Season 16 (4)

20 Seasons | 177 Episodes

Episode 1 Packaging
S 16 E 1


Aired on Jan 14, 2011

A Michigan company designs water bottles; the makers of bubble wrap share their secrets; workers conquer the challenge of packaging the world’s largest crane; America’s military goods and supplies are packaged.

 2 Grease
S 16 E 2


Aired on Jan 21, 2011

In our lifelong battle to fight friction, Grease–in all its forms–is the unsung hero. Journey deep into places few people ever get to see, to discover the “hidden” uses of one of our most slippery products inside giant machines. We’ll also investigate how it’s made in a factory in New York, as well as what new advances some are working towards for grease of the future. But in the meantime, we’ll witness how it is currently used inside a US Navy aircraft carrier, San Francisco’s famous cable cars, elevators and escalators, assembly lines, huge excavators, amusement park rides, and even the Panama Canal. From pig fat to nano-particles… amazing Grease keeps everything rolling along–smooth and fast.

 3 Ropes & Chains
S 16 E 3

Ropes & Chains

Aired on Jan 28, 2011

From hauling our heaviest gear to mastering the tallest mountains, they have been around for centuries, but we constantly improve upon them. Get an inside look at factories where every kind and style of Ropes & Chains are made. We’ll get some lessons from a company that trains high-flying workers who depend on rope to do their jobs safely. Learn how window washers, rock climbers and even bungee jumpers safely use the ropes they depend on every day! See dockworkers who rely on ropes around the clock, and pay a visit to the head-spinning factory floors where some of the strongest ropes available are made. See how industrial chain links come to life from just a rusty steel coil and how they’re used to anchor massive ships and unload cargo. From parachute cord to shipping lines, from fine jewelry to anchor chains–we’ll discover the many uses of today’s Ropes & Chains.

 4 American Trucking
S 16 E 4

American Trucking

Aired on Feb 04, 2011

America would come to a standstill without trucks. Trucks transport a staggering 70 percent of all the nation’s goods. Explore the amazingly diverse world of American trucks and the colorful men and women who drive them. Join country superstar Brad Paisley and his crew of truckers on the road between Little Rock and Tulsa–racing the clock to be on time for Brad’s next concert. In Dearborn, Michigan, climb aboard one of the most popular pickups–the Ford F-150–as it tackles a devilish test course. And in Virginia, see how fast the world’s most nimble tow truck can extract a car from the tightest parking spot imaginable. Meet a Mack truck fanatic and his cool collection of vintage models, and ride-along with an unsung hero with a truly dirty job–operating a truck designed to empty and clean portable toilets.

 5 Inside Your Walls
S 16 E 5

Inside Your Walls

Aired on Oct 03, 2011

Don’t look now–but there’s a lot more to your walls than you’d ever imagine. Take a penetrating look inside something we consider utterly mundane, and uncover a surprising and sometimes shocking world. A computer-managed home in Colorado showcases the high tech gadgetry destined to inhabit every wall in the future. At the headquarters of Orkin in Atlanta, a network of walls with cutouts and Plexiglas windows reveal how pests and creepy crawlies of all kinds can congregate in huge numbers inside our homes. In Washington, scientists at Underwriters Labs play with fire in the name of research, investigating how our walls can keep us safe–or expose us to a fiery death. And in Los Angeles, a security company demonstrates innovative new technology that can “see” through walls–detecting motion, heat, breathing, even heartbeats.

 6 Built by Hand
S 16 E 6

Built by Hand

Aired on Oct 10, 2011

We live in a highly mechanized world in which billions of products are made by machines–but there are some things that can be built only by using an even more sophisticated tool–the human hand. In New Mexico, a pilot who builds his own jet-powered glider takes to the skies–his very life depending on his handiwork. Canoe makers in Montana, and a knife maker in Washington, handcraft items so unique that customers are willing to pay significantly higher prices than if they were machine made. In the farmlands of Central California, craftsmen keep alive the ancient art of weapon making–see their gleaming suits of armor in action, as weekend warriors do battle. Ever wonder how those impressive animal skeletons in museums are constructed? The artists of Skulls International in Oklahoma City share their secrets. And in Hollywood, the Chiodo brothers reveal how handmade special effects have a charm and character that today’s computer animators can’t duplicate.

