Season 15 (22)

16 Seasons, 203 Episodes

 1 More Ice
S 15 E 1

More Ice

Aired on Oct 28, 2009

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.

Episode 2 Dirt
S 15 E 2

Dirt

Aired on Jan 14, 2010

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.

 3 Eggs
S 15 E 3

Eggs

Aired on Jan 21, 2010

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.

Episode 4 The Potato
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The Potato

Aired on Jan 28, 2010

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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.

Episode 5 Tuna
S 15 E 5

Tuna

Aired on Feb 04, 2010

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.

 6 Winter Tech
S 15 E 6

Winter Tech

Aired on Feb 11, 2010
The technology behind the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, including the bobsled run, ski jump and speedskating.
Episode 7 Chrome
S 15 E 7

Chrome

Aired on Mar 02, 2010

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.

 8 Start to Finish
S 15 E 8

Start to Finish

Aired on Mar 04, 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.

Episode 9 Beans
S 15 E 9

Beans

Aired on Mar 11, 2010

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.

 10 Hot & Spicy
S 15 E 10

Hot & Spicy

Aired on Mar 18, 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.

Episode 11 Mega Meals
S 15 E 11

Mega Meals

Aired on Mar 25, 2010

Explore the complex logistics behind creating feasts for the largest and most ravenous crowds. At the U.S. Naval Base in Bangor, Washington, hop aboard a nuclear submarine stuffed with enough food for a 120-day mission. At the U.S. Marine Corps’ base in Twentynine Palms, California, follow a brigade of cooks as they prepare their “Victory Meal” for more than a thousand Marines. At the Philadelphia Eagles’ football stadium, see how a major food supplier satisfies 69,000 fans during an NFL game. Watch a team of experts rapidly assemble a remote kitchen as they prepare to cater the official after party of the American Music Awards. In Las Vegas, the cooking team at Planet Hollywood’s Spice Market Buffet will show viewers what it takes to feed a never-ending line of gamblers. And at Gate Gourmet kitchen in New York, watch as thousands of airline meals are whipped together in just one day.

Episode 12 Fry It
S 15 E 12

Fry It

Aired on Apr 01, 2010

Welcome to the world of sizzling hot oil. First, it’s a trip to the fair to discover the secrets behind fried classics such as funnel cakes and churros. And how about some deep fried treats such as frogs legs, and Twinkies and Coke? At Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, Minnesota, get schooled in the tricks of the fried food trade from a master short order cook. See what goes into forging the classic cast iron frying pan, supplying deep fryers for American restaurants, and producing billions of pounds of cooking oil. At Kentucky’s World Chicken Festival, witness the world’s largest stainless steel frying pan fry up to six hundred chicken quarters at a time. Find out what makes international favorites like British fish and chips, Japanese tempura, and Chinese stir-fry so tasty. Cooking oil is now being deployed as a fuel. Marvel at how San Francisco fire trucks are fueling up on the city’s used cooking oil.

 13 Soft Drinks
S 15 E 13

Soft Drinks

Aired on Apr 08, 2010

They account for nearly 30% of all beverages consumed in the U.S., and have been quenching our thirst for over a century. Visit the world’s third largest soft drink supplier, Dr. Pepper, and then watch the scientists at Gatorade collect an athlete’s sweat for analysis. Your brain will freeze with the Slurpee, get a jolt with the energy drink of the 21st Century and explore the roots of Ginger Ale and Root Beer. Finally discover how Jones Soda dares to make a soft drink taste like a Christmas ham.

Episode 14 Deliver It
S 15 E 14

Deliver It

Aired on Apr 15, 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.

Episode 16 Super Ships
S 15 E 16

Super Ships

Aired on Apr 29, 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.

 17 Big & Small
S 15 E 17

Big & Small

Aired on May 06, 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.

Episode 18 Breaking Point
S 15 E 18

Breaking Point

Aired on May 13, 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.

 19 Keep Out
S 15 E 19

Keep Out

Aired on May 20, 2010

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!

Episode 20 Super Steam
S 15 E 20

Super Steam

Aired on May 27, 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.”

 21 Doors
S 15 E 21

Doors

Aired on Jun 03, 2010

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.

Episode 22 The Real National Treasure
S 15 E 22

The Real National Treasure

Aired on Jun 10, 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.

Episode 23 Top Ten
S 15 E 23

Top Ten

Aired on Jun 17, 2010

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.

Episode 24 Mega Stores
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Mega Stores

Aired on Oct 29, 2010

The colossal cornerstones of commerce. Oversized outfitters. Merchandise Moguls. Mega Stores are giant facilities engineered to keep up with America’s supersized habits. They are the largest, busiest places in the country. Their greatest challenge: keeping up with demand on a massive scale, and to do it, they have everything from scuba divers to sandblasters. It’s not what’s on the shelves–it’s what happens behind the scenes.

Episode 25 Supersized Food
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Supersized Food

Aired on Nov 05, 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.

Episode 26 Coin Operated II
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Coin Operated II

Aired on Nov 12, 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?

Episode 27 Engineering Disasters 22
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Engineering Disasters 22

Aired on Nov 19, 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.

Episode 28 Dogs
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Dogs

Aired on Nov 26, 2010

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.

Episode 29 Built to Last
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Built to Last

Aired on Dec 03, 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.

Episode 30 Secret Underground
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Secret Underground

Aired on Dec 10, 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.

Episode 31 Made in the USA
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Made in the USA

Aired on Dec 17, 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.

Episode 32 Driver's Seat
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Driver's Seat

Aired on Dec 21, 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.

 33 Rice
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Rice

Aired on Dec 29, 2010

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.

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