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.

Clean

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.

1/6 • 2014 • Technology

Sound

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.

6/6 • 2014 • Technology