Modern Marvels - Season 12

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Wednesday 10:00 PM on The History Channel Premiered Jan 01, 1995 In Season

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Episode Guide

  • Nature Tech: Hurricanes
    12/29/05
    9.3
    Explore how hurricanes start, how scientists track them, and how if at all possible they can be stopped.
  • Walt Disney World
    Walt Disney World
    Episode 66
    12/25/05
    10
    In this two-hour special, journey underground and backstage at Wald Disney World, a make-believe world spanning some 27,000 acres, brought to life by cutting-edge technology.
  • More Snackfood Tech
    More Snackfood Tech
    Episode 65
    12/20/05
    8.9
    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.moreless
  • Weird Weapons: The Allies
    2/8/06
    8.8
    Modern Marvels takes a look at some of the strangest weapons used by Allied forces in WW II.
  • More Hardware
    More Hardware
    Episode 63
    12/6/05
    0.0
    The hardware store is the epicenter of the construction world for both the weekend handyman or professional builder.
  • Custom Cars
    Custom Cars
    Episode 62
    12/5/05
    8.8
    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.moreless
  • Da Vinci Tech
    Da Vinci Tech
    Episode 61
    12/4/05
    10
    Modern Marvels takes a look at the incredible works of Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The Lumberyard
    The Lumberyard
    Episode 60
    11/30/05
    8.9
    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.
  • Brewing
    Brewing
    Episode 59
    11/16/05
    9.6
    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.
  • Engineering Disasters 17
    11/2/05
    7.9
    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.moreless
  • Secret Allied Aircraft of WWII
    10/14/05
    9.2
    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.moreless
  • The Auto Shop
    The Auto Shop
    Episode 56
    10/5/05
    7.2
    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.moreless
  • German Small Arms of WWII
    9/24/05
    0.0
    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.moreless
  • F-117: Nighthawk Stealth
    0.0
    Designed in the late 1950s by aeronautical genius Kelly Johnson at the mysterious Skunkworks, the SR-71 Blackbird was the world's first stealthy aircraft, created to over-fly enemy territory with impunity while photographing 100,000 square miles in an hour. While serving six American presidents, it saw action on hot and cold war fronts alike. Interviews with crews and commanders, combined with unbelievable footage, put viewers in the cockpit of this amazing spy plane, flying at speeds of 2,000 miles per hour.moreless
  • Cereal: History in a Bowl
    9/14/05
    8.5
    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.moreless
  • Sugar
    Sugar
    Episode 52
    9/14/05
    9.2
    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.moreless
  • Coffee
    Coffee
    Episode 51
    9/14/05
    8.4
    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!moreless
  • HMS Victory
    HMS Victory
    Episode 49
    9/2/05
    8.0
    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.moreless
  • Nature Tech: Lightning
    1/25/06
    8.7
    Modern Marvels examines the incredible phenomenon we know as lightning.
  • Wiring America
    Wiring America
    Episode 47
    8/31/05
    8.6
    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.moreless
  • High Risk: Helicopter Linemen
    8/31/05
    8.7
    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.moreless
  • B-2 Bomber
    B-2 Bomber
    Episode 45
    8/26/05
    8.7
    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.moreless
  • The World's Fastest
    The World's Fastest
    Episode 44
    8/24/05
    9.4
    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.moreless
  • Route 66
    Route 66
    Episode 43
    8/24/05
    9.1
    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.moreless
  • Secret Luftwaffe Aircraft of WWII
    8/17/05
    8.5
    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.
  • Lube Job
    Lube Job
    Episode 41
    8/10/05
    8.0
    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.moreless
  • Dredging
    Dredging
    Episode 40
    8/3/05
    7.9
    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.moreless
  • World's Biggest Machines 4
    8/2/05
    8.7
    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.moreless
  • Challenger Tank
    Challenger Tank
    Episode 38
    7/29/05
    0.0
    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.moreless
  • Sewers
    Sewers
    Episode 37
    7/27/05
    8.7
    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.moreless
  • Cowboy Tech
    Cowboy Tech
    Episode 36
    7/20/05
    8.7
    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.moreless
  • Mountain Roads
    Mountain Roads
    Episode 35
    7/5/05
    9.3
    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.moreless
  • Secrets of Soviet Space Disasters
    7/1/05
    8.6
    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.
  • Edison Tech
    Edison Tech
    Episode 33
    6/29/05
    9.5
    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.moreless
  • Future Tech
    Future Tech
    Episode 32
    6/22/05
    8.9
    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.moreless
  • Private Collections
    Private Collections
    Episode 31
    6/19/05
    8.2
    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!moreless
  • Secret Japanese Aircraft of WWII
    6/16/05
    9.2
    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.moreless
  • The Cape Cod Canal
    The Cape Cod Canal
    Episode 29
    6/15/05
    8.7
    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.moreless
  • The John Hancock Center
    6/8/05
    9.5
    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.moreless
  • Machines of D-Day
    Machines of D-Day
    Episode 27
    6/3/05
    8.6
    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.moreless
  • Civil War Tech
    Civil War Tech
    Episode 26
    5/25/05
    8.1
    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.moreless
  • F/A-22 Raptor
    F/A-22 Raptor
    Episode 25
    5/20/05
    8.8
    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.moreless
  • Glue
    Glue
    Episode 24
    5/18/05
    9.1
    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!moreless
  • Bricks
    Bricks
    Episode 23
    5/11/05
    9.0
    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.moreless
  • Mega Movers
    Mega Movers
    Episode 21
    4/27/05
    9.3
    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?moreless
  • Paint
    Paint
    Episode 20
    4/27/05
    8.8
    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!moreless
  • The Basement
    The Basement
    Episode 19
    4/26/05
    7.4
    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.moreless
  • The Doomsday Clock
    The Doomsday Clock
    Episode 18
    4/7/05
    8.9
    Scientists develop the Doomsday Clock as an image to symbolize urgency in the Cold War and the threat of nuclear disaster.
  • Deadliest Weapons
    Deadliest Weapons
    Episode 17
    3/16/05
    8.5
    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.moreless
  • SWAT
    SWAT
    Episode 16
    3/9/05
    9.0
    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.moreless
  • Taxidermy
    Taxidermy
    Episode 15
    3/9/05
    8.0
    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!moreless
  • Edwards Air Force Base
    3/2/05
    8.8
    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.moreless
  • Howard Hughes Tech
    Howard Hughes Tech
    Episode 13
    2/28/05
    9.2
    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.moreless
  • The Great Bridge: 8 Miles of Steel
    2/23/05
    8.5
    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.moreless
  • Sub Zero
    Sub Zero
    Episode 11
    2/23/05
    8.5
    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.moreless
  • Desert Tech
    Desert Tech
    Episode 10
    2/23/05
    9.0
    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.moreless
  • Firefighting!: Extreme Conditions
    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.moreless
  • George Washington Carver Tech
    2/15/05
    9.1
    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.moreless
  • The Butcher
    The Butcher
    Episode 6
    2/1/05
    8.6
    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.moreless
  • 1/26/05
    8.9
    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.moreless
  • Nature's Engineers 2
    1/18/05
    7.8
    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".moreless
  • The Arch
    The Arch
    Episode 3
    1/12/05
    8.9
    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.moreless
  • Car Tech of the Future
    1/6/05
    8.9
    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.moreless
  • Poison
    Poison
    Episode 1
    1/5/05
    8.8
    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.moreless
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