Modern Marvels

Continuing Saturday / 10:00pm H2 US 60 min.
Celebrating ingenuity, invention and imagination brought to life on a grand scale, MODERN MARVELS tells the fascinating stories of the doers, dreamers and sometime-schemers who created everyday items, technological breakthroughs and man-made wonders.

Season 19

11 Episodes

The Panama Canal is considered the 7th wonder of the modern world. But today, it is too small. Now in order to fit the worlds' growing fleet of super ships, the Panama Canal is getting a complete overhaul. This all-new, one-hour Modern Marvels takes us inside the billion dollar Panama Canal Expansion Project. With unprecedented access, this program features exclusive footage of the building of the new canal and shows us what it takes to complete one of the greatest construction projects in history. From massive explosions at the excavation site to eighteen hour concrete pours at the lock walls... from the assembly of the largest locks gates in the world to their transport on the backs of semi-submersible ships across the Atlantic... With the help of visually stunning photography and ample use of drone and time-lapse cameras, we'll follow the building of a modernized Panama Canal and capture the impressive scale and pace of this undertaking.
Apr 11 2015
Counting down America's top 10 greatest gadgets. Honorable Mention: Lava Lamp Honorable Mention: Flying Alarm Clock 10. Rube Goldberg Machine 9. Corkscrew 8. Tialinx Sensor 7. Furby 6. Glass Armonica 5. Brent Farley's Unsold Gadgets 4. Etch A Sketch 3. Zippo Lighter 2. Zipper 1. Mouse Trap
Jun 22 2014
For this countdown special, we're buckling up and punching it--as we raid the Modern Marvels archives for the hottest rides we've ever presented. From the retro to the rugged to the reckless, our top ten picks showcase our love affair with vehicles that blow back our hair or quicken our pulses. Our only limitation: they've got to stay earthbound--so no sea or aircraft. Other than that, anything goes...from one of Jay Leno's vintage autos to a sleek battery-driven roadster to a motorcycle you've got to see to believe. Our number 1 choice: a ride so hot that one passionate owner applied for a license to marry it.
Jun 22 2014
This countdown special kisses the conventional goodbye, raiding the Modern Marvels archives for the most bizarre wonders we've ever presented. Our top ten contenders demonstrate that the inside scoop on innovation often lies outside the norm. You'll be scratching your head at the weird assortment of oddities–technologies ranging from a gooey slime that could be a terrorist's worst nightmare…to an exacting art form requiring the help of millions of ravenous beetles. The final destination at number 1: a devise so strange and destructive that its inventor allegedly destroyed it to avert a catastrophe.
Sep 28 2013
The variety of jobs in America is endless–but some have to be seen to be believed. Our countdown of the top ten most fascinating jobs from our archives proves how daring and innovative the American worker can be. A nationwide quest finds amazing jobholders in the wild blue yonder and the depths of a secret underworld…in occupations ranging from the daffy to the dangerous to the downright creepy. And at the end of our journey, we find two business partners performing a job so perilous that one misstep can be deadly.
Sep 21 2013
America has always prided itself on its technological strength--and this countdown embarks on an odyssey featuring the strongest of the strong. Whether they lift, pull, hold or haul, every heavy-duty titan among our top ten choices has the muscle.
Sep 14 2013
The only thing harder than resisting our favorite snacks is ranking them. But this special episode of Modern Marvels counts down the top ten lip-smacking treats Americans love most. We raid the pantry–and our rich archives–showcasing the indulgently decadent, the heart-healthy, and the wildly delicious spectrum of grab-and-go delights in between. It's a nationwide culinary journey leading to our number 1 choice–a snack so irresistible that Americans consume almost half the world's supply.
Sep 07 2013
Modern Marvels is going big, and counting down. We take the "best of" Modern Marvels and give you the MEGA Top 10 countdown. On this edition, the top ten guilty pleasures you just can't resist… America's Favorite Foods.
Aug 27 2012
Modern Marvels is going big, and counting down. We take the "best of" Modern Marvels and give you the MEGA Top 10 countdown. On this edition: Amazing Weapons. They're every arsenal's best asset and every enemy's worst nightmare and we're counting them down to the most amazing weapon of all.
Jul 30 2012
Modern Marvels is going big, and counting down. We take the "best of" Modern Marvels and give you the MEGA Top 10 countdown. On this edition: Awe-Inspiring Machines–featuring the top ten mightiest, strangest, and most unique innovations from our archives.
Jul 23 2012
Modern Marvels is going big, and counting down. We take the "best of" Modern Marvels and give you the MEGA Top 10 countdown. On this edition: Speed. It's a pure adrenaline rush as we race the top 10 fastest marvels we've featured down to the speediest of all.
Jul 16 2012

Season 18

19 Episodes

It traps a treasure of energy on the ocean floor, and confounds scientists still trying to solve why it’s so slippery. We’ll venture inside NASA’s Icing Research Tunnel in Ohio, and then it’s off to Salt Lake City’s Olympic Oval which boasts “the fastest ice on Earth.” Dive to the ocean floor to collect and analyze a unique form of ice called methane clathrates–cages of ice encasing pressurized natural gas. Scientists believe that if only one percent of the world’s ice-entrapped methane could be harvested, it would more than double our current supply of natural gas. Other highlights include the search for extraterrestrial ice and a trip inside the studio of a chainsaw-wielding artist as he sculpts a masterpiece.
Jun 05 2015
Duplicate 18x98
TBA
Our 49th state is one tough terrain. In the air, on the ground–and deep beneath it–survival here requires an amazing array of technological innovations. From buildings to highways, brutal winters to bug-infested summers, this unforgiving landscape demands creative work-arounds. And then there's the constant threat of natural disasters…tsunami, anyone?
Feb 27 2012
Feb 20 2012
Shoes 18x15
Shoes have come a long way from their humble beginnings as simple leather moccasins. Today footwear is built to withstand any extreme environment where a foot can tread — from the heart of a burning building to the track of an Olympic stadium. From high-tech soles to shoelaces, cowboy boots to sneaker design — step behind the scenes with the products that keep your feet covered.
Feb 06 2012
Every aspect of our lives involves pressure. It's what puts the bubbles in soft drinks, propels shaving cream from its can, cools the contents of your refrigerator, and causes volcanoes to erupt. But when pressure suddenly changes, you better look out! Rapid pressure changes can be as violent as explosions. And variable atmospheric pressure? We call that the weather.
Jan 30 2012
Stink 18x13
Just the whiff of a foul odor can make your head spin, your eyes water, your stomach turn–it can even send you hurling. From cesspools, military stink bombs, and rancid rotting meat… to cow farms and landfills… to bad breath, B.O and beyond, the world is full of stink–and we've spent centuries battling the funk. So how do we deal with these horrific odors? Hold your breath `cause these sensational stories are gonna STINK!
Jan 23 2012
"Tiny" weapons may not sound impressive…but small can kill, and it can also be easily concealed. From a pocket pistol used by the police…to a submachine gun wielded by a bodyguard…to a carbine in the hands of an Army Ranger, many of today's most effective weapons are smaller than ever. They can fit in your pocket, fly through the air, even break through walls–tiny weapons are an essential part of battle, self-defense, and spreading terror.
Jan 16 2012
From the beginning of time we've worked to protect ourselves against the very element that keeps us alive…Water. We love it and hate it. With water covering 75% of the Earth's surface, it's no wonder we struggle to stay safe and dry. We fight against ferocious weather and floods with state-of-the-art roofing, wraps, tarps, tunnels, clothing, boats, and much more… devising extreme tests to probe the limits of our modern waterproof technology.
Jan 09 2012
U.S. soldiers today face enormous challenges, often stationed in desolate locations behind enemy lines. Keeping them protected is priority number one–and the military is making enormous leaps in devising a wide array of high-tech equipment to protect today's soldier. From elaborate elite training facilities, to GPS-guided air drops, to revolutionary high-tech tents and fire-retardant uniforms, we explore the science and technology of building, operating and protecting a base in a warzone
Jan 02 2012
160 million Americans visit a convenience store every day. Why? Because it's fast. But what you probably didn't know is how every detail of its design has been engineered to work that way. Step inside one of the busiest 7-11's in America and find out what makes it tick. And go behind the scenes to see how favorite innovations–like slurpees, turbo ovens, and beef jerky–are made. The science of convenience will amaze you!
Dec 26 2011
Wood 18x08
Hundreds of years before steel and plastic, wood was the building block of America. But even today, it touches every aspect of our lives. It's underneath our feet and flying through the sky, propping up skyscrapers and making burgers fry — from the historical, to the modern, to the timeless, we explore the surprising ways we cannot live without WOOD.
Dec 19 2011
Candy is America's sweetest guilty pleasure–so appealing that we spend $25 billion annually to experience it. Our cameras venture from Chicago to Santa Cruz, California to show you that behind every delicious bite is a fascinating story of imagination and innovation. Fourth-generation candy makers Nick and Gino Marini reveal how they're redefining the limits of confectioneering with their latest sensation…chocolate-covered bacon. The crew that makes the iconic red and white Starlight Mints demonstrates how they give each piece its trademark color pattern. As your mouth waters throughout the hour, you'll also discover they key ingredient that gives Lemonheads their sour punch…and the surprising substance that puts the polish on Mike and Ikes. And you'll be shocked to learn how little sugar is in cotton candy.
Dec 05 2011
It has been said that necessity is the mother of all invention–but that is not always the case. Some strange machines are built for sheer spectacle, some a glimpse into the future or even the past, while others are just plain…Weird. Take a look at machines that specialize in high functionality and low practicality, prompting two very important questions: What is it and…how do I get one? An Alaskan navigates the Juneau waters with his homemade submarine. A California company shocks local beach bums with their fully submersible "shark boats." We'll also meet a bicep-curling robot that's built to save lives; scale a mountain with a 21st century Batman-esque rope ascender; witness an engineered, forty-foot vortex of fire known as the Flame Tornado; and hit the backcountry trails with a snowboard-motorcycle hybrid inspired by a shopping cart.
Nov 28 2011
Food Trucks are hitting the big time–across much of America, they're changing the way we eat. From humble beginnings as chuck wagons and hot dog carts, they've taken off as ethnic eateries, gourmet specialists, and even high-tech mega trucks that serve thousands at disaster scenes. Not surprisingly, it takes some pretty sophisticated engineering to make it all work–and turn a truck into a kitchen on wheels.
Nov 14 2011
Teddy Roosevelt carried a revolver. The night they each died, Abraham Lincoln carried a $5 Confederate note and nine newspaper clippings, while John Wilkes Booth carried a candle and pictures of five women, including his fiance. Why? Most people don't even think about it anymore. We simply put what we were carrying yesterday, and the day before that, back into our pockets. Do we really need everything we carry with us? In this hour we will take a look at the items we found in peoples' pockets all across America. Not cell phones, which everybody has, but more intimate items. Personal things…both valuable and cheap. Work aids…both simple and high-tech. Even food! And we'll not only see what they must have in their possession, but how some of it is made. Why does a search and rescue fireman carry a hockey puck? We'll also discover how they make and carry a "personal escape" bailout system.
Nov 07 2011
Swamp technology is examined. Included: the assembly of an airboat; a ride in a swamp buggy; and a look at a project to divert the mighty Mississippi River.
Oct 24 2011
We live in a highly mechanized world in which billions of products are made by machines--but there are some things that can be built only by using an even more sophisticated tool--the human hand.
Oct 10 2011
Don't look now--but there's a lot more to your walls than you'd ever imagine. Take a penetrating look inside something we consider utterly mundane, and uncover a surprising and sometimes shocking world.
Oct 03 2011

Season 17

16 Episodes

The Panama Canal is thought to be the 7th wonder of the modern world, but now to fit the world's growing fleet of super ships, the Panama Canal is getting completely revamped; a look inside the billion dollar Panama Canal Expansion Project.
Apr 11 2015
A countdown of the top gizmos and gadgets featured on "Modern Marvels."
Jun 15 2014
A countdown of the hottest vehicles featured on "Modern Marvels."
Jun 15 2014
Tunnels 17x13
Design and construction of tunnels; Holland Tunnel; Lincoln Tunnel.
Oct 07 2013
A gooey slime that could be a terrorist's worst nightmare; an exacting art form requiring the help of millions of ravenous beetles; a devise so strange and destructive that its inventor allegedly destroyed it to avert a catastrophe.
Sep 28 2013
A countdown of the ten most fascinating occupations.
Sep 21 2013
Counting down the top ten machines that lift, pull, hold and haul.
Sep 14 2013
Counting down the top ten treats Americans love the most.
Sep 07 2013
America's favorite foods are profiled.
Aug 27 2012
Top 10 amazing weapons.
Jul 30 2012
Top ten machines are counted down.
Jul 23 2012
The 10 fastest marvels are featured.
Jul 16 2012
Our 49th state is one tough terrain. In the air, on the ground--and deep beneath it--survival here requires an amazing array of technological innovations. From buildings to highways, brutal winters to bug-infested summers, this unforgiving landscape demands creative work-arounds. And then there's the constant threat of natural disasters...tsunami, anyone?
Feb 27 2012
Shoes 17x03
Shoes have come a long way from their humble beginnings as simple leather moccasins. Today footwear is built to withstand any extreme environment where a foot can tread -- from the heart of a burning building to the track of an Olympic stadium. From high-tech soles to shoelaces, cowboy boots to sneaker design -- step behind the scenes with the products that keep your feet covered.
Feb 06 2012
Every aspect of our lives involves pressure. It's what puts the bubbles in soft drinks, propels shaving cream from its can, cools the contents of your refrigerator, and causes volcanoes to erupt. But when pressure suddenly changes, you better look out! Rapid pressure changes can be as violent as explosions. And variable atmospheric pressure? We call that the weather.
Jan 30 2012
"Tiny" weapons may not sound impressive...but small can kill, and it can also be easily concealed. From a pocket pistol used by the police...to a submachine gun wielded by a bodyguard...to a carbine in the hands of an Army Ranger, many of today's most effective weapons are smaller than ever. They can fit in your pocket, fly through the air, even break through walls--tiny weapons are an essential part of battle, self-defense, and spreading terror.
Jan 16 2012

Season 16

16 Episodes

160 million Americans visit a convenience store every day. Why? Because it's fast. But what you probably didn't know is how every detail of its design has been engineered to work that way. Step inside one of the busiest 7-11's in America and find out what makes it tick. And go behind the scenes to see how favorite innovations--like slurpees, turbo ovens, and beef jerky--are made. The science of convenience will amaze you!
Dec 26 2011
Wood 16x15
Hundreds of years before steel and plastic, wood was the building block of America. But even today, it touches every aspect of our lives. It's underneath our feet and flying through the sky, propping up skyscrapers and making burgers fry -- from the historical, to the modern, to the timeless, we explore the surprising ways we cannot live without WOOD.
Dec 19 2011
From the beginning of time we've worked to protect ourselves against the very element that keeps us alive...Water. We love it and hate it. With water covering 75% of the Earth's surface, it's no wonder we struggle to stay safe and dry. We fight against ferocious weather and floods with state-of-the-art roofing, wraps, tarps, tunnels, clothing, boats, and much more... devising extreme tests to probe the limits of our modern waterproof technology.
Dec 16 2011
Stink 16x13
Just the whiff of a foul odor can make your head spin, your eyes water, your stomach turn--it can even send you hurling. From cesspools, military stink bombs, and rancid rotting meat... to cow farms and landfills... to bad breath, B.O and beyond, the world is full of stink--and we've spent centuries battling the funk. So how do we deal with these horrific odors? Hold your breath `cause these sensational stories are gonna STINK!
Dec 08 2011
U.S. soldiers today face enormous challenges, often stationed in desolate locations behind enemy lines. Keeping them protected is priority number one--and the military is making enormous leaps in devising a wide array of high-tech equipment to protect today's soldier. From elaborate elite training facilities, to GPS-guided air drops, to revolutionary high-tech tents and fire-retardant uniforms, we explore the science and technology of building, operating and protecting a base in a warzone.
Dec 07 2011
Candy is America's sweetest guilty pleasure--so appealing that we spend $25 billion annually to experience it. Our cameras venture from Chicago to Santa Cruz, California to show you that behind every delicious bite is a fascinating story of imagination and innovation. Fourth-generation candy makers Nick and Gino Marini reveal how they're redefining the limits of confectioneering with their latest sensation...chocolate-covered bacon. The crew that makes the iconic red and white Starlight Mints demonstrates how they give each piece its trademark color pattern. As your mouth waters throughout the hour, you'll also discover they key ingredient that gives Lemonheads their sour punch...and the surprising substance that puts the polish on Mike and Ikes. And you'll be shocked to learn how little sugar is in cotton candy.
Dec 05 2011
It has been said that necessity is the mother of all invention--but that is not always the case. Some strange machines are built for sheer spectacle, some a glimpse into the future or even the past, while others are just plain...Weird.
Nov 28 2011
Mobile eateries with surprising innovations.
Nov 14 2011
People's pocket contents are examined to see what they carry and why.
Nov 07 2011
It's a great American wilderness--millions of acres of wild, primeval land with its own people, its own technology...and its own rules. Survival there depends on smarts and science, guts and grueling work...and a unique approach to one of the world's most uncompromising environments--swamps. Watch an assembly of the distinctive airboat, then hop on board for a breathtaking journey and discover the surprising history behind this swamp staple of transportation. Take a wild ride on a big-tired swamp buggy, and taste test some local delicacies that bring new meaning to "acquired taste." Witness a massive engineering project to divert the mighty Mississippi River, and meet the machines that make that job possible. Plus come face to face, literally, with enormous pythons and menacing alligators.
Oct 24 2011
We live in a highly mechanized world in which billions of products are made by machines--but there are some things that can be built only by using an even more sophisticated tool--the human hand. In New Mexico, a pilot who builds his own jet-powered glider takes to the skies--his very life depending on his handiwork. Canoe makers in Montana, and a knife maker in Washington, handcraft items so unique that customers are willing to pay significantly higher prices than if they were machine made. In the farmlands of Central California, craftsmen keep alive the ancient art of weapon making--see their gleaming suits of armor in action, as weekend warriors do battle. Ever wonder how those impressive animal skeletons in museums are constructed? The artists of Skulls International in Oklahoma City share their secrets. And in Hollywood, the Chiodo brothers reveal how handmade special effects have a charm and character that today's computer animators can't duplicate.
Oct 10 2011
Don't look now--but there's a lot more to your walls than you'd ever imagine. Take a penetrating look inside something we consider utterly mundane, and uncover a surprising and sometimes shocking world. A computer-managed home in Colorado showcases the high tech gadgetry destined to inhabit every wall in the future. At the headquarters of Orkin in Atlanta, a network of walls with cutouts and Plexiglas windows reveal how pests and creepy crawlies of all kinds can congregate in huge numbers inside our homes. In Washington, scientists at Underwriters Labs play with fire in the name of research, investigating how our walls can keep us safe--or expose us to a fiery death. And in Los Angeles, a security company demonstrates innovative new technology that can "see" through walls--detecting motion, heat, breathing, even heartbeats.
Oct 03 2011
America would come to a standstill without trucks. Trucks transport a staggering 70 percent of all the nation's goods. Explore the amazingly diverse world of American trucks and the colorful men and women who drive them. Join country superstar Brad Paisley and his crew of truckers on the road between Little Rock and Tulsa--racing the clock to be on time for Brad's next concert. In Dearborn, Michigan, climb aboard one of the most popular pickups--the Ford F-150--as it tackles a devilish test course. And in Virginia, see how fast the world's most nimble tow truck can extract a car from the tightest parking spot imaginable. Meet a Mack truck fanatic and his cool collection of vintage models, and ride-along with an unsung hero with a truly dirty job--operating a truck designed to empty and clean portable toilets.
Feb 04 2011
From hauling our heaviest gear to mastering the tallest mountains, they have been around for centuries, but we constantly improve upon them. Get an inside look at factories where every kind and style of Ropes & Chains are made. We'll get some lessons from a company that trains high-flying workers who depend on rope to do their jobs safely. Learn how window washers, rock climbers and even bungee jumpers safely use the ropes they depend on every day! See dockworkers who rely on ropes around the clock, and pay a visit to the head-spinning factory floors where some of the strongest ropes available are made. See how industrial chain links come to life from just a rusty steel coil and how they're used to anchor massive ships and unload cargo. From parachute cord to shipping lines, from fine jewelry to anchor chains--we'll discover the many uses of today's Ropes & Chains.
Jan 28 2011
Grease 16x02
In our lifelong battle to fight friction, Grease--in all its forms--is the unsung hero. Journey deep into places few people ever get to see, to discover the "hidden" uses of one of our most slippery products inside giant machines. We'll also investigate how it's made in a factory in New York, as well as what new advances some are working towards for grease of the future. But in the meantime, we'll witness how it is currently used inside a US Navy aircraft carrier, San Francisco's famous cable cars, elevators and escalators, assembly lines, huge excavators, amusement park rides, and even the Panama Canal. From pig fat to nano-particles... amazing Grease keeps everything rolling along--smooth and fast.
Jan 21 2011
Packaging 16x01
It's all around us--so much a part of our lives that we forget it's there. But try to survive a single day without packaging. This episode reveals the astounding technology and ingenuity required to create our packaged world. At a Michigan company that designs water bottles, we'll show you how engineers find their inspiration from a bell pepper. In New Jersey, the makers of bubble Wrap clue you in on their manufacturing secrets. In Texas, workers conquer the challenge of packaging the world's largest crane. And you'll also see how America's military goods and supplies are packaged and shipped by the United States Transportation Command. Other stories include a new easy to open package that's the cure for "wrap rage"--and how NASA engineers packed a fragile humanoid robot for a trip into orbit.
Jan 14 2011

