MM: Engineering Disasters

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Upcoming episodes

Sep 19th
900p

8

Join us for a devastating but enlightening hour as we delve into complex and often-tragic engineering failures that have shaped our world. Five dramatic events unfold as we discover the causes of: the 1983 collapse of New England's Mianus Bridge; the sinking of the Ocean Ranger offshore oilrig in 1982; the crash of a Learjet 35 private plane carrying pro-golfer Payne Stewart in 1999; the 19th-century failure of South Fork Dam that resulted in the flooding of Johnstown, Pennsylvania; and the 1988 PEPCON (Pacific Engineering Production Company of Nevada) jet fuel plant explosion.
Sep 19th
1000p

9

What happens when the calculations of builders and engineers prove wrong and their constructs come tumbling down? In this episode, we examine the 1987 failure of the Schoharie Creek Bridge in New York; the partial destruction by a runaway freighter of the Riverwalk Marketplace in New Orleans in 1996; the roof collapse of the Rosemont Horizon Arena in Illinois in 1979; the deadliest grain-dust explosion on record in Westwego, Louisiana, when a grain elevator exploded in 1977; and the crash of the British R101 airship in the 1920s.
Sep 19th
1100p

10

Disasters investigated include: the 1984 Union Carbide debacle in Bhopal, India, where a toxic chemical release killed 3,800 people and left 11,000 with disabling respiratory ailments; and the 2003 sudden collapse of a 10-story parking garage at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, New Jersey that killed four and injured 20. We find out why a series of structures in Hutchinson, Kansas mysteriously caught fire and exploded in 2001; and examine the 1933 construction of a canal ordered by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin that later proved to be nearly useless and cost many lives. And we get to the bottom of a maritime mystery, when a tanker carrying non-explosive materials in San Francisco Bay blew up in 1983.
Sep 26th
900p

11

Join us for look into five engineering disasters... A dangerous cloud of gas explodes into Cleveland's worst fiery industrial disaster in 1944, killing 128 people. A dance competition turns deadly at the new Kansas City Hyatt in 1981, when a skywalk gives way and kills 114. In 1995, neighbors gaped at the spectacle of a $1.5-million San Francisco Bay area mansion breaking into bits as it fell into a massive sinkhole during a rainstorm. In 1931, one of the worst "natural" disasters ever occurred in the Yangtze River basin when six huge flood waves swept down the river destroying the insufficient dams and levees and killing at least 145,000 people. The "miracle mineral" that the U.S. was built upon turns out to be an invisible killer--an estimated 10,000 people die each year from asbestos-related.
Sep 26th
1000p

12

In 1993, 104 people died in Milwaukee after drinking tap water contaminated with a deadly bacteria that had wormed its way into the water treatment plant. At Texas A&M in '99, a tradition turned tragic when a pile of bonfire logs collapsed onto its builders killing 12. During WWII, thousands of U.S. soldiers expired in known deathtraps--Sherman Tanks. In '73, 14 men working on a 26-story building died when supports were removed before wet concrete dried. And in '93, Denver's "dream" airport became a nightmare when its automatic baggage-handling system destroyed rather than delivered luggage. Aided by computer graphics, footage of the catastrophes, and visits to the locations today, MIT scientists, Center for Disease Control experts, WWII vets, bonfire builders, and construction engineers help explain these tragedies and how design experts are working to insure they never happen again.
Sep 26th
1100p

13

In this hour, death seeps out of the ground into a neighborhood sitting on a toxic waste dump at Love Canal in New York; soldiers die during Desert Storm in 1991 when software flaws render Patriot Missiles inaccurate; on September 11, 2001, World Trade Center Building #7 wasn't attacked, but seven hours after the Twin Towers collapsed, it too is mysteriously reduced to a pile of rubble; a night of revelry in Boston turns the Cocoanut Grove nightclub into an inferno that kills over 400 people in 1942; and the science of demolition is put to the test and fails when a building in Rhode Island, the "Leaning Tower of Providence", stands its ground.
Oct 3rd
900p

14

In this hour, we examine a massive oil tanker explosion that killed nine; a subway tunnel cave-in that swallowed part of famed Hollywood Boulevard; a freighter plane crash that destroyed an 11-story apartment building; an historic flash-flood of molasses; and a freeway ramp collapse that buried construction workers in rubble and concrete. Investigators from NTSB, Cal/OSHA, and Boeing, structural and geo-technical engineers, and historians all work to explain how so much could have gone wrong, costing so many lives. And aided by computer graphics, footage and photos of the disasters, and visits to the locations today, we show viewers what caused these catastrophes and what design experts have done to make sure they never happen again.
Oct 3rd
1000p

15

A series of construction errors cause a devastating flood in Chicago that brings the city to a standstill; deadly fires and smoke in three heavily traveled Alpine tunnels