EVERY MONDAY Modern Marvels

Witness the innovation, inventions, and incredible feats of mankind. See how these ideas went from dream to reality and transformed our lives.


July 15, 2024

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Modern Marvels

Super Steam

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 1810, 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. 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.




Modern Marvels

Under Pressure

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.




Modern Marvels


They block the force of a river, produce enough electricity to power cities, move water over hundreds of miles and irrigate fertile valleys. Dams prevent floods and produce "green" energy. We'll visit a hydroelectric dam, the most technologically advanced type of dam, and a dam in Brazil that is five times the size of the Hoover Dam. At the Utah State University Water Research Laboratory Hydraulics Lab in Logan, Utah, we watch a model of a dam crumble beneath tons of water and discuss how future dam failures can be averted. We will learn how dams adversely affect river systems and as a result, there are many proponents of dam removal.




Modern Marvels

Captured Light

A look at the history of photography beginning as early as the eleventh century. Includes the advancements by Niepce and Daguerre in the 19th century and William Henry Fox and George Eastman in the 20th century.




Modern Marvels

Mad Electricity

Nikola Tesla's bizarre vision of the future brought him failure, but his genius electrified the world. Travel to Niagara Falls, where in 1893, Tesla installed his new system of Alternating Electrical Current known as AC--the same power we use today. Uncover the forgotten ruins of Tesla's dream experiment---a huge tower on Long Island Sound he hoped would wirelessly power the world. Radar, death rays, invisibility devices and earthquake machines: Tesla claimed to have created them all. More than 100 years ago Tesla foresaw the need for alternative energies like geothermal and solar.




Modern Marvels

Fire & Ice: Heating and Air Conditioning

Who could imagine life without our "man-made weather"? On cold winter nights and hot summer days, we are forever grateful to the visionaries who took two basic elements--fire and ice--and turned them into true modern marvels. Fire warmed the caves and primitive dwellings of mankind for centuries, yet the technology of keeping cool lagged far behind as we learn in this chronicle of heating and air conditioning that covers advancements from the home and industry to outer space and beyond!




Modern Marvels


Mixtures of metals and caustic chemicals that make our tech, tools and toys surge with energy. Visit the world's most powerful battery in Fairbanks, Alaska ready to help the city survive power outages. Then it's off to Energizer's mammoth North Carolina production facility to see how machines churn out one million D-cells every day. 6,831 batteries are packed in the sleek Tesla Roadster, a new electric sports car. Let's take a ride. And your own car battery? We'll show you the ingredients that manufacturers pour into it--from sulfuric acid to a substance aptly called "mud." And we don't forget nanobatteries--those microscopic marvels that may some day power nanorobots. That Fantastic Voyage of a submarine in the human blood stream is suddenly a plausible reality.




Modern Marvels

Renewable Energy

In the young 21st Century, two realizations are dawning on the world's population: we are hopelessly dependent on petroleum, which is only going to get more expensive; and global warming, caused mainly by our burning of fossil fuels, will impact civilization in ways that we're only beginning to grasp. Stepping in to fight both of these massive problems are the rapidly evolving technologies that harness renewable energy. We will see how air, water, earth, and fire are transformed into clean, reliable sources of heat, electricity, and even automobile fuel. We'll take an in-depth look at the most proven and reliable sources: solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, and tidal power. From the experimental to the tried-and-true, renewable energy sources are overflowing with potential... just waiting to be exploited on a massive scale. And unlike fossil fuels, they'll always be there.

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