. Meanwhile, social psychologist Nafees Hamid tracks down a “black-hat” ISIS hacker who is trying to recruit suicide bombers to attack a tourist destination. The hacker is following in the footsteps of Junaid Hussein, a young British man who rapidly went from prankster to the leader of ISIS’s recruiting and cyber operations, skillfully using the internet to coordinate terror attacks and wage psychological war on the digital battlefield.
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour || Narrator: Sheila Vand
Premieres: Tuesday, May 16, at 10/9c
Maverick doctors on different continents are reinventing the way cancer is treated, re-engineering our immune cells to target and destroy the renegades within us. At the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Carl June, Dr. David Porter and Dr. Bruce Levine have pioneered an extraordinary treatment that combines T cells taken from cancer patients with a deactivated HIV virus, creating supercharged killer T cells that have saved the lives of stage 4 cancer patients thought to be beyond hope. In France, Dr. Andre Choulika and his team at Cellectis have created “universal donor” T cells from healthy donors — cells that won’t be rejected by a different host. This could revolutionize cancer therapy as we know it. Together, these incredible breakthroughs are redefining the way cancer is treated, bringing us another step closer to a cancer-free world.
Breakthrough: Game of Drones
Director: Brendan and Emmett Malloy || Narrator: JK Simmons
Premieres: Tuesday, May 23, at 10/9c
Small, cheap commercial drones are everywhere, and they are being used for anything you can imagine. Most people use them for good … but in the wrong hands, they could be weapons of mass destruction. Governments and the defense industry are looking for ways to protect civilians from the current threat, and to prepare for the next step in drone evolution: when the machines are able to fly in swarms, like killer bees. It all comes to a head at the two-week-long Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Challenge, better known the Game of Drones, where wildly different experimental drone-killing systems try to fend off waves of drone attacks … attacks that could become a nightmarish new part of modern life.
Breakthrough: Predicting the Future
Director: Shane Carruth and Kurt Sayenga || Narrator: Aaron Eckhart
Premieres: Tuesday, May 30, at 10/9c
One of mankind’s oldest fantasies is having the ability to see into the future. Once, we looked to seers like Nostradamus; now we look to statisticians like Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight. Silver relies on data and a solid knowledge of probability — knowledge he gained from years of playing poker. But he may be the last of his breed. Increasingly, when we want to see the future, we turn to big data and computers powered by a new form of artificial intelligence called Deep Learning Neural Networks. This technology is quietly, but quickly, transforming how we live, work and think. To Bill Lapenta, the director of NOAA’s nine weather prediction centers, it’s a revolutionary tool in the never-ending quest to accurately forecast the weather. For Rutgers University, professor Joel Caplan and the Atlantic City Police Department, it’s the power behind “predictive policing” software that predicts what areas will become hot spots for crime. Deep Learning Neural Networks give Harvard University professor Pavlos Protopapas the ability to predict the path of every asteroid in space that could potentially hit the earth and wipe out the human race. But, warns Dr. Eric Siegel, for all of its potential for good, this technology can easily be turned against us, creating a world where your every move is calculated, and no mistake is forgiven.
Breakthrough: Power to the People
Director: Shalini Kantayya || Narrator: Chris Pine
Premieres: Tuesday, June 6, at 10/9c
Every year, worldwide consumption of electricity grows, yet there are still 1.3 billion people on earth who have never had access to power. Those who do have power face the reality of aging and vulnerable electrical grids that can’t keep up with the increasing demand; mass blackouts are increasingly common around the world. But there may be a better way to bring power to the people: self-contained power systems called microgrids that collect energy from the sun and store it in batteries. This episode follows a team of fearless engineers as they make a dangerous trek across the high Himalayas to install a microgrid in a remote monastery. The engineers include Mike Wilson, senior program manager at IEEE Smart Village; energy program manager Meera Tandon; and Paras Loomba, the passionate founder of the Global Himalayan Expedition, which has brought light to thousands who lived in darkness. Back in the U.S., President and CEO of GE Power Steve Bolze and Chairman of Energy & Finance for New York Richard Kauffman plan for a future in which digital technology and alternative energy sources help us avoid total blackout devastation.