Season 15

31 Episodes

Rice 15x31
You can fry it up, eat it for breakfast, or quaff it down on a hot summer day. It's the world's most versatile grain: RICE. At last count, there were over 140,000 types--white, brown, long-grain, wild, short-grain, jasmine, Arborio, Basmati, black Thai, sweet, sticky--enough to satisfy any discerning palette. From the mountaintops of Nepal to the fertile fields of California and Arkansas, we'll find out everything there is to know about growing, harvesting and milling this tiny, life saving fare. We'll travel to restaurants and distilleries to experience the delicious creations talented masters whip up. It comes in all the colors of the rainbow, served up everyday in countless dishes. It even brews into alcoholic drinks--sake and beer. We'll also go inside the factories that make Rice Cakes and Rice Krispie Treats to discover how they use RICE to make their "snackable" delights.
Dec 29 2010
Get behind the wheel and take control of the some of the largest, fastest, most powerful machines on the planet. These aren't your average vehicles--and handling one of these rides is unlike anything else. But you need more than just a learner's permit to take control of these vehicles...you need training, experience, and above all, guts--if you plan to sit in the Driver's Seat.
Dec 21 2010
Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the United States has stamped, carved, cut, built and assembled its way into becoming the super power of product production. However, in the last 20 years, the "Made in America" tag began to fade, as the manufacturing landscape of industry went overseas. So what is still Made in the USA? Visit the world's biggest and oldest flag manufacturer, which has made some of the most famous flags in history. Go inside the factories that produce the last athletic shoe made in the US. See the strangest form of alternate transportation known to man--completely assembled in 30 minutes. Check out a hot toy company that believes it's imperative to keep their work here at home. Top it all off with some great food--some American success stories that may seem foreign at first glance. It's not just a label. It's a proud and important tradition.
Dec 17 2010
Just below the surface, there's a whole different America hidden from public view. Take a revealing look at the America under our feet, from secret military installations, and experimental farms to tunnel networks and neutron lasers.
Dec 10 2010
Enter the amazing and ingenious ultra-sturdy shelters, machines, containers, materials and packaging designed to deny the ruination of society. The drive to create the indestructible has inspired some of the most prolific and awe inspiring results: The Cold War spawned personal bomb shelters in the 1950s. They weren't truly safe and secure, but today's 21st century version will last a millennium. And so will the special food you can get, along with all the comforts of home--like running water, plumbing and electricity. Caskets serve as our final resting place, but how long do they really last? Investigate how valuable data from a plane crash survives in a "black box" (that's not really black), to explain what might have caused the accident. And get an intimate look at the new "home" that protects and preserves one of the world's most valuable documents--the case that houses the original Declaration of Independence.
Dec 03 2010
Dogs 15x26
Man's best friend--fearless, faithful, determined and swift. They're our sharpest eyes, noses and ears--and among the bravest hunters, soldiers, rescuers, and protectors. From natural instincts to complex training, see what makes dogs a perfectly engineered Modern Marvel.
Nov 26 2010
They are catastrophic failures with deadly consequences. Caused by a single spark or a massive collapse, these disasters reveal one thing--the danger inherent in our most common industries. From a massive oil spill to refinery blaze to a downed plane, find out what went wrong... and how to prevent the next engineering disaster.
Nov 19 2010
Tens of millions of them all over the world--soda and snack machines, parking meters and payphones, video games and vending machines... and they all use coins--but for how long? Examine the historic one-armed bandits and the 21st century, cutting edge, computerized slot machines that occupy Vegas casinos and get an exclusive look at their inner workings in a never-before-seen factory in Reno, Nevada. Search out some of the wackiest, strangest vending machines on the planet that sell everything from bottles of wine to dog washes. Get a close-up look at the famous binoculars located at popular tourist sites around the world, as well as a unique company that collects and cleans the coins thrown into fountains for good luck. But it all starts and ends in the historic halls of the U.S. Mint, where coins are made and destroyed. Will coins one day become obsolete?
Nov 12 2010
The US has become the culture of BIG--just look at the importance of size and how it has been infused into the lifestyle we choose to live, whether it's our homes, our appliances such as large screen TVs or even eccentric stretch limos. But big has also affected what we eat. This episode explores America's growing obsession with plus-sized meals and how we cook them! Discover the largest everyday offerings of gargantuan portions--from the biggest stacked burger in the world (at almost 250 pounds), a plus-sized Sicilian pizza that feeds almost 75 people, a 72-ounce steak no real cowboy can resist, and the seven-pound hot dog that's too big for a bun. Top it all off with a giant cupcake, humongous cinnamon roll or a five pound gummy bear... and chase it down with a monster bottle of beer that holds over 101 ounces of brew.
Nov 05 2010
Oct 29 2010
Top Ten 15x21
We can't live without them and yet they didn't even exist a couple of decades ago. We'll count down our list of the top ten technological innovations of the last generation. Have they made human existence exponentially better, or more fragmented and precarious? Tune in to find out what they are, and how they've impacted our lives.
Jun 17 2010
Where in Washington D.C. is the nation's most incredible treasure chest? It's a library unlike any other in the world--the U.S. Library of Congress. Explode the myth that this 200-year-old institution is simply "where members of Congress borrow books." Viewers are taken beyond the magnificent Jefferson Building Great Hall into the secret vaults where more than 600 miles of shelves hold 130 million items, many of them priceless treasures--from George Washington's hand-written diaries to Galileo's first images of the moon to the original camera film of the movie Frankenstein. See how a staff of 4,000 catalogues protects and preserves these treasures and distributes them globally via a new World Digital Library.
Jun 10 2010
Doors 15x19
Take a look at the tallest doors in the world at the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. Visit a company that makes blast doors and bulletproof doors. Learn about the surprisingly complex process involved in making home doors, as well as what goes into those commercial entries and exits we use everyday--the revolving door and the turnstile. At the Southwestern Foundation for Biomedical Research, enter through an airlock into their level 4 biohazard lab. The Cleveland Federal Reserve doesn't even send people into their vaults; its robots go in and out. Try some aviation entries and exits--the jet way used to board a plane, the airplane emergency exit procedures we hope to never use, and ejection seats, the fastest exit anywhere. Then, an engineering firm that designs hidden doors will take viewers to see a few of their secret entries. Finally, take a quick look at doors that go nowhere, at the Winchester Mystery House.
Jun 03 2010
It's full steam ahead when we drop in at Jay Leno's garage as Jay fires up two of his classic steam cars and takes viewers for a couple of rides. Jay also shows off his 11-ton steam engine built in 1860, back when pigs had to be slaughtered to keep it lubricated. In northern Nevada, fire up a coal burning boiler and get a 100-year-old steam locomotive chugging across the rugged landscape. In New Orleans, board an authentic paddlewheel steamboat. Trek to the Southern California desert where geothermal steam rushes up from the ground and drives electricity producing turbines, powering over 300,000 homes. In New York City, find out why manmade steam surges into some of the world's most famous skyscrapers. Steam clean some very dirty machines, and do a little laundry, too. And ride a steam-driven carousel and play with some strange, steam-powered robots that are part of a movement called--what else--"steampunk."
May 27 2010
Keep Out 15x17
Either someone has something to protect, or it's dangerous in there. Challenge the world's best safecracker to defeat a bank vault, and see the methods a bank uses to protect its money and tellers. Travel to New Mexico to find out how the government plans to keep people away from a nuclear waste site for the next 10,000 years. Tour Master Lock to see how padlocks and combination locks are made, as well as how facial recognition, irises, and even vein structure can "unlock" biometric locks. With Customs and Border Protection, watch how officers stop illegals and contraband from entering the U.S. Tour a company that specializes in making products like steel nets to keep out people and vehicles. Visit a command center that monitors all airspace in and around the U.S. Finally, see how cages and other deterrents tell sharks to KEEP OUT!
May 20 2010
Get ready to examine points of failure in ultra slow motion. Watch drivers crash cars and trucks at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to find their breaking points, and to find the breaking points of the crash dummies inside. At Underwriter's Laboratories, fire rounds at bullet proof glass until it breaks, and see how long it will take experts to breach a safe using more and more powerful tools. Watch as lithium-ion batteries catch fire and blow up at Sandia National Laboratories. At Arizona State University, find the breaking points of steel, concrete--even Kevlar jet engine containment systems. See how a bike helmet guards against the skull reaching its breaking point, then fire high-speed projectiles at Oakley's sport glasses and military grade goggles to see if they survive. And at Black Diamond, scale a rock face with a professional climber to find the breaking point of the carabineers and chalks upon which his very life depends.
May 13 2010
Size does matter. We'll size up the biggest of machines, and their smallest counterparts. First we go to France to find out what goes into assembling the world's largest jetliner, the Airbus A380. Then, fly with microjet pilots in the world's smallest jets. Witness a race between a huge Boss Hoss 425 horsepower motorcycle and an 18 inch tall pocket bike. Take the world's smallest production car for a ride and see just how many choir members we can fit into a super-sized limousine. See a mammoth Caterpillar front loader in action, in an open pit coal mine, and dig up the backyard with a loader that's no bigger than a lawnmower. Finally, walk inside an enormous diesel engine powering an 80,000 ton container ship and eyeball a tiny one driving a five pound model airplane.
May 06 2010
Take a journey into the world of super sized, super strong, super unique ships. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography takes viewers out to sea to see how their FLIP research vessel flips a full 90 degrees, sinking over three quarters of its 355-foot length. In Miami, go behind the scenes of one of the largest cruise ships in the world. In California, step onboard the Navy's newest, most advanced transport ship and take a spin in one of America's strongest and greenest tugboats. In Boston, venture into the frigid world of an LNG carrier, transporting enough natural gas to power a million homes for an entire week. In Maine, hop on "the Cat," the fastest car ferry in North America--it's a huge twin-hulled catamaran. Finally, learn how a ship that looks like an enormous spider on water may someday save lives.
Apr 29 2010
In Alabama, fly with the Apache Longbow, the deadliest helicopter in world, and learn how to fly the Blackhawk, one of the most sophisticated and versatile helicopters in world. Then climb aboard a Coast Guard helicopter as a team trains for water rescues in the Gulf. In California, see how the immensely popular Robinson helicopters are hand-made and how the police use them to catch fleeing criminals. In Tennessee, learn how million dollar Bell helicopters are customized with everything from bars and entertainment systems to state of the art navigation. Then it's off to Arizona to see how anyone can build their own affordable helicopter in their garage. Finally, learn how drone helicopters that can shoot a movie or take out an enemy.
Apr 22 2010
Got something strange to deliver? From pizza to packages, we'll show you how it's packed, labeled and shipped. Head down the highway carrying gigantic wind turbine blades. See how UPS got China's invaluable terra cotta warriors to a Los Angeles art museum. Deliver luxury yachts aboard a submersible carrier ship. Ride to the track with prized thoroughbreds on their own special jet. Want dinner and a movie? Sounds like a visit to Netflix headquarters and Papa John's Pizza. Ride radical with bike messengers in New York City, and deliver a donor kidney to a waiting hospital. Take a tour of the UPS Worldport hub in Louisville, Kentucky, a mammoth center with delivery docks for 100 jets, and handles 1.2 million packages a day.
Apr 15 2010
Fry It 15x11
Fairgrounds fried classics such as funnel cakes and churros; frog legs; Twinkies and Coke; forging a cast iron frying pan; Kentucky's World Chicken Festival.
Apr 01 2010
Mar 25 2010
Chili head alert! It's time to get hot and spicy. First we'll take you to the home of sizzling Tabasco sauce--McIlhenny Company of Louisiana, and to McCormick in Baltimore, Maryland--the leading spice manufacturer in the world. Then, head down south to see who likes it hot at the Southern Mississippi Chili Cook Off. At the Chile Pepper Institute, taste the rare "Bhut Jolokia," the hottest Chile pepper in the world, and learn about the chemical substance capsaicin, which gives the "Bhut" and other popular peppers their tongue-burning heat. At Sol Toro restaurant in Connecticut, owned by basketball great Michael Jordan, customers need to sign a waiver to dine on their sizzling dishes. Go to the manufacturers of horseradish, wasabi and mustard to find out how their roots and seeds deliver their own distinctive blazing burn. Using the same heat many savor, we'll demonstrate the powerful punch of pepper spray as a weapon.
Mar 18 2010
Beans 15x08
Follow the soybean from field to refinery with CHS, Inc. as they convert billions of soybeans into vegetable oils, flour, and soy meal. These products, in turn, end up in salad dressings and margarines, baked goods, animal feed and even bio-fuel and plastics. Pay a visit to the Kelley Bean Company which cleans 80,000 pounds of dry beans per day. B & M Baked Beans stirs up some New England tradition by baking beans in steel kettles and brick ovens. Then, Italian chef and bean lover Cesare Casella whips up a few bean dishes using rare heirloom beans, some of which cost $35 per pound. For dessert, Japanese pastry makers prepare traditional bean-based confections with the azuki bean. Fry up some falafel and puree some beans into a paste called hummus with the most widely consumed legume in the world...the chickpea. Last but not least, the makers of Beano explain how it works to prevent that unfortunate bean byproduct: gas.
Mar 11 2010
What does it take to turn twenty tons of steel into top-notch vehicles in less than a day? How does a pile of lumber become a million dollar home in a mere week? Every process, from beginning to end, is a unique and incredible adventure. From the fiery birth of high tech golf clubs to the cataclysmic end of old buildings... get ready to race from Start to Finish.
Mar 04 2010
Chrome 15x06
At 4 State Trucks in Missouri, the Chrome Shop Mafia adds some truckers' "bling" to a big rig as viewers tour its 35,000 square-foot treasure trove of chrome. In Illinois, learn just how automotive parts get their luster in a complex electroplating process. And out on the road with some bikers, take a look at how Harley Davidson puts chrome to work both as a decorative surface and a protective covering on engine parts. At a classic car gathering, collectors show off their sparkling tailfins and grilles--and in Michigan, peruse a unique collection of more than 3,000 chrome hood ornaments. See how workers chrome-plate plastic, and learn how chrome puts the "stainless" in stainless steel. Find out how stainless steel flatware is manufactured and explore the iconic, shimmering art deco dome of the Chrysler Building. Finally, a Colorado artist will show viewers how he rescues old chrome car bumpers from the scrap yard and transforms them.
Mar 02 2010
From building cutting-edge competition venues to the latest sports science training, winter sports use more technology than ever. This episode takes you behind the scenes of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter games. Olympic organizers race against the clock to build venues, expand transportation and security, and add futuristic touches to the ultimate Olympic icon--the Olympic torch. Meanwhile, US Olympic hopefuls use high-tech training tools to gain a competitive edge. Take in breathtaking views from the world's highest unsupported gondola and rocket down a bobsled track at 80 miles per hour, as we show you winter sports like you've never seen them before.
Feb 11 2010
Tuna 15x04
It's the most popular fish in the American diet. From the school lunch box--to the high end sushi bar--to the outdoor barbecue, tuna crosses all demographic lines. We'll go fishing with the men who risk their lives to bring in a haul, stop in at Bumble Bee, the only major tuna cannery still operating in America, and visit the world's largest fish market in Tokyo, where a single tuna can sell for as much as $100,000. We'll also explore worldwide efforts to save the giant bluefin tuna, which has been over-fished to a point of peril. Then we'll head to sea with scientists who track the tunas' inter-oceanic migrations, and travel to South Australia, where entrepreneurs seek to breed the mighty bluefin in captivity.
Feb 04 2010
It is among the most versatile, nutritious, and varied foodstuffs in the world. The Potato is the ultimate comfort food. We'll travel from the Potato's mysterious origins in the South American Andes to the ethnic enclaves of New York's lower Eastside, for some tasty Potato Knishes. In Northern Maine we'll discover a farmer of exotic potatoes: blue, green, pink, and dark purple varieties. We'll reveal how large-scale potato producers in Idaho and Pennsylvania slice, dice, freeze, and dehydrate millions of pounds of spuds annually. We'll learn how to mass produce Tater tots and Kettle Potato Chips. Potato Vodka now scores near perfection in international tasting competitions--and we'll visit a Maine distillery at the top of their game. Finally, we'll pay tribute to the iconic Mr. Potato Head, now celebrating its 50th Anniversary, then round out the show with an explosive visit to the makers of some of the world's most sophisticated Spud Guns.
Jan 28 2010
Eggs 15x02
Each year in the U.S., 280 million hens lay 80 billion eggs, one of the world's most affordable sources of protein. We'll chart the "journey of the egg" from henhouse to breakfast table...from massive traditional Iowa farms, where millions of eggs move from hens to delivery trucks without being touched by human hands...to "cage-free" and "pasture raised" farms where chickens have more room to roam but consumers pay the price. Find out what labels like "Grade A, Organic" and "Omega-3 Enhanced" really mean. See how powdered eggs get made and what happens to the billions of whites and yolks that go their separate ways. Try the world's largest omelet, made from an ostrich egg, the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs. How about some pickled eggs or "century" duck eggs? And prepare to be awed by the "Michelangelo" of the egg-shell world as he sculpts egg shells less than 1/32 inch thick into jaw-dropping works of art.
Jan 21 2010
Dirt 15x01
You know the old saying "dull as dirt"...wrong! In Las Vegas we'll see how thousands of tons of dirt transform a stadium into a Supercross course, and in New Jersey we'll slog into a secret bog to collect the special mud that every major league team relies on to give extra grip to baseballs. Then, we'll join in the down and dirty fun of mud wrestling at a state fair in Hawaii. In Tucson we'll see how modern adobe and stunning rammed-earth homes are made. To farmers, "dirt" is "soil" and in a teaspoon of healthy soil there are more living organisms than people on our planet. We'll find out where they came from at a sprawling potting soil facility in central California where huge earth moving equipment adds tons of dried kelp, bat guano and other ingredients to dirt. At exclusive spas we'll watch patrons submerge in mud. Finally, we'll visit the Tide detergent factory--why? To get the dirt out, of course.
Jan 14 2010

Season 14

42 Episodes

Night 14x42
Some activities only occur when the world is dark; fishermen use lights to lure squid to their nets; finding night crawlers in Toronto; military night vision gear; police helicopter's Spectrolab spotlight; baseball stadium.
Dec 26 2008
How do you weigh a whale? How does your speedometer work? Take a look at the five most common areas of measurement: distance, time, speed, weight, and temperature
Dec 23 2008
hether humans have the ability to possess superpowers; a man can strap on an exoskeleton and lift hundreds of pounds with little effort; Mr. Cyborg can control machines with his thoughts; flying like Superman.
Dec 22 2008
Rummage around in your garage and you'll likely find remnants of gadgets past: a typewriter, analog TV, LPs, film cameras and brick-sized mobile phones. These products served us well and remember each one with nostalgic fondness. Take a trip down memory lane to examine how these oldies-but-goodies worked and find out how more advanced tech superseded them.
Dec 19 2008
Car Wash 14x38
The car wash's in America are a $25 billion dollars a year industry, with tunnel systems to in-bay automatics, we'll show you how America keeps it's cars clean. We'll visit the largest car wash, seven acres wide which includes a dog wash, chapel, and barber shop. And then to a wash which uses trained electronic eyes, auto conveyors, and mega vacuums which can hold up a bowling ball. We also show tips for cleaning a car at home. Plus we'll add tar, glue, egg, bird droppings, and a bucket full of sludge to a $160,000 Porsche, and then challenge a detailer to clean it off. Also, see how cars are built to survive a car wash.
Dec 09 2008
Salt 14x37
It's the only rock we eat, and we need it to live. History has shown that those who have salt rule the world--and today, this versatile substance has 14,000 known uses
Dec 01 2008
The turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinners and one of the dumbest birds in the animal kingdom, but it has managed to survive since the dinosaurs; Butterball factory; turkey hunting; dining on turkey testicles and eggs.
Nov 24 2008
The Horse 14x35
A celebration of the horse, the animal that helped mankind change the world; the thoroughbred racing industry in Kentucky; how a Minnesota logging company uses real horsepower; a Colorado program pairs horses and prison inmates.
Nov 19 2008
An inside look at the technology used for the Halloween traditions such as producing latex masks, professional monster makeup, carving jack-o-lanterns, making fake blood and a glimpse of a popular haunted house attraction.
Oct 27 2008
Examining how frequently experts in various disciplines can hit their targets, including archers, sharpshooters and even a billiards player; the ancient world's ballista and trebuchet weapons; knife thrower; Cirque du Soleil's daring artists.
Oct 20 2008
America's aging infrastructure is in danger of collapse due to corrosion, according to engineers; technology for battling corrosion; harnessing the destructive power of decomposition.
Oct 13 2008
Hooked 14x31
From ancient Egyptian fishing parties to today's high-tech bass tournaments, we untangle the fascinating technical history of man's quest to seduce creatures of the deep out of their watery world and into the frying pan. We trace the evolution of the basic rod and reel, from crude hickory poles with braided horsehair to ultra-light graphite wonder-rods with space-age nylon line, and examine the angler's glittering arsenal of spinners, spoons, plugs, and flies.
Oct 08 2008
They account for nearly 30% of all beverages consumed in the U.S. and have been quenching thirst for over a century.
Sep 29 2008
Learn about fungal organisms that live within our bodies, grow beneath our feet, float in the air and help create some of the foods and beverages we consume.
Sep 18 2008
Take a ride along some of the world's most dangerous roads. From Bolivia's "Death Road," to California's fog-shrouded Highway 99, find the danger that waits behind every blind curve
Aug 28 2008
Wheat 14x27
It feeds the world. See how harvesting crews brave months on the road, cutting thousands of acres, tour a pasta plant to see how special kinds of wheat becomes everything from spaghetti to rigatoni. Watch as grain is mashed into a thirst-quenching brew and finally visit a company that transforms wheat into plastic-like products
Aug 27 2008
Iron 14x26
How iron mined in Minnesota is made into steel; iron weapons revolutionize warfare; military metallurgists customize weapons and demonstrate their firepower; iron magnets.
Aug 14 2008
Rubber, plastic, nylon, aerosols, resins, solvents, & lubricants; none can exist without oil. If we stopped driving our cars tomorrow, America would still need 5 million barrels of oil a day.
Jul 31 2008
Every 15 minutes, Americans insert over 3.5 million coins into vending machines. What are they buying? How do the machines work?
Jul 24 2008
He's caped, cowled and the coolest superhero of them all, because underneath that Batsuit, Batman only has his human strength and intellect to rely on. That and the greatest arsenal of crime fighting weaponry ever devised. But just where does comic book science fiction end and scientific fact begin? What technologies are behind the gadgets in Batman's utility belt? And just how plausible is the Batmobile? Get ready for a real life trip to the Batcave as we reveal the secrets behind Batman Tech
Jul 21 2008
Underwear 14x22
From itchy woolen union suits to comfortable briefs and boxers learn how our undergarments have evolved over the last 100 years.
Jul 17 2008
Crashes 14x21
Explore collisions that shake our world from the astronomic to the subatomic. Indy car racing; motorcycles; skydiving; meteorites; and subatomic particles.
Jul 10 2008
The most used room in the home is the bathroom and it's full of tech. Visit Kohler and see the new digitally controlled uber-shower, complete with steam, music and LED chromatherapy. Check out American Standard's Champion 4--the supposedly "uncloggable" toilet. Learn all about the low-flow alternatives for showers and toilets. Touch-free fixtures and a futuristic toilet from Japan ensure a more hygienic restroom experience. Finally, what is New York City's latest hi-tech solution for going on the go?
Jun 30 2008
Ice Cream 14x19
From the gelato of Italy to the French Pot process of the 1800s to numerous assortments of frozen delights being served up today, learn the history of this delicious dessert.
Jun 23 2008
Do you ever wonder what happens to your body after you die? You might be surprised to discover that the human body is host to a multitude of hidden secrets. Discover how coroners and forensic anthropologists use a body to both save lives and catch killers. Visit the University of Tennessee's famed "Body Farm," a crematorium, and one of the largest tissue banks in the United States.
Jun 20 2008
Lead 14x17
A versatile yet toxic metal, lead has served mankind for 6,000 years.
Jun 16 2008
Super Hot 14x16
Explore the world of extreme temperatures.
Jun 09 2008
Discover that the deadliest snakes, sports and weather events are closer and more treacherous than you think.
Jun 06 2008
Axes 14x14
The axe is one of the world's oldest, most dangerous and efficient cutting tools. Visit one of the nation's largest axe manufacturers, take a swing with a Vikings' battleaxe, then see which would win in a fight of sword vs axe. Learn why the tomahawk is making a comeback as a tactical weapon & see how the fireman's axe has evolved into a trailer full of high tech rescue tools.
May 30 2008
Nikola Tesla's bizarre vision of the future brought him failure, but his genius electrified the world.
May 14 2008
Rats 14x12
Feared by millions worldwide, rats are some of the most dangerous, destructive and useful animals on Earth.
Apr 30 2008
Race through the French countryside at nearly 300 MPH on the fastest locomotive in the world. Ride on the little engines that could as they guide giant ships through the Panama Canal. Watch two locomotives crash head-on as the federal government monitors safety. Descend 700 feet below the earth's surface where mining locomotives move miners through a maze of tunnels. Then, it's a "jiffy lube" for locomotives inside America's largest maintenance shop. Finally, glide into the future with a locomotive that levitates on a cushion of air.
Apr 07 2008
We're living in a gadget revolution. New and unimagined gizmos solve problems that we didn't even know we had. They emerge from cutting edge think tanks and tinkerers basement workshops. Will they usher in a techno utopia, or enslave us to pocket size technology?
Apr 04 2008
Bread 14x09
It's the basic source of nourishment for half the world. Bake it, roast it, slice it, or toast it, it's a wonder with three simple ingredients.
Mar 24 2008
Takes a look inside the amazing ultra-modern world of high stakes commercial fishing where a wrong decision on the captain's part can cost not just the season's catch, but also the lives of his crew.
Mar 19 2008
Whiskey 14x07
Visit some of the world's finest distilleries to see how each country brews this thousand-year old spirit. Go behind the scenes at Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Canadian Club Whiskey.
Mar 17 2008
Discover microwave-like rays that make the enemy flee; laser weapons mounted on trucks & planes that can blow missiles out of the sky; non-lethal weapons include a B.B. machine gun; and a flashing device that may make you lose your lunch.
Mar 10 2008
Witness some mind-blowing feats of strength starting with the world's most powerful elevators. Discover the world's strongest tire, the strongest mountain bike, the world's strongest land transport vehicle that carries the Space Shuttle & strongest home blender.
Mar 06 2008
Millions of drivers travel the world's superhighways each year. See a multi-billion dollar expansion project in Houston where a stretch of superhighway is being widened to 20 lanes & Take a ride atop the High-Five, a 12-story, five-level interchange that's become the latest Dallas tourist attraction. Then it's off to China's 28,000-mile National Trunk Highway System.
Feb 28 2008
90's Tech 14x03
The dot.com decade opened up the information superhighway and for the first time, people could shop, search, and surf online with the click of a mouse. Take a trip to the end of the 20th century and the beginning of today technologies.
Feb 07 2008
Carbon 14x02
Carbon is the chemical basis of all known life and yet this simple element is also the foundation of modern technology. Carbon burns hotter, cuts deeper, insulates more thoroughly and absorbs more fully than any other material. See why carbon is the key both in heavy-duty industries, as well as in tools like the graphite pencil, the charcoal water filter, and the diamond saw blade.
Jan 14 2008
Milk 14x01
Got milk? Billions of pounds of milk are consumed worldwide on a daily basis. Milk is the basis for its own food group, and has been around since the dawn of mammals. Visit a farm with a milking parlor that looks more like a cow merry-go-round. Learn what pasteurization is really all about, and even milk a yak. Find out what those active cultures in yogurt are and discover if milk truly makes the body good. Wait until you discover just how many types of cows there truly are.
Jan 07 2008

Season 13

46 Episodes

80's Tech 13x46
Technology from the 1980s is remembered, including early cell phones and CD players; the Sony Walkman; and personal computers. Also: comments by Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak; and a tour of the Computer History Museum in California.
May 24 2006
TBA
This is a documentary, dealing with the likeliness of The web-slinger's gadgets existing in real life. It is admitted that several of the rather... theatrical and elaborate ones do, well, defy physical laws (the medium of graphic novels certainly has grown), however, quite a few are realistic.
May 03 2007
Can fast food get any faster? Fast food joints in the US pull in $150 billion dollars in annual sales. Their mantra is "fast, consistent, and inexpensive." Learn how they grow it, process it, freeze it, ship it, track it, fry it, flip it and pack it.
Dec 26 2007
Cold Cuts 13x42
They're the meat in our sandwiches and slices of American pop culture. Take a look behind the deli counter to reveal the secret ingredients in boloney. Watch a master sausage maker craft salami, and pile it on at Carnegie Deli with their famous mile-high pastrami sandwich. We'll construct exotic cold cuts made of pig head parts and livers, make the cut with the best meat slicers, past and present and see how to make turkey out of tofu. And don't forget that olive loaf for the holidays. Served cold and cut with precision. Pureed, pounded, and poured, it's time for a taste of cold cuts.
Dec 17 2007
It strikes without warning and kills in an instant. We fear its might even as we use it to save a life. Explore the electric shock in its numerous forms.
Dec 10 2007
Rocks 13x40
From the Stone Age to the Space Age, our world has been built from rocks.
Dec 03 2007
The Pig 13x39
It's said that the pig is as smart as a 3 year-old human. The pancreas, heart valve and intestines of the pig have been transplanted into human bodies, yet the primary use of the pig is for food. Watch the pig transform into bacon, ham, ribs and sausage, using a high tech water knife, at Burger's Smokehouse in Missouri.
Nov 27 2007
Corn 13x38
Why is corn the largest agricultural crop in the world? Corn has fed the masses from ancient times to this day. Corn is not only a vegetable and a cereal grain; it is a commodity as well.
Nov 19 2007
Take a look at the innovations designed to hold off a global warming meltdown.
Nov 12 2007
A steam pipe explosion rocks New Yorkers one summer day in midtown Manhattan. Boston's Big Dig highway project receives a major setback when sections of a tunnel ceiling fall onto the roadway. An air show in Mannheim, Germany comes to a tragic end when a Chinook helicopter crashes along the Autobahn. A tanker truck explodes on an Oakland freeway overpass, causing the structure to collapse. And oil workers hit a real gusher: a mud volcano, which has left some villages buried 16 feet deep, and may continue to spew mud for years, or even centuries.
Oct 25 2007
It's time to slice and dice! Take a cutting-edge look at the most amazing blades in the world.
Oct 11 2007
Acid 13x34
It is the most widely produced chemical in the world and possibly the most dangerous. Take a look at the many uses of acid.
Oct 12 2007
Take a look at the technology of cold.
Sep 25 2007
Take a supersonic flight through a world of flying machines that are redefining our skies.
Sep 20 2007
Batteries 13x31
They keep going and going and going, from the smallest to the biggest, see how they're made, what they power and where they're headed.
Sep 19 2007
Take a look at the technology shown throughout the six Star Wars films and examine their viability through the eyes of cold hard science.
Sep 03 2007
Traps 13x29
Traps are a device designed to capture and kill, but they don't always harm their prey.
Aug 27 2007
Vacuums 13x28
Vacuums aren't just for cleaning floors
Aug 23 2007
We spend 1/3 of our lives in the bedroom, explore the technologies that help to ensure we wake up on the right side of the bed.
Aug 13 2007
Chocolate 13x26
Take a tour through the entire chocolate making process and learn how chocolate has been thought of as an energizer, an aphrodisiac and a cure-all.
Aug 06 2007
Take a look at the stickiest of the sticky, and see the impact these much needed items have on our daily routines.
Jul 30 2007
Aluminum 13x24
This useful metal was once considered more valuable than gold. Watch as aluminum is stretched, pounded, melted and turned into foam.
Jul 25 2007
Saws 13x23
Sink your teeth into the razor sharp world of saws. Cut across the centuries to discover how the Egyptians arduously sawed stone as compared to modern saws that slice through limestone like butter. Saws have been used as instruments of torture and tools for surgery. They are imperative for construction, salvage, demolition, and they even make music. Whether they have teeth of steel, carbide or diamond, you will be on the cutting edge of successful sawing.
Jul 18 2007
Cheese 13x22
Travel through history from the Roman Empire's diversity of cheeses to the 19th Century birth of industrial cheese.
Jun 27 2007
Fertilizer--without it two thirds of the world would starve. It makes our lawns grow greener and our crops grow taller. Take a tour of the places where the essential nutrients that feed the soil are harnessed.
Jun 20 2007
Catering to more than twenty million truckers, truck stops are bigger and better than ever. These mega-pit stops are essential to the trucks and truckers that haul eight billion tons of freight annually.
Jun 13 2007
70's Tech 13x19
The 1970s were a decade of excess. Dust off your mirror ball, put on your leisure suit, and rediscover the gadgets of the era.
May 30 2007
To err is human... But when the error results in the loss of life, it's a disaster. Learn about one of the most mysterious maritime disasters of the decade--the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Was it possible that the nation was on the brink of war due to a faulty circuit board? What caused the Buffalo Creek Dam disaster in West Virginia? Delve into the explosion of a super tanker in Los Angeles harbor.
May 30 2007
What does it take to rate as "the world's strongest"? Watch as life-saving boron carbide body armor is put to the test. Visit the world of monster trucks. Head dockside with a super-strong mobile crane capable of hoisting a 600-ton mega-yacht and toting it through a boat yard without a scratch. The Super-Shredder is a metal recycling monster that can gobble up 6 junked cars a minute.
May 23 2007
Discover how essential space travel technologies have journeyed back to Earth with surprising and indispensable commercial applications
May 16 2007
60's Tech 13x15
Take a ride back to the 1960s and recall the technological happenings that helped shape the decade.
May 16 2007
Welding 13x14
It was a science first conjured amid the fiery ovens of ancient blacksmiths; today more than 50% of all U.S. products require some form of welding. Whether via electricity, flammable gases, sonic waves, or sometimes just raw explosive power, welding creates powerful bonds between metal unmatched by any other joining process.
May 09 2007
Driven by the need for deep sea rescue and salvage capabilities, the US Navy Diving and Salvage Programs have gathered together a highly skilled team of divers, scientists and engineers, who have been involved in some of the most exciting and dangerous salvage operations ever undertaken.
May 02 2007
Soldiers, machines, and supplies are only effective if they arrive at the battlefield in time. Explore the history and the technology behind the machines that do the heavy moving in times of war.
Apr 18 2007
Yard Tech 13x11
In the 21st century, turf grass is the number one crop grown in the U.S. When suburbia exploded after World War II, turf became the defining characteristic of nearly every yard. First, it's off to the research greenhouse facility at The Scotts Company to learn how grass seed is bred for special characteristics. Then pay a visit to the Toro Company, a big name in lawnmowers. The Rain Bird Company and its automatic sprinkler systems is the life giver to thirsty lawns across the country, and The Davey Company specializes in moving trees in excess of one million pounds. Finally, take a trip to California Waterscapes and watch as a crew installs a waterfall and koi pond.
Apr 12 2007
Dams 13x10
They block the force of a river, produce enough electricity to power cities, move water over hundreds of miles and irrigate fertile valleys. Dams prevent floods and produce "green" energy. Visit a hydroelectric dam, the most technologically advanced type of dam and a dam in Brazil that is five times the size of the Hoover Dam.
Mar 28 2007
Barbarians and technology, maybe they're not such a contradiction after all. It's the bow that nearly brought down Rome, and the suspension system that revolutionized the chariot. Barbarians built the forts that held out invaders, and forged the axe that named a country. See inside the shop of one of the world's finest metal workers as he shapes iron ore into a classic Celtic sword. With 21st Century animation rebuild a 1600 year-old hill fort--and show that protecting a village was as easy as digging a ditch.
Mar 07 2007
From the unimaginable power of nuclear bombs to microscopic anthrax spores, we reveal who possesses these nightmare weapons and explore the danger posed by terrorists with deadly technologies. Using the latest computer technology see an on-screen representation of the radioactive plume that would result from a mock dirty bomb attack in Seattle. Learn how bio-agents are discovered and understand the technology currently used to identify and prevent suicide bombings. Weapons of mass destruction have made the world a dangerous place but find out how technology can assist us as we strive for lasting solutions.
Feb 21 2007
For forty years Star Trek has engulfed our imagination and sent us on voyages across the galaxy. Take a look at the technology behind the gadgets used in the series.
Feb 18 2007
In the bloody battle of the Pacific, one class of fighting ship took on the full ferocity of the Japanese and won. After destruction of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the US designed and built an awesome fleet of Fletcher-class destroyers--over 370 feet long, armed with 5-inch guns, and a speed of 36 knots
Feb 13 2007
Ice 13x05
The solid form of life's precious elixir has played a key role in fashioning our history and is making its mark as an unusual tool of technology. Explore how Earth's ice originated and recount how ice age glaciers sculpted North America. Take an inside look at Colorado's National Ice Core Repository to see how ice drilled from Antarctica and Greenland is an invaluable archive of past climate, and at a Canadian research lab experts demonstrate the dynamics and dangers of icebergs. See how Greenland's massive ice sheet may be sliding faster than ever toward the sea. Take a look at how scientists are using Antarctica's ice as a gigantic lens to probe the secrets of the universe.
Feb 11 2007
Pumps 13x04
Since 200 BC, when the Greek Philosopher Archimedes created a device for lifting water, the pump has been synonymous with transporting Earth's most precious resource. That principle still holds true today. Visit the pumping stations of the Colorado Aqueduct and learn what kinds of pumps are used to quench the thirst of over 16 million residents of Southern California. Learn how electric and diesel power has transformed the simple squirt bottle into a power pump that can cut through steel. A visit to a dairy shows how a new robotic milking pump is pushing the envelope of pump technology. Examine one of the most sophisticated pumps in the world--the one designed to save the human heart.
Feb 07 2007
Canning 13x03
It's the unsung essential of modern life. Canning is the method of a preserving and packaging food, without which civilization would never have ventured beyond the local food supply. It changed the way the world eats and revolutionized the food industry.
Jan 31 2007
From the prairies of Saskatchewan to a Manhattan skyscraper we'll see the 21st Century's cutting-edge "green" technologies in action. New technologies such as carbon sequestration and bio-remediation take on our most daunting environmental crises, from global warming and deforestation to nuclear waste and resource scarcity. See how blue-green algae are converted into automotive bio-fuel and methane from decomposing garbage is turned into clean-burning natural gas. Finally, see how trees and other natural environments can be used as engineering materials to control flooding and rejuvenate dying rivers.
Jan 24 2007
Balls 13x01
From professional sports to the playground, balls have been a way of life for generations. Explore the research, development, technology and performance of balls as they spin through our sporting lives, bouncing evenly, spiraling tightly, and careening off our feet, bats, racquets and clubs. Tour the Wilson Football Factory and the Rawling's Costa Rica Baseball Factory as well as visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Jan 17 2007

