Explore the hidden history and super science of hot air balloons, synthetic rubber and metal detectors.
We explore the hidden history and super science of the wrist watch, the digital watch and the prosthetic leg.
In March 2015, Solar Impulse II launched the greatest aviation undertaking of our time: to be the first solar-powered airplane to fly around the world. It was a feat 12 years in the making, and was anything but a sure bet. NOVA follows intrepid pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg - two men bent on pushing the boundaries of human flight and proving renewable energy's potential. Along with a team of brilliant engineers, the two designed and built Solar Impulse from scratch - though top airplane manufacturers told them would be too big, too light, and impossible to control. NOVA follows the team as it overcomes seemingly insurmountable challenges to build and fly the first solar plane around the world.
Imagine a world without the power to capture or transmit sound. Journey with Steven Johnson to the Arcy sur Cure caves in northern France, where he finds the first traces of the desire to record sound — 30,000 years ago. He also learns about the difference that radio made in the civil rights movement and reveals the Hollywood star who designed a WW2 weapon that would make possible the modern cell phone network. During an ultrasound on a pregnant dolphin, he realizes just how big a role sound has played in medicine. The unsung heroes of sound have had an impact on our working lives, race relations, saving lives and the radical alteration of cities.
Only in the last 200 years have humans learned how to make things cold. Steven Johnson explains how ice entrepreneur Frederic Tudor made ice delivery one of the biggest export business in the U.S. and describes the place where Clarence Birdseye, the father of the frozen food industry, experienced his eureka moment. He also travels to Dubai to see how mastery of cold has led to penguins in the desert. From IVF to food, politics and Hollywood to human migration, the unsung heroes of cold have led the way.
Steven Johnson relates the story of people who take us out of the dark and into the light. Hear about Edison’s light bulb, which he didn’t actually invent, and learn how an 18th-century shipping community discovered a source of illumination by putting a kid inside a whale’s head. See how a French scientist accidentally discovered how to create neon light, leading to a revolution in advertising. Dispelling the myth of the individual “eureka” moment, Johnson reveals that teamwork and collaboration led the way to the most transformative ideas. Whether, altering the world’s sleeping patterns, giving rise to mass spectator sports, revolutionizing how global business is done or triggering one of the great social reforms in American history, the pioneers of light have made themselves indispensable throughout human history.
Join Steven Johnson and consider how the invention of the mirror spurred on the Renaissance, how glass lenses allow us to reveal worlds within worlds and how, deep beneath the ocean, glass is essential to communication. Johnson learns about the daring exploits of glassmakers who were forced to work under threat of the death penalty, a physics teacher who liked to fire molten glass from a crossbow and a scientist whose tinkering with a glass lens allowed 600 million people to see a man set foot on the moon. The link between the worlds of art, science, astronomy, disease prevention and global communication starts with the little-known maverick innovators of glass.
Board a submarine with Steven Johnson to discover what a lack of natural light means for a sailor’s working day and visit Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport, to try to get timings right at air traffic control. The story of getting a grip on time is full of curious garage tinkerers. One of them, railway clerk William F. Allen, was so exasperated by the chaos caused by the hundreds of local times zones in the U.S. that he fought tirelessly to standardize time into four zones. Learn how advancements in navigation, the way we work, technology and travel would have been impossible without the unsung heroes of time.
Dirty water has killed more humans than all the wars of history combined, but in the last 150 years, a series of radical ideas, extraordinary innovations and unsung heroes have changed our world. Steven Johnson plunges into a sewer to understand what made a maverick engineer decide to lift the city of Chicago with jackscrews in order to build America’s first sewer system. He talks about John Leal, who deliberately “poisoned” the water supply of 200,000 people when, without authorization, he added chlorine, considered lethal in 1908, into Jersey City’s water and made it safe to drink. This isn’t only about the world becoming a cleaner place — the iPhone, the subway, flat screen TVs and even the two piece swimsuit are the result of the valiant efforts of the unsung heroes of clean.
There's a power revolution heading for our homes – a device that allows you to take power into your own hands. It starts with batteries, home batteries, and they've been called the holy grail of renewables – the key to the transition away from fossil fuels.
The surprising story of the hidden powerhouse behind the globalised world - the diesel engine, a 19th-century invention that has become indispensable to the 21st century. It's a turtle versus hare tale in which the diesel engine races the petrol engine in a competition to replace ageing steam technology - a race eventually won hands down by diesel. Splendidly, car enthusiast presenter Mark Evans gets excitedly hands on with some of the many applications of Mr Diesel's - yes, there was one - original creation, from vintage submarines and tractors to locomotive trains and container ships. You'll never feel the same about that humble old diesel family car again.
