The Re-Inventors

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Wednesday 9:00 PM on Smithsonian Channel Premiered Oct 06, 2010 Between Seasons

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  • Chinese Rocket

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 12 - 8/31/11

    It’s an early ancestor of the Apollo rockets that flew to the moon, but the Chinese rocket was created for more destructive missions. Developed in the 14th Century by the Chinese Navy, the missile was fired from land to attack ships. It was the world’s first multi-stage weapon, flying for nearly a mile before shooting a stream of explosive-tipped arrows from the mouth of its dragon-shaped head. Could this weapon really inflict as much damage as the legends claim? The Re-Inventors launch an investigation to find out.moreless
  • Roman Crane

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 11 - 8/24/11

    Powered by a human-sized hamster wheel, the Roman crane was responsible for building some of the most impressive structures in history, including the Coliseum, the Pantheon and Hadrian’s Wall. Matt and Jeremy salute this invention the only way they know how: by resurrecting this 2nd Century giant of engineering. Follow them as they construct this massive piece of equipment to see how it worked and how much it can lift. It’s one of their biggest re-inventions they’ve ever built, and as they’ll soon discover, it’s also one of the most dangerous.moreless
  • Body Armor

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 10 - 8/16/11

    Two 1915 inventions designed to save soldiers’ lives in World War I were never called into battle. Were they simply not-so-great inventions of The Great War, or were they never given a fair shot? The Re-Inventors unearth the old patents for a bulletproof enclosure and a dual-purpose helmet shield, and dig up period materials from the early 1900s to rebuild and test them both. Could these inventions have saved the lives of countless U.S. soldiers, or were they rightly discharged from service? Matt and Jeremy aim to find out.moreless
  • Solar Crematorium

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 9 - 8/16/11

    Modern crematoriums use 54 gallons of propane to reduce just one body to ash, so the environmental value of a solar crematorium is self-evident. But can this late 1980s invention generate the heat necessary to get the job done? Matt and Jeremy are dead-set on finding out. Join in on a darkly humorous episode where dead inventions for dead people are reincarnated and tested, including one that forces Matt to be buried alive! Will sunlight really turn a human body to ash or should this invention remain six feet under?moreless
  • Snow Annihilator

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 8 - 8/9/11

    For decades, man has moved snow from one side of the road to another in order to clear a path for drivers, but wouldn’t it be better to just eliminate it instead? In 1939, a patent was issued to the “Snow Annihilating Machine.” Part tank, part furnace, it featured a conveyor belt of steam pipes that would rotate through an oven before hitting the snowy surface. No one ever built a prototype, but 70 years later, the Re-Inventors will finally give this bizarre machine a long overdue road test.moreless
  • Panjandrum

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 7 - 8/9/11

    It was designed to ride across sand, steamroll over barbed wire and blast holes though Hitler’s coastal defenses in Normandy, but D-Day came early for the Pajandrum. The invention was deemed useless and never saw action in the field of war. But given the chance, could it have saved the lives of countless Allied soldiers? Matt and Jeremy call on the skills of metal fabricators, carpenters, and explosives experts to rebuild and test this unconventional weapon. Will they figure out where the original inventors went wrong or will the Panjandrum crash and burn?moreless
  • Invention War

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 6 - 8/2/11

    Can you actually improve on the inventions of Da Vinci? Matt and Jeremy aim to find out as they take four re-invented weapons from past episodes (including two from Leonardo) and rethink, redesign, and rebuild them using modern technology. A 15th Century tank and machine gun, a giant medieval catapult, and an ancient Chinese flamethrower get 21st Century updates. But will the added muscle translate to success on the battlefield? Modifying the old weapons is one thing, testing them is quite another.moreless
  • Monowheel

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 5 - 8/2/11

    It’s a giant, one-wheeled beast of a bike that a rider pedals from within. Patented in 1897, it is one of many inventions created to improve on the original design of the safety bike, a design that has changed very little in the past 120 years. The Monowheel certainly looks intriguing, but the Re-Inventors need to know if it will ride. Its success or failure will come down to the 3 S's: Speed, Stability and Safety.moreless
  • Flying Car

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 4 - 7/26/11

    "It would be nice to be able to fly your car over a traffic jam, but will our decades-long dream of a family car that doubles as a plane ever come true? The idea took off in the 1950s, as a booming economy and the dawn of the space age inspired inventors worldwide. Using that era\'s Taylor Aerocar as inspiration, the Re-Inventors assemble their own flying automobile, combining a T-Bird with parts gathered from an airplane graveyard. Matt and Jeremy are on a mission to rewrite transportation history, or crash and burn trying.moreless
  • Flying Machine