Season 12

57 Episodes

Christmas is observed by nearly one-third of the world's population and probably more if you count the non-Christians who incorporate the more secular traditions into their winter season. Every year, revelers go all out with trees, ornaments, lights, window displays and Christmas treats. Technological advancements have made them cheaper, easier and safer.
Dec 20 2006
Tea 12x56
After water, tea is the second most popular drink in the world. It has been around as a drink for 5000 years, and 6 billion pounds of tea are harvested annually.
Dec 13 2006
Snow 12x55
It is the bane of every suburban parent and the joy to every school kid. Born in a swirling storm cloud through a process called nucleation, the characteristics of snow flakes are threatened by pollution trapped in the clouds.
Dec 10 2006
In March of 2005, the BP Refinery in Texas City, Texas, suffered a series of explosions that decimated a large portion of the facility and killed 15 workers. Then the unusual series of events that caused American Airlines flight 587 to fall from the sky. What happened in Times Beach, Missouri, when a local waste hauler oiled down dusty roads with oil that was laced with dioxin? Look at what went wrong with NASA's Skylab in 1974 and finally examine the fire that destroyed the gas company, Praxair, in June of 2005.
Dec 06 2006
In America's orchards and farm fields, the constant struggle between hand labor and mechanization has produced dozens of efficient and sometimes bizarre harvesting methods. Learn the secrets of the orchard manager and his ladder crew as they check fruit pressures and barometric readings. Visit California's largest fruit packing house and try to keep up with 10-fruit-per-second conveyors. Then off to the corn fields of Nebraska and the cranberry marshes of central Wisconsin. Finally go underground to the world's largest mushroom farm where the harvest takes place in limestone caverns that run some 150 miles. From fruit tree picking platforms to cranberry beaters and corn pickers, farmers constantly strive to speed the harvest.
Nov 29 2006
Wine 12x52
A glass a day is said to keep the doctor away. A defeated Napoleon drowned his sorrows in it; Thomas Jefferson became obsessed with it. Wine is an integral part of our culture and more wine is consumed today than ever before. Supermarket shelves that once carried only box wine and jugs are now lined with wines from Australia, Chile, and South Africa. Aerial imaging and infrared photography once used by NASA to map the moon is now employed by wineries to analyze soil, vine vigor, and even disease. Paying tribute to wine's unique history we will travel the world over to explore wineries, the worlds' most historic wine cellar and the oldest restaurant in Paris.
Nov 29 2006
It slices and squeezes, sorts and sizes, mixes and cooks. Every morning we count on it to keep our orange juice fresh, our eggs whole, our cereals flaked, and our McGriddle syrupy--this is Breakfast Tech.
Nov 28 2006
Our basic need and desire for food has made the supermarket one of the great success stories of modern retailing. Making customers' visits to the market as efficient as possible has led to bar coding and a scale that recognizes the type of produce placed on it. Explore the psychology of the supermarket including store layout, lighting, music and aromas that trigger the appetite. With a growing percentage of the public interested in eating healthier foods, organic grocers are carving out an increasingly large niche.
Nov 15 2006
Tobacco 12x49
Discovered around 18,000 years ago, tobacco was first cultivated in the Andes between 5000 and 3000 B.C. At a modern tobacco farm in North Carolina, a farmer will show how the crop is harvested and cured and visit the Fuente cigar plantation in the Dominican Republic. While tobacco has brought pleasure to countless smokers the world over--it has sent millions to an early grave. In an interview with the Surgeon General, explore this leading public health issue. The show will also look at smokeless methods of consumption as well as explore the use of nicotine replacement therapy.
Nov 08 2006
Hosted by Terry Deitz, a former Tomcat pilot, this special explores the legacy of one of the greatest fighter jets ever built. Witness first hand the last F-14 catapult launches and arrested trap landings aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Hear what the aviators and sailors who have flown and maintained this iconic aircraft over the years have to say about its long lived active duty career. Deitz will ride shotgun one last time before the F-14 is retired. Then reflect with veteran pilots, Navy brass, and airplane enthusiasts as the world bids farewell at the F-14 Memorial and Final Flight Ceremony at the Naval Air Station in Oceana, VA.
Nov 01 2006
Strength...a powerful word, but what does it mean? How is it measured? Why are some things simply stronger than others. How strong is a rope, a tractor, a diamond, a tugboat or even plastic. How and why strength matther to us every day.
Oct 18 2006
It's an art, it's a science and it's a marriage of vapor and water. From the elite to the illegal, the banned, to the celebrated, the distillation of spirits is a 50 billion dollar a year business. Visit brandy, liqueur, moonshine, and absinthe distilleries to see how this magic is done.
Oct 11 2006
Ink 12x45
Invented by the Chinese in about 3000BC, it spread the word of God and war. It set us free and spelled out our rights. It tells stories, sells products and solves crimes. It's ink and it's everywhere!
Oct 04 2006
The AK-47 12x44
The development of the deadly Avtomat Kalashnikova, 1947, known as the AK-47, is discussed by its inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov, who talks about working within the secretive world of the Soviet military at the height of the Cold War.
Jul 28 2006
It's one thing to make a 60-foot-long jet aircraft seem invisible, but quite another to hide a 400-foot-long warship from the prying eyes of an enemy. Explore the challenging world of stealth technology at sea and how modern engineering can make our largest warships appear to be tugboats or fishing vessels
Sep 27 2006
They are the swarthy eagles of the sky: Past, present, and future advances in stealth military aircraft
Sep 27 2006
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is comprised of a system of canals, land cuts, and a series of natural and artificial barrier islands, which provide a protected passage for low-draft vessels wishing to avoid the tumultuous currents of the Atlantic Ocean
Sep 26 2006
Teamed with leading archeologists and experts, peel back the layers of the past--to reveal a hidden history that hasn't seen the light of day for ages.
Sep 21 2006
Explore the history of freight transportation from its humble beginnings as tramways in mines to complex system of rails that stretches to every corner of the nation.
Sep 20 2006
Take an in-depth look at the most proven and reliable sources: solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, and tidal power. From the experimental to the tried-and-true, renewable energy sources are overflowing with potential... just waiting to be exploited on a massive scale.
Sep 20 2006
The greatest religious structures are marvels of engineering, technology, and invention, representing not only the glory of God, but also the ingenuity of man.
Sep 18 2006
Shotguns 12x36
The first specialized gun, the British upper-class used it to shoot birds and small game for sport. The shotgun took on a variety of roles, used by hunter and warrior alike.
Sep 17 2006
Copper 12x35
It transports electricity, water, and heat. It brings music to our ears and beauty to our eyes. Copper--its impressive traits, long history, and how it's mined. This versatile metal’s most famous attribute is its ability to conduct electricity.
Sep 13 2006
Cola Wars 12x34
Coke vs Pepsi for world supremacy. Each year, Americans consume more soft drinks than tap water. Available in nearly 200 countries, Coca-Cola alone sells one-billion bottles, cans, and glasses of pop daily, with archenemy Pepsi-Cola a close second. We look at the legendary rivalry between these giants in a $100-billion industry built on little more than sugar and water as they battle not just to quench consumer thirst, but for their hearts and minds as well
Sep 07 2006
Water 12x33
Water, the most needed substance for life, so powerful it can carve our landscape, yet so nurturing it can spawn life and support its intricate matrix.
Sep 06 2006
Levees 12x32
From collapsing floodwalls in New Orleans to high-tech mechanical storm surge barriers in Europe, we'll explore the 2,500-year history of keeping rivers and tides at bay by erecting levees.
Aug 30 2006
After thousands of years, Egyptian mummies are speaking from the grave. With the use of state-of-the-art computer tomography scanning we explore inside a 2,000-year-old mummified body of an Egyptian child.
Aug 23 2006
In 1943, a B-25 Mitchell, WWII's most versatile twin-engine bomber, crash-landed in South Carolina. It sank 150 feet to the bottom of a lake and over time was forgotten. Now, 60 years later, a local doctor is determined to raise the giant bomber intact and give it to a museum. Our team--divers, engineers, and preservationists--takes on the job of moving the 20,000-pound bomber to the surface, while faced with the challenges of working in nearly zero-visibility murky waters and the wrath of an approaching hurricane, plus fear that the plane may be breaking apart!
Aug 05 2006
Nuts 12x29
Pintsized as a pea or big as a bowling ball, nutritional, durable, and versatile, nuts have been a staple of the human diet since time began, and archaeological evidence places them among our earliest foods. Nuts sustained the imperial armies of Rome and China, the royal navies of England and Spain, and the native tribes that roamed the American wilderness.
Aug 02 2006
Skyscrapers are an extraordinary feat of human engineering: exposing millions of pounds of concrete and steel to the enemy forces of wind and gravity. Starting with the foundation and on through the support structures and concrete flooring, every piece of these superstructures has to be super-strong. Go behind the scenes with the five tools that make these buildings possible: the foundation drill rig, the tower crane, the impact wrench, the power trowel, and the total station.
Jul 28 2006
Join us for another look at big machines. At NASA's Ames Research Center, we visit the world's biggest wind tunnel, part of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex, and one of the biggest and most complex flight simulators, NASA's Vertical Motion Simulator, or VMS. At the Joy Mining Machinery plant in Franklin, Pennsylvania, giant machine tools form, cut, and measure the enormous individual parts that make up a Continuous Miner, the biggest underground mining machine in the world. But big machines aren't limited to science and commerce. Ride with us on the biggest observation wheel in the world, the London Eye, which stands 443 feet high and provides a 360 degree unobstructed view of London. And we take a look at IMAX technology. The film, cameras, projectors, and theater screens are the largest in the world. Finally, we take a ride on every lawn tender's dream machine--the Claas Cougar, the world's biggest lawnmower.
Jul 26 2006
Where do machines go when they die? From B-52 Bombers to massive aircraft carriers, from passenger cars to Cold War cruise missiles and remnants of the Twin Towers, all that we manufacture has a lifespan. But reaching the end of their original purposes can be just the beginning.
Jul 26 2006
Bold, cunning, and audacious, pirates are a breed of fighting men and women who have terrorized the high seas since before recorded history. At the height of their power in the 1700's they literally influenced the fate of nations when they became embroiled in the rivalry between England and Spain. This special will visit maritime museums and shipwreck sites, utilize walk-and-talk demonstrations of fire arms, swords, and navigation instruments to help spotlight the innovations pirates brought to maritime technology. Includes a look at how many pirates modified their ships to make them faster and more powerful.
Jul 12 2006
Since the creation of black powder in China centuries ago, explosives have been decisive on the battlefield. Follow their incendiary story from ancient times right up to today's plastic demolitions.
Jul 03 2006
BBQ Tech 12x23
An old-fashioned style of cooking, barbecue has evolved into a modern food craze and spawned a multi-billion dollar industry. We digest famous barbecue cook-offs and visit long-established barbecue restaurants like Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, where the huge grills and taste thrills of true barbecue are more popular than ever. At home, three out of four US households own a grill. After WWII's end, the phenomenon of backyard barbecuing swept the nation, thanks to inexpensive and mass-produced grills, including the kettle-shaped Weber. Our tour of Weber's modern factories shows how they keep pace with demand by manufacturing more choices than ever, including portable mini-grills. We also examine the variety of fuels available for the savory selection of spicy sauces and rubs. Join us as we devour the mouthwatering flavors of BBQ in this episode.
Jun 28 2006
Buckle up for a rip-roaring ride through the world of extreme horsepower. Experience the fastest accelerating cars on earth. Find out how horsepower was first coined as a marketing tool for the steam engine in the early 1800s and meet the horsepower police--the Society of Automotive Engineers who test today's most powerful car engines. Feel the amazing power of Unlimited Hydroplane racing as 3-ton boat-beasts careen across water at speeds of over 200 miles per hour. Journey to the bowels of an enormous container ship where the world's most powerful diesel engine provides over 100,000 horsepower. At the Hoover Dam, watch as it harnesses the enormous power of water. Explore the 80,000 horsepower pumping units at the Edmonston Pumping Plant that delivers 2-billion gallons of water a day to thirsty Californians. And sit behind the steering wheel of a new generation of hybrid cars that boast 400-horsepower yet get 42 miles per gallon of gas.
Jun 21 2006
Money 12x21
How does America make money--literally? We visit the United States Mint and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving to see the secretive government facilities where our legal tender is generated. With a storied past as tantalizing as the wealth they create, these mints can spit out fortunes in an hour and keep our economy flowing.
Jun 19 2006
They are elements that occupy a select portion of the periodic table and are so essential to America's economic and military might that they are stored in the National Defense Stockpile in case of all-out war. We plan a riveting visit. Some of the vital heavy metals that we survey include copper, uranium, lead, zinc, and nickel. We also take a look at superalloys--consisting of steel combined with chromium, cobalt, and dozens of other heavy metals--that resist corrosion and perform increasingly elaborate functions. From Earth to space, from cosmetics to vitamins, in a million different ways, heavy metals are here to stay!
Jun 14 2006
More than a century ago two men controlled nearly all of U.S. copper production, transforming Butte, Montana from a washed-up gold-mining camp into a global powerhouse. William Clark, a ruthless banker known for preying on the misfortune of miners and Marcus Daly, a self-made man with a knack for knowing where to dig, created huge empires and lived like kings, while fighting a ferocious, personal, battle that lasted nearly 25 years.
Jun 12 2006
One of the most prodigious American inventors, Ben Franklin is credited for creating things like the lightning rod, the armonica, the Franklin stove, bifocal glasses, and the flexible urinary catheter. In this episode of Modern Marvels, we examine how Dr. Franklin's inventive genius extended to things like Daylight Savings Time and the voluntary fire department.
May 25 2006
Modern Marvels takes a trip back in time, all the way back to the 1980s, to examine some of the most popular gadgets and fads. This includes Sony's Walkman, Rubik's Cube, DeLorean DMC-12, and of course the microchip which changed electronics forever.
May 24 2006
Drilling 12x16
The program features the quest to drill the deepest hole ever and the scientific drill ship expected to perform the feat, and also looks at drills used to recover ice cores that will unearth thousands of years of climate history.
May 10 2006
Shovels 12x15
Man has always had a need to move large amounts of earth. In this episode, we profile the technological advances which have allowed shovels to become absolutely enormous, capable of carrying 200 tons of earth in one load today.
May 03 2006
This is the true story of the scientific feats and failures of Hitler's Nazi Germany.
May 02 2006
Although quite simple in nature, insulation is a very important component in keeping our homes a comfortable temperature. In this episode, we'll find out the history of insulation and then visit manufacturing plants to find out how insulation is being made today.
Apr 26 2006
More engineering disasters are profiled, including the sinking of SS Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 in Lake Superior; two Boeing 737 crashes; a diesel-fuel leak, a radiation-spilling accident at Santa Susana, an oil spill in the Monongahela River, and the failure of Galaxy 4 Satellite affecting communications and pagers nation-wide.
Mar 22 2006
Leather 12x11
Made by the tanning of animal hides, leather has proven to be a versatile and important material. Without it, the Pilgrims may not have survived the winters in Plymouth, and the Romans may not have been able to march to the Tigris.
Mar 08 2006
Modern Marvels examines the destruction Hurricane Katrina caused in New Orleans.
Feb 28 2006
Modern Marvels takes a look at the destruction avalanches can cause.
Feb 24 2006
Modern Marvels takes a look at some of the strangest weapons used by Axis forces in WW II.
Feb 21 2006
Candy 12x07
Modern Marvels examines how millions of pounds of chocolates and other candies are made every year.
Feb 14 2006
Modern Marvels shows more of the world's biggest engineering disasters. We look at faults in the U.S. Army's Stryker Light Armored Vehicle, the Sunjiawan coal-mine explosion in China in 2005, the death of three iron workers at Milwaukee's Miller Park in 1999, and much more
Feb 08 2006
Modern Marvels takes a look at some of the strangest weapons used by Allied forces in WW II.
Feb 08 2006
Modern Marvels examines the incredible phenomenon we know as lightning.
Jan 25 2006
Cotton 12x03
Tune in as Modern Marvels looks into the history of cotton, a product used in hundreds of different products, from clothing to lipstick.
Jan 18 2006
Fire 12x02
Out of control it’s a monster with a voracious appetite. Properly harnessed it’s a force that has shaped our world. We’ve learned to create and exploit it, but we’ll never truly tame it. From furnaces to flamethrowers, fire testing to fireballs, now, Fire, on Modern Marvels.
Jan 11 2006
They hold just about everything we need, from condiments to cargo. Made of steel, aluminum, paper and glass, they protect and preserve. They're underground and above ground, they journey around the world. They've revolutionized civilization.
Jan 04 2006