Episode 7 Swamp Tech
S 16 E 7

Swamp Tech

Aired on Oct 24, 2011

It’s a great American wilderness–millions of acres of wild, primeval land with its own people, its own technology…and its own rules. Survival there depends on smarts and science, guts and grueling work…and a unique approach to one of the world’s most uncompromising environments–swamps. Watch an assembly of the distinctive airboat, then hop on board for a breathtaking journey and discover the surprising history behind this swamp staple of transportation. Take a wild ride on a big-tired swamp buggy, and taste test some local delicacies that bring new meaning to “acquired taste.” Witness a massive engineering project to divert the mighty Mississippi River, and meet the machines that make that job possible. Plus come face to face, literally, with enormous pythons and menacing alligators.

Episode 8 Pocket Tools
S 16 E 8

Pocket Tools

Aired on Nov 07, 2011

Teddy Roosevelt carried a revolver. The night they each died, Abraham Lincoln carried a $5 Confederate note and nine newspaper clippings, while John Wilkes Booth carried a candle and pictures of five women, including his fianc e. Why? Most people don’t even think about it anymore. We simply put what we were carrying yesterday, and the day before that, back into our pockets. Do we really need everything we carry with us? In this hour we will take a look at the items we found in peoples’ pockets all across America. Not cell phones, which everybody has, but more intimate items. Personal things…both valuable and cheap. Work aids…both simple and high-tech. Even food! And we’ll not only see what they must have in their possession, but how some of it is made. Why does a search and rescue fireman carry a hockey puck? We’ll also discover how they make and carry a “personal escape” bailout system.

 9 Food Trucks
S 16 E 9

Food Trucks

Aired on Nov 14, 2011

Food Trucks are hitting the big time–across much of America, they’re changing the way we eat. From humble beginnings as chuck wagons and hot dog carts, they’ve taken off as ethnic eateries, gourmet specialists, and even high-tech mega trucks that serve thousands at disaster scenes. Not surprisingly, it takes some pretty sophisticated engineering to make it all work–and turn a truck into a kitchen on wheels.

 10 Weird Machines
S 16 E 10

Weird Machines

Aired on Nov 28, 2011

It has been said that necessity is the mother of all invention–but that is not always the case. Some strange machines are built for sheer spectacle, some a glimpse into the future or even the past, while others are just plain…Weird. Take a look at machines that specialize in high functionality and low practicality, prompting two very important questions: What is it and…how do I get one? An Alaskan navigates the Juneau waters with his homemade submarine. A California company shocks local beach bums with their fully submersible “shark boats.” We’ll also meet a bicep-curling robot that’s built to save lives; scale a mountain with a 21st century Batman-esque rope ascender; witness an engineered, forty-foot vortex of fire known as the Flame Tornado; and hit the backcountry trails with a snowboard-motorcycle hybrid inspired by a shopping cart.

 11 More Candy
S 16 E 11

More Candy

Aired on Dec 05, 2011

Candy is America’s sweetest guilty pleasure–so appealing that we spend $25 billion annually to experience it. Our cameras venture from Chicago to Santa Cruz, California to show you that behind every delicious bite is a fascinating story of imagination and innovation. Fourth-generation candy makers Nick and Gino Marini reveal how they’re redefining the limits of confectioneering with their latest sensation…chocolate-covered bacon. The crew that makes the iconic red and white Starlight Mints demonstrates how they give each piece its trademark color pattern. As your mouth waters throughout the hour, you’ll also discover they key ingredient that gives Lemonheads their sour punch…and the surprising substance that puts the polish on Mike and Ikes. And you’ll be shocked to learn how little sugar is in cotton candy.