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 3 - 7/19/11

    As man approached the 20th Century, the race for the skies captivated the imagination of inventors everywhere and all kinds of bizarre flying machines were conjured up. Included in the mix was a pedal-powered ancestor to the helicopter, patented a decade before the Wright Brothers first conquered the skies. By all indications, it was never built or tested, but if this anonymously designed machine can actually lift off, it would be a history-making moment. Join Re-Inventors Matt and Jeremy as they take this chopper on a test flight.moreless
  • Gun Helmet

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 2 - 7/12/11

    Was this 1916 invention the inspiration for today’s military head-mounted displays, or a complete misfire? Dive into the trenches with the Re-Inventors as they dust off the blueprint for Albert Pratt’s gun helmet, a weapon “adapted to be mounted on and fired from the head of the marksman." Using only materials available from the early 20th Century, Matt and Jeremy test this wearable firearm for the first known time. The gun helmet never saw action in World War I, perhaps for a reason, and testing it could prove to be a huge headache…or worse.moreless
  • Flotation Suit

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 1 - 7/5/11

    Shipwrecks claimed the lives of thousands in the early 20th century. In response to these disasters, a sailor named John Edlund invented one of the strangest water survival suits ever designed, with a helmet that resembled a cosmonaut’s. But the Re-Inventors think that this forgotten invention could have been a legitimate lifesaver. Using Edlund’s blueprint and materials from the early 1900s, Matt and Jeremy determine whether this suitcase suit sinks or floats.moreless
  • Ice Boat

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 14 - 11/17/10

    Combining razor sharp blades and extreme speeds, J. L. Finch of Patchogue, New York set out to see if he could improve on iceboat designs of the day in the early 1940s. Instead of having a sail, the vehicle was the sail, using a fixed, fabric-covered airfoil and placing the rider inside the ride to protect him from bone numbing windchill. Join the Re-Inventors as they take this invention for a test glide. Sure, this design may keep it’s driver warm, but can it bring the heat in a race against its modern competition, the iceboat.moreless
  • Aerosan

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 13 - 11/17/10

    A snow tank made to cross Siberia’s frozen tundra on skis, powered by a jet engine? It looks like something out of “The Empire Strikes Back,” but this Soviet war vehicle was developed during World War II, designed to traverse a land impossible to access by plane, train, or car. Join the Re-Inventors as they reconstruct the NKL 26 Aerosan and see how it handles the snowy plains of Canada. They also race it against a dog sled team, a pack that seems eager to leave this 70-year-old invention in a cloud of snow-dust.moreless
  • Pedestrian Protector

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 12 - 11/10/10

    So, if a cowcatcher works on a train, why not create a spring-powered one for a car? Such was the inspiration for “The Automatic Device for the Protection of Pedestrian and the Vehicle Itself,” patented by Heinrich Karl of New Jersey in 1932. Consisting of a series of spring-loaded levers, grates and an auto-deploying blanket to wrap up the pedestrian upon impact, Karl’s invention was never put to a test. Matt and Jeremy rebuild his invention and with the help of their stunt dummy Einstein, see if there really is a safe way to get hit by a car.moreless
  • War Kite

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 11 - 11/10/10

    For centuries, the high ground and the ability to attack from above held military advantages. Now, the Re-Inventors have found an invention that would allow a commander to launch an attack from the sky, and rain down explosive fire-arrows on a helpless enemy. Join Matt and Jeremy as they combine 13th Century Chinese fire arrow technology with a 17th Century Japanese kite design to see if they can command the battlefield with this amazing device. Will this experiment come crashing to the ground or send our hosts’ spirits soaring.moreless
  • Battering Ram

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 10 - 11/3/10

    It wasn’t long after humans began building walled cities that they looked for ways to smash through them. Battering rams were the weapons of choice at the time, and with a half a million pounds of impact force behind them, it’s no wonder why they were used by invading forces for centuries. Join Re-Inventors Matt and Jeremy as they get medieval and recreate their own full-scale battering ram. Using period materials and methods, they investigate the amount of manpower necessary to create these amazing machines and examine the science behind themmoreless
  • Earthquake Detector