Season 11

65 Episodes

TBA
Explore how hurricanes start, how scientists track them, and how if at all possible they can be stopped.
Dec 29 2005
It is a magical place, full of animated storybook characters, majestic castles, thrilling rides, and colorful parades. For over thirty-five years, Walt Disney World has been welcoming and entertaining kids of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. The world-famous Orlando theme park is not only the most visited in the world, it’s also the most technologically advanced. From a network of underground tunnels connecting various regions of the park, to the space-age propulsion technology of linear synchronous motors, the Disney dynasty has been on the leading edge of theme park innovation since the opening of Disneyland, its first park, in 1955. With soaring castles, sleek monorails, and lifelike animatronics, THE HISTORY CHANNEL takes a behind-the-scenes look at the ingenious industry and incredible engineering feats that went into building the renowned 27,000 acre Disney World complex.
Dec 25 2005
They crunch; they ooze; they crackle; they pop--mmmmm, yeah! Soft drinks, donuts, meat snacks, popcorn, and gum. What's your weakness? From the handmade treats of the earliest civilizations to hi-tech mass production, these snacks are borne of man's need to feed his cravings. Join us for an hour-long tasty treat as we examine the history of snackfoods and check out how they are made today.
Dec 20 2005
The hardware store is the epicenter of the construction world for both the weekend handyman or professional builder.
Dec 06 2005
For most of us, cars are an ordinary fixture of daily life. But then there are custom cars--literal labors of love. Supercharged hot rods, sublimely sculpted classics, flashy tricked-out lowriders, neon-bright "import tuners"--an eye-popping blend of fine art and mechanical know-how. In this episode, we trace the history, technology, and cultural connections between successive generations who have turned the common car into an American art form. We'll ride with hot rodders and lowriders and visit the speed shops and paint shops where ordinary cars become art.
Dec 05 2005
early 500 years after his death, Leonardo da Vinci still intrigues us. Most people think of him as a great artist, but he was also a remarkable scientist and inventor. His love of mechanics was unparalleled and he filled his notebooks with pages of incredible machines--from weapons of war to "Ships of the Skies", from submarines and scuba suits to robots and an analogue computer...even contact lenses and alarm clocks! How did a 15th-century man envision such modern innovations? If we follow his plans, would any of his designs work? We need wonder no more. With recent technological advances and new materials, we're the first generation able to bring Leonardo's drawings to life--to learn whether his "mechanical dreams" were workable plans. We explore the fascinating intersection of his art, science, and engineering marvels, and use them to offer insight into this "Genius of Geniuses", who remains as elusive as Mona Lisa's smile.
Dec 04 2005
SECRET RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT OF WORLD WAR II reveals how, despite the ever-present danger, Soviet designers mastered technical hurdles astonishing even by today's standards. Rare footage, photos and plans show their creations: a swept-wing, delta aircraft design, a rocket-powered fighter, a long distance fixed-wing aircraft which helped inspire the U-2 spy plane, a flying tank prototype, a submarine-bomber combination, and a canard-wing aircraft.
Nov 30 2005
At the center of the American Dream is the home, and at the center of its creation or renovation is the lumberyard. We'll explore the options lumberyards provide for builders and renovators, from natural to engineered woods.
Nov 30 2005
Brewing 11x56
It's one of the world's oldest and most beloved beverages, revered by Pharaohs and brewed by America's Founding Fathers. Today, brewing the bitter elixir is a multi-billion-dollar global industry.
Nov 16 2005
It's another chapter of complex, deadly and controversial engineering failures, using 3-D animation, forensic engineering experts, and footage of the actual disasters to understand what went wrong, and how disaster has led to improvement. In Sun Valley, California, weeks of record rain turn a crack in the middle of a street into a 200-foot long sinkhole. Months later, rain led to the Laguna Beach, California landslide, which destroyed 11 homes and caused millions in damage. On May 23, 2004, four people were killed when the roof of the new Terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris collapses. Other disasters: the 1931 crash of Fokker F-10 passenger airplane with coach Knute Rockne aboard; the sinking of the coal ship Marine Electric off the coast of Virginia; and the blinding reflection of the new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Nov 02 2005
At WWII's outset, US and UK military aircraft designs were woefully behind Germany's and Japan's technologically superior planes. But the genius and ingenuity of innovators on both sides of the Atlantic closed the gap. For America, it was a handful of visionaries and their teams; for Great Britain, a creative and thoughtful spirit emanated from the top leadership on down. In this hour, we recount the untold stories of their cutting-edge designs and solutions, some of which proved decades ahead of their time.
Oct 14 2005
Need a car part or an accessory to give it personality? Since 1903, when Sears dedicated a portion of its catalog, the automotive after-market grew into a billion-dollar juggernaut. We visit Auto Zone, the retail leader, whose largest store carries 25,000 parts. At SO-CAL Speed Shop, a sedan is transformed into a hot rod. Achieving $100-billion in annual sales didn't happen overnight, but largely on the shoulders of three entrepreneurs--cartoon characters Manny, Moe, and Jack, who were real people. In 1921, they opened their first store in Philadelphia--Pep Auto Supplies. By developing brand names, carrying key parts, and providing hands-on service, they set the standard. Finally, we look at odd products sold by auto stores, discover how Armor All transforms dull interiors into brand-new, and how a tire sealant named Slime may replace the spare tire.
Oct 05 2005
An evaluation of the evolution of German "small arms" from the end of WWI, when the defeated nation was denied the right to rearm by the Treaty of Versailles, to the end of WWII, after Hitler had again supplied the country with the means to wage war. See how Lugers, P-38s, and Mausers wrote an agonizing chapter in the gun's history.
Sep 24 2005
The project was surrounded by secrecy and dogged by controversy from the very beginning. Starting in the late '70s, engineers at Lockheed's legendary "Skunkworks" developed a revolutionary new fighter that was destined to transform aerial combat forever. Little more than a decade later, the F-117 NIGHTHAWK STEALTH fighter saw combat for the first time in Panama.
Sep 22 2005
Move over pancakes, step aside bacon! Cereal is arguably the true breakfast king, a $9-billion industry with an indisputable place in pop-culture history. Full of surprise, nostalgia, and fascinating facts, our special celebrates the colorful--and crunchy--saga of a distinctly American breakfast. We see how a Presbyterian minister-turned-health-food-fanatic--Sylvester Graham, of "Graham cracker" fame--turned his countrymen from fried pork breakfasts to grain- and bran-heavy diets in 1824. We reveal the rivalries, tricks, and accidents that turned cereal into a breakfast sensation. And we examine the amazing feats of marketing used to promote the product--from creating iconic characters for packaging, to ingenious prizes that drove consumers to the shelves in droves.
Sep 14 2005
Sugar 11x49
The sugar industry came of age on the backs of slaves toiling in Caribbean fields, and British desire to control production of sugar and its byproduct, rum. Sugar also played a surprisingly critical part in America's battle for independence. Tour a sugar plantation on Maui, Hawaii to get an inside look at how cane sugar is produced today and learn how the sugar stalks are put through an extensive process of extraction and purification--and how a ton of harvested cane results in 200 pounds of raw sugar. Learn the technology behind creating the sweetener in all of its permutations, including corn syrup, brown sugar, powdered sugar and cube sugar, and how it's used in candies, soda and sauces as well as more exotic uses such as in pipe tobacco and processed meat.
Sep 14 2005
Coffee 11x48
Traces the origins of this tasty drink from Ethiopia over 1,000 years ago to the espresso-fueled explosion of specialty coffee stores like Starbucks today. Along the way, we'll see how American companies like Hills Brothers, Maxwell House, Folgers and MJB grew to be giants. Discover how billions of coffee beans make their journey from coffee farms and plantations, and are processed in gigantic roasting and packaging plants before showing up in coffee cups all over the world. Details the invention and production of instant coffee, decaffeinated coffee and freeze-dried coffee, and the espresso machine. Also, we explain how coffee made shift work in factories possible, while coffeehouses provided a creative cauldron that brewed political and artistic progress in the 18th and 19th centuries. And, we also provide tips on how to make a better cup at home!
Sep 14 2005
The HMS Victory would play a crucial role in the foremost naval engagement in 19th century maritime history, the battle of Trafalgar. This victory was so decisive that no fleet challenged Britain's Royal Navy for more than one hundred years. Built with enough wood to cover the Empire State Building one and a half times, propelled by wind and firing solid shots from smooth bored muzzle-loading canons, ships like HMS Victory ruled the waves for over two centuries. Manned by a crew of 850 and capable of firing one and a half tons of iron shot in a single devastating broadside, these eighteenth century floating fortresses were as complex and sophisticated in their day as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is today. Using color re-enactments and the actual recollections of those who fought on board, this profile goes below the decks of the famous warship.
Sep 02 2005
We begin with electrical linemen perched precariously out a helicopter door, repairing 345,000-volt high-tension power lines. They are part of an army of technicians and scientists we'll ride, climb, and crawl with on this episode. They risk their lives so that we can have the services we take for granted--electric power and 21st century communications. They lay and maintain the wire that connects us one to another, as well as America to the rest of the world. The hardwiring of America is a story that is nearly two centuries old. And though satellites and wireless systems may be challenging the wire, it's not dead. Fiber optic cable, lines that transmit light, became a player in information delivery in the late 1970s. We may be entering a "wireless" age, but the infrastructure of wires laid by visionary scientists and industrialists are still vital to America. Wire technology will be with us, continuing to provide service, well into the next century.
Aug 31 2005
The remarkable story of the men who maintain and repair live high-voltage power lines--an elite team of pilot and lineman that looks for damage and makes critical repairs without turning the power off! "Barehanding" involves a helicopter flying up to live power lines, stretching a metal wand out to the line and energizing the helicopter and lineman to the full strength of the power line. The lineman, wearing a special metal fiber suit, then works on the wire by sitting on the helicopter skid or climbing onto the bare line. This technique makes the lineman, chopper, and pilot all part of the electrical circuit with 345,000 volts running through both men and machine. For two days, we follow members of the USA Airmobile team in Wisconsin as they risk their lives to inspect and repair critical power lines that were struck by a tornado. And we trace the development of this high-risk work, conceived of in 1979 by Mike Kurtgis, our guide through its electric history.
Aug 31 2005
In any battle, the key to victory is the ability to strike the enemy without them knowing what hit them. Within the US arsenal one such weapon can go into harm's way, deliver 40,000 pounds of either conventional or nuclear bombs, and slip away unobserved--the B-2 Stealth Bomber. With its origins in single-wing experimentation in Germany in the 1930s, the B-2 was developed under a cloak of secrecy. But when that cloak was lifted, the world was awed by what stood before them. Able to fly over 6,000 miles without refueling, it can reach whatever target the US military wants to attack and deliver its awesome array of laser-guided weapons with pinpoint accuracy. Using state-of-the-art technology, including over 130 onboard computers, and shrouded by a mantle of stealth, it's undetectable by any radar.
Aug 26 2005
Perhaps no field has experienced this revolution in velocity more acutely than transportation. We look at five blazingly fast technological marvels that have pushed the speed limits to the very edge, each with its own unique and dramatic history: the world's fastest production car (Sweden's Koenigsegg CCR); the world's fastest train (the Maglev in Shanghai); the world's fastest boat (The Spirit of Australia); the world's fastest roller coaster (the Kingda Ka) and the fastest thing on earth (the Holloman High Speed Test Track), used to test highly sensitive equipment for many branches of the government and commercial clients.
Aug 24 2005
Route 66 11x42
Route 66, encompassing eight states from Illinois to California and 2,400 miles, represented an American myth--that something better lay over the rainbow. Route 66 began in the early 20th century when a confluence of technologies--automotive, steel construction, and concrete paving--merged with population explosion, westward migration, and prosperity after WWI. The federal government responded with highway bills that converted existing roadways into an interstate called Route 66. Later, WWII highlighted the need for a strategic system similar to Germany's Autobahn--wider, safer, and more advanced. As federal and state governments worked on a superhighway, millions sought "their kicks on Route 66." By 1985, the abandoned roadway no longer "officially" existed, yet, it remains a destination for nostalgic travelers wishing to recapture a simpler, more adventurous era.
Aug 24 2005
German military aircraft designs were decades ahead of their Allied counterparts. To insure Luftwaffe superiority, their designers tested advanced concepts including swept-wing and vertical take-off aircraft and stealth bombers. Using computer-generated images and archival footage, we trace development of Hitler's airborne arsenal.
Aug 17 2005
Lube Job 11x40
From chariot wheels of ancient Egypt to hard disks in a computer to the wheels on a Mars rover, machinery can't function without lubricants. And in today's technology, there are a mind-boggling number of friction points that must be lubed, and a staggering number of lubricants-- petroleum motor oils that keep car engines from burning up, synthetic greases that stay put in the zero gravity of space, and solid coatings that prevent eggs from sticking to a pan. We'll see how this marvel of chemistry works and how it's used. Peering into the future, we'll behold a power generator that employs air as a lubricant, trains using magnetic levitation, which eliminates any need for lubrication, and bio-engineered vegetable oils that promise to take humanity back to one of its very first lubricants. From helping medieval windmills spin, to allowing robotic arms on planetary rovers to move, lubricants are crucial to the advance of technology and literally keep the wheels of progress turning.
Aug 10 2005
Dredging 11x39
They dig, scoop, suck, and spew an ocean of silt and sediment. Dredgers are the mechanical beasts that fuel the world's economic engine by clearing and deepening ports for mega-container ships. The roots of dredging go back as far as the Egyptians, who used their hands to open channels on the Nile to keep crops watered. The Romans, who used harbor dredging to keep a tight fist on Europe, pioneered the "spoon and bag" dredge to speed up the process. Steam power brought about the first large-scale dredges and helped create the Panama Canal. We'll go aboard two of the largest US dredgers and see how they keep waters moving. And in Holland, we meet the biggest players on the dredging world and witness the launching of the largest dredge ever built. From there, we head to Dubai in the Middle East, where 90 square miles of new islands was dredged from the sea and will now create a pleasure world for the rich and powerful.
Aug 03 2005
From a giant machine press that stamps out an entire car body to a 125-ton chainsaw that cuts through the world's hardest rock; from a huge telescope that glimpses the ends of the known universe to the world's largest rock crusher. Join us for a workout of the world's largest machines, and take a long look through the lens of the world's biggest optical telescope, the Keck Observatory, atop 13,800-foot Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
Aug 02 2005
When this 60 tons of high-tech military hardware rumbles onto the battlefield at nearly 40 mph, there's nowhere for the enemy to hide. Behind its impenetrable armor lies one of the most effective computerized weapons systems. Its main weapon--an awesome 120mm rifled gun that can take out a football-sized moving target three miles away. Men who serve in this metallic monster claim the hard-hitting warhorse is the world's best battle tank. An underdog during military competitions in the late 1980s, the Challenger proved itself in Operation Desert Storm and was back in action for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Unique archive film, riveting reenactments, extraordinary interviews, and dramatic computer graphics tell the story of this British battlefield heavyweight and the men who have taken it into the heat of battle.
Jul 29 2005
Sewers 11x36
A simple flush and it's forgotten. But haven't you secretly wondered where it all goes when we go? Join us as we explore this less-than-polite topic, and examine the network of underground pipes and tunnels that carries human waste and excess storm water away. From ancient Rome's pristine sewage-conveying systems, through the disease-spreading, out-the-window system of Europe in the Middle Ages, and into the progressive sanitation engineering of the 19th and 20th centuries, we go with the flow of sewage history. And we sift through the flotsam and jetsam of our cities' sewer systems and delve into the sewers of Paris, Boston, and Los Angeles to study waste management's evolution. We meet a sewer diver (and his robotic counterpart) who inspects and ensures the efficient operation of the conduits; decipher the myths about "treasures" and creatures found in the murky depths; and find out exactly where it goes, how it gets there, and how we've learned to use it to our benefit.
Jul 27 2005
Today's cowboy plants one boot firmly in the traditions of the Old West and the other in the world of modern technology. Beginning in the 19th century, the era in which the American cattle industry boomed, we examine cowboy technology. Learn how North American cowboys converted saddles, ropes, spurs, and other equipment originally developed by the Spanish, into tools of the trade perfectly suited for the developing cattle industry. And see how the invention of barbed wire revolutionized the cowboy's world. Step into the 21st century with today's cowboys who use computer chips, retinal scans, DNA evidence to round up cattle rustlers, and high-tech digital-imaging devices to aid in shoeing horses...and ride ATVs as often as their horses. In the world of rodeo, witness today's cowboys as they utilize advanced theories of genetics and artificial insemination in an attempt to breed the perfect bucking bull.
Jul 20 2005
Join our journey along monumental feats of engineering that preserved America's natural wonders while paving the way towards her future. Travel the Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, site of a dark chapter in US history. Today, crews use the latest technology to keep I-80 open during the worst winter storms. Enjoy the view while traveling to the summit of Pike's Peak in Colorado, inspiration for America the Beautiful. The "Going-to-the-Sun-Road" slices through Montana's majestic Glacier National Park, crossing the Continental Divide and allowing motorists unsurpassed views of mountain scenery. Outside Denver, the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel, carved through mountain rock, united eastern and western Colorado. And the Blue Ridge Parkway, which took 52 years to complete, snakes through large, scenic swatches.
Jul 05 2005
An investigation into one of the 20th century's most shocking hidden stories--the dismal failure of the Soviet space program, which led to more than 150 recorded deaths. Much has come to light from declassified files. We see how personal rivalries, shifting political alliances, and bureaucratic bungling doomed the program.
Jul 01 2005
He was the father of the future...electric lights, power systems, motion pictures, recorded sound--even the tattoo pen. Life as we know it would be inconceivable without the prodigious output of the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Alva Edison. His intense focus on his work came with a hefty personal price, but his reward was a world forever changed by his genius. Years after his death, Edison's effect is seen, heard, and felt everywhere. We follow descendants of his motion-picture camera to the tops of Earth's highest mountains, to the bottoms of its deepest oceans, and even into outer space. We track his innovations in recorded sound to CDs, iPods, sophisticated movie sound, and satellite radio. And we illuminate his world of electric light, powering the world and turning night into day. Along the way, we discover a little Edison in corners of modern life less well-known and even look at his failures. From the Internet to the stock market to pay-per-view; the Wizard is everywhere.
Jun 29 2005
A paper-thin, wall-sized holographic television...a car that runs on processed seawater...an army of robotic killing machines...outer-space luxury resorts and a cleaning droid controlled by your mind? Buckle-up for safety as we race into the near future--where fantasy becomes fact. There have always been visionaries, futurists, and dreamers predicting the world of tomorrow--flying cars, space-station colonies, and android personal assistants. But time has proven the fallacy of many of their predictions. So what future technology can we realistically expect? With the help of 3D animation, we present some pretty far-out predictions and take you to various research labs to see working prototypes of these technologies in their infancy. Join us on a rollicking ride through the entertainment room, down the road, over the battlefield, through the mind, out in space, and into the future, where science fiction becomes science fact.
Jun 22 2005
Priceless collections. Compilations devoted to with such passion, entire lives have been spent perfecting them. From rescued trash to treasure-troves with values known to only the most discerning eye, people collect for many reasons. For some, the thrill is in the find; for others, collecting is an escape from daily life. But all collectors have one thing in common--they love it!
Jun 19 2005
In the 1930s, Japanese designers created a range of warplanes, culminating in the legendary Ki-43 Oscar and the A6M Zero. As the war turned against Japan, designers created the rocket-powered Shusui, the Kikka jet fighter, and the experimental R2Y Keiun. We also disclose frantic preparations to assemble a secret airforce of jet and rocket planes to counter an anticipated US invasion in1945, and chronicle post-war aviation and the birth of the Japanese rocket program in the 1950s and '60s.
Jun 16 2005
In a battle against the ferocious Atlantic or safe passage through waters where ships wrecked and lives were lost, it was an engineering feat that many believed impossible. This is the story of the Cape Cod Canal and the men who braved the natural elements and the Great Depression by venturing into new engineering territory. In 1909 excavation began on what would become one of the greatest success stories of our time. The evolution of the Cape Cod Canal into what it is today--a major commerce and recreational route of the Intracoastal Waterway--is a tale of determination, ingenuity, and the American spirit. Through historical photographs and expert interviews, the Canal's story unfolds, and while traveling along on an Army Corps of Engineers Patrol Boat and Coast Guard vessel we see firsthand what happens on the Canal on a daily basis. And we meet the people who make the Canal and its bridges functional and safe, keeping the legacy of the early engineers alive.
Jun 15 2005
A steel giant standing 1,107 feet high on broad shoulders, this vertical city houses 1,200 people. Join us as we explore how a young architectural team from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill conceived of an innovative 100-story, multi-use tower. A construction crisis halted the project for six months, but once it resumed, it took just four years and 50 million man-hours to complete the John Hancock Center. In the heart of Chicago, the John Hancock Center rises 100 stories above the luxury shops and restaurants that line the famous Magnificent Mile. It opened on May 5, 1970 with 237,657 square feet of retailing, 812,160 square feet of offices, 703 rental apartments (converted to condominiums in 1974), 507-car parking garage, and an ice skating rink! There are 1,250 miles of wiring and 11,459 panes of glass. Nicknamed "Big John", it cost $100-million and took 46,000 tons of steel to build.
Jun 08 2005
June 6, 1944--the greatest machine of World War Two springs into action. It is made up of thousands of ships and aircraft, tens of thousands of men and millions of tons of steel and concrete. This is Operation Overlord--the invasion machine that will send Allied soldiers dropping from the skies and storming the beaches of Normandy. Each piece of this machine has been designed to fulfill a specific task in the air, on land, or at sea. The success of D-Day depends on it. Interlocking with pinpoint precision, the men and machines of Overlord overcome not just Hitler's beach defenses, but nature itself in the greatest assault the world has ever seen. Using archive film, and color reenactments, we reveal the phenomenal hardware of D-Day.
Jun 03 2005
America protects its homeland with the most technologically advanced military force ever conceived. Although they fight 21st-century battles worldwide, the technology unleashed is directly descended from a war fought more than 140 years ago. This episode explores how the War between North and South was the first modern war, and the technology used in it was a quantum leap beyond any previous conflict. The machine gun, aerial reconnaissance, advanced battlefield medicine, instantaneous communication, ironclad ships, even the first aircraft carrier were all innovations developed during the Civil War. We'll investigate improvements in weapons, sea power, transportation, troop conveyance, food processing, medical care, and telecommunications. At a time when the nation was divided, Civil War technology revolutionized the way war was waged. Today, those technological milestones have evolved to ensure that our modern military has no equal in the world.
May 25 2005
Built around "first look, first shot, first kill" design, the F/A-22 Raptor, the most advanced aircraft of its breed, is set to become the Air Dominance Fighter of the 21st century. Deadly and undetectable at long-range, this super-jet is the latest in 5th generation fighter technology. Capable of super-cruise and packing an array of deadly missile systems, this stealth jet blends dogfighting skill with precision-strike ground attack capability and can intercept and strike any target with near impunity. In the 1980s, as Cold War tensions heightened and US defense spending increased, the Air Force decided it needed a replacement fighter for its F15 Eagle. The Advanced Tactical Fighter program was born, and the largest, most expensive program of its kind hatched the Raptor. Follow the 25-year development of America's deadliest fighter and see how stealth, super-cruise, and integrated avionics combine to create a fighter without equal.
May 20 2005
Glue 11x23
It's Super! It's Krazy! And it can be found in everything from carpet to computers, books to boats, shoes to the Space Shuttle. It's even used in surgery! Without it, our material world would simply fall apart. In this episode, we'll visit the stuck-up, tacky world of glue. Glue's sticky trajectory spans human history and we'll cover it all--from Neolithic cave dwellers who used animal glue to decorate ceremonial skulls to modern everyday glues and their uses, including Elmer's glue, 3M's masking and Scotch tape, and the super glues. Remember the Krazy Glue commercial in which a man held himself suspended from a hard hat that had just been glued to a beam? Well, that 1970s vintage ad understates the power of glue. With the help of a crane, we're going to hoist a 6,000-pound pickup truck off the ground by a steel joint that's been bonded with glue!
May 18 2005
Bricks 11x22
The history of civilization has been built on the back of brick, and it's been said that "architecture itself began when two bricks were put together well." From great Egyptian temples to the Roman aqueducts, the Great Wall of China, and the dome of the Hagia Sophia, brick is one of the oldest, yet least celebrated, building materials manufactured by man. In this hard-packed episode, we explore brick's past, highlighting defining moments, such as the Great London Fire of 1666, the zenith years of brick in the New York Hudson River Valley, and brick as an essential building block in infrastructure and industry. We'll feature advancements through the ages as well as construction techniques, trends, and the future of brick construction. Essentially, brick is still just burnt clay...it has been around for thousands of years, but continues to serve as the backdrop of the modern age.
May 11 2005
Join us on two treacherous trips as we follow two separate structural moving families in their struggles to relocate and save a 100-year-old homestead and an 1890 Queen Anne Victorian house. In Colorado, a father and son have to fight fierce weather and the fragility of a purported haunted log cabin and decaying barn to move them two miles across a rugged mountainside. In Illinois, three generations of movers are pushed to their limit when they are hired to transport a 180-ton monster house across town. Will these historic homes reach their final resting places in one piece and find peace?
Apr 27 2005
Paint 11x20
From the Impressionist canvas to the Space Shuttle...from customized hotrods to the brilliant orange hue of the Golden Gate Bridge or tiny electronic devices--paint is one of our most ubiquitous products. And paint adds more than just pigmentation. It's a crucial engineering element, protecting ships from water corrosion, stovetops from heat, and the Stealth Bomber from radar detection. In homes and businesses, it provides a balanced spectrum of light and protects surfaces from wear. In this colorful hour, we discover how this marvel of chemistry and engineering is made, and how it is applied. Come see what's beneath the surface as we reveal one of man's most ingenious methods of defeating the elements and adding spice to life!
Apr 27 2005
Venture down that creaky staircase to explore the most misunderstood room in the house! From Pompeii to Pittsburgh, the dark, cool, and forlorn spaces beneath our living quarters have always contained things that helped us live comfortably. Ancient Hittites, Phrygians, and Persians carved subterranean rooms for food, water, and wine storage, and for shelter from weather and marauders. For ancient Greeks and Romans, a basement greatly increased a house's value. Ruins of homes at Pompeii reveal the importance of basements in providing both heat and storage for rich Roman families. Renaissance architects placed kitchens, servant quarters, and laundry rooms there, hidden from the eyes of their aristocratic patrons! Colonial Americans expanded the practice, and by the 20th century, the basement was a routine feature. Come along as we demystify this domestic underworld, which turns out to be an area of innovation, imagination, and creativity.
Apr 26 2005
Scientists develop the Doomsday Clock as an image to symbolize urgency in the Cold War and the threat of nuclear disaster.
Apr 07 2005
In this fiery hour, we profile five of the world's deadliest weapons, focusing on the inventors, battles, and dark technology behind their lethality. Beginning with the deadliest bomb ever created, the Tsar Bomba--a 50-megaton nuclear bomb--we move on to the deadliest weapons ever used on people, the atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. During WWI, the machine gun led to the deaths of over 8-million, and in WWII, the use of incendiary bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people. Another deadly invention of WWII was the proximity fuse, or VT fuse, that allowed artillery to detonate within a predetermined range of an enemy target. Finally, we examine VX nerve gas--a deadly chemical agent used twice by Saddam Hussein with devastating results--and visit Edgewood Chemical BioCenter, where suspicious items in the current war in Iraq are examined for traces of VX.
Mar 16 2005
SWAT 11x16
Special weapons and tactics (SWAT) originated in the mid-1960s after several sniping incidents against civilians and police officers nationwide, particularly in Los Angeles during and after the Watts Riots. But on August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman changed the face of police tactics forever, when he randomly killed dozens of people using a high-powered rifle from atop the University of Texas clock tower. We explore the origins, tools, and dramatic stories of LA, Austin, and St. Louis SWAT units.
Mar 09 2005
Taxidermy 11x15
It began as a tool used by prehistoric man to attract animals to the hunt. Over time it became an invaluable study aid for the natural scientist and a popular hobby for hunters and fishermen. Join us for a tantalizing look at the history of taxidermy, the craft of preserving animal skins and using them to recreate a still life of the animal as it appeared in life. We also check out fiberglass reproduction, which is gaining popularity as fish and game regulations become stricter. Finally, we examine human subjects in taxidermy. Using the very latest process of plastination, the once taboo science and art of preserving and displaying human corpses now draws crowds in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., proving the age-old practice continues to mesmerize us!
Mar 09 2005
Examine the colorful history of the premier flight test center, and America's most important aviation facility for more than 60 years, Edwards Air Force Base in California. Every single aircraft to enter the Air Force's inventory has been put through its paces at Edwards, along with many Navy and Army aircraft as well. With unprecedented access to several forgotten and abandoned facilities on the base, we are guided by Richard Hallion, former chief historian for the U.S. Air Force. Today, Edwards continues to push the envelope. Among the many cutting-edge projects currently being tested is the Airborne Laser, designed to focus a basketball-sized spot of intense heat that could destroy a ballistic missile.
Mar 02 2005
An in-depth look at the technology conceived or developed by America's first billionaire. A passionate aviator, Howard Hughes built and flew planes that broke speed records, and developed war machines, spy aircraft, and commercial airliners. Despite the impressive heights reached by his technological empire, his health and mental well-being were fragile. During his last years, he wasn't seen publicly or photographed, rarely left the hotel suites he occupied, and was terrified of germs. But when Hughes died in 1976, he left a huge legacy in aviation and technology. When we board an airliner, view TV via satellite, or marvel at America's military might, we might do well to remember the risk-taker who flew faster than his peers and was at heart an aviator obsessively dedicated to both the art and science of flight.
Feb 28 2005
San Francisco's Oakland Bay Bridge stands as an incredible feat of engineering against the nearly impossible. Once chosen as one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world, it features an unique double suspension structure in its west end. Join us as we cross this triumph of construction, while we visit its past and look to its future.
Feb 23 2005
Sub-Zero 11x11
Come in from the cold while we explore some of Earth's most frigid places and examine how man copes with sub-zero climates. With the advance of technology, our boundaries have expanded--from the North and South Poles, to the depths beneath the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, to the Moon, Mars, and outward to Saturn. Enter these forbidding territories, guided by a special breed of experts as we inspect the new U.S. South Pole Station, try on the latest Polartec fashions with anti-microbial fibers, ride on the newest snowmobiles and Sno-Cats, sail through glacial waters on ice-breaking ships, and fly on an LC-130 transport plane. And we'll see what NASA has on the planning board for deep-space exploration, including a beach-ball robot explorer, and learn from scientists studying fish in the waters off Antarctica to understand glycoproteins, which may keep frozen tissue healthy longer for transplantation.
Feb 23 2005
It's hot, dry, deadly, and hard to ignore with close to 40% of Earth classified as desert. But in this scorching hour, the desert turns from barren wasteland into an environment rich with hope. In the Middle East, desalination of seawater now fills water needs. Americans have created booming desert communities like Las Vegas, where the Hoover Dam produces hydroelectric power and manmade Lake Mead supplies water. Native Americans farmed the desert on a small scale, but 20th-century technology begot greater opportunity. Once desolate areas of California and Mexico now grow agriculture due to irrigation, and the desert's abundant sunshine allows solar-energy and wind-power production. And in the future, desert technology may enable colonization of planets like Mars. We also take a look at how refrigeration and air conditioning have made life in desert communities tolerable, and examine the latest in survival gear and equipment.
Feb 23 2005
Any fire raging out of control is a hazard, but when compounded with obstacles of extreme conditions, such as an oil-well blowout or acres of forest ablaze, firefighters face new elements of danger. Meet a WWII London firefighter, "Hell Fighters" who squelch oil-well infernos, and smokejumpers who parachute into forest fires. with special guest John Travolta
Feb 15 2005
One of the 20th century's greatest scientists, George Washington Carver's influence is still felt. Rising from slavery to become one of the world's most respected and honored men, he devoted his life to understanding nature and the many uses for the simplest of plant life. His scientific research in the late 1800s produced agricultural innovations like crop rotation and composting. Part of the "chemurgist" movement that changed the rural economy, he found ingenious applications for the peanut, soybean, and sweet potato. At Tuskegee Institute, Dr. Carver invented more than 300 uses for the peanut, while convincing poor farmers to rotate cotton crops with things that would add nutrients to the soil. A visionary, Carver shared his knowledge free of charge, happy in his Tuskegee laboratory where he could use his gifts to help others.
Feb 15 2005
Starting with the circumstances that led to it's creation up through its reitrement, this episode covers the SR-71 in depth. Stealth wasn't the ace in the whole for this bird...speed and altitude were. A highly educational hour with what is perhaps the best plane ever built, and which still holds all of it's speed and altitude records.
Feb 04 2005
In a carnivorous world, a butcher is a necessary link in the food chain, carving a carcass of unsavory flesh into mouthwatering cuts. We trace the grisly trade's evolution--from yesteryear's butcher-on-every-corner to today's industrial butcher working on a "disassembly" line. We tour the infamous remains of the Chicago Stockyards, where Upton Sinclair, Clarence Birdseye, and refrigeration changed butchering forever; witness high-speed butchering; and travel to a non-stop sausage factory. And if you're still squeamish, a USDA inspector offers the lowdown on HACCP--the country's new system of checks and balances on everything from quality grading to E. coli, Salmonella, and Mad Cow Disease. Finally, we visit the last bastion of old-school butchering--the rural custom butcher, who slaughters, eviscerates, skins, and cuts to his customer's wishes.
Feb 01 2005
Giant robots on the factory floor and in outer space. A floating fortress that's home to 6,000 military personnel, which is almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall. And a diesel engine with 108,000 horsepower. (You read that right.) These giants must be seen to be believed! In this episode, we travel over land and sea to find these and more of the biggest, baddest, most audacious feats of engineering in the world.
Jan 26 2005
Think man is unique within the animal kingdom? You might not after this hour that features an amazing collection of earth's non-human inhabitants that use tools, build intricate structures, create traps to capture prey, and perform complex procedures, including farming. From Egyptian vultures utilizing stones to crack open hard-shelled ostrich eggs to chimpanzees using a "tool kit" to extract termites from their nests, we learn that our ability to create tools is not exclusive. Other mammals create subterranean structures, including those prodigious diggers Prairie Dogs, and many animals and insects make devices to augment hunting, such as the Ogre-faced Spider that spins a small web to throw down on unsuspecting passersby. And we're not the only ones to work as a unified, multi-skilled force. Aphid-Raising Ants protect and care for herds of plant juice-sucking aphids that they "milk".
Jan 18 2005
The Arch 11x03
Join us as we explore the vast and varied world of the arch, one of the strongest and most versatile structures made by man. Deceptively simple, an arch can support tremendous weight because its structure is compressed by pressure, and it provides a much more spacious opening than its predecessor--post and lintel construction. Although ancient Egyptians and Greeks experimented with the arch, the Romans perfected it. Medieval Arabs incorporated it into stunning mosque architecture, soon followed by Europe's great medieval churches. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the steel arch became a favorite of architects and structural engineers. Dam builders employed it horizontally, using the water behind the dam to provide the pressure to compress it. And tomorrow, the arch will continue to serve mankind in every form--from nanotechnology to domes on Mars and beyond.
Jan 12 2005
Engage the satellite navigation, fire-up the fuel cell, and activate the radar-guided cruise control! You're in for the joyride of your life as we investigate what drives and will drive our vehicular destiny. In this 2-hour special, we talk to auto industry engineers, designers, historians, and futurists, and meet carmakers standing at the threshold of a brave new automotive world and on the verge of technical innovations that might prove as far-reaching as the switch from horses to horsepower.
Jan 06 2005
Poison 11x01
Since ancient times, man has tried to control the "devil's bounty"--deadly substances found throughout nature. Paradoxically, some of these lethal compounds are now found to possess life-giving properties. In this hour, we explore how ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans came to rely on the pernicious power of poisons and learn the physiological action of these potent killers. During the Renaissance, known as the Golden Age of Poison, the deadly practice helped shape European history--most especially that of the Catholic Church. We continue our investigation into the gas attacks of WWI and up to the 21st century, when a new and serious threat of bioterrorism plagues the globe. Finally, we peer into the future with scientists experimenting with poisons and venoms from the plant and animal kingdoms that may play an important part in healing diseases such as arthritis and even cancer.
Jan 05 2005

