How We Got to Now • 2014 • 2 episodes • 5h:30m

How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson reveals the story behind the remarkable ideas that made modern life possible; the unsung heroes that brought them into the world – and the unexpected and bizarre consequences each of these innovations has triggered.

Light

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.

4/6 • 2014 • Technology

Cold

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.

5/6 • 2014 • Technology