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 9 - 11/3/10

    The “Didong Yi” was designed in the 2nd Century A.D. to warn the Imperial Court of impending earthquakes. Join the Re-Inventors as they set out to re-create and test this amazing device, and see if it actually worked. Reconstructing the ornamental detector was the easy part. Creating the homemade earthquake using trucks, concrete slabs and explosives was the real challenge!moreless
  • Ned Kelly

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 8 - 10/27/10

    In 1880, 80 years before the first Iron Man comic book was published, Australian outlaw Ned Kelly donned a suit of metal to fend off the attack of over 100 law authorities. This legendary standoff between the bushranger and the law brought the world its first bulletproof uniform. But did it work? The Re-Inventors rebuild this armor suit from period materials to see if it, in fact, offered any protection against weapons of Kelly’s day. They also put it up against modern ballistics. Will it stand up to the test or was Ned Kelly’s invention full of holes?moreless
  • Wind Wagon

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 7 - 10/27/10

    What do you get when you cross a windmill with a wagon? A machine designed in the 14th century that no one has tried to build until now. Sketched out in 1335, Guido de Vigevano intended for his machine to harness the power of the wind as a means of propulsion, and send the troops of Philip VI of France and his Crusade hurtling across the Holy Lands. Join the Re-Inventors as they set out to construct a machine that, if it works, could potentially be the world’s first mechanized troop transport and could have changed the course of history.moreless
  • Hydraulic Saw

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 6 - 10/20/10

    Designed by Francesco di Giorgio in the 15th Century during the Renaissance, this saw is meant to harness the power of swift flowing streams and rivers and use this power to cut wood. But does it work and is it more efficient than the two-man pitsaw of its day? The Re-Inventors build their most ambitious prototype to date and then hold their own competition. Its machine vs. man to see if this ancient invention still has teeth. Will this machine, designed centuries before the first sawmill, make the cut, or will they turn it into sawdust?moreless
  • Bourne Submarine

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 5 - 10/20/10

    Around 1580, William Bourne of England published a book entitled “Inventions or Devises,” in which he outlined his idea for a ship that “may go under the water unto the bottom, and so to come up again at your pleasure.” The design featured oars, a snorkel, and a revolutionary concept…a submergible sea vessel. If successful, this would be the world’s first working design for a submarine. But how will Bourne’s blueprint fare in the blue sea? Matt and Jeremy are eager to find out, but they may literally have to hold their breath for the results.moreless
  • Syrian Torpedo

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 4 - 10/13/10

    What looks like a giant egg, is full of gunpowder and is driven by rockets? It’s “The egg which moves itself and burns!” Designed towards the end of the Crusades, over 500 years before the modern torpedo, this revolutionary, self-propelled weapon was the brainchild of Hassan al-Rammah. If utilized, it could’ve sent the Crusaders fleet and their mission to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Join the Re-Inventors as they construct their own Syrian missile, using period materials from the 13th Century, and take aim at approaching invaders.moreless
  • Life At Sea

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 3 - 10/13/10

    Your ship is rapidly sinking, a storm is raging, it’s freezing outside, sharks are circling. That small open-top lifeboat does not look very appealing. What would you do? Try escaping via the Davis Life Pod. Patented in 1913, on the heels of the Titanic disaster, it was designed to deal with all the problems listed above. But does it? Join Matt and Jeremy as they build one of these 400 pound sardine cans and see if Davis’ idea floats. Will the Re-Inventors be saved or perish in a watery grave, nicely preserved in a coffin-like container?moreless
  • Double-Barreled Cannon

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 2 - 10/6/10

    Gunfire, danger, and explosions are some of Matt and Jeremy’s favorite things, and they’re about to resurrect an invention that includes all of the above. Join the Re-Inventors as they build a U.S. Civil War-era double-barreled cannon, the most dangerous prototype they’ve ever constructed. With the help of explosives experts, medieval weapons enthusiasts, and a team of EMTs standing by, it’s time for blast-off. Let’s hope our hosts have better luck than the first people who tested it. They didn’t live long enough to see the results!moreless
  • Firefighting

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 1 - 10/6/10

    As catastrophes like The Great Chicago Fire destroyed cities and claimed lives, the heat was on inventors in the 18th and 19th centuries to find safe and effective ways to fight fires. Matt and Jeremy uncover two old designs, a chemical pail and an exploding water bomb. See what happens when our hot shots crank up the heat on these two innovations to see if either idea actually works. It’s all in the name of science, but our hosts are playing with fire, and if they’re not careful, they just might get burned.moreless
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