Season 10

66 Episodes

From the far reaches of space to tiny viruses, doomsday sources are many. But so are technologies used to keep doomsday at bay.
Dec 28 2004
Doomsday threats range from very real (nuclear arsenals) to controversial (global warming) to futuristic (nanotechnology, cyborgs, and robots). Despite the Cold War's end, we live under the shadow of nuclear weapons, arms races, and accidental launches. Next, we stir up a hotter topic--the connection between global warming and fossil fuels--and ask if they're cooking up a sudden, new Ice Age. And we examine 21st-century technologies that typify the dual-edged sword of Doomsday Tech with massive potential for both creation and destruction--nanotechnology (engineering on a tiny scale), robotics, and cybernetics. We witness amazing applications in the works, wonder at the limitless promise, and hear warnings of a possible nano-doomsday, with tiny, out-of-control machines devouring everything around them.
Dec 28 2004
Chaos in Guadalajara, Mexico, when the city streets explode; an airplane crash outside of Paris that ranks as one of the worst in history; two mining dams in Italy collapse engulfing a village in a tidal wave of sludge; a generation of children in a small Texas town are entombed in the rubble of their school; an oil tanker runs aground off the coast of England and introduces the world to the devastation of the first super spill... Engineering Disasters 16 delves into the shocking chain of events leading up to each of these horrific catastrophes and examines resulting technological improvements designed to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Dec 23 2004
Dec 22 2004
Dec 22 2004
Dec 22 2004
It comes in many deadly shapes and sizes, and the transportation of dangerous cargo is one of the most meticulously planned procedures in the shipping world. We hitch a ride on a "dynamite run" from explosives factory to construction site; learn how liquid natural gas is shipped, a fuel that could vaporize entire city blocks if ignited; accompany a Drug Enforcement Administration truck as it transports confiscated illegal drugs to an incinerator site for destruction; fly with Air Net as it moves radioactive pharmaceuticals from factory to hospital; and tag along with two tigers, part of a breeding program for endangered species, as they travel from Texas to Ohio. As each story progresses, we explore the history of the transport of that particular form of Dangerous Cargo.
Dec 21 2004
Battered and fried or simply raw--seafood is a popular dish, no matter how you serve it. Americans consume more than 5-billion pounds yearly, an order that takes more than a fishing rod to fill and worries conservationists. We follow the fish, the fishermen, and the science trying to preserve fisheries for future generations--from ancient ships on the Nile to a modern technologically sophisticated factory trawler on the Bering Sea to the University of New Hampshire's open-ocean aquaculture research project. And we witness a wide variety of fishing methods--from gillnetting and longlining to lobster trapping. Hop aboard and sail through time and around the globe as we explore the harsh conditions of life at sea and experience firsthand one of history's deadliest jobs. Brace yourself and feel the ice-cold, salt spray on your face as we explore commercial fishing!
Dec 21 2004
Extruders, molds, in-line conveyor belts. Are these machines manufacturing adhesives, plastics, or parts for your car? No, they're making treats for your mouth--and you will see them doing their seductively tasty work in this scrumptious episode. First, we visit Utz Quality Foods in Hanover, Pennsylvania, that produces more than one million pounds of chips per week, and Snyder's of Hanover, the leading U.S. pretzel manufacturer. Next, we focus on the world's largest candy manufacturer, Masterfoods USA, which makes Milky Way, Snickers, Mars, and M&Ms, and take a lick at the world's largest lollipop producer, Tootsie Roll Industries. And at Flower Foods' Crossville, Tennessee plant, an army of cupcakes rolls down a conveyer belt. The final stop is Dreyer's Bakersfield, California plant, where 20,000 ice cream bars and 9,600 drumsticks roll off the line in an hour.
Dec 16 2004
A series of construction errors causes a devastating flood that brings Chicago to a standstill. A deadly accident traps hundreds in a smoke-filled Alpine tunnel, with no ventilation. Three boilers explode on a Mississippi riverboat resulting in thousands of deaths and earning the disaster the title of the worst in maritime history. Two buildings, halfway around the world from each other, collapse from the same type of shoddy construction methods--14 years apart. And a cockpit warning system malfunctions, causing a fiery, fatal crash before the jetliner ever takes off. We interview design and construction experts as we investigate what went wrong. And we talk with rescue personnel, eyewitnesses, and victims as we visit the tragedies' sites to see what improvements have been implemented to insure against these kinds of disasters.
Dec 08 2004
The U.S. capital boasts many memorials, but none with a more bizarre history than the obelisk erected to America's first president. Over 55 stories high and weighing over 90,000 tons, the Washington Monument stands stalwart in the city's center. From concept to completion, it took 100 years--years filled with mystery, ceremony, conflict, government action, and inaction. Proposed in the late 1700s by a group of prominent citizens and finished in the late 1800s by the Army Corps of Engineers, the exterior is mainly Maryland white marble, while the interior is made of granite, iron...and a few surprises. How did it come together and why did it take so long? Historians tell stories of stalling bureaucracy, secret societies, and triumphant engineering. Stark and daunting on the outside, we let viewers know what's inside.
Dec 01 2004
In this hour, we examine a massive oil tanker explosion that killed nine; a subway tunnel cave-in that swallowed part of Hollywood Boulevard; a freighter plane crash that destroyed an 11-story apartment building; an historic molasses flash flood; and a freeway ramp collapse that buried construction workers in rubble and concrete. Investigators from NTSB, Cal/OSHA, and Boeing, structural and geo-technical engineers, and historians explain how so much could have gone wrong, costing so many lives. And aided by computer graphics, footage and photos of the disasters, and visits to the locations today, we show viewers what caused these catastrophes and what design experts have done to make sure they never happen again.
Nov 23 2004
When the men and women aboard a modern submarine hear the command to dive, they can take a measure of comfort in the fact that no U.S. sub has been lost in nearly 40 years, though it's been said that the sea is a more hostile environment than space. The tragedies of former disasters have not been forgotten or squandered and the Navy has been extremely motivated to find ever more effective ways to prevent them. We'll examine sub disasters to discover what caused them and what they've taught us. And as we explore the early history of the submarine--including a sub used in the American Revolution and one used in the Civil War--we follow a modern crew using submarine simulators to train for disasters, study subs in the nuclear age, and explore state-of-the-art rescue technology.
Nov 17 2004
In this hour, death seeps out of the ground into a neighborhood sitting on a toxic waste dump at Love Canal in New York; soldiers die during Desert Storm in 1991 when software flaws render Patriot Missiles inaccurate; on September 11, 2001, World Trade Center Building #7 wasn't attacked, but seven hours after the Twin Towers collapsed, it too is mysteriously reduced to a pile of rubble; a night of revelry in Boston turns the Cocoanut Grove nightclub into an inferno that kills over 400 people in 1942; and the science of demolition is put to the test and fails when a building in Rhode Island, the "Leaning Tower of Providence", stands its ground.
Nov 16 2004
In the world of surveillance, Big Brother is not only watching, he's also listening, analyzing, recording, scanning, and tracking every aspect of our lives. And with advanced surveillance technology, there's virtually no place to hide. We'll examine some of the most important and potentially terrifying equipment the world has ever seen...or rather, not seen...in this thriving surveillance revolution. We check out parabolic microphones that pick up conversations a mile a way, cameras that learn what and who to photograph, RadarVision that "sees through walls", and Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). And we explore the mind-bending future of surveillance technology, while, of course, reviewing its surprising history.
Nov 10 2004
In Milwaukee, 104 died after drinking contaminated tap water. At Texas A&M, a tradition turned tragic when a pile of bonfire logs collapsed onto its builders. Thousands of US soldiers expired in known WWII deathtraps--Sherman Tanks. In 1973, 14 men working on a 26-story building died when supports were removed from wet concrete. And in 1993, Denver's "dream" airport became a nightmare when its baggage-handling system ran amok. Aided by computer graphics, catastrophe footage, and visits to the locations today, MIT scientists, Center for Disease Control experts, WWII vets, bonfire builders, and construction engineers explain these tragedies and measures taken to prevent them in future.
Nov 09 2004
Join us as we penetrate the history of the world's most sophisticated tank--the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. In the most radical departure in U.S. tank design since WWII, the Supertank combines speed, heavy protective armor, and a fearsome 120mm main gun. In 1991, the new and unproven Abrams tank was deployed in Operation Desert Storm. Using night vision and laser targeting, the M1 Abrams tank destroyed Saddam Hussein's armored Republican Guard, and is again doing desert duty in the War in Iraq.
Oct 29 2004
Modern Marvels takes a look at the incredible effort the Japanese made to build the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, currently the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world.
Oct 27 2004
Join us for look into five engineering disasters... A dangerous cloud of gas explodes into Cleveland's worst fiery industrial disaster in 1944, killing 128 people. A dance competition turns deadly at the new Kansas City Hyatt in 1981, when a skywalk gives way and kills 114. In 1995, neighbors gaped at the spectacle of a $1.5-million San Francisco Bay area mansion breaking into bits as it fell into a massive sinkhole during a rainstorm. In 1931, one of the worst "natural" disasters ever occurred in the Yangtze River basin when six huge flood waves swept down the river destroying the insufficient dams and levees and killing at least 145,000 people. The "miracle mineral" that the U.S. was built upon turns out to be an invisible killer--an estimated 10,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases.
Oct 26 2004
Gas Tech 10x47
Gas--it makes a balloon go up, cooks our food, and fills our lungs. But this invisible state of matter does far more, and has a very visible impact on the world. We follow natural gas from well tip to stove top and trace its use from 3rd century BC Chinese salt producers to modern appliances. Next, we investigate the most plentiful gas in the universe--hydrogen--which may also prove to be the most powerful. We also experience the cryogenic world of industrial gasses--what they do and where they come from--as we travel to the British Oxygen Company's Braddock Air Separation Plant to see how they freeze millions of tons of oxygen and nitrogen. And at the Bush Dome Helium Reserve in Texas, we learn why the US government sits atop 36-billion cubic feet of the stuff. Finally, we look inside the colorful world of gas and neon lights. So lay back, breathe deep, and count backwards from 10.
Oct 20 2004
The vehicles that transport the President of the United States aren't your ordinary planes, trains, and automobiles. They are top-secret. And for your Average Joe, there's only two ways to find out what they're really like inside--either get elected or stay tuned...
Oct 20 2004
Disasters investigated include: the 1984 Union Carbide debacle in Bhopal, India, where a toxic chemical release killed 3,800 people and left 11,000 with disabling respiratory ailments; and the 2003 sudden collapse of a 10-story parking garage at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, New Jersey that killed four and injured 20. We find out why a series of structures in Hutchinson, Kansas mysteriously caught fire and exploded in 2001; and examine the 1933 construction of a canal ordered by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin that later proved to be nearly useless and cost many lives. And we get to the bottom of a maritime mystery, when a tanker carrying non-explosive materials in San Francisco Bay blew up in 1983.
Oct 19 2004
It was a war in which brother fought brother and battlefields became slaughterhouses. During the Civil War, the country was in the midst of an industrial revolution and developed the most destructive killing machines the world had ever seen. Join us for a test fire of Civil War guns--the first truly modern weapons
Oct 15 2004
What happens when the calculations of builders and engineers prove wrong and their constructs come tumbling down? In this episode, we examine the 1987 failure of the Schoharie Creek Bridge in New York; the partial destruction by a runaway freighter of the Riverwalk Marketplace in New Orleans in 1996; the roof collapse of the Rosemont Horizon Arena in Illinois in 1979; the deadliest grain-dust explosion on record in Westwego, Louisiana, when a grain elevator exploded in 1977; and the crash of the British R101 airship in the 1920s.
Oct 12 2004
Cutting, digging, picking, stripping, shaking, and raking--whatever the crop, there's a custom machine to harvest it. It all began with handpicking and today it's often one man and one machine harvesting hundreds of acres in a single day. The farmer may even get a little help from satellites. Far above the earth, high-resolution photography is giving the grower more opportunities to cut costs and maximize the harvest. From the debut of the sickle in ancient Egypt to McCormick's famous Reaper to the field of ergonomics that assists human harvesters, we'll dig into the past and future of the harvest.
Oct 06 2004
Join us for a devastating but enlightening hour as we delve into complex and often-tragic engineering failures that have shaped our world. Five dramatic events unfold as we discover the causes of: the 1983 collapse of New England's Mianus Bridge; the sinking of the Ocean Ranger offshore oilrig in 1982; the crash of a Learjet 35 private plane carrying pro-golfer Payne Stewart in 1999; the 19th-century failure of South Fork Dam that resulted in the flooding of Johnstown, Pennsylvania; and the 1988 PEPCON (Pacific Engineering Production Company of Nevada) jet fuel plant explosion.
Oct 05 2004
On land, in the air, or on the sea--we examine some of the biggest machines ever built, including: the Antonov AN-225, the world's biggest aircraft; the GE 90-115B jet engine; the Sikorsky CH-53E helicopter; the Union Pacific's biggest steam locomotive, the "Big Boy" 4000 and GE's AC 6000; the Discoverer Enterprise, the world's largest oil-drilling ship; the RB 293 bucket-wheel mine excavator; and the LED Viva Vision, the world's largest printing screen, which stretches 4-blocks long in Las Vegas.
Sep 29 2004
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Sep 22 2004
The St. Lawrence Seaway is a monumental stairway in water, lifting massive ships hundreds of feet over thousands of miles. It's the world's longest inland waterway, a system of rivers, lakes, canals, dams, and locks that stretches 2,400 miles. And it's one of the greatest engineering triumphs of the 20th century, pulled off against the violence of raging water and extreme winter. An essential part of the commercial infrastructure of the US and Canada, this complex system provides direct access from the Atlantic to North America's heartland, enabling ships packed with trade to stop at any one its 65 ports--from Montreal to Duluth. From the 16th century, when French explorer Jacques Cartier searched for the legendary Northwest Passage, to the modern Seaway, built in the 1950s, we highlight the incredible engineering feats that went into creating the waterway.
Sep 15 2004
Join us for a high-speed look at police pursuits in an adrenaline-filled hour focused on the history and evolution of the technologies that give law enforcement the upper hand when pursuing bad guys. From the days of chasing moonshine runners in "hopped up" vehicles during Prohibition to the most recent 100-mph freeway chases, patrol cars have undergone many advances. We also examine how communications have improved, the use of airborne resources, and pursuit on the high seas.
Sep 15 2004
The Sears Tower, located in Chicago, was finished in 1973. It was the tallest building in the world for over 20 years, and remains the tallest building if you look at highest occupied space. See how the Sears Tower was conceived, designed and built and see how a cigarette pack was the basis for one of Chicago's most unique buildings.
Sep 08 2004
Skyscrapers are an extraordinary feat of human engineering: exposing millions of pounds of concrete and steel to the enemy forces of wind and gravity. Each of these tools has evolved over the 100-plus year history of the skyscraper era.
Sep 07 2004
Skyscrapers are an extraordinary feat of human engineering: exposing millions of pounds of concrete and steel to the enemy forces of wind and gravity. Each of these tools has evolved over the 100-plus year history of the skyscraper era.
Sep 07 2004
Skyscrapers are an extraordinary feat of human engineering: exposing millions of pounds of concrete and steel to the enemy forces of wind and gravity. Each of these tools has evolved over the 100-plus year history of the skyscraper era.
Sep 06 2004
Skyscrapers are an extraordinary feat of human engineering: exposing millions of pounds of concrete and steel to the enemy forces of wind and gravity. Each of these tools has evolved over the 100-plus year history of the skyscraper era.
Sep 06 2004
When opened on October 25, 1931, the George Washington Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. At 3,500 feet in length, the main span was more than double the distance of the previous record holder. Today, standing as a main traffic artery between Manhattan and New Jersey, the bridge referred to by locals as the "GW", is the busiest in the world carrying nearly 320,000 cars every day. We'll examine the construction methods employed that made the bridge an anomaly, coming in both under budget and ahead of schedule, and see why the GW is distinguished in a city of great bridges.
Sep 01 2004
Join us for a supersonic look at some of the most cutting-edge aircraft ever developed--from the X-1 that first broke the sound barrier to the X-43 Scramjet that recently flew at Mach 7. These extreme aircraft have made their mark on aeronautical history, and sometimes on political history as well. The U-2 and SR-71 spy planes played a crucial role in the Cold War, and now Lockheed Martin's top-secret "Skunkworks" division is touting the new "air dominance" fighter plane-- the F/A-22 Raptor.
Aug 25 2004
Athens builds a new underground subway system to meet the needs of the 2004 Olympics.
Aug 18 2004
Engineers and architects reveal what went wrong in five engineering disasters, including Baldwin Hills Dam that suddenly gave way, spilling liquid havoc in a quiet LA neighborhood; a mysterious plane crash that killed all aboard (Lockheed Electra); a massive freighter's shuddering crash into Tampa Bay's Sunshine Skyway Bridge; the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake that shook down poorly engineered buildings; and a 4-decade old coal mine fire that turned Centralia, Pennsylvania into a ghost town.
Aug 11 2004
The biggest moving objects ever built by man, oil tankers dominate the world's waterways, both in size and numbers. Upwards of 10,000 strong, the world tanker fleet's vast number results from the modern, insatiable thirst for oil. We'll dig into the history of oil transport--from Civil War days to the critical WWII years and invention of the supertanker in the 1950s. And we examine the financial impact of modifying these steel leviathans to prevent future catastrophic environmental disasters.
Aug 04 2004
The first bombing airplanes and widespread use of chemical weapons...earliest tanks...submarines. When Industrial-Age technology and war first mixed on a large scale, the end result was ruthlessly efficient destruction. World War One epitomized the dark underbelly of the Industrial Revolution. We see how technological achievements that streamlined 19th-century production, improved transportation, and expanded science were used to efficiently decimate a generation of soldiers in the early 20th century.
Jul 28 2004
Apollo 11 10x25
As mankind's greatest achievement of the 20th century, Apollo 11 stood as the apogee of science, exploration, flight, and technological prowess. In scarcely 10 years, America went from rocketing monkeys to landing a man on the moon. Leaving Earth on July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Mike Collins pushed the limits of skill and endurance. See and experience the flight of Apollo 11 through the eyes of the astronauts, mission controllers, engineers, and designers who made it happen.
Jul 21 2004
From water and grain...to mash...still...vat...barrel and bottle--the distilling of alcoholic spirits is a big business and near-sacred religion. Its acolytes eye the color, swirl the glass, inhale the bouquet, sip, then ponder their ambrosia. What's your pleasure? Bourbon, Scotch, Rum, Gin, Vodka, or Tequila? We trace the history of distilling from the one-man/one-still tradition to the Voldstead Act of 1920 that devastated American distilleries to the mega-sales and high-volume distillery of today.
Jul 14 2004
Nuclear research ranges from well-known applications, such as bombs and reactors, to little-known uses in medicine, food preparation, and radiation detection. It's also spawned ancillary technologies to store nuclear waste and clean up accidents. Despite the risk of use and abuse for destructive purposes, many scientists remain optimistic about what's next for the atom. In an explosive hour, we explore the atom in war and peace, and the latest in nuclear power generation, safety, and security.
Jul 08 2004
Robots 10x22
The history of robotics is traced over 2,000 years; archival interview with Isaac Asimov.
Jul 06 2004
Cars that fly and drive themselves. Spiffy spy tools that see under doors and through walls. Water "Harleys" that fly above and below the surface. Only in the movies, right? Hollywood may have dreamt these things up, but regular guys are making them for real as we see in a 2-hour special combining clips of recent blockbusters and hilarious old movie serials, along with a look at real-life creations, including intelligence-gathering "insects" and undersea robots. Gadgets lovers beware your bank accounts!
Jun 17 2004
When you tap your faucet does clean, pure water flow? Can your city supply enough water for industry, firefighting, and street cleaning? U.S. public water-supply systems serve nearly 99 percent of the population, yet few users know how the system of aqueducts, pipes, and pumps work. Learn the colorful history of the water systems in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles when we scour the past and look to the future, including desalination plants that turn seawater into drinking water.
Jun 15 2004
Rubber 10x19
The story of rubber is more than tires, toys, gloves, and gum--it's imbedded in modern life, from the controversial Challenger O-rings to seals on hydrogen fuel cells. A gigantic worldwide synthetic rubber industry creates exotic elastomers for high-tech applications, while China's rapid industrialization plays havoc with the world's natural rubber supply. From the ancient Olmecs of Yucatán, who knew the secret of vulcanization, to modern processing plants, we trace rubber's history and future.
Jun 09 2004
The most feared aircraft in the Air Force arsenal, the A-10 Tankbuster was the first aircraft in U.S. aviation history designed specifically for Close Air Support. From its first taste of battle in Desert Storm to the recent assault on Baghdad, the A-10 carries enough weaponry into battle to disable 16 main battle tanks, and with its amazing 30 millimeter 7-barrelled cannon, the "Flying Gun" dominates the skies. Features interviews with A-10 pilots, many of whom flew in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Jun 07 2004
By the spring of 1942, Hitler had made a fortress of Europe, and the Allies began to plan the biggest invasion in military history. The history-altering success of the D-Day Invasion depended on innovative engineering and technological advances. This is the story of those scientific and mechanical breakthroughs--the overwhelming array of landing craft, specialized weapons, and ingenious electronics--used to breach Fortress Europe on June 6, 1944.
Jun 03 2004
When the most sophisticated machines fail, they do so horrifically, plunging to earth with a terrifying loss of life. From the beginning of manned flight, plane crashes have plagued the aviation industry and terrorized the public. But the truth is, passengers have never been safer because of the brightest minds, best technology, and billions of dollars focused on preventing air disasters. Using famous crashes like TWA Flight 800, we examine safety improvement and what still needs to be done.
May 26 2004
The machines that helped build our world have been powered by hydraulics, a compact system of valves, hoses, and pumps that transmits forces from point to point through fluid. This basic concept of powerful force transmission through fluid provides the drive for most machines today. From the ancient Roman mastery of the aqueduct to Universal Studios, a veritable hydraulic theme park, we see how hydraulics power industry, keep planes flying, and make that 3-point-turn a U-turn.
May 12 2004
One aircraft in the US arsenal best typifies the will to win. Using the latest and most sophisticated computerized technology, the F-18 Hornet is now one of the foremost fighters of the 21st Century. Once a plane that nobody wanted, today it's the principal Navy and Marine fighter-attacker--with a flick of a switch, it transforms from bomber to fighter. Interviews with pilots and crews, combined with archive film and color reenactments, take you inside the cockpit of this multi-role aircraft.
Apr 30 2004
AV-8-Harrier jump jet; Ford Explorer-Firestone tire rollovers; offshore oil-rig fire; derailment of a high-speed train; computer errors almost set off nuclear war.
Apr 28 2004
From tub to toilet to toothpaste, here's everything you ever wanted to know about the most used and least discussed room in the house. From the first home bathrooms in ancient India, Roman latrines, and bizarre Victorian-era bath contraptions, to modern luxurious master bathroom suites, we trace the history of bathing, showering, and oral hygiene. And we reveal the messy truth about what was used before toilet paper--brainchild of the Scott Brothers of Philadelphia--and why astronauts wear diapers.
Apr 21 2004
The electronic power grid is comprised of a huge complex of power plants, sub-stations, and transmission lines.
Apr 14 2004
Arguably the most influential book ever written, the Bible provides a glimpse into the origins of ancient technology and its use to withstand the elements, build great structures, wage war, and conserve precious water. We examine the technological plausibility of biblical structures and machines--including the Tower of Babylon, the Temple of Jerusalem, ancient bronze and iron forging, and shipbuilding skills that might have been employed to build Noah's Ark.
Apr 07 2004
Towering skyscrapers buzzing with life, intricate tunnels connecting entire communities, mighty dams that tame the wildest rivers--this is construction animal style! Take a walk on the wild side as we investigate common creatures seemingly designed to alter their habitat and remake the world. Our ability to learn and capacity for abstract thought may separate us from beavers, honeybees, birds, termites, and spiders, but these engineers of nature remind us that we're merely the latest in a long line.
Mar 31 2004
From Matthew Brady's chilling images of the Civil War to the scripted briefings in the first Gulf War and the "embedded" reporters of the second, we examine the uneasy nexus of war and journalism. Learn the stories of pioneers like William Russell, head to Vietnam with Walter Cronkite, and get an up-close look at the technology that lets audiences thousands of miles away see pivotal engagements as they unfold.
Mar 19 2004
"Centcom" in Doha, Qatar represents everything a modern military command post can be with the most sophisticated military information systems--from video-conferencing to real-time frontline satellite communication. From this forward command in the heart of the Middle East, the U.S. ran the Iraq War. But command posts have not always been so technologically advanced as we see when we delve into the history of military communication--from tattooed messenger to satellite technology.
Mar 17 2004
In this episode, we head into the flames to see how the conflagrations are contained and controlled. From the use of explosives to the exploits of pioneers like Myron Kinley, we explore every aspect of this extraordinary occupation. Whether in the blistering Iraqi desert or the surging waters of the North Sea, only a handful of people have the skill to snuff a burning gusher, and this riveting program shows how they do it.
Mar 03 2004
A look at the "science of safety" as applied to Indy or NASCAR racing. From tires to roll-cages to hood flaps, we examine the incredible technology that's helping prevent crashes and enabling drivers to survive the inevitable ones. See how today's innovative minds digitally reconstruct crashes and design new technology that keeps pushing the limits of racing. The drivers may grab the glory, but they wouldn't dare get behind the wheel if it weren't for the guys in white lab coats.
Feb 18 2004
During the 1920s and '30s in big cities and small towns alike, they earned a fierce reputation in a blaze of bullets. They were the best friends of criminals such as John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Al Capone, and Bonnie and Clyde. Handle their Colt 45s and 38s, Tommy guns, Whippets, and Browning automatic rifles as we uncover the stories of gangster guns.
Feb 12 2004
For 25 years, construction crews dug, blasted, tunneled, and bridged their way up America's West Coast along the California, Oregon, and Washington shoreline to build the Pacific Coast Highway. Historians, road and bridge engineers, and experts relate this story of perseverance, primal machines, convict labor, and engineering brilliance as we tour its scenic route. And we look at the latest technologies used to keeping it running despite floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides.
Feb 04 2004
The F-15 10x02
The F-15 Eagle proves its superiority in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Jan 17 2004
Forged in Europe's shadow, Russian small arms were once dismissed as crude copies. Often lacking the finish of Western counterparts, Russian guns have been battle-proven worldwide, with their emphasis on robustness and simplicity of design. Review the long history of Russian small arms--from Peter the Great to the Cold War.
Jan 16 2004