The Boeing 787 according to its manufacturers is a revolution in air travel. Similar to the Airbus A380, the plane is made from carbon fiber reinforced plastics and aluminum glass fiber materials which are lighter and more resistant to fatigue. It is one of many planes that have been developed to reduce the carbon footprint while improving space, comfort and entertainment for its passengers.
Traditionally, regulators had insisted that all passenger aircraft be powered by at least three engines. But the development of more sophisticated airplanes eventually made twin-engine, long-distance travel feasible. A new standard was introduced, known as Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards, or ETOPS.
The Boeing 737 twin-engine jetliner was to become Boeing's greatest success. It had one of the lowest approach speeds of any jet transport, a great asset when landing at smaller airports with shorter runways. It also required minimum equipment for use in refueling. However, despite all its advantages, the 737 was soon overshadowed by the new, improved 747 Jumbo Jet.
Britain and France collaborated to build the world's first Concorde, a jet that could traverse the Atlantic in just 3 hours, at twice the speed of sound. The all-metal Trident jet was a popular choice for airlines but couldn't compete with the glamour and allure of the Concorde
In the early years, air fields were more concerned with utility than comfort with the first passengers becoming used to enduring the elements as they walked out to their flight. As the popularity of air transport increased, cities recognized the need to provide better service to passengers, and airports grew in design, to become the hub of activity and convenience they are today.
Airlines began to spring up everywhere, catering to the demands of passengers wanting to go just about anywhere, but the flights were only domestic at the time. Pre-war travel was sold as a luxury experience afforded only by the rich, but post war, the emphasis was on comfort and customer service for both the rich and middle class.
In 1966, British aviation expert Sir Frank Whittle was honored for his services to the aviation industry. Twenty-five years earlier, the aeronautical engineer had invented the jet engine, and ushered in a new era of air travel. On May the 15th, 1941, the first experimental flight using Whittle's engine took off over Cranwell, England and flew for 17 minutes, at a top speed of 545km per hour.
Seaplanes saw the dawn of the aviation industry as they could accommodate large numbers of passengers between continents, and only required a smooth body of water to land. Since the 1920's, advances in floatplane technology saw metal hulls introduced, a cantilevered design and single engine. Seaplanes continue to be an extremely popular mode of transportation.
The years following the First World War saw flying take off as serious business. Previously unimagined opportunities opened up, among them, skywriting and sightseeing tours. Flying became a bigger feature of life all around the world, not just as a novelty "adventure" for rich people but as a mode of transport available to just about anyone.
The decades following the First World War saw aircraft designers pushing the boundaries of aeronautical technology, moving the industry forward at a rapid pace. With new commercial markets opening up, it was the visionaries who held the key to success. Each invention promising a future filled with endless possibilities.
To fly an early airplane required skill, courage and a sense of adventure. The advent of the movie camera meant that their exploits could be broadcast to every corner of the globe, and recorded for posterity. The pilots of Germany, France and Britain who were able to master combat flying in time to prevent an early death were known as "Air Aces".
This program looks at the beginnings of flight, with innovators such as Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo DaVinci coming up with new ways to give man wings, and chronicles the invention of hot air balloons, Zeppelins, box kites, and of course the story of the most influential aviation inventors of all - Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Our lives are going digital. We shop, bank, and even date online. Computers hold our treasured photographs, private emails, and all of our personal information. This data is precious—and cybercriminals want it. Now, NOVA goes behind the scenes of the fast-paced world of cryptography to meet the scientists battling to keep our data safe. They are experts in extreme physics, math, and a new field called "ultra-paranoid computing," all working to forge unbreakable codes and build ultra-fast computers. From the sleuths who decoded the world's most advanced cyber weapon to scientists who believe they can store a password in your unconscious brain, NOVA investigates how a new global geek squad is harnessing cutting-edge science—all to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
Gordon Welchman was one of the original elite codebreakers crucial to the allies defeating the Nazis in World War II. He is the forgotten genius of Bletchley Park. Filmed extensively at Bletchley Park, the centre for codebreaking operations during World War II, this documentary features the abandoned buildings where thousands of people worked tirelessly trying to crack the codes, Hut 6, where Welchman pioneered his groundbreaking work, and the machines that Welchman helped design.
