Modern Marvels

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Season 10 (13)

20 Seasons | 179 Episodes

 1 Pacific Coast Highway
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Pacific Coast Highway

Aired on Feb 04, 2004

The Pacific Coast Highway winds from exclusive retreats in Malibu, Calif., to the wilds of Washington state.

 4 Guns of the Civil War.
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Guns of the Civil War.

Aired on Oct 15, 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.
Episode 6 Oil Fire Fighting
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Oil Fire Fighting

Aired on Mar 03, 2004
When a burning gusher shoots flames into the air, only a handful of men know how to snuff out the monster. Fighting fire with fire, they place explosives around the flames to blow it out, or douse it with tons of water. The modern world depends on these risk takers, yet their industry began less than 100 years ago. Join us for a scorching hour as we review the rich history of this "breed apart", and look at modern heat-resistant clothing, new technology, and regulations that protect oil firefighters.
 7 Command Central
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Command Central

Aired on Mar 17, 2004

Delve into the history of military communications, from tattooed messengers to satellite technology.

Episode 11 Nature's Engineers
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Nature's Engineers

Aired on May 31, 2004

Discover the amazing ingenuity of common animals uniquely equipped to remake their world by producing towering structures, intricate tunnels and mighty dams.

Episode 12 Bible Tech
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Bible Tech

Aired on Apr 07, 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.

Episode 14 Bathroom Tech
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Bathroom Tech

Aired on Apr 21, 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.

 21 D-Day Tech
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D-Day Tech

Aired on Jun 03, 2004
The Allies devise scientific and mechanical breakthroughs to thwart Hitler's Atlantic Wall and to make the D-Day invasion successful.
 22 Rubber
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Aired on Jun 09, 2004
Rubber shapes modern industrial society.
Episode 25 Nuclear Tech
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Nuclear Tech

Aired on Jul 08, 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.

 26 Apollo 11
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Apollo 11

Aired on Jul 21, 2004

The space race accelerates technology and gets humans to the moon and back.

 28 World War I Tech
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World War I Tech

Aired on Jul 30, 2004

When industrial technology and war first mixed on a large scale, the end result was ruthlessly efficient destruction, epitomizing the dark underbelly of the Industrial Revolution.

Episode 29 Distilleries
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Aired on Jul 14, 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, and 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.

Episode 31 Athens' Subway
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Athens' Subway

Aired on Aug 18, 2004

Under Athens’ bustling metropolis, an unique engineering project transformed the city, building a new underground Metro system, while uncovering secrets of its past, alleviating chronic traffic problems, and preparing for the 2004 Olympics. But to dig stations and tunnels in the heart of one of the world’s oldest sites of continuous habitation, engineers had to accommodate the largest archaeological excavations conducted to date in Athens. Thousands of invaluable artifacts were discovered, spanning more than 25 centuries. We talk with leading project engineers and archaeologists to explore the difficult balance between progress and preservation. Unique library film records every stage by which gigantic Tunnel Boring Machines cut under some of the most famous architecture of the ancient world. Despite problems and delays, the Athens’ Metro finally opened in January 2000. Its dazzling modern stations at the center of the city contain ancient artifacts found at the station sites.

Episode 32 Extreme Aircraft
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Extreme Aircraft

Aired on Aug 25, 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.

 36 St. Lawrence Seaway
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St. Lawrence Seaway

Aired on Sep 15, 2004

Experience the world’s longest inland waterway, a system of rivers, lakes, canals, dams, and locks that stretches 2,400 miles.

 37 Police Pursuit
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Police Pursuit

Aired on Sep 22, 2004
Technology gives law enforcement the upper hand in modern pursuits.
Episode 40 Harvesting
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Aired on Oct 06, 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.

 41 Building a Skyscraper - The Exterior
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Building a Skyscraper - The Exterior

Aired on Oct 10, 2004

Explore the construction problems of mega-skyscrapers, from New York’s Empire State Building to the Taipei 101 in China.

 42 Building a Skyscraper - The Human Environment
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Building a Skyscraper - The Human Environment

Aired on Oct 10, 2004

Find out how engineers keep people comfortable inside a mega-skyscraper. Discover high-tech wonders such as the fastest high-speed pressurized elevators and the coolest 3,000-ton chillers.

 43 Building A Skyscraper: The Arteries
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Building A Skyscraper: The Arteries

Aired on Oct 10, 2004
For two years, we've followed the construction of the new California Department of Transportation headquarters in LA to learn the architectural, structural, and mechanical challenges of building mega-skyscrapers.
 46 Engineering Disasters 10
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Engineering Disasters 10

Aired on Oct 19, 2004

Tropicana Casino Garage collapse; Transvaal Aqua Park roof collapse; gas-storage explosion; Bhopal chemical plant disaster.

Episode 47 Presidential Movers
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Presidential Movers

Aired on 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.

 48 Gas Tech
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Gas Tech

Aired on Oct 20, 2004
Hydrogen use may one day replace the use of fossil fuels.
 49 Washington Monument
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Washington Monument

Aired on Dec 01, 2004
One hundred years from concept to completion, the Washington Monument stands over 55 stories high.
 54 Engineering Disasters 13
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Engineering Disasters 13

Aired on Nov 16, 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.

 56 Sub Disasters
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Sub Disasters

Aired on Nov 17, 2004

The submarine tragedies of the past have not been forgotten. See how the Navy has been motivated to find even more effective ways to make subs safer.

Episode 57 Engineering Disasters 14
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Engineering Disasters 14

Aired on Nov 23, 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.

 60 Engineering Disasters 15
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Engineering Disasters 15

Aired on Dec 08, 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.

Episode 62 More Dangerous Cargo
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More Dangerous Cargo

Aired on Dec 21, 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.

Episode 65 Commercial Fishing
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Commercial Fishing

Aired on 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!

 67 Engineering Disasters 16
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Engineering Disasters 16

Aired on Dec 23, 2004

Underground explosion; dam collapse; school collapse; giant oil spill.

 68 Doomsday Tech
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Doomsday Tech

Aired on 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.

 69 More Doomsday Tech
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More Doomsday Tech

Aired on Dec 28, 2004
The second deadly hour examines more threats--both natural and manmade--that may endanger civilization. From the far reaches of space to tiny viruses, doomsday sources are many. But so are technologies used to keep doomsday at bay.

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