Season 9

71 Episodes

Examines some of the most notorious engineering failures of recent years and asks what went wrong and what we learned from them. We take viewers to the southern coast of Louisiana, where a misplaced oilrig caused an entire lake to be sucked into an underground salt mine; review the 1972 Buffalo Creek dam disaster; revisit the Exxon Valdez oil spill; see how radio and TV antenna towers collapse with alarming regularity; and look at the collision of two California icons--freeways and earthquakes!
Dec 30 2003
Toys 9x70
All aboard the nostalgia express as we take a trip through the past to enjoy toys of our youth--the ones we can't forget and those that some of use never gave up! This is the real toy story! We take a look at five categories of boys' toys and see what relationship they have had on the development of young minds; talk with collectors of antique and specialty toys; and visit companies that make electric trains, Matchbox Cars, GI Joe action figures, and LEGO Bricks, among others.
Dec 23 2003
During the Cold War, the Berlin Wall stood as a forbidding barrier in an embattled world. Erected in August 1961, the Wall system stretched 103 miles through and around Berlin, locking in 1.3-million people. 261 died trying to get over, under, around, and through it. We review the daunting devices within the Death Strip--one of the deadliest obstacle courses ever--and the ingenious ways people ran it. When the Wall fell with a thud in 1989, its pieces became souvenirs or were recycled for new roads.
Dec 19 2003
Constructed as tombs for the ancient pharaohs, over 100 pyramids remain in Egypt. Built during a span of well over 1,000 years, they stand as cultural and engineering marvels of staggering proportions. But many things about these monuments, including the exact methods used to construct them, remain tantalizingly obscure. Travel back in time as we investigate their evolution--from the earlier mastaba to the Step Pyramid, Bent Pyramid, and of course, the magnificent necropolis at Giza.
Dec 18 2003
Two brainy bicycle makers...a remote North Carolina moonscape...and an impossible dream. On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright took wing at Kitty Hawk and flew--as none before had--unraveling a complex problem that had defied history's most inventive minds, from Leonard da Vinci to Edison. How did these high-school dropouts from Dayton, Ohio do it? Experts at the controls of full-scale replicas explain how they worked--or didn't--and historians recount the brothers' heated arguments.
Dec 17 2003
At stadiums nationwide, thousands of football fans come together to show team spirit, eat incredible food, and join the community of tailgating. We journey around the U.S. to legendary tailgating colleges like Penn State, the University of Miami, and Louisiana State University, and visit the home-team parking lots of the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles. We taste the food, revel with spectators, and reveal the evolution of tailgating--from horse and buggy to tricked-out RV.
Dec 03 2003
Join us for an exploration of the technological innovations that have made extreme sports a reality. The world's best extreme athletes, designers, manufacturers, and engineers explain and demonstrate why the gadgets, gear, and technology of these sports have captured the public's imagination and revolutionized the sporting industry. Sports covered include surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, in-line skating, street luge, wakeboarding, sport climbing, BMX biking, and sky surfing.
Dec 02 2003
B-52 9x64
A history of the B-52 bomber includes its role in the Cold War and in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.
Nov 28 2003
Planning, craftsmanship, improvisation and sheer determination contribute to the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Nov 27 2003
ET Tech 9x62
In 2003, with Mars closer to Earth than it had been in 60,000 years, scientists launched three life-seeking planetary landers. If the long journeys prove successful, all should be hard at work on the Red Planet's surface by January 2004. NASA's Spirit and Opportunity and the European Space Agency's Beagle 2 represent the pinnacle in the history of the search for extraterrestrial life. Leading scientists, who believe life may exist beyond Earth, explain skepticism about ETs having visited Earth.
Nov 25 2003
Hop into the cab for the ride of your life as we examine extreme trucks, including: a jet truck that can travel 300 mph; the Baltimore Technical Assistance Response Unit's mobile command truck; a garbage truck with an articulated arm; a concrete pumper truck with telescoping boom and pumping mechanism; and a 4-wheel-drive truck that can convert from mower to street sweeper to backhoe to snow blower in mere minutes. Learn how SWAT, bomb squad, HAZMAT, and crime scene specialty trucks are built.
Nov 12 2003
Shipyards are waterside construction sites where some of the largest tools ever built help create the biggest machines on earth.
Nov 05 2003
Based on the popular book, this episode explores historical building collapses--from ancient pyramids to the Cathedral at Beauvais to Kansas City's Hyatt Regency--and demonstrates that clear warning signs often existed, but were ignored. We also examine the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York. Author Jim Chiles believes that designers and engineers must better prepare for all potential disasters--by understanding existing risks, they can prepare for the unknown, like terrorism.
Nov 04 2003
No program better symbolizes human mastery of machines than does the space shuttle. But the breakups of Challenger and Columbia revealed the program is tragically flawed. Based on the James Chiles's book Inviting Disaster, we look at the 1930 crash of the R-101, a dirigible which, much like Challenger, was rushed into flight and met with disaster, and the Hindenburg, whose 1937 explosion ended dreams of commercial flights for an entire industry. Will the shuttle program go the way of the dirigible?
Nov 04 2003
Modern Marvels explores the expensive, high-tech facilities the FBI uses at Quantico.
Oct 29 2003
The amazing machines of human invention most often do our bidding with uncomplaining proficiency. But when they go wrong, they exact a terrible wage. In August 2000, the Russian submarine Kursk glided through the depths of the Arctic Sea. But the demands of the Cold War had planted the seeds of disaster in this great ship--118 men would pay with their lives. Their deaths would bring about an enormous step forward in Russia's evolving democracy. Based on James Chiles's book Inviting Disaster.
Oct 28 2003
Panzers 9x55
German tanks revolutionized military doctrine. Their speed and tactical usage, backed up by the Luftwaffe, helped create the Blitzkrieg (lightning war) that stormed over Europe and dominated battlefields.
Oct 22 2003
Goering's well-trained fliers fill enemy pilots with dread.
Oct 22 2003
They make our lives more comfortable, more rewarding, and more secure. They are the magical machines that have brought us to the edge of the new frontier of limitless possibilities. But it is a hinterland filled with dangers and demons of our own creation. Based on the popular book Inviting Disaster by James Chiles, in this episode we explore the nuclear nightmares of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
Oct 21 2003
In the land of Mardi Gras, jambalaya, and zydeco, exits an engineering marvel called the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway that seems to go on forever. Two ribbons of concrete span the largest inland body of water in Louisiana, and at nearly 23.87 and 23.88 miles long, these two spans form the world's longest automobile bridge. At midpoint--12 miles out--water surrounds travelers who are unable to see either shoreline. The bridge is so long, it actually transverses 1/1000th of the earth's circumference!
Oct 15 2003
Precision-guided munitions, smart bombs were the media buzz of the first Gulf War and a major military and political driving force of the second. But their apparent sudden celebrity is deceptive. The history of smart bombs goes back to World War I and includes an ingenious, if eccentric, group of inventions and a cast of characters that boasts a Kennedy and a president of General Motors. Join us for the underground history of smart bombs, and a glimpse into the future of precision weapons.
Sep 30 2003
The engineering marvel Machu Picchu sits perched on a ridge in the Peruvian Andes. Originally built by the Incas, this magnificent structure remains a mystery. Was it an observatory? Pleasure retreat? Fortress? This program presents the most current theories.
Sep 24 2003
Inventors create cutting-edge technology to keep civilians safe.
Sep 08 2003
A spectacular roadway nearly 120 miles long, the Overseas Highway links mainland Florida with the Florida Keys, and contains 51 bridges, including the Seven-Mile Bridge. A boat was the only mode of travel from Miami to Key West until oil tycoon Henry Flagler completed his railroad line in 1912. After a 1935 hurricane destroyed 40 miles of track, the scenic highway was built using Flagler's bridges. A $175-million refurbishment that ended in 1982 resulted in today's remarkable Overseas Highway.
Sep 03 2003
Combination rocket, spacecraft, and airplane, the space shuttle is the most complex vehicle ever built. Long before it ever flew, the shuttle was nearly scuttled due to political pressures, technological challenges, and cost overruns. The program not only overcame these challenges, but opened space to an international community of scientists, explorers, and dreamers. This is the story of the Columbia, the first shuttle to fly outer space, from inception to tragic demise in January 2003.
Aug 26 2003
A major battlefield weapon since the American Civil War and the stuff of nightmares ever since, the civilian toll from landmines remains immense. Inflicted by an enemy that can't be seen, landmines are littered throughout 64 countries, making life a game of Russian roulette for two-thirds of the world's poorest nations. Featuring an interview with Jerry White, co-founder of Landmine Survivor's Network, who lost a leg due to a landmine in Israel.
Aug 21 2003
Metal 9x45
They constitute the very essence of the modern world; the cadence of our progress sounds in the measured ring of the blacksmith's hammer. From soaring skyscrapers and sturdy bridges to jet planes and rockets, metals play a key role. Our journey begins before the Bronze Age and takes us into the shiny future when new metal structures--engineered at a molecular level to be stronger, lighter, and cheaper--shape human progress, as they have since man first thrust copper into a fire and forged a tool.
Aug 19 2003
U.S. aircraft carriers did not sink under the barrage of kamikaze assaults.
Aug 15 2003
Bullets 9x43
From "safe" bullets that stop hijackers but leave aircraft unscathed to bullets that chain-saw through steel and "smart" bullets computer-programmed to hit a target, this explosive hour examines the evolution of bullets from origin in the 1300s--stones and round lead balls shot from iron and bamboo tubes. Lead balls ruled until 1841 when a conical-shaped bullet changed ammo forever. We learn how to construct a modern cartridge, and at pistol and rifle ranges view demonstrations of modern firepower.
Aug 13 2003
New technology counters the threat of terrorism.
Aug 12 2003
Police represent a thin blue line protecting ordinary citizens from hardened criminals. We'll look at the vast array of weapons that police officers across America have wielded for over 150 years in their endless fight to maintain law and order.
Aug 07 2003
Military planners move millions of soldiers and tons of cargo halfway around the world and into the thick of action.
Aug 06 2003
Meteorologists track and study tornadoes.
Aug 05 2003
There is a new technological race afoot, and the goal is to protect against terror attacks. While countless devices are aimed at the consumer market, the military is also, and obviously, a major player in this field, commissioning a host of new technologies and machines to detect imminent attacks and protect soldiers and first responders from the nearly limitless array of threats they may face.
Aug 05 2003
Loading docks serve as the connecting point between products coming from the factory to reaching store shelves.
Jul 30 2003
Topless, unobstructed--the convertible completely transforms the driving experience and unlike any other car, sets the driver free. During this face-paced hour, experts highlight the history of the world's most dynamic car design and the essential quality that makes it so unique. From the very first convertible design in 1915 to modern-day marvels of retractable hardtops, we peer under the hoods to see why the convertible remains the car that everybody wants, but only a few are bold enough to own.
Jul 24 2003
In the mid-1960s, the US lost an average of 55,000 people yearly to car crashes. Since then, the number of cars on the road has doubled, but fatalities have decreased by nearly a third. The dramatic reduction is the culmination of research and development that led to safer roads and cars and quicker emergency response. But car-crash technology's future involves removal of its biggest threat--human drivers! Find out if computers and radar can prevent everything from fender-benders to pile-ups.
Jul 23 2003
4x4 9x34
In this full-immersion journey through the world of maximum off-roading, learn what it's like to blow the carbon out of your system as we trace the history of the four-wheel drive vehicle. From the annual Baja 1000-mile race to the Paris-to-Dakar rally, off-roading has become an international sport for motorized thrill seekers. Drive along in your Jeep, dune buggy, Hummer, or SUV for this high-adrenaline, fun-filled romp as we see why 4x4s go where no one has gone before!
Jul 22 2003
For decades, the sound barrier loomed as an impenetrable wall against manned flight that buffeted planes with shock waves as they approached the speed of sound. Scientists thought the barrier couldn't be breached--until the development of jet technology and rocket fuel at the end of WWII. This is the dramatic story, told through the eyes of many who were there, of the work leading up to October 10, 1947, when 24-year-old test pilot Chuck Yeager smashed through the sound barrier in a Bell XS-1 aircraft.
Jul 16 2003
When Paul Bunyan cried "Timber!", he never foresaw today's cutting-edge, controversial industry that feeds a ravenous, lumber-crazy world--a world striving to protect nature while devouring it. Come into the woods to see how he-men and hi-tech combine forces to topple 4-billion trees annually; journey to 19th-century America, when lumberjacks cut a legend as large as the timber they felled; and travel with a tree from stump to sawmill and learn its non-wood uses--from aspirin to film to toothpaste!
Jul 09 2003
Large-scale displacement of seabed sediment causes giant water walls.
Jul 08 2003
Engineering disasters can result in personal tragedy, national humiliation, and economic ruin. But buried within their wreckage lie lessons that point the way to a safer future. The fire at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel, the collapse of Seattle's Lacey V. Murrow Floating Bridge, the car that spurred creation of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, and the flaw that grounded the first commercial jet are among the engineering disasters that led to improvements in design and safety.
Jul 02 2003
Throughout history the same builders and engineers that paved man's path out of the caves and into the modern world also caused some of mankind's worst disasters. Often a huge calamity is traced back to a tiny cause, insignificant in itself, but triggering a domino effect. We'll revisit notable disasters and search for probable causes.
Jul 02 2003
During America's western expansion, a new breed of man arose--the gunslinger. Sometimes he wore a badge, sometimes he was an outlaw. But he always had a gun at his side, and the urge to step to the edge and pull the trigger. Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp--see how, the weapons these men carried, etched the gunmen's existence into American history.
Jun 26 2003
Toxic traffic is everywhere! An average of 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials hit our highways and railways daily. From Wild West wooden crates filled with explosives to HAZMAT containers of nuclear waste, we shadow dangerous cargo. We ride shotgun on a hazardous material shipment that's tracked by satellites; hunt down the hush-hush "ghost fleet"--trucks carrying classified government materials; and board a Con-Air flight moving another kind of nasty stuff--dangerous felons!
Jun 25 2003
Look closely at those tall metal towers that span the country and you might see tiny specks climbing up the soaring steel like spiders on an enormous web. Meet the courageous linemen who erect, string, and repair 250-foot high electrical transmission towers, working with energized power lines that can carry up to 765,000 volts!
Jun 24 2003
They have been here for longer than us, and there are many, many more of them. They buzz, skitter and fly, chew, gnaw and occasionally draw blood. Lumped under the broad category of pests and vermin, they are one of the constant enemies in man's battle to maintain dominion over house and home. And the strongest weapon we have is THE EXTERMINATOR. MODERN MARVELS® traces the evolution from the simple pest-control measures employed by ancient farmers to the high-tech arsenal of poisons, baits and traps deployed by the "Orkin Man" and his colleagues today. This inside look at the multi-billion dollar pest-control industry includes flights with mosquito exterminators in Florida, ride-alongs with cockroach killers in Los Angeles (the city where these prehistoric survival specialists pose the greatest problem), and an inside look at how the New York City Department of Health attempts to contain the rats that outnumber the city's 8 million human residents. The weapons in this war have become increasingly high tech, and the foot soldier--the exterminator--has become ever more sophisticated and ecologically aware.
Jun 03 2003
Cosmodrome is the story of Russia's "Crown Jewels"--the finest rocket engines in the world, built under conditions of absolute secrecy to land a man on the moon. It tells how, at the height of Cold War rivalry, the engineers of the Soviet Union's elite Design Bureaux developed what today have become the most admired rocket engines money can buy--and how in the new climate, driven by commerce not conflict, those engines have found their way into American rockets.
May 26 2003
For more than 3,000 years, emperors and generals, dictators and police, criminals, clerics, and even medical doctors have created and used a vast array of torture devices--everything from the ancient Greeks' Brazen Bull, which slowly barbecued the victim, to the elaborate mechanical apparatuses of the Spanish Inquisition. A medical doctor who specializes in victims of torture reveals how the human body responds to their use--from the earliest excruciating contrivances to the more modern.
May 22 2003
A while back, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy--today, there are Harley restaurants, a clothing line, even a Harley Barbie! Examine this American success story that began in 1903 when four men--the Davidsons and William Harley--launched a motorcycle marketing wonder from a Milwaukee shed.
May 21 2003
During WWII, American tank crews duked it out with Nazi Panzers in a high-explosive duel to the death. The German tanks had thicker armor and better guns than the mainstay of the U.S. armored forces, the M-4 Sherman. For many crewmen, the Sherman lived up to its nickname as a steel coffin. But what the tanks lacked in firepower and protection, the crews made up for in guts and good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity. We'll meet some of these armored warriors from WWII.
May 15 2003
Stalin enlists the ideas of an American engineer to develop one of the most formidable tanks in history.
May 10 2003
MiG 15 9x19
The MiG 15 was one of the 20th century's most feared high-performance weapons. When it first appeared in 1950, its high speed, lightning maneuverability, and intense firepower outclassed everything in the sky. During the Korean War, when Soviet MiGs engaged with America's F 86 Sabre jets, they finally met their match and a new era in air warfare had begun. Features exclusive interviews with MiG fighter pilots who flew against US pilots and the nephew of the founder of the MiG Design Bureau.
May 10 2003
An examination of the weapons that battled through surf and snow, dense jungle and choking dust...the guns of the American GI. Though WWII introduced instruments that pierced the dark and weapons that released the power of the atom, the infantryman's guns were designed decades before--but in dependability they were unequaled.
May 08 2003
In war, certain missions demand the most and constitute much of the legends of bravery. Journey back to the Second World War when fearless airmen manned the B-17's belly guns--glass bubbles that at any moment could become their coffin. The ball turret gunners called their work "flying the ball", others called it crazy!
May 01 2003
A machine gun puts the power of 20 men into the hands of one. We review the history of the machine gun from the first Gatlings in the Civil War to today's high-speed automatic rifles.
Apr 30 2003
With the aid of 3-D animation, Modern Marvels explores the history and the construction of the Acropolis.
Apr 10 2003
Coal--the fuel responsible for more than half the electricity used daily. We unearth the amazing technological advances that have led to today's extremely efficient methods--from ancient techniques to the simplistic bell-pit method, from drift mining, surface mining, and strip mining to modern longwall mining, when a massive machine extracts an entire wall of coal in seconds. We go underground with miners in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, and also address environmental concerns.
Apr 02 2003
Welcome aboard the luxury liner Titanic, the world's largest ship and pride of the White Star Line. Watertight compartments and a steel-plated hull render it all but unsinkable. Nearly every technological breakthrough of the previous 50 years is employed onboard, providing comfort and safety for passengers and crew. But none of this will matter on April 15, 1912, when the ship bears down on an iceberg on her maiden voyage, sinking within hours with more than 1,500 lives lost. Learn the details of her construction and how the achievements of technology may have masked her vulnerabilities.
Apr 01 2003
The Black Hawk remains the world's most advanced twin-turbine military helicopter.
Mar 26 2003
Made up of soldiers and civilians, scientists and specialists in an enormous variety of fields, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was created over 200 years ago by Congressional mandate to respond, in peace and war, to the nation's engineering needs. The world's premier engineering and research and development agency, the Corps has blown up, excavated, grated, dredged, and remolded the shape of our continent as we pushed to expand the nation and harness the forces of nature!
Mar 18 2003
They stun, debilitate, immobilize--providing police and peacekeepers with options other than shouting or shooting. From the ancient caltrop--a multi-pointed contraption hurled by foot soldiers into a horseman's path--to sting-ball grenades, electrical shock devices, and sound, light, and energy weapons, we examine non-lethal weapons that disperse crowds and take down criminals. And in a whiff of the future, we see why the government thinks stink bombs might prove useful in the war against terror.
Mar 13 2003
Traveling between 135 and 190 miles per hour with an astonishingly high safety record, bullet trains can be found throughout Europe, Japan, and on the U.S. eastern seaboard. How high-speed trains are propelled is rooted in fundamentals that haven't changed since the first electric trolleys appeared in the 19th century. We see how scientists are looking at new alternatives to electricity, including magnetic levitation that can move passenger trains 345 miles per hour and beyond!
Mar 11 2003
Until recently, the Mackinac Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. One of the top engineering marvels of the 20th century, the bridge spans the 4-mile wide straits of Mackinac, where Lakes Huron and Michigan come together. The Mighty Mac connects the pastoral northern mainland of Michigan with the state's heavily forested Upper Peninsula and stands as a testament to the dreams, determination, and hard work of a small few who created a true masterpiece of modern engineering.
Mar 05 2003
Rising almost 1,500 feet high, the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia were named the world's tallest in 1996 by the Council on Tall Buildings. Connecticut architect Cesar Pelli blended traditional Islamic motifs with the modern skyscraper to create a beacon to the new Asia. Join us as we tour this gateway to the East, an engineering marvel involving experts from around the globe and the determination of Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad to transform his country into a 21st-century power.
Mar 04 2003
In the world of road making, the Alcan Highway is a feat worthy of comparison to the legendary byways of ancient Rome. Stretching 1,500 miles from British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska, the Alcan traverses incredibly difficult and hostile territory, crossing the Canadian Rockies, raging rivers and dense forest. Remarkably, it was built in just eight months. Modern Marvels ventures back to the uncertain days of World War II to tell the story of the Alcan's construction. Fearing a Japanese invasion of Alaska, the military brass decreed that a better connection between the remote territory and the lower 48 states was essential, and the Alcan was the solution. Through the recollections of workmen and extensive photos and footage taken all along the route, the Alcan Highway documents how 11,000 soldiers--nearly 4,000 of them black--bulldozed their way into engineering history.
Feb 11 2003
All it takes to set off a booby trap is an unsuspecting victim lifting, moving, or disturbing a harmless-looking object. Booby traps continue to worry law enforcement; made from easily acquired items, information detailing their construction and needed materials are accessible through the mail--anonymously! And unlike a land mine, they can be anywhere. We detail the history of booby traps--from the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greek, and Romans to the Middle Eastern crisis and the War on Terrorism.
Feb 04 2003
A look at how armies fight in extremely cold weather. Included: the Battle of the Bulge.
Jan 31 2003
During the harsh winter of Canada's Northwest Territory, remote villages and work camps are cut off from the world. To keep them supplied, a tenacious group of long-haul truckers drive their rigs over hundreds of miles on ice roads cut across the surface of frozen lakes. Sometimes the ice cannot support the heavy rig, and driver and cargo plunge through the ice and sink to the bottom. Hitch a risky ride along with the Ice Road Truckers as they drive headlong into bone-chilling danger.
Jan 30 2003
Some of the most imposing structures ever built, medieval castles withstood both bloody assaults and the test of time. Designed like machines with nearly every architectural detail devoted to defense, castles represented the perfect fusion of form and function. Journey back to that unruly era as we examine the complexity of their construction and the multipurposes they served--homes to kings and nobles, economic centers, courthouses, treasuries, prisons, and torture chambers.
Jan 07 2003
It's the longest, most expensive and complicated railroad ever built. Ordered by the Tsar in an effort to save his empire and unify his country at the twilight of the 19th century, the Trans-Siberian Railroad nearly tore Russia apart. Intended in part for defense, the railroad provoked a war, crossed great lengths over treacherous terrain, and encountered logistical and economic failures. Ironically, "enemies of the state" built the railroad--men sentenced to hard labor in Siberian prisons.
Jan 01 2003

Season 8

55 Episodes

Runways 8x55
What do you think about when you gaze out the window as your plane takes off? Probably not about the least heralded part of our infrastructure--airport runways. But runways play a vital role as the backbone of aviation. They're where rubber meets road and land gives way to sky. Did you know that airports like JFK train falcons to keep little birds from becoming a hazard to the big, shiny birds? Join us for an engrossing look at the brawny concrete and asphalt runways that make aviation possible.
Dec 17 2002
This addition to the Modern Marvels documentary series takes a look at the many concept cars of the 1950's. These forward thinking designs sometimes were the first embodiments of changes that would become standard on vehicles, and other times they were radical attempts to change the way people drove. The filmmakers offer a wealth of archival footage, and interview numerous people who have made cars both their life's work and their life's passion.
Dec 10 2002
It's in our blood, sweat, and tears. Join us as we dig up salt mining's history--from the "white gold" on the table to the oceanic and underground deposits whence it came. Though today we take salt for granted, most life depends on it. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in it--hence the word salary. And many slaves died procuring it.
Dec 05 2002
DVD, CD, PDA, HDTV, PVR--they are the ultimate in "gotta have it" gadgets and gizmos and "to die for" technology that populate a digital world of acronyms. We trace digital technology back to the early 1940s and the first high-speed electronic computer used to calculate cannon trajectory charts for new artillery in WWII, and look at the rapidly approaching future in places such as MIT's Media Lab, where tomorrow's technologies are being developed today.
Dec 05 2002
Limos 8x51
Limousines have been stretched to greater and greater lengths--as has the notion of what can be done inside them! You can have a rolling disco in a stretched SUV, go for a rumble off-road in a monster truck limousine, or take a direct hit in an armored limo and still make your meeting. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride of your life as we review the history of chauffeured limousines--from weddings, proms, and funerals to the ultimate adult playpen and the president's "Cadillac One".
Dec 04 2002
His movies are legend, his women beautiful, and his toys the best in the world. Whether James Bond is foiling villains in space-age flying machines or eavesdropping on his enemies with ultra-sophisticated spy gear, British Secret Agent 007 is always guaranteed to have the most outrageous and wonderfully creative gadgets ever to grace the silver screen. Bond had it all. But as we see in this exclusive look at his gadgets, it takes a lot to save the world!
Dec 02 2002
He's everyone's favorite spy, the man with a woman in every port and a gadget in every pocket! No villain is too strong, no situation too tough for His Majesty's Secret Agent, thanks to his wits, cunning, and the best toys on the silver screen. History Channel cameras travel from the Arizona desert to the British countryside to find the best Bond gadgets--including amazing footage from inside the cockpit of the world's smallest jet and rare home movies taken on the underwater set of Thunderball.
Dec 02 2002
Winchester...the name still evokes images of the Wild West and the taming of the frontier--it was the first reliable repeating rifle and settlers brought it along as they moved west. Prized by Civil War soldiers, the lever-action rifle was preferred by lawmen and outlaws alike. A classic Winchester can command upwards of $100,000 from collectors trying to buy a piece of the Old West. We see how a shirt manufacturer named Oliver Winchester became the most famous gun maker of the American West.
Nov 15 2002
Built in the 1950's, the M-16 has become the primary service rifle for the U.S. military. Many of the improvements which have taken place were done during and after Vietnam, when the rifle was often pitted against the Russian-made AK-47.
Nov 14 2002
Here is the heroic story of a intrepid band of infantry soldiers, the "Tunnel Rats", charged with a daring mission--to search for, find, and destroy a secret subterranean network of enemy tunnels in Vietnam. Armed with only a flashlight, valor, and a .45, they faced a determined foe and overcame lethal odds, uncovering secret enemy arms and intelligence caches. Tragically, many of these volunteers died and others were seriously wounded on this terrifying suicide mission.
Nov 13 2002
Join us for a walk on the wild side of the history of sexual enhancement and contraception--from Cleopatra's box of buzzing bees to 17th-century condoms to Internet sex and 21st-century holographic pornography! In an explicit exploration of the aphrodisiacs, drugs, contraceptives, toys, and cyber-tech innovations that have ushered in a brave new world of modern sexuality, we talk to sexologists and historians for ribald romp behind the bedroom's closed doors.
Oct 30 2002
Throughout railroad history, disasters lay at the heart of progress, since expansion and profit proved the main goals of management. In 1875 alone, an average of 22 train accidents happened daily; in 1890, over 6,000 people were killed. We'll examine how safety, once a secondary consideration, became a primary goal.
Oct 28 2002
From the D-Day beaches to the crushing defeat of the German Army in France, the U.S. M-4 Sherman tank fought in some of the bloodiest battles of WWII. This is the dramatic story of America's triumphant industrial mobilization and the manufacture of a tank that would blast its way into history and pave the way for the liberation of Europe. Miniature cameras provide an inside look at the horrifying reality of being inside a Sherman tank in combat and under fire.
Oct 22 2002
Cranes 8x42
One of the most useful machines ever created, the crane is a simple but important combination of the pulley and the lever. Though cranes have been helping us build civilization from at least the time of the Egyptian pyramids, the modern steel-framed construction cranes are a relatively recent development. Put on your work boots as we ride through the history of cranes from ancient days to skyscraper construction sites, ocean-freighter docks, and the International Space Station.
Oct 08 2002
Pop open the hood, check out the carbs, and hear the engines roar as we journey back to a time when gas was cheap, emission controls non-existent, and all that mattered was acceleration and speed. During the 1960s and '70s, GM, Ford, and Chrysler competed to create high-performance cars at prices teenage baby boomers could afford. Featuring interviews with John DeLorean, creator of the Pontiac GTO, and his marketing partner Jim Wangers, we go behind the scene of the muscle-car wars.
Sep 20 2002
They have made the leap from humble farm vehicles to mainstays of the American road. PICKUP TRUCKS tells the complete story of these rolling icons of individuality and freedom. From homemade trucks made by modifying Model Ts to high-tech concept vehicles that dazzle visitors at car shows, MODERN MARVELS explores every aspect of PICKUP TRUCKS, tracing their technological development over the years and exploring the factors that transformed a working vehicle into a sought-after ride for millions of Americans who never haul anything more than groceries. Visit design studios and the factories to see how concepts become reality, and hear from auto executives and industry analysts who talk about the recent surge in popularity--over 1 million pickup trucks are sold each month. From wood spoke wheels to leather interiors with power everything, PICKUP TRUCKS have come a long way, and MODERN MARVELStraces their journey. (without Toby Keith)
Sep 18 2002
Imagine a superhighway designed for speed...thousands of miles of roadway unhindered by limits of any kind. Buckle up for safety as we take you for the ride of your life when we explore the fascinating history and current reality of the world's fastest freeway. The number-one works project of the Third Reich, the Autobahn was known as Adolf Hitler's Road until Germany's defeat in WWII. Reconstructed and extended to more than four times its original size, it became a symbol of the New Germany.
Sep 17 2002
The 1,046-foot Chrysler Building in New York City, erected between 1928 and 1930, was the world's tallest edifice--until the Empire State Building eclipsed it in 1931! Since then, this Art Deco masterpiece has become one of the most beloved skyscrapers on the city skyline. Financed by auto tycoon Walter P. Chrysler and designed by architect William Van Alen, the private office building was constructed by more than 2,000 men. Find out why it was the first--and last--skyscraper Van Alen designed.
Sep 10 2002
From Pilgrim brew masters to early commercial ventures to today's monolithic corporations, we'll imbibe American beer's long history, focusing on the commercial brewing industry that developed in the 19th century and continues to today. We'll also taste social experiments from the past, like the Temperance Movement and Prohibition, to see how they left scars on the industry and continue to influence sobriety today
Aug 30 2002
Magnets 8x36
We played with them as children, but the world of magnets isn't kid's stuff! The pervasive magnet serves as the underpinning for much of modern technology. They can be found in computers, cars, phones, VCRs, TVs, vacuum cleaners, the washer and dryer, the ubiquitous refrigerator magnet, and even in an electric guitar! On the cutting edge of technology, scientists experiment with a variety of magnets. Magnets' amazing forces of attraction and repulsion may some day take us to the far reaches of outer space.
Aug 27 2002
It's known as the most powerful handgun in the world, made famous by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. But its origins stretch back more than a century to the Indian Wars of the American West and African safaris, where hunters stalked big game. Join us for a review of the history of the biggest, baddest gun available today--unlimited firepower at the pull of a trigger!
Aug 21 2002
Focusing on a brief but glorious period of American ingenuity, we'll study shipbuilders' response to the demands of WWII. Combining rare National Archive footage with photography shot on vintage ships, we'll see how industrialists transformed the nation's shipyards into mass production facilities in a matter of months.
Aug 15 2002
It was the world's largest underground factory--seven miles of tunnels built to manufacture Hitler's secret weapons, primarily the V-2 rocket. But Nordhausen kept more than one secret. Technology and torture went hand-in-hand--25,000 concentration camp workers died there--and some of those associated with Nordhausen later helped take America to the moon.
Aug 13 2002
Strap on a parachute and soar through the saga of jet propulsion, which radically transformed our world since inception in WWII--from the Nazi's first jet-powered aircraft to the US F-22 jet fighter, from the Concorde to tomorrow's scram-jet, a hypersonic transport plane that switches to rocket power outside earth's atmosphere!
Aug 08 2002
Towing 8x31
Tugboats; roller-coasters; funicular railroads; flat-bed truck; 747. With its trademark look at the past, present and future, MODERN MARVELS climbs mountains, heads to the highways and guides vessels to dock in this examination of the many aspects of TOWING. Go into the factories where $400,000 tow trucks are made and see how these sophisticated machines evolved from the earliest examples of their breed, which were cobbled together from spare parts. See how today's tug boats deploy omni-directional propeller systems to "rustle" their massive charges to port, and take a ride with the "mules" that tow ships through the Panama Canal.
Aug 06 2002
Engines 8x30
Electronic motors make appliances run. They are the machines that drive the world, literally. From cars to can-openers, ENGINES are everywhere. MODERN MARVELS stokes the fires and sets off on a whirlwind tour of the world of power, throwing open hoods, peering into the cowlings of jets, and ignoring signs of "no user serviceable parts inside" to expose the secrets of a host of different motors. From the steam engines of the Industrial Revolution to the rockets that propelled man into space, ENGINES concentrates on the power plants that have had a profound effect on the way we live, but that doesn't mean it overlooks the little ones--in fact, the coming micro-technology motors promise to add a jolt of power to a whole new range of devices.
Jul 24 2002
Traces the history and evolution of the world's most important fossil fuel. Without gasoline, modern life would grind to a halt. Americans use about 360-million gallons of gas every day. And though most of us could not function without gas, very few understand what it really is, how it is made, what all those different octane numbers really mean, and how researchers developed cleaner-burning gasoline. All these questions will be answered as we look at the history of this "supreme" fuel.
Jul 23 2002
With the ironic motto "Peace is our Profession", the Strategic Air Command was in charge of US nuclear forces from 1946 to 1992. SAC was the ultimate Cold War military machine, at its height controlling thousands of nuclear weapons, planes, and missiles, and boasting over a quarter-million personnel. We travel to the Strategic Air and Space Museum, located 20 miles from SAC's old headquarters in Nebraska, and walk through the cavernous bomb bay of SAC's workhorse, the B-52 Bomber.
Jul 16 2002
An examination of guns that exist on the cutting edge of firearm technology. Fighting battles on computers decades before an actual shot is fired, these super guns may make the world safer...or more dangerous than ever before.
Jul 15 2002
Slap on your sun block and head to the ocean for a sizzling hour that explores the beach in a whole new way! We cover everything from Japan's Seagaia, the world's largest indoor beach, to boardwalks, dune buggies, surfboards, sunglasses, suntan lotion, wave pools, and more. We examine the development of each product and explain the technological advances that have been made over the years.
Jul 02 2002
Hangars 8x25
Come in for a smooth landing as we explore the history of hangars--stark, massive structures that house and protect flight vehicles. We visit the first hangar, built on a German lake; Boeing's Delta 4 rocket hangar; Hangar Number One in Lakehurst, New Jersey, that housed all US airships built in the 1920s and '30s; and the Space Shuttle's hangar--as big as four skyscrapers! Back in Germany, Cargolifter's mammoth hangar, large enough to enclose the Superdome, signals the rebirth of an industry.
Jun 25 2002
Models 8x24
tba
Jun 20 2002
From ancient hunters' camouflage to computer-generated digital pattern uniforms, we uncover the past, present, and future of deception through disguise. During an ambush exercise by US Marines, we learn that camouflage came from natural coloration and patterns of flora and fauna. The art of military camouflage took off in WWI with the use of the airplane, when the French learnt to hide from "eyes in the sky". It's a world of shadows and smoke, where even cities disappear through disguise
Jun 18 2002
They are lethal tools that ensured our survival, altered our evolution, and maintained our dominion over other animals. Though hunting technology is the backbone of a multi-billion-dollar sports industry, current cutting-edge gear is a far cry from prehistoric man's rudimentary tools. From the crude knife to 24-hour digital cameras that monitor animal movement and earmuffs with microphones to amplify outside noise while blocking gunshot sound, we examine the development of hunting weapons and gear.
Jun 12 2002
With visits to high-stakes fishing tournaments and local tackle shops, MODERN MARVELS explores the wonderful world of rods, reels and optimism that is the fisherman's stock and trade. Visit the facilities that turn out carbon-fiber rods and the plugs, flies, leaders, floats and other accessories that anglers swear by. See how the humble bamboo pole and braided horsehair line gave way to successive generations of modern technology, and cast with some of today's top fishermen as they look to lure trout from mountain streams and marlins from the deep ocean.
Jun 11 2002
At 5:30 a.m., July 16, 1945, scientists and dignitaries awaited the detonation of the first atomic bomb in a desolate area of the New Mexico desert aptly known as "Jornada del Muerto" (Journey of Death). Dubbed the Manhattan Project, the top-secret undertaking was tackled with unprecedented speed and expense--almost $30-billion in today's money. Los Alamos scientists and engineers relate their trials, triumphs, and dark doubts about building the ultimate weapon of war in the interest of peace.
Jun 04 2002
The rousing story of the tank, from its primitive appearance in WWI to the high-tech world of modern tank warfare, with emphasis on the tank's Golden Age during WWII. In the second hour, we'll look at the American soldier's best friend in WWII--the Jeep. A "Blitz Buggy" could serve as a combat car, snowplow, or ambulance!
Jun 02 2002
Dragsters hit top speeds above 330 miles per hour. MODERN MARVELS heads to the drag strip and back in time to tell the complete story of these amazing machines. Even before World War I, speed demons were modifying Model T Fords to see how quick they could make them. From these humble beginnings, a new type of racing developed. DRAG RACING goes inside the shop with top driver Gary Clapshaw to see how a modern dragster is put together, from the aerodynamic package to the 7000 horsepower engine. Legendary designer Bob Norwood reveals his latest design, which may revolutionize the sport. And watch as dragsters compete over the quickest quarter-mile on earth.
May 21 2002
Join us for a look at the biggest, heaviest, tallest, longest, meanest machines on the planet! We'll see what these monsters do and how they operate, and how they're designed and assembled. Machines investigated include the largest draglines, excavators used in mining; the biggest dump truck; port cranes; a front-end loader with an 80-ton bucket and the largest tires of any vehicle; the cruise ship, the Voyager of the Seas; a 240-foot tall wind generator; and a fusion reaction machine the size of a football field.
May 14 2002
Blade implements have been a part of civilized man's arsenal since the Paleolithic Age, when sharp tools were chipped off of flint or obsidian. But with the discovery of metallurgy, people were able to forge stronger, more versatile blade implements. We visit an axe-throwing contest in Wisconsin for an introduction to the least subtle of the blade tools. Then we visit a swordsmith and an experienced swordfighter who work in traditional methods from ancient sources, and review the history of knives.
May 07 2002
Who could imagine life without our "man-made weather"? On cold winter nights and hot summer days, we are forever grateful to the visionaries who took two basic elements--fire and ice--and turned them into true modern marvels. Fire warmed the caves and primitive dwellings of mankind for centuries, yet the technology of keeping cool lagged far behind as we learn in this chronicle of heating and air conditioning that covers advancements from the home and industry to outer space and beyond!
Apr 18 2002
Icebreaker ships plow headlong into one of nature's most formidable barriers. Modern Marvels bundles up and goes for a sea tour aboard the toughest ships ever built, the massive icebreakers that can withstand hull pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch. Experts like Gene Davis, the curator of the Coast Guard Museum NW, detail how these vessels have evolved from the age of sail, and how they have changed the way ships navigate in northern waters. Go on patrol with the USCG Cutter Mackinaw, one of the largest and oldest breakers working the vital North American fresh water shipping lanes, and then see the contrast as the USCG Healy, the newest Polar Class ice breaker in the American fleet, traverses the Northwest Passage on its maiden voyage. This is the story of the specialized ships that have turned the tables on one of the mariners' most ancient and implacable enemies.
Apr 16 2002
Spinning your wheels isn't just going around in circles. In fact, it's revolutionary--literally. The history of civilization has turned on the wheel, and we have traveled as far as we have because of it. One of the six simple machines and perhaps the most important invention in the history of mankind, the wheel has been essential in all aspects of life--from farming to fighting, traveling to trading. Features interviews with scientists, historians, philosophers, millers, potters, and spinners.
Mar 26 2002
Motors 8x12
TBA
Mar 19 2002
The U.S. Navy's most lethal fighter soars at supersonic speeds. This episode tells the complete story of this legendary aircraft, following it from the initial design sessions to its most recent missions. Find out how its sweep-wing technology works and why it was developed, and track the innovations that have kept the F-14 effective for nearly three decades. Pilots reveal what it is like to fly the Tomcat in combat, and our cameras capture the action from inside the cockpit as an F-14 soars at supersonic speeds.
Mar 12 2002
It's the place where one man's trash is truly another man's treasure. Enter the strange and mysterious world of the junkyard, where many pieces actually do add up to a whole. Uncover how junkyard operators create order out of seemingly random piles of junk.
Mar 05 2002
A look at siege machines that convert energy into mechanical force to go over, under, or through fortified or fixed defenses too strong for conventional force. These engines range from man's first long-range missile weapon, the slingshot, to the laser cannons and satellite-destroying robots of the 21st century. All of these machines are designed to breach barriers--castle walls, entrenched troops, even outer space. When the going gets tough, the tough get siege machines
Feb 26 2002
How do you stop a speeding bullet? From body armor to armored cars and trucks, we review the history of the race between the bullet and a successful way to stop it. It's not exactly easy to design material that can catch gunfire traveling up to 3,000 feet per second. We'll look at little-known advances like bulletproof layering hidden in walls, futuristic smart materials that "remember" how to stop a bullet, and a system that deploys a shield within milliseconds when it detects an oncoming round.
Feb 19 2002
As we power-up and unfurl the sails on a magical cruise through time, viewers meet the people who've devoted their lives to pleasure boating. Traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe, we delve into a world of luxury, adventure, and sport on spectacular vessels ranging from classic yachts to sports boats to the ultimate floating palaces. In this timeless pastime, technological wonders continue to evolve and enthrall.
Feb 01 2002
For millennia, luxury toys have functioned as flashy instruments of affluence, authority, and identity and driven many kingly consumers to covet, create, and purchase these status symbols. From the Roman Emperor Caligula's special barges to Carl Faberge's impossibly intricate eggs, from plasma screen TVs to $600,000 Bentleys and Rolex watches, we examine spectacular personal possessions--paeans to the lords of a consumer culture that grows richer and technologically more sophisticated daily.
Jan 31 2002
From Battle-bots to the ocean floor, the skies over hostile territory to the surface of Mars, MODERN MARVELS® explores the remote control world. Travel back to 1898, when Nicola Tesla started a technological revolution by successfully controlling a six-foot long model boat using radio waves. From that humble beginning, the world of remote control has grown exponentially, with microwave, infrared and a host of other technologies expanding our virtual reach ever farther. REMOTE CONTROL shows how the various methods work and goes into the labs where scientists and engineers are developing the next generation of remote control devices, including a solar-powered helicopter that can fly up to 100,000 feet and remain there for months at a time.
Jan 30 2002
Learn what it takes to buy a previously-owned jet, and travel to Dallas to visit the Associated Air Center, a company that creates very high-end, lavish jet interiors. Also the latest in kit jets, and look into the new must-have of the super rich--personal jets the size of commercial airliners.
Jan 28 2002
From today's ultra chic, state-of-the-art private jets to Lockheed's 1957 Jetstar, this 2-part special investigates the history, the luxury, and technology of America's corporate jets. We meet a few of the men and women who pioneered them--Bill Lear, Clyde Cessna and his nephews, Walter and Olive Beech.
Jan 28 2002
From the early "egg beaters" of World War II to the "flying tanks" of Operation Desert Storm, we'll fly aboard one of the most agile and potent weapons on the battlefield--the helicopter. Meet the first pilot to fly a combat rescue mission in WWII and a USAF female aviator; and view classified footage of the Apache in Iraq.
Jan 17 2002
Dreamers and schemers try an odd assortment of flawed ideas for inventions. Start with the cars--cars that fly, cars that float, cars with jet engines. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Here are homes that look like nothing you've ever seen and clothes too strange for even the most radical fashion runway, including rocket belts and radium-infused garments. Some of these creations were too far ahead of their time, and others were just plain bad ideas, but there's a fascinating tale behind each one, and FAILED INVENTIONS celebrates those occasions when necessity mothers a notion that only its creator could love.
Jan 02 2002