2015 • Technology
Imagine you could make a copy of a loved one. A digital clone with a life of its own – their Avatar. That’s the dream of biomechanical engineer, Dr Jordan Nguyen, and he says we have the technology to do it right now in the form of Virtual Reality.
Is there anyone out there? Does the popular movie quote 'ET phone home' have any substance? Astronomers have been pointing their radio telescopes at the skies for decades trying to pick up alien signals. Hitch a ride as we join astronomers trawling through the galaxy looking for signs of life.
Fifty meters beneath the teeming mega-city of Tokyo is an underworld river system - 6.4km of tunnels, colossal water tanks, massive pillars, giant pumps that remove 200 tons of floodwater every second. It’s an engineering marvel built to protect Tokyo against the increasing threat of flooding.
The promise of quantum computers is that what would otherwise take a billion years to calculate, could be done in a few seconds. First-generation quantum computers have started to appear. Indeed, earlier this year, Google bought one, The D-Wave 2. How will this advance change our future lives?
Game Loading Rise of the Indies, explores the new global subculture of independent game development. In the spirit of movements like the French New Wave, the Punk and Grunge scenes, hundreds of indie auteurs are emerging and finding success with their own unique voices and artistic goals. Independent filmmakers Lester Francois and Anna Brady began their project documenting the indie gaming scene in Australia. However, the scope of the project expanded from there with dozens of prominent independent game creators from more countries, including the US, Britain, Canada and Belgium. Developers like Davey Wreden, creator of the critically acclaimed The Stanley Parable,a free modification for Half-Life 2.
2015 • Technology
Atari: Game Over chronicles the fall of the Atari Corporation through the lens of one of the biggest mysteries of all time, dubbed “The Great Video Game Burial of 1983.” As the story goes, the Atari Corporation, faced with an overwhelmingly negative response to “E.T.,” the video game for the Atari 2600, disposed of hundreds of thousands of unsold game cartridges by burying them in the small town of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
2014 • Technology
As YouTube turns ten, we chart the history of the last decade through the lens of the world's most famous video sharing site. It's the human story of those who created it, the stars it gave birth to, and the countries whose fates it changed. On April 23, 2005 the first YouTube video, "Meet Me at the Zoo," featuring co-founder Jawed Karim, was uploaded. Ten Years later, the video sharing platform has harnessed a power that has changed the world -transforming pop culture, rewriting the rules of politics, overthrowing governments, redefining the nature of news, and exposing us all to tweaking, planking, Psy, Beiber, and the car in the shark outfit on the robo-vac.
2015 • Technology
Automation in the Information Age is different.
Each day, some 2.5 trillion bytes of data are exchanged, a deluge known as "big data." How can we classify, store, and give meaning to this mass of digital information? Will our digital society remain capable of producing a lasting memory? Learn the fate of memory storage in the future.
2014 • Technology
Looks at the black market website known as the Silk Road, which emerged on the darknet in 2011. This 'Amazon of illegal drugs' was the brainchild of a mysterious, libertarian intellectual operating under the avatar The Dread Pirate Roberts. Promising its users complete anonymity and total freedom from government regulation or scrutiny, Silk Road became a million-dollar digital drugs cartel. Homeland Security, the DEA, the FBI and even the Secret Service mounted multiple investigations in the largest online manhunt the world had ever seen. But it would be a young tax inspector from the IRS, who had grown up in the projects of Brooklyn, who would finally crack the case and unmask 'DPR'.
2017 • Technology
The world's electric grids are aging and vulnerable. Now, engineers are making a dangerous trek to prove there is a better way to bring power to the people. Engineers make a dangerous trek across the Himalayas to bring power to a remote monastery.
The Singularity, or the arrival of superhuman intelligence, has been described as both the “rapture of the nerds” and inevitable. Futurist and philosopher Jason Silva explores the ways in which this radical transformation may occur through biotechnology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
2016 • Technology
Inhospitable environments that would normally be unreachable become accessible thanks to a new class of robot - Robot Explorers. Robots can help us in difficult tasks like search and rescue operations. Is there any danger in letting machines handle so many tasks that used to belong to us?
They look like us. They move like us. And very soon they will live among us. They are humanoid robots. Meet an astonishing group of humanoids, among them: iCub, the world's first baby robot, and REEM, the Service Robot, ready to be launched as a guide in public spaces. Get to know humanoids!
As the ability to blur the physical and digital worlds becomes a global phenomenon, Nonny de la Pena is harnessing that transformative ability to tell stories like never before. Learn how she uses the immersive power of VR to help people connect to important issues they might otherwise ignore.
