Simon Schaffer tells the stories behind some of the most extraordinary engineering wonders of the 19th century. These were gigantic feats of technology which transformed everyday life but also had the capacity to challenge the Victorians' faith in God, their place in the universe and their hopes for the future. Through stunning images of these beautiful creations, this film investigates the origins of our love-hate relationship with technology.
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.
It's 1961 and the Soviets are dominating the Space Race. President Kennedy ups the stakes dramatically, giving NASA until the end of the decade to land a man on the moon. Led by Wernher von Braun, engineers across America work together to build a rocket that will get them to this seemingly impossible destination: the Saturn V. This is the remarkable story of the engineers who rose to the challenge to build the most complex and powerful machine ever made by man, and the impact their phenomenal achievements continue to have to this day.
In the future will we spend our leisure time with smart and sophisticated machines designed for fun - Entertainment Robots? Marvel at Mantis, a two ton insect and Tradinno, a giant fire-spitting dragon. Then take a seat and watch a mechanical actor and a robotic pianist perform.
In 1962, the British and French governments signed a historic agreement: they will produce the first passenger superstructure Concorde. Engineers will move the aeronautical engineering boundaries to fly the Atlantic Ocean in less than three and a half hours. In the midst of the Cold War, Concorde took part in the unrestrained race with Boeing 2707, a project initiated by J. Kennedy and Soviet Tupoljev 144. In the spring of 1969, Concorde successfully carried out the first pilot flight.