Season 7

42 Episodes

It is a majestic structure that rises boldly over the Mississippi River--40,000 tons of steel and concrete that create the biggest arch of its kind in the world. Nothing like it had ever been built before, nor attempted since. We'll see how its simple and elegant form results from remarkable achievements in construction and engineering.
Dec 11 2001
Discover how military and police personnel, as well as private citizens, hone their shooting skills with one of the oldest of training techniques when we review the history of firing ranges--from a simple knot on a tree, old bottles, rusted tin cans, and highway signs to high-tech targets and advances in weaponry.
Dec 04 2001
Glass 7x40
TBA
Dec 01 2001
New York City's Times Square is the city's most vibrant area.
Nov 29 2001
TBA
Nov 28 2001
Join us for a ride through the history of car-culture commerce from the first gas station to the drive-thru funeral parlors and wedding chapels of today. We chronicle the birth of the first drive-in restaurants that paved the way for a billion-dollar fast-food dynasty, and feature many lesser-known drive-thru venues, such as dry cleaners, flu-shot clinics, liquor stands, and drug stores. And we'll take a journey to the future to see what products might be passing through the drive-thru of tomorrow.
Nov 27 2001
More than 2-million people die in the U.S. each year. That works out to about 5,500 burials a day, with roughly 80 percent taking the long goodbye in a casket, and the remaining 20 percent electing to be cremated or finding some alternative method of crossing eternity's threshold. We take a look at dealing with the dead throughout the centuries, and at today's $20-billion funeral industry. Any way you look at it, it's a healthy business, with new generations of customers year after year!
Oct 30 2001
Fast, furious, and deadly, modern warfare is the most intensely demanding activity ever undertaken by mankind. But to wage war, one must first practice it. To achieve this extremely high level of combat readiness, equipment and personnel must be maintained at peak performance. The answer is rigorous, force on force combat exercises. Our journey through the history of war games leads us to the U.S. Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California--where the big boys come out to play!
Oct 23 2002
Bunkers 7x34
From the earliest bunkers of WWI through the ultra-futuristic ones of tomorrow's wars, we trace the story of defensive fortifications. In the constant struggle to hold off ever more potent forms of attack, bunkers function in a variety of forms. Three mammoth block structures comprise a submarine bunker at Lorient, France, able to house 20 subs. We visit Churchill's Cabinet War Room and Hitler's Berlin bunker, as well as backyard Cold War bunkers and those that protect nuclear weapons themselves.
Oct 23 2001
TBA
Oct 17 2001
Oct 15 2001
Oct 15 2001
A history of the history of crash test dummies. Beginning at the use of crash test dummies in airplane crash simulations to the newest automobile crash test dummies.
Sep 25 2001
Half a mile below the earth's surface, men mine for rough diamonds--a pure carbon substance. Brilliant when cut and polished, they are marketed as the most precious gem in the world. From the earliest mines of the 4th century BC to today's technological wonders in South Africa, we explore the history and technology of the diamond mine.
Sep 19 2001
Without rock, modern society wouldn't exist.
Sep 18 2001
TBA
Sep 11 2001
Ever since the first air show captivated onlookers in 1909, stunt pilots and famous flyers have entertained enthusiasts with aerial acrobatics. MODERN MARVELS: AIR SHOWS looks at the history, technology, and amazing risks involved in producing these beloved airborne performances.
Sep 04 2001
The most priceless jewels in the arsenals of a handful of countries, some nuclear submarines carry more firepower than all the bombs dropped in history. Since the 1950s, these lethal steel sharks have been a cornerstone of American defense policy. The Cold War launched an underwater race for supremacy with the Soviet Union. The result: engineering miracles, which roam 70% of the earth's surface, providing deterrence to enemies, intelligence about adversaries, and an abiding sense of dread.
Aug 28 2001
Cannons 7x24
Cannons have fired balls of iron and atomic bombs, changed the way wars are fought, and now come equipped with smart weapons. Beginning with 13th-century cannons that were designed to penetrate forts of the day, we'll see how cannons were first cast and later forged, and show how large cannons terrorized civilians and soldiers in WWI and WWII. Moving to the present, we feature the 40-ton self-propelled Crusader that launches 100-pound steel artillery shells more than 33 miles.
Aug 21 2001
Saloons 7x23
From a ladle and tin cup in an 1850s mining camp and Civil War tent saloons to Prohibition-era speakeasies, we investigate the history of the American saloon, and go behind-the-scenes at Billy Bob's, a 3-acre Texan saloon, and a Los Angeles sports bar with a computerized liquor-dispensing system. We see what it took to create the elaborate carved bars, the purpose of the brass foot-rail, the impact of refrigerated railroad cars on beer supply, and the transformational power of the bottle cap.
Jul 25 2001
From the 19th century's legendary cattle drives to the million-acre ranch kingdoms that sprang to life with the end of the Open Range to 21st-century techniques that include artificial insemination, embryo transplants, and genetic engineering, we review the history of cattle ranching. We'll ride herd with modern cowboys as they twirl ropes and brand calves, and look to the cattle ranch of the future, where cloning will produce the ideal meat-producing steer with a consistently juicy, low-fat carcass.
Jul 24 2001
A salute to the tools and toys that have stood the test of time--from the Zippo lighter to the Palm Pilot, the 21st century's first great gadget. As we focus on the technology behind familiar gadgets, we see the subtle ways they have changed our lives. Other items include the flashlight, transistor radio, safety razor, and the metronome. We also go behind the scenes at Herbst-Lazar-Bell, a cutting-edge industrial design firm, and Gadget Universe, a fledgling retailer trying to topple the Sharper Image.
Jun 27 2001
For a time, its towers were the tallest buildings on Earth. The World Trade Center, an engineering marvel, came to symbolize American prosperity and strength. Recalling a more innocent era, this new production from The History Channel – filmed just months before the towers’ tragic demise – charts the history of their construction, revealing the controversies, decisions, and innovations that surrounded the project. Includes interviews with the engineers, architects, politicians, and contractors who dreamed, designed, and built the complex.
Jun 25 2001
Join us for a nuts-and-bolts look at the history and evolution of those places that hold our world together. From the local blacksmith to Home Depot, it's the story of nails, screws, mollybolts, duct tape, and superglue. We visit one of the oldest hardware stores in America, Placerville True Value, and wander the aisles of the mega-giants. As we chronicle the rise of the hardware "Big Box" superstores, we also see how the mom-and-pop local hardware stores still manage to survive.
Jun 25 2001
From battle armor to bubble gum, you might be surprised by what soldiers have carried into battle--and what they'll carry in future wars. In this look at the development of weapons--from the Roman soldier's gladius to the M16 assault rifle to infrared scopes and biological weapons protection--we also discover the evolution of body armor--from knights to Kelvar-protected "Land Warriors". And we'll also find out what the "Future Warrior" will look like.
Jun 19 2001
Nothing symbolizes the Roman Empire at its height or Rome in magnificent ruins more than the Colosseum. Built in 70 AD, it seated 80,000 people, boasted a retractable roof, underground staging devices, marble seating, and lavish decorations. It still serves as the prototype for the modern stadium. The complexity of its construction, the beauty of its architecture, and the functionality of its design made it the perfect place for massive crowds to congregate for the bloody spectacles it contained.
Jun 11 2001
Codes 7x16
Whenever a culture reaches a level of sophistication in literacy, science, and language, codes spring up spontaneously. As the social life of a community increases in complexity, the demands for private communication between two or more people inevitably lead to cryptology--a system of secret symbolic messages. Explore the rich history of communicating with secret symbols--from Egyptian hieroglyphics to Caesar's encrypted directives, from WWI and WWII codebreakers to cyberspace.
May 21 2001
The developments and technology of international airports' construction and operation.
May 14 2001
Chemical and biological warfare goes back at least 4,000 years.
May 07 2001
When design flaws fell projects, the cost is often exacted in lives as we see in this look at engineering disasters. Why did the Tower of Pisa begin to lean by as much as 17 feet; what caused the first nuclear accident in 1961 in Idaho; what killed three Soyuz 11 cosmonauts aboard the world's first orbiting space station; how did a winter storm destroy the Air Force's Texas Tower Radar Station, killing 28; and what errors led to NASA's loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander?
Apr 16 2001
The machines at the center of the information age have revolutionized our lives and digitalized our world, making previously unthinkable tasks automatic and linking people from around the planet. MODERN MARVELS® presents a fascinating exploration into the history of the computer. See Charles Babbage's Victorian "counting machine," a mechanical computer that produced perfect results for any mathematical problem of six figures or less, and discover how IBM was launched through a punch-card counting machine built to accelerate the 1890 census. Trace the technological advancements that led to the first modern computers and witness the rapid progress that allowed them to shrink from room-sized monsters to the desktop units that revolutionized life in the '90s. THE CREATION OF THE COMPUTER journeys into the fast-paced world of technology and innovation to expose the phenomenal history of the most influential invention of modern times.
Apr 11 2001
The Pharos of Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Mar 19 2001
Ride shotgun in our rollicking history of the Monster Truck, and meet the father of the mythic beast, Bob Chandler, whose Bigfoot gave birth to the sport in a cornfield years ago! Weighing 10,000 pounds, the behemoths entertain using brute force. Thrill to breathtaking stunts in California, Indiana, and Florida, as mounted cameras demonstrate the shakes, rattles, and rolls drivers experience; and meet the men who race these mechanical mammoths in one of the world's fastest-growing motorsports.
Mar 12 2001
74-miles long and 2,000 years old, Hadrian's Wall winds over the hills and valleys of Northern England, marking the northernmost extent of a long-dead empire. Built of stone and mortar by Roman soldiers, it is the most significant Roman ruin in England. Ordered built by the Emperor Hadrian around the time of his visit in 122 AD, it was more a permanent demarcation and less a defensive barrier. We'll visit this archaeological treasure, which teaches us much of what the Roman era was like for Britain.
Mar 01 2001
Feel the earth move under your feet and dig into the fascinating story of earthmoving equipment--from the simple spade to today's powerful steam shovels. Meet legendary giants like John Deere, Jerome Case, and the founders of Caterpillar, who helped forge America's monolithic construction industry. Ride on specialized behemoth dump trucks, delve below sea level to view dredging equipment, and leave the planet altogether to explore earthmoving space equipment in this 2-hour special presentation.
Feb 22 2001
Handy around the house? You will be after this history of the household garage. From lawn care products to snow removal and outdoor cooking, the garage gadgets for do-it-yourselfers have evolved over the decades to meet the ever-changing challenges of maintaining a home. With a typical garage as our starting point, we'll explore the uncommon histories behind some common garage items such as the lawn mower, string trimmer, leaf blower, barbecue grill, and more.
Feb 12 2001
Named one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern age, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel connects Virginia proper with its easternmost landmass. Stretching 17 miles across the historic Chesapeake Bay, the structure represents a man-made boundary between the Bay and the Atlantic. The structure includes two 2-lane highways supported mostly by trestles, four man-made and one natural island, two truss bridges, and two revolutionary sunken tube tunnels.
Feb 07 2001
In an historic survey of man's adaptation to killer environmental conditions, we travel to the desert, the Arctic, the sea, jungle, and space, charting the body's physiological responses to extreme circumstances such as frostbite, heatstroke, and hypothermia. We talk with military survival experts and learn about the latest cutting-edge survival gear, as well as the equipment aboard the space station, and look to the future, when nano-technology will create a new type of technology.
Jan 29 2001
They really shouldn't have survived. When an oxygen tank exploded in the command module of Apollo 13, the prospects for the three astronauts aboard were exceedingly grim. But they defied the odds. Under even the best circumstances, a space mission is an extraordinary accomplishment. But the conditions faced by the crew of Apollo 13 make the story of their survival one of the most memorable By interviewing space agency veterans and using NASA's own mission records, APOLLO 13 brings this inspiring story to life. See how scientists and engineers on the ground pored over every detail of the spacecraft's electrical, navigational and propulsion systems to devise a workable way to save the crew, and how the daring and skill of the astronauts made the scheme a success. Faced with the prospect of an unmitigated disaster, NASA rallied and forged an unlikely triumph that, many feel, stands as their finest hour.
Jan 22 2001
U-Boats 7x03
They prowled the chilly depths of the ocean. Like wolves they hunted in packs and picked off prey, and unleashed a special brand of mayhem on allied ships. They put a chock hold on England and nearly starved her into submission, twice in one century.
Jan 20 2001
Fasten your seatbelts as we take off on a flight through the history of commercial aviation--from the first jet passenger plane, the de Havilland Comet, to today's wide-body jets and supersonic Concorde. It's a story of high-tech worldwide competition among a field of high-stakes players. Billion-dollar deals ride on cutting-edge designs. Pilots train for hours in ground-based simulators, while computers fly the planes. We also catch a glimpse of the double-decker flying hotels of the future.
Jan 16 2001
Where can you fire a missile without scaring the neighbors? Or lift millions of pounds in pursuit of a couple of ounces of gold? On a proving ground, of course, where performance is the only thing that matters. Because in the heat of battle or head-to-head competition, no excuses can be given. We'll visit the US military's Cold Regions Testing Center in Alaska and desert proving grounds in Arizona, the Olympic Complex in Colorado, and the now-defunct Packard proving grounds in Michigan.
Jan 04 2001

Season 6

44 Episodes

TBA
TBA
Dec 19 2000
Each day, billions of gallons of water flow through cities into homes and back out again in a confusing mess of pipes, pumps, and fixtures. The history of plumbing is a tale crucial to our survival--supplying ourselves with fresh water and disposing of human waste. From ancient solutions to the future, we'll plumb plumbing's depths.
Dec 17 2000
Arising from the horrible carnage, deprivation, and suffering caused by war is a countless array of everyday items--from hairbrushes to microwaves--that directly descend from wartime innovations. Wartime research and development have revolutionized communication, transportation, and medicine. From Spam to nuclear power to hairspray and cell phones, life as we know it ironically owes a lot to war. We'll follow the day-to-day life of an ordinary woman and see the influence of war on her life.
Dec 12 2000
Mankind controls the environment in a variety of ways, whether by capturing the force of a river, harnessing the power in coal or oil, controlling a nuclear reaction, or transforming the light of the sun into electricity. From Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla to Enrico Fermi and Albert Einstein, the world's greatest minds have enabled us to acquire our light, heat, and power with a simple flip of the switch. Join us for an electrifying hour as we review the foundation for all of this--power plants.
Dec 05 2000
The hangman, guillotine, gas chamber, firing squad, and electric chair are just a few of the ways in which societies have rid themselves of those who committed capital crimes. And throughout history, a select few have developed the devices that have carried out the mandate of the people. This is the dark story of those inventors and the macabre history of execution mechanics--from the first "stone" of antiquity, the dungeons of the Inquisition, and Nazi death camps to today's sterile injection chambers--with a peek at the future of death technology.
Nov 14 2000
It all started with the vision of the legendary scientist Nikola Tesla, who built a remote controlled, steam-powered boat in 1898. A little over a century later, unmanned vehicles have taken us on vicarious journeys to the surface of Mars and deep into space, helped locate scores of shipwrecks, and been sent to work in conditions where humans would never survive.
Nov 08 2000
Sign up at the ultimate survival school, where soldiers learn to kill or be killed, and learn how 21st-century warriors are training today for the battlefields of tomorrow. We follow combat training throughout history, reviewing survival skills and psychological tools--from ancient Rome to World Wars One and Two--and learn how modern training is enhanced by advanced technology and computer simulation.
Nov 06 2000
Head beneath the streets of London for an in-depth look at the world's first underground railway.
Nov 02 2000
TBA
Oct 25 2000
Its efficiency has produced billions of products, from toys to Boeing 747s, cheaply and quickly. Follow the evolution of the assembly line, including its sometimes troubled relationship with the human beings who make it work. We'll see how Americans eventually overcame prejudices toward blacks and women in the factories during World War II. And we'll follow a family of four generations of Detroit auto assembly workers as they tell us how they dealt with the relentless pace of production. During the 1930s, assembly lines' frantic pace led to widespread labor unrest; and in the 1970s, it was a symptom of a greater concern for quantity than quality.
Oct 19 2000
The US agricultural process, from seed to shelf, is so efficient that most people don't think much about it. But food growing and processing is ever more sophisticated, employing computer-guided, ground-shaking machinery, and sometimes controversial techniques. It's an industry of declining family farms, diminishing returns, yet higher yields. We review the evolution of the tools used to produce food, show the steps in the cycle that bring food to the table, and look at the future of farming.
Oct 18 2000
Machine tools, power-driven machines of all shapes and sizes, are used to make metal parts and have built our modern world. Life today would not be possible without them. Beginning with the story of the steam engine and traveling forward to modern-day "machining centers" that are used to make incredibly complex space shuttle parts, we'll examine the basic types of machine tools and their development. We'll also look at machine tools of the future that will change the way products are made.
Oct 17 2000
This engrossing, two-hour show goes under the hood and a whole lot farther, as two certified mechanics dissect a 2000 Ford Taurus, providing a fascinating, nuts-and-bolts view of its major systems and explaining how it all works. While the Taurus surrenders its secrets, automotive experts and historians detail how cars have evolved since the days of the horseless carriage, tracing the developments that have made autos swifter, safer, more economical and just plain better. Visits to museums and private collections highlight important older cars, while concept cars and computer animations offer a glimpse into the automotive future.
Oct 16 2000
This engrossing, two-hour show goes under the hood and a whole lot farther, as two certified mechanics dissect a 2000 Ford Taurus, providing a fascinating, nuts-and-bolts view of its major systems and explaining how it all works. While the Taurus surrenders its secrets, automotive experts and historians detail how cars have evolved since the days of the horseless carriage, tracing the developments that have made autos swifter, safer, more economical and just plain better. Visits to museums and private collections highlight important older cars, while concept cars and computer animations offer a glimpse into the automotive future.
Oct 16 2000
A fun-filled glimpse into the not so distant history of video games. Since inception, the gaming industry has been a driving force in computer technology and video games are one of today's dominant entertainment mediums. We'll talk to creators of many of the most popular games in an hour packed with thrilling visuals from the virtual world of video games.
Oct 09 2000
The Maginot Line, a defensive string of forts with enfilading firepower, was built by France between WWI and WWII. Conceived by Minister of War André Maginot, it was meant to forestall another German invasion until troops could arrive. But the French began to think of the line as a substitute for manpower. When Belgium declared neutrality and exposed France's flank, Germany was able to sidestep the line. We'll visit the "impregnable" line's forts, observation turrets, and underground railroads.
Sep 18 2000
TBA
Sep 13 2000
In 1954, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Arab Republic of Egypt's first prime minister, had a plan to bring his poor country into the 20th century. To pull it off, he needed to harness the flow of the world's longest river--the Nile. The ambitious plan called for construction of a high dam in southern Egypt at Aswan. But the builders of the pyramids and the Suez Canal were no strangers to large undertakings. We'll see how the Aswan High Dam socially, politically, culturally, and agriculturally affected Egypt.
Sep 11 2000
Trucks 6x25
They are the backbone of the transportation and construction industries. Versatile, vital and ubiquitous, trucks perform jobs from carting off mountains to keeping nations fed. TRUCKS drives through a century of history to deliver the goods on this all-important vehicle. Visit museums and collections where the very first trucks are on display--bizarre machines with steel, tireless wheels, open cabs and tillers! See how war and the changing face of industry spurred remarkable proliferation and technological advancement, leading to everything from 165-foot-long "Road Trains" in the Australian Outback to two-story high super trucks capable of carrying 320 tons of earth in a single load. Explore the role of legendary names like Mack, Kenworth and Peterbilt and see what may lie in store for the next generation of heavy haulers. MODERN MARVELS takes to the road for the ultimate examination of, arguably, the most important vehicles ever made.
Aug 22 2000
It was a 363-mile highway linking the western frontier to the Atlantic seaboard. It shaped the history of the nation and transformed New York City from a minor seaport into a commercial capital. THE ERIE CANAL was as important an engineering project as has ever been undertaken. MODERN MARVELSTM ventures back to the early days of the 19th century to tell its complete, captivating story. Despite its ambitious intent, it was originally derided as "Clinton's Folly," referring to New York governor Dewitt Clinton, who spearheaded efforts to create the canal. Just eight years later, in 1825, newspapers declared the recently completed canal "The Eighth Wonder of the World." It immediately proved its worth, generating millions of dollars in tolls, opening up the interior of the state to development and spurring the creation of new towns. For years, it remained the commercial backbone of the region, and today, it is a treasure house of history, an invaluable reminder of a vanished era. From the first shovel of dirt to its survival into the 21st century, this is the extraordinary story of THE ERIE CANAL.
Aug 14 2000
Banks 6x23
They have been the backbone of the world's economy for centuries, but they have also been constantly reinvented over that time. And recent technological innovations promise to continue that trend, possibly revolutionizing the banking industry. From the influence of men like Alexander Hamilton to the creation of the FDIC, this is a fascinating chronicle of the institutions at the backbone of the world's economy. This show ventures back to the days of the Medicis and inside the mysterious workings of an ATM in this comprehensive look at the banking industry. We'll get the complete story behind such institutions as the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, and examine the influence of such notable figures as Alexander Hamilton, Henry Wells, Aaron Burr, William Fargo, A.P. Giannini, Andrew Jackson and J.P. Morgan. And experts and insiders consider the impact of comparably recent developments like the credit card and electronic banking, as well as the changes that the future may hold. More than just the storehouses of wealth, they have created fame and fortune and shaped the course of history.
Aug 03 2000
Around the world and across the eons, gold stands as a symbol of power, wealth, and love. The quest for the yellow metal took men across oceans, into the depths of the Alaskan winter, and miles beneath South African earth. This is the story of the hunters of the precious metal and their methods for extracting it.
Jul 31 2000
Buses 6x21
TBA
Jul 27 2000
Traffic 6x20
As the American economy continues to surge a very real bottleneck is emerging--the ability of the infrastructure to handle the traffic it generates. And this issue affects much more than weekend travelers. MODERN MARVELSTM visits planning offices and government agencies for an eye-opening look at, literally and figuratively, the road we are on. See how small the margins for error have become--and how disastrous the results can be when problems arise. And as our traffic systems come closer to their capacity, crises are likely to become more frequent.
Jun 22 2000
Today, race cars tear up the tracks at 300 mph. Computers and space-age composite materials are as much as part of racing as the drivers. They're fast, they're thrilling, and they've gone high-tech. We'll review the history of the innovations that led to today's technological wonders.
Jun 19 2000
The plane's on the runway and revving up for our flight of power and whimsy. The panorama reveals some amazing machines--from vintage aircraft to homemade winged wonders to posh private jets. It's a tale that merges technological progress and the fantasies of an unique type of person, who refuses to be grounded by earth's surly bonds.
Jun 12 2000
TBA
Jun 06 2000
Invented by the ancient Romans, concrete is a relatively simple formula that changed the world. Concrete has been used to divide an entire country, as in the Berlin Wall, and to unite nations, as in the Chunnel. We'll review the history of this building block of civilization and look at modern applications
May 31 2000
A look at London's Tower Bridge, a fine example of Victorian engineering and architecture that has attracted tourists since its inauguration on June 30, 1894, by Edward, the Prince of Wales.
May 25 2000
Technological tools help science mitigate nature's fury.
May 08 2000
When police forces were born in the 1800s, British "bobbies" made due with a billy club. Public wariness and institutional resistance to change held back technological advances for much of the 20th century. But in the last decades, police have been swept up in a technological revolution that has transformed nearly all aspects of crime fighting.
Apr 17 2000
Reviews the revolution in home improvement and glimpses the kitchen of tomorrow. Included: the development of the stove, sewing machine, refrigerated air, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, toaster, and mixer.
Mar 16 2000
This episode explores the stories behind everything from the paper clip to the laser printer, showing how they were invented and developed and revealing what makes them tick. From chance discoveries never intended to wind up at work to the irony of labor saving devices and why they can actually create more work, we'll deconstruct your desktop and expose the wonders there.
Mar 15 2000
Wheel; steam engine; railroad; automobile; airplane; printing press; electric light; wireless telegraph; telephone; television; computer.
Mar 14 2000
Close cousins to machines and tools, gadgets are mechanical or electronic devices that make life a bit easier. While they don't always fall into clear categories, we know one when we see one. We'll view the craziest, cleverest, and most brilliant gizmos, meet the often-quirky gadgeteers, and glimpse gadgetry of the future.
Mar 13 2000
Prisons 6x08
The philosophy, architecture of today's U.S. prisons emerge from those of history. They are buildings designed to keep their inhabitants inside and under control. But very often, there is another, psychological aspect at work--they are made to look as grim and foreboding as possible. MODERN MARVELS takes a long, hard look at how prisons have been designed and built through the ages. The program starts in antiquity, where sewers and dank dungeons were commandeered to keep the unruly and unwelcome captive. Prison designers and experts examine how these ancient roots show up in the design of much more modern prisons, where many elements go beyond the need for security. We'll tour famous prisons from Alcatraz to the newest, maximum-security facilities built during America's most recent wave of prison construction. And examine the features that may well become staples of the next generation of these facilities. This is your day pass into the world of punishment, a fascinating tour of the buildings at the backbone of the penal system.
Mar 06 2000
Bridges 6x07
Bridges play a key role in the human quest to connect and unify.
Feb 29 2000
TBA
Feb 26 2000
At the height of the Cold War, America and Canada joined forces to build a warning system that would give the nations the ability to retaliate against a Soviet first strike. Over the years, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) has changed its mission several times, but the continent-wide network of radar stations linked to a massive subterranean command center remains a vital component of North America's military complex. NORAD traces the history of this incredible program, from the construction of the massive Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center under 2,000 feet of solid rock to its modern mission protecting forces worldwide. Discover why NORAD's commanders changed their focus from defense to warning, and go on-site at NORAD locations throughout America including a rare tour of the massive nerve center underneath the Rockies. Learn how NORAD protects the sovereignty of North American airspace, meet the men who run the vital project, and learn the chilling stories of narrowly averted Cold War disasters.
Feb 11 2000
Join us on an out-of-this-world exploration of the history of long-duration life in space--from the first Soviet station to Skylab to Mir to the International Space Station. Experience what it is like to live in space, as well as the monumental obstacles engineers and astronauts overcame to make it possible.
Feb 03 2000
The job of joining Britain and France via a tunnel under the English Channel was a challenge. Geologists tracked the only safe route with satellite technology, and French and British teams drilled towards each other using two of the largest Tunnel Boring Machines ever made. We'll explore the greatest underwater land-link of all time.
Jan 11 2000
TBA
Jan 10 2000
We trace the history of household appliances and how they've made things much more convenient.
Jan 03 2000