In the 21st century devices create more data than humans do. Rick Smolan, author of The Human Face of Big Data, shows the positive force of the collection of data in worldwide examples of the uses of medical data, personal data and business data to enrich people's lives.
Jason Silva is a positive futurist who wants us to be excited about "the adjacent possible" and the ways we need to embrace the coming technological changes -- the "tools" that will change us as a people and alter humankind.
Eric Drexler, the "founding father of nanotechnology," and Jim Phillips, the CEO of Nanomech, discuss the potential applications and implications of nanotechnology. How will this atomically precise manufacturing impact the future of technology, global governance, and the environment?
Megalopolises are spreading out and becoming denser -- and there is nowhere left to park. Luckily, the technology is there to deal with this growing chaos. Technological urbanism promises hyper-rational cities that are 100% sustainable and perfectly safe. They are known as smart cities.
Get in the driver seat of the fastest, smartest and most high-performance cars of tomorrow. See the supercars that will reach speeds unimaginable with today's technology. They will operate on voice command and drive without a drop of gas, and cruise over land and water.
Catch a first-time glimpse at smart technology that will put android helpers in the home, network commuters and entire cities to the Web, and bring us entertainment systems that can virtually make dreams come true. Advances in artificial intelligence are creating machines with near human-like mental agility. Intelligence will be embedded everywhere -- even in our clothing, thanks to smaller, more powerful computers.
Learn about the technologies that will usher in a whole new way of life: we will live in floating cities, fly to work and travel in cars capable of operating underwater. And, with new technologies, humanity will find new ways of protecting and conserving resources to meet the needs of a growing population by using renewable sources of water, food and electricity. The era of smog-filled skies will be over, because fewer of us will be driving cars. Where we’re going, we won’t need roads. We’ll be piloting environmentally friendly personal vehicles between cities and under the seas. And the good news is we’ll never be lost, thanks to new advances in GPS-driven virtual mapping. Then again, with the ability to teleport our presence anywhere on Earth, we might not have to travel at all. And, best of all, we’ll all have more time to enjoy the astounding advances of our near future, because we’ll all be living longer. A lot longer.
The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties
2014 • Technology
Documentary exploring the latest developments in artificial intelligence. Gemma Chan, who plays android Mia in sci-fi drama Humans, meets experts in robotics and computer programming from around the world, and visits a project attempting to create a computer more powerful than the human brain. Gemma participates in an experiment to create a robotic version of herself, which is then tested for its ability to produce convincing human responses.
2016 • Technology
In Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, the Oscar-nominated Herzog chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination he previously trained on earthly destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works - from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships.
2016 • Technology
Our ability to see and record live events from right across the world has shrunk the globe, making virtual neighbours of us all. It is a defining characteristic of our modern world. The final episode in the series reveals the fascinating stories that made such everyday miracles possible. It tells the story of the handful of extraordinary inventions and their inventors who tackled the complexities of chemistry and electronics and discovered how to capture and reproduce still and moving images. Michael Mosley and academics Prof Mark Miodownik and Dr Cassie Newland tell the amazing story of three of the greatest and most transformative inventions of all time - photography, moving pictures and television.
Nothing has shrunk the globe more than our extraordinary ability to talk to one another across the oceans and continents. Episode three of The Genius of Invention reveals the fascinating chain of events that made such every-day miracles possible. It tells the story of the handful of extraordinary inventors and inventions who helped build the modern world by harnessing electricity and electromagnetism to enable us to send instant messages across vast distances. Michael Mosley and academics, Prof Mark Miodownik and Dr Cassie Newland tell the amazing story of three more of the greatest and most transformative inventions of all time; the electric telegraph, the telephone and wireless communication. Our experts explain how these inventions came about by sparks of inventive genius and steady incremental improvements. They separate myth from reality in the lives of the great inventors and celebrate some of the most remarkable stories in British history.
From the Stone Age to the Silicon Age, materials have helped drive forward our civilisation. By manipulating materials we have been able to transform our world and our lives - and never more so than in the past century when we have discovered and designed more materials than at any other time in human history. (Part 2: Plastic) Professor Mark Miodownik tells the story of plastics - created in the lab, they have brought luxury to the masses and shaped the modern age. He recounts tales of the mavericks responsible for some of plastic's most outrageous failures and heady successes, from the explosive attempts to make a replacement for ivory billiard balls to the ultimately ubiquitous Bakelite. Investigating at atomic level, Mark discovers the properties that have allowed plastics to dominate our world and reveals how the next generation of plastics will take its inspiration from nature, creating man-made materials which behave as though they are alive and which could help rebuild the human body.