 12 Battle Ready
S 16 E 12

Battle Ready

Aired on Dec 07, 2011

U.S. soldiers today face enormous challenges, often stationed in desolate locations behind enemy lines. Keeping them protected is priority number one–and the military is making enormous leaps in devising a wide array of high-tech equipment to protect today’s soldier. From elaborate elite training facilities, to GPS-guided air drops, to revolutionary high-tech tents and fire-retardant uniforms, we explore the science and technology of building, operating and protecting a base in a warzone.

Episode 13 Stink
S 16 E 13


Aired on Jan 23, 2012

Horrific odors can cause any number of terrible reactions.

 14 Waterproof
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Aired on Dec 16, 2011

From the beginning of time we’ve worked to protect ourselves against the very element that keeps us alive…Water. We love it and hate it. With water covering 75% of the Earth’s surface, it’s no wonder we struggle to stay safe and dry. We fight against ferocious weather and floods with state-of-the-art roofing, wraps, tarps, tunnels, clothing, boats, and much more… devising extreme tests to probe the limits of our modern waterproof technology.

 15 Wood
S 16 E 15


Aired on Dec 19, 2011

Hundreds of years before steel and plastic, wood was the building block of America. But even today, it touches every aspect of our lives. It’s underneath our feet and flying through the sky, propping up skyscrapers and making burgers fry — from the historical, to the modern, to the timeless, we explore the surprising ways we cannot live without WOOD.

 16 Convenience Stores
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Convenience Stores

Aired on Dec 26, 2011

160 million Americans visit a convenience store every day. Why? Because it’s fast. But what you probably didn’t know is how every detail of its design has been engineered to work that way. Step inside one of the busiest 7-11’s in America and find out what makes it tick. And go behind the scenes to see how favorite innovations–like slurpees, turbo ovens, and beef jerky–are made. The science of convenience will amaze you!

 17 Tiny Weapons
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Tiny Weapons

Aired on Jan 16, 2012

Small weapons can have a big impact on the battlefield.

 18 Under Pressure
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Under Pressure

Aired on Jan 30, 2012

Every aspect of our lives involves pressure. It’s what puts the bubbles in soft drinks, propels shaving cream from its can, cools the contents of your refrigerator, and causes volcanoes to erupt. But when pressure suddenly changes, you better look out! Rapid pressure changes can be as violent as explosions. And variable atmospheric pressure? We call that the weather.

 19 Shoes
S 16 E 19


Aired on Feb 06, 2012

Shoes have come a long way from their humble beginnings as simple leather moccasins. Today footwear is built to withstand any extreme environment where a foot can tread — from the heart of a burning building to the track of an Olympic stadium. From high-tech soles to shoelaces, cowboy boots to sneaker design — step behind the scenes with the products that keep your feet covered.

 20 Alaska
S 16 E 20


Aired on Feb 27, 2012

Our 49th state is one tough terrain. In the air, on the ground–and deep beneath it–survival here requires an amazing array of technological innovations. From buildings to highways, brutal winters to bug-infested summers, this unforgiving landscape demands creative work-arounds. And then there’s the constant threat of natural disasters…tsunami, anyone?

 22 Panama Canal Supersized
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Panama Canal Supersized

Aired on Apr 11, 2015

The Panama Canal is considered the 7th wonder of the modern world. But today, it is too small. Now in order to fit the worlds’ growing fleet of super ships, the Panama Canal is getting a complete overhaul. This all-new, one-hour Modern Marvels takes us inside the billion dollar Panama Canal Expansion Project. With unprecedented access, this program features exclusive footage of the building of the new canal and shows us what it takes to complete one of the greatest construction projects in history. From massive explosions at the excavation site to eighteen hour concrete pours at the lock walls… from the assembly of the largest locks gates in the world to their transport on the backs of semi-submersible ships across the Atlantic… With the help of visually stunning photography and ample use of drone and time-lapse cameras, we’ll follow the building of a modernized Panama Canal and capture the impressive scale and pace of this undertaking.

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