Season 5

35 Episodes

More than a century before the Wright brothers, a Frenchman named Pilatre do Rozier took off on the first-ever manned flight. His vehicle was a hot air balloon designed by the brothers Montgolfier. From the ornate contraption filled with air heated by a straw fire that carried Rozier into history to the high-tech, closed capsule masterpieces of today, this episode chronicles the history of these extraordinary craft. It is a story filled with the dreams of fearless pioneers and fueled by everything from propane to solar power. You'll go inside the cabin of a craft designed to tackle the Everest of ballooning--a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. Examine the many uses balloons have been put to over the years, and hear from the designers and "pilots" who have dedicated their lives to riding the winds. And thrill to incredible footage of all types of balloons filling the air at rallies.
Dec 16 1999
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Dec 14 1999
Place your bets and join us for an exciting spin through the history of the casino. We'll go behind the neon lights, free drinks, and 24-hour gambling to see how the gaming industry has evolved from a simple house of cards to a high-tech multi-billion dollar industry.
Dec 13 1999
An exploration of the rich history of one of the world's greatest technological achievements--the harnessing of power from Niagara Falls. From the "War of the Currents", a battle between geniuses Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, to the Robert Moses Plant, primed to take the powerhouse into the 21st century, we highlight its story.
Dec 08 1999
A look at unforeseeable factors and what made these engineering feats into engineering disasters.
Nov 29 1999
Since civilization's earliest days, man has sought protection from those who would rob him of riches, knowledge, and even life. This is the story of the evolving systems designed to safeguard our most precious possessions, and of the enduring psychological war between protectors and thieves, each intent on outfoxing the other.
Nov 16 1999
Set the sedan's safety brake and hop on your "hog" for a 2-hour high-speed history of the motorcycle--from the 1868 "steam velocipede" to the early 20th century, when they were a low-cost alternative to automobiles; from Harley-Davidsons preferred by Hell's Angels and police to motocross riders who take bikes into the air and onto the dirt. We also look to the motorcycle's future, featuring Jay Leno's jet-propelled Y2K sportbike and Erik Buell's bike-without-a-gas-tank creation.
Nov 15 1999
While a civilization's greatness is reflected in the achievements of architects and engineers, equally impressive are spectacular acts of destruction throughout history. The cycle of construction and destruction reflects the shifting values of any given era. We'll trace the evolution of planned destruction from ancient to modern-day.
Nov 08 1999
One hundred million Americans will use an emergency room this year. From stitches to gunshot wounds, the flu to heart attacks, the men and women who work in these pressure-packed places are at the front line of the battle against death. This episode goes inside a busy emergency room to see how the paramedics, doctors and nurses work together. As the cameras roll, these real-life heroes fight a variety of ailments and injuries, constantly adjusting to the flow of new patients and swiftly changing situations. Trace the development of the machines that have transformed the face of emergency medicine, from the ambulance to the electrocardiograph, and see how medical techniques have evolved over the years. And find out why Mt. Everest may hold the key to the future of emergency medicine.
Oct 25 1999
Forts 5x26
Fortification evolved along with man's need to defend his territory from attack. From hills surrounded by fences to walled cities to impenetrable castles, these strongholds of the past echo the history of battles for territorial control. Join us as we learn how, as weaponry grew in sophistication, those walls came tumbling down.
Oct 18 1999
Join us for a second look at the big earth-moving machines used to tackle the most challenging jobs on, under, and off Earth! We'll ride on specialized behemoth dump trucks, delve below sea level to view dredging equipment, and leave the planet altogether to explore earthmoving equipment in space.
Oct 13 1999
Well over 2-million years before modern man evolved, his primitive ancestors were making tools. The ability to extend the hand and strengthen the arm is considered one of the keys to human evolution. Join us as we nail down the history of hand tools, and look at a new generation of computer-designed, high-tech hand tools.
Oct 12 1999
The history of civilization could easily be measured in terms of our ability to make, use, and improve tools--an activity that is at least 4-million years old! At the tip of our toolmaking timeline are power tools. We'll examine today's power tool industry, which is booming thanks to more powerful, lighter, and quieter cordless tools.
Oct 11 1999
In the cockpit of a multi-million dollar jet fighter, a pilot makes a split second mistake that ends in disaster. After talking to his instructor, he takes off for a second "flight" in his simulator. SIMULATORS have made training for many professions far safer, more effective and less expensive than it would be if the students were in command of the real thing. MODERN MARVELS traces the history of these "synthetic reality" devices back to the 1929 Link Pilot Trainer, an open cockpit mounted to a universal joint and activated by pipe organ bellows. From this inauspicious beginning, simulators have developed into extraordinarily sophisticated devices that can emulate entire tank battles, the passage of supertankers through narrow, storm-tossed straits, and landing jet airliners in dangerous conditions. Climb inside some of the multi-million dollar devices that offer an invaluable substitute for on-the-job training.
Sep 27 1999
This episode uses captured Nazi documents, expert commentary, combat and archival footage and the recollections of the soldiers who lived through D-Day to tell the story of the most extensive defensive edifice erected since the Great Wall. The video visits the now-quiet coastlines where the remnants of the massive network remain and details the different defenses and weapons that were supposed to make the European coast impregnable. Then, see how the Allied commanders plotted their attack and hear from the soldiers who were charged with making their strategies work.
Sep 13 1999
Since the invention of gunpowder, fireworks have thrilled audiences around the world. We'll review highlights of fireworks exhibitions throughout history, and go behind the scenes to explore how science and art mingle in this unique, ancient craft. The world's preeminent fireworks families explain how they create their spectacles.
Sep 06 1999
Since the 15th century, man has sated his hunger for information with newspapers. Their form has varied over the centuries, and their content adjusted to the changing desires of their readers (or publishers? whims), but until very recently, they seemed likely to be a vital part of human society forever. But as this episode shows, that future may be in doubt. The growing influence of the computer age and the widespread availability of instant information may eventually render the newspaper obsolete. Of course, we?re a long way from that day, and as this video proves, the daily news has survived much in the past.
Aug 31 1999
Venture back to the earliest days of aviation to see how the very first chutes were designed, made and used. Discover how, even during World War I, visionary commanders recognized the strategic possibilities of this life-saving tool--and set about using it for offensive purposes. See dramatic footage of some of the largest parachute jumps in history during World War II. Explore the growth of recreational jumping and see how it has sparked a new industry and spurred innumerable advances and refinements in parachute technology. Learn the previously top-secret stories of high-altitude jumps from the edge of space and see examples of parachutes from the days of silk and canvas to the high-tech, stunt chutes that daredevils use to wow audiences at airshows and exhibitions.
Aug 23 1999
This episode visits the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridges, the Tri-Borough and the 59th Street. In the stone and steel of these edifices the history of modern bridge building can be seen. But they are more than just engineering marvels, and there are many more bridges than most people know. All-told, 18 spans link Manhattan to the mainland and Long Island, and each one has its own tale.
Aug 02 1999
The great bridge of San Francisco, not the Golden Gate, this one: The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Over 500 feet above the water, more than 8 miles long. One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the modern world.
Jul 20 1999
Take me out to the ballpark. The crack of the bat. The cries of the peanut vendor. The incredible engineering? To those who consider baseball a religion, the stadium is the temple at which they worship. But the modern park is also a marvel of design and construction. This episode traces the development of the old ballpark from the days of sandlots and bleachers to the retro stadiums with up-to-the-minute features that are bringing fans back to the game. Visit some of baseball's greatest shrines, including Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards, and see how the years have changed the way they were conceived and built. Get a behind-the-scenes look at how they work and tour areas off-limits to the public. Hear from the men who built them and play in them, and get an early glimpse of what the 21st stadium may look like.
Jul 19 1999
By any measure, it was a daunting task to tame the Colorado River, the waterway that had carved out the Grand Canyon. To make things worse, the site chosen was in the middle of the desert, far removed from any towns or infrastructure. This episode ventures into the Southwestern Desert to tell the complete story of one of the seven engineering wonders of the world -- Hoover Dam. See incredible footage that documents every step of the monumental work of taming the Colorado to provide water and power to California, Nevada and Arizona. From the blueprints to reality, this is the story of the ingenuity and manpower that literally moved a river and sculpted a mountain of concrete. That it was completed in only seven years is all the more remarkable.
Jul 12 1999
They are virtual cities stuck in the middle of some of the most dangerous seas on earth. Life on them is hard and fraught with danger from calamitous fires and the risk of storms and natural disasters. But fueled by the endless demand for oil and the unpredictable politics of the global economy, the search for fossil fuel has led to the creation of some of the most incredible structures ever made. This episode takes a fascinating look at how oilrigs are designed, deployed and run. Meet the engineers who must develop structures that can handle waves of up to 50 feet high and 100mph winds while extracting oil from thousands of feet below the seas? surface. Hear from industry insiders like Rich Pattarozzi, CEO of Shell Deepwater, Inc. and Jim Bowles, Vice President of Phillips Petroleum, Inc. See incredible footage of some of the worst disasters ever to strike them. And go aboard rigs worldwide for an up-close look at how they work.
Jul 06 1999
Join us for a highly charged hour as we see why Alfred Nobel's invention of dynamite took on earthshattering dimensions as his product blasted out the natural resources that built our modern world. We also examine its impact on construction of the roads, tunnels, and dams that provide us with energy and transportation
Jun 21 1999
tba
May 25 1999
Bombs 5x10
Bombs...the most feared and powerful weapon in any nation's arsenal. What began as incendiary devices in the 7th century has evolved into weapons that can literally blow the human race off the face of the earth! From the use of diseased carcasses flung over castle walls to Greek Fire to today's smart bombs, we review the evolution of bombs.
May 13 1999
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May 01 1999
They are the physical engines of America's money machine, secretive agencies that design and manufacture the greenbacks that keep the nation's and the world's economy moving. This episode ventures inside these vital fortresses for a privileged glimpse of the work of making money. From engraving to circulation, watch as fortunes are created in instants, and see how new bills are put into circulation. Hear from Philip N. Diehl, Director of the United States Mint, and Robert Chandler, a historian for Wells Fargo, as they trace the fascinating history of the government's money business. And discover what the future may hold for American currency.
Apr 26 1999
Rare film from the Edison Studios marks the beginning of movies.
Apr 20 1999
"He who would become a surgeon should join the army and follow it," Hippocrates counseled nearly 2,500 years ago. In this history of medicine under fire, we see how a small army of medics, nurses, surgeons, stretcher-bearers, and ambulance drivers, races to keep pace with the deadly advances of war.
Mar 30 1999
In the name of national security, the governments of the world have developed devices that could render privacy a quaint anachronism. But could this Orwellian nightmare ever really come to pass? Spy Technology traces the evolution of the tools of espionage over the past century, from drop boxes and rudimentary codes to the tiny, high-tech devices that are already far more prevalent than most people imagine. Get an up-close look at some of the most important spy equipment ever made, and hear James Bond-esque stories of their use in the Cold War and afterwards. And find out why there is no technical reason why the lessons learned spying on other countries might soon be put into use internally. It is no longer a question of feasibility, but of ethics?
Mar 15 1999
Throughout history, the builders and engineers who paved our way out of the caves and into the modern world have also caused some of our worst disasters. What happens when their calculations prove wrong and it all comes tumbling down? From Hammurabi's days, when the first building laws were instituted, to today's potential nuclear or chemical disasters that can spell death for thousands, we'll take a harrowing tour through some of history's greatest engineering mistakes.
Feb 22 1999
New York subway system's riders, workers and street performers make it a microcosm of city life.
Jan 06 1999
They are among the most romantic machines ever built, enormous craft held aloft by lighter-than-air gas trapped beneath their vast skins. In the 20th century, they have played a vital role in war, transportation and commerce and been involved in one of the most famous tragedies of all time. This episode tells the story of the inventors and innovations behind these fascinating flyers. Discover what distinguishes a blimp from a balloon from a zeppelin, and watch the footage of the Hindenburg's fiery destruction in New Jersey. Find out how the lessons learned during the heyday of lighter-than-air travel are sewing the seeds for a renaissance today and go aboard the new breed of Zeppelin that is once again taking to the skies over Europe.
Jan 01 1999
This episode goes behind the scenes of the world's largest communication agency to show how the mail gets through. Follow a typical letter on a remarkable journey where human hands may only touch it twice. Learn how the Post Office has changed through the years and get an up-close look at the technology the modern Post Office relies on. Historians probe the long past of the agency and reveal its gaffes and triumphs, while archival footage recalls the glory days of twice-daily delivery. And Postmaster General Marvin Runyon offers a privileged view of today's Post Office and the problems it faces as it prepares for a new millennium.
Jan 01 1999

Season 4

7 Episodes

A study of the discoveries, inventions, and technological advances that have helped us understand and predict weather accurately. From simple observations made by primitive humans, to early instruments such as thermometers and barometers, to Doppler radar and satellite imaging, we'll see how man has tried to harness weather.
Dec 07 1998
In cities with hostile weather, they keep the big game excitement in and the unwanted elements out. Retractable roofs, the cutting edge in stadium design: they slide on rails, roll on wheels, or move on pulleys. These state-of-the-art coverings allow teams to adapt to the climate in a matter of minutes, making weather delays a thing of the past.
Nov 12 1998
From the earliest recorded account of an amputation and subsequent prosthesis in ancient Hindu writings, to a 16th-century fully articulated artificial hand controlled by an intricate geared mechanism, to today's use of plastics and space-age materials, we chronicle the long history of prosthetic devices.
Nov 23 1998
The story of medical imaging, the technology that allows us to see inside the human body, is full of amazing stories. Learn how X-rays were discovered in 1895, completely by accident; how ultrasound was developed to locate enemy submarines; and how the CAT Scan might never have been built if it weren't for The Beatles!
Oct 28 1998
Eleven of the world's largest hotels are in Las Vegas. The story of Las Vegas' emergence from the desert and transformation into one of the world's most stories destinations has been told many times, but this fascinating program zeroes in on the heart of the Mecca for tourism in Nevada the grand hotels that are some of the most sophisticated buildings ever constructed.
Aug 03 1998
For over a century, the US steel industry was a powerful symbol of the nation's industrial might. Steel helped explode the stock market into an overnight powerhouse, and transformed a country of farmers and merchants into a nation of visionary builders. But America's domination of the market would meet new challenges in the 1970s.
Jan 18 1998
Meet some of the most important, yet least-recognized, warriors--the battlefield engineers who lay the groundwork for oncoming conflicts. We'll cover combat engineering from ancient Rome to modern-day Iraq, and take a look at the "Next Big Thing".
Jan 08 1998

Season 3

18 Episodes

In 1973, a desperate America, starved by an OPEC embargo, began construction on an 800-mile lifeline for its insatiable oil hunger. We'll examine this technological triumph, built over impenetrable mountains and tundra, where temperatures drop to 75 below zero. We also study its impact on a fragile ecological system.
Nov 04 1997
Chronicling the development of deep-sea exploration and the vessels and devices that make it possible. Also: some of the revolutionary findings that have resulted from marine exploration.
Nov 03 1997
Feel the earth move under your feet and dig into the fascinating history of earthmoving equipment--from invention of the simple spade to today's powerful steam shovels. Meet the legendary giants like John Deere, Jerome Case, and the founders of Caterpillar, who helped forge America's monolithic construction industry.
Oct 27 1997
An examination of how one man's vision and the cooperation between the US and England resulted in an instant, reliable transcontinental mode of communication in the mid-1800s. See how wealthy 33-year-old Cyrus West Field endured many failures and lost millions in his attempt to close the communication gap between the Old and New Worlds.
Oct 26 1997
With California finally part of the United States, two rail companies raced to connect the monied East and the promising West. Along the way, fortunes would be made, lives lost, and adversity overcome. Join us for the exciting story of the largest, most expensive challenge of the 19th century.
Oct 12 1997
Welcome to the center of the American economy, where nearly $90-million changes hands each minute. Journey back to the wooden wall, built to hold back Indians, where early traders signed a pact creating the New York Stock Exchange; watch worldwide markets quake with the crash of 1929; and visit today's computer-driven wonder.
Oct 12 1997
When "poliomyelitis" swept the nation, thousands died or were disabled before American ingenuity, trial and error, and blatant acts of desperation led to one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in history. We'll see how polio shaped the vision of FDR, and catapulted the young unknown doctor Jonas Salk to international celebrity.
Oct 05 1997
From informants to detectives, using fingerprints, hair, fibers, skin cells & DNA to solve crimes.
Sep 28 1997
An examination of three of the world's tallest buildings---Seattle's Space Needle, Toronto's CNTower and the Las Vegas Stratosphere. Included: rare construction footage shot by daring photographers.
Sep 07 1997
Though now considered a country cousin when compared to the sophisticated television, merely a century ago, the radio galvanized communications as it linked the world without wires. The program examines the long life of the radio.
Aug 24 1997
Documentary traces the technological race to build satellites. It took the innovation of three men, including a visionary British science fiction writer and a Nazi engineer, and one of the most desperate technological races of all time to create the satellite. Former NASA officials recall the desperate early days of the space race, when America feared that Russian dominance in the heavens would have tragic consequences on the ground. See how satellites evolved into the world's most essential communications tools, and explore the stunning capabilities of modern spy "birds".
Aug 17 1997
It started as an idea at a French dinner party and became the symbol of the free world. The story of France's gift to the U.S. reveals a 20-year struggle to design and build the world's largest monument--using paper-thin copper sheets.
Jun 27 1997
A wonder of the ancient world, the Great Wall of China is one of mankind's most massive building achievements. Yet contrary to popular belief, there is no single wall of China, but rather a series of walls built for different reasons at different times. MODERN MARVELS embarks on a journey of discovery, investigating the mysterious history surrounding this cultural marvel. Historians and modern engineers discuss the planning, construction, and function of various segments while extensive location footage illuminates the stunning majesty of its architecture. Legend claims that the wall is a wellspring of warfare, madness, and death--can this be true?
Jun 22 1997
The stargazers of mankind build observatories to unravel the secrets of the universe.
Jun 08 1997
After more than two millennia, the pyramids continue to inspire architects.
Mar 23 1997
They are the centerpiece of all great amusement parks, heart-stopping rides with names like The Cyclone and the Beast. The names are designed to inspire terror in the faint of heart: The Beast, Raptor, Steel Phantom, Colossus, Cyclone and Demon Drop. In amusement parks and boardwalks all over the world, the roller coaster is king. Beginning as far back as the turn of the century, roller coasters' designers have competed to build them faster, taller, steeper. They've flipped riders upside down, made them weightless, and applied more g-forces to their bodies than pilots experience in a fighter jet. As technology advanced through the twentieth century, roller coasters kept pace. Today, they are pushing the outside of the envelope in terms of what the human body is capable of withstanding. And still, eager patrons are demanding bigger and better thrills. From their origins in Russia to the high-tech wonders of the mega-amusement parks, this is the thrilling story of the development of roller coasters.
Apr 13 1997
The Pentagon denied its existence until the President blew the cover. One of the most expensive projects in military history, it was attacked as an extravagant waste. But the billions of dollars and long years of development paid off during the Gulf War. Night after night, F-117 Stealth Fighters performed their deadly missions undetected by Iraq's multi-billion dollar radar system.Modern Marvels takes to the skies with the most advanced planes ever built. Learn how the radical design and cutting-edge technology of the F-117 and its larger cousin, the B-2 Bomber, allow these planes to avoid detection by even the most sophisticated radar systems. In exclusive interviews, Air Force officials and company executives recall the long struggle to perfect an "invisible" airplane, and combat pilots reveal what it is like to pilot the most effective strike aircraft ever built.
Feb 16 1997
Until the airplane soared on the scene, the President was mostly Washington-bound; then, in 1910, Teddy Roosevelt took to the sky! From FDR's custom-tailored prop plane to today's technological wonder, the program examines the evolution of the Oval Office in the Sky.
Jan 01 1997

Season 2

8 Episodes

Camera 2x08
The history of photography.
Dec 15 1996
They are the machines at the center of the information age. They have revolutionized our lives and our world, making previously unthinkable tasks automatic and linking people together around the planet. Join MODERN MARVELS® for a fascinating look at the history of the computer. See Charles Babbage's Victorian "counting machine," a mechanical computer that produced perfect results for any mathematical problem of six figures or less. Discover how IBM was launched with a punch-card counting machine built to speed the 1890 census. Trace the technological advancements that led to the first true modern "computers" and the rapid progress that saw computers shrink from room-sized monsters to the desktop units that are revolutionizing life in the '90s.
Nov 24 1996
At the 1939 World's Fair, NBC announced the arrival of scheduled, broadcast television, a development the public was initially slow to accept. But in the following years, TV revolutionized entertainment and modern culture. This program charts the history of the small screen, from the early pioneers in the field to today's technological advances. Interviews with media figures offer an insider's insight into the industry that changed the world.
Oct 20 1996
Undeniably essential to modern life, the telephone is the most important, influential, and effective communication tool ever developed. Stay on the line with The History Channel to witness this invention's unbelievably dramatic true story-one of false starts, close calls, and a bitter rivalry. All his life, Alexander Graham Bell was driven by a desire to create a machine that would make it easier for the deaf to speak and hear. Using an actual human ear from a cadaver to understand the nature of sound, Bell even enlisted a young Thomas Edison to help invent what would become the telephone. Exploring how one man's speaking device has grown into the technological web that links humankind, this thrilling program also revisits the race between Bell and rival Elisha Gray—who was building a similar design but ultimately filed the history-changing patent just two hours after Bell.
Sep 15 1996
From medieval France to present-day America, learn about the work and design that goes into these massive, Gothic structures, from the enormous buttresses to the towering gargoyles to the delicate stained glass windows. Explore the construction and engineering behind these religious monuments and see how little has changed over the past thousand years. Follow the progress of Washington's National Cathedral, the early planning stages as well as the final construction of the cathedral that is larger than Notre Dame and Chartres.
Mar 19 1995
During the depths of the Great Depression, it was FDR's greatest triumph: A massive public works project that took a 40,000 square mile, disaster-prone river basin, and turned it into a model of industrial progress.
Sep 02 1996
Towering over the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore was the vision of Gutzon Borglum, a combative and fiercely talented young sculptor. To elicit public support for his dream, Borglum whipped American patriotism into a frenzy, finally securing the financing he needed to embark on the creation of his awe-inspiring monument. Over the course of 15 years, 350 men poured their sweat into Borglum's vision, using drills and explosives to chisel Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt into the massive granite cliff. Here is the controversial history of this unorthodox masterpiece, including the remarkable design specifications, the tragedies and setbacks that marred its construction, and the awe it inspires to this day.
Feb 11 1996
The year was 1869 and America had just completed the greatest building achievement in its history--the Transcontinental Railroad. A thin ribbon of steel and wood now connected East and West. But the fledgling country now faced an even greater challenge--how to harness the awesome potential of the railroad to tame the still wide-open and wild West.
Feb 04 1996

Season 1

12 Episodes

Oil 1x12
From the first well in Pennsylvania to the gushing Spindletop and modern supertankers, the story of oil is the story of civilization as we know it. We'll take a look at the ingenious and outrageous men who risked everything for "black gold" and unimaginable wealth.
Nov 09 1995
The story of the construction of our grand national highway system.
Oct 29 1995
The Brooklyn Bridge was not only a landmark, but also the first bridge of its kind. No one had ever used steel for construction, nor used cables of metal, nor built a suspension bridge so long. Until one man dared to try. In 19th-century New York, where buildings were no more than five stories tall, engineer John Roebling’s soaring and majestic Brooklyn Bridge was nothing short of a technological miracle. But Roebling's innovation led to an uphill battle against the elements, corrupt politicians, and scientists who claimed the first strong wind would collapse the bridge to rubble.
Oct 01 1995
It was called the "mother lode", a deposit of silver so massive that it would produce $300-million in its first 25 years of operation, establish Nevada as a state, and bankroll the Union Army in the Civil War. Named after an early investor, we'll see how the Comstock Lode, discovered near Virginia City, proved to be a scientific laboratory from which vast improvements in mining technology and safety were pioneered, including innovations in drilling, ventilation, drainage, and ore processing.
Oct 01 1995
For generations, scientists and science-fiction writers alike dreamed of a reusable "space plane" a durable, maneuverable ship that would make trips to the heavens commonplace.Now, Modern Marvels takes a look at how a team from NASA made that dream real by developing the most extraordinary machine in history the revolutionary Space Shuttle.This comprehensive program tells the complete story of the Shuttle, from its conception in the 1950s to its triumphant launch in 1981. Expert interviews, computer simulations and spectacular footage from its missions offer an insider's view of its successes and failures, including the devastating Challenger disaster that nearly grounded the Shuttle program forever. Finally, NASA officials offer an exclusive peek at the next generation Space Shuttle, the futuristic X-33.
Aug 20 1995
More than 50 years after its construction, the Golden Gate remains one of the world's greatest engineering marvels. It took 25-million man-hours and 80,000 miles of cable to complete. But the cost in human life proved even greater.
May 21 1995
Born on a patch of desert sand, it's now a neon oasis where nothing is ever what it seems. Its grand hotels and casinos tower over the horizon and prove that size really does matter in Sin City, and the more spectacular the better. Uncover the secrets behind this man made Mecca for gamblers.
May 14 1995
Part of Teddy Roosevelt’s dream of making America a global power was realized through the construction of the Panama Canal. The French began construction in 1880 but nine years and 20,000 lives later they realized their plans were flawed and abandoned the project. In 1904, construction resumed under American supervision. First, they controlled the diseases that had claimed so many construction workers’ lives. Then they developed an innovative design for a series of locks. Their dogged determination paid off when they united the oceans on January 7, 1914.
Mar 12 1995
This episode of Modern Marvels provides an historical tour of Paris's Eiffel Tower. Completed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower remains a symbolic icon of France's history and the industrial age. Modern Marvels takes you on a tour of this world famous monument from its inception to the present day.
Jan 22 1995
On a somber day in Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln ended his famous address with a promise that the war-torn nation would be reborn. The greatest symbol of that rebirth had already begun, hailed as an engineering feat to rival the pyramids the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Its construction was an engineering marvel and a technological nightmare. The Union Pacific built westward from Omaha, and the Central Pacific eastward from Sacramento, hoping they would someday meet. The work crept inch by grueling inch across the forbidding continent and the treacherous Sierras. Here is the epic tale of the struggle to forge an iron link across the untamed West, and the only engineering feat to spawn an American folk tale: the legend of John Henry. After a decade of work, on May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah, as the last symbolic spike linking the two railways was driven, a nation was united and forever transformed.
Jan 01 1995
The Empire State building rose to become the world's tallest man-made structure at a time when dreams were in short supply. Planned during the 1920s, construction was almost grounded by the Depression until the "Cathedral of Dreams" came to symbolize the indomitable American spirit. "Two stories a day" became the mission. Up went the rivets, the steel and the fearless men. In just two years the miracle of engineering was finished, justifying a nation's belief in itself. Here is the colorful story of this beloved building, including the innovations it inspired, and its enduring popularity today. From the first plans to the final rivet, explore the incredible story of the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING.
Jan 21 1994
One of the world's largest concrete dams and largest concrete structures lies on the Columbia River in the State of Washington. Built in 1931, the Grand Coulee Dam is also one of the largest hydroelectric power plants. We'll explore this technological wonder.
Dec 10 1993