With the rapid emergence of digital devices, an unstoppable, invisible force is changing human lives in ways from the microscopic to the gargantuan: Big Data, a word that was barely used a few years ago but now governs the day for almost all of us. This award-winning film explores how the real time visualization of data streaming in from satellites, billions of sensors and GPS enabled cameras and smart phones is beginning to enable us, as individuals and collectively as a society, to sense, measure and understand aspects of our existence in ways never possible before. Together these devices are helping create a new kind of planetary nervous system. This massive gathering and analyzing of data in real time is also allowing us to address to some of humanity biggest challenges, including pollution, world hunger, and illness. But as Edward Snowden and the release of the NSA documents have shown, the accessibility of all this data comes at a steep price.
Tyger Drew-Honey has never really experienced virtual reality. But all that is about to change. With high-spec virtual reality headsets expected to become widely available within the next few months, Tyger explores how they could change everything - from how we meet up with our friends to the way we have sex. He experiences one of the most successful virtual worlds and has his own lifelike avatar created. And he meets the man who makes robot sex dolls that you can programme via an app on your tablet to be the perfect partner. 'If you don't want her to be smart she won't be smart, if you want her to be shy she will be shy.'.
2016 • Technology
On Jan. 28, 1986, seven astronauts "slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God." America's space program was never the same.
2014 • Technology
Ada Lovelace was a most unlikely computer pioneer. In this film, Dr Hannah Fry tells the story of Ada's remarkable life. Born in the early 19th century Ada was a countess of the realm, a scandalous socialite and an 'enchantress of numbers'. The film is an enthralling tale of how a life infused with brilliance, but blighted by illness and gambling addiction, helped give rise to the modern era of computing. Hannah traces Ada's unlikely union with the father of computers, Charles Babbage. Babbage designed the world's first steam-powered computers - most famously the analytical engine - but it was Ada who realised the full potential of these new machines. During her own lifetime Ada was most famous for being the daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron ('mad, bad and dangerous to know'). It was only with the advent of modern computing that Ada's understanding of their flexibility and power (that they could be far more than mere number crunchers) was recognised as truly visionary. Hannah explores how Ada's unique inheritance - poetic imagination and rational logic - made her the ideal prophet of the digital age. This moving, intelligent and beautiful film makes you realise we nearly had a Victorian computer revolution.
2015 • Technology
Scientific advancements are challenging the concept of what it means to be human. Technology embedded in our bodies is fairly common: artificial limbs, pacemakers. But new research is taking us beyond replacement parts and into a new realm that is changing the nature of the human body and the human mind. Will the fusion of biology and technology change how we think, how we feel, how we experience the world?
Where are the limits of human technology? And can we somehow avoid them? This is where quantum computers become very interesting.
Hackers have stolen the personal details of millions of customers from companies like Talk Talk. So how do cybercriminals get hold of our data? Reporter Daniel Foggo meets the hackers who can break into any website and finds out how criminals profit from our information.
2015 • Technology
The global cyberwar is heating up and the stakes are no longer limited to the virtual world of computers. Now, thanks in part to secret documents released by Edward Snowden, the true scale of the National Security Agency's scope and power is coming to light.
Watch the cybercrime documentary profiling the Romanian town nicknamed "Hackerville" or "Most Dangerous Town on the Internet." Convicted blackhat hackers, like Guccifer (real name), talk worms, viruses, social engineering, identity theft, and even hacking Hillary Clinton's email.
2015 • Technology
Exploring the murky and fast-paced world of the hackers out to steal money and identities and wreak havoc with people's online lives, and the scientists who are joining forces to help defeat them. Horizon meets the two men who uncovered the world's first cyber weapon, the pioneers of what is called ultra paranoid computing, and the computer expert who worked out how to hack into cash machines.
An examination of the varying uses being made of the huge amount of information now available in databases. In Los Angeles, police officers are taking part in an experiment to predict crime before it even happens, one City of London trader believes he has found the secret of making billions with mathematics, and astronomers in South Africa are attempting to catalogue the entire universe.
Where science fiction becomes science fact - that is the place Hank is exploring in today's episode of SciShow. Many inventions we use today were first imagined in stories that described fantastical futures. Hank talks about the origins of four of these: the cell phone, the submarine, the telemanipulator (or robot arm), and the taser.