Explore the hidden history and super science of hot air balloons, synthetic rubber and metal detectors.
2017 • Technology
Where are the limits of human technology? And can we somehow avoid them? This is where quantum computers become very interesting.
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 1: Metal) Professor Mark Miodownik travels to Israel to trace the history of our love affair with gleaming, lustrous metal. He learns how we first extracted glinting copper from dull rock and used it to shape our world and reveals how our eternal quest for lighter, stronger metals led us to forge hard, sharp steel from malleable iron and to create complex alloys in order to conquer the skies. He investigates metals at the atomic level to reveal mysterious properties such as why they get stronger when they are hit, and he discovers how metal crystals can be grown to survive inside one of our most extreme environments - the jet engine.
The car has shrunk the world, increased personal freedom and in so many ways expanded our horizons, but there is a flipside. Fumes from car exhausts have helped to destroy our environment, poisoned the air we breathe and killed us in far more straightforward ways. But all that is going to change. Horizon enters a world where cars can drive themselves, a world where we are simply passengers, ferried about by wholesome green compassionate technology which will never ever go wrong. And it is almost here. Horizon explores the artificial intelligence required to replace human drivers for cars themselves, peers into the future driverless world and discovers that, despite the glossy driverless PR (and assuming that they really can be made to work reliably), the reality is that it might not be all good news. From the ethics of driverless car crashes to the impact on jobs, it might be that cars are about to rise up against us in ways that none of us are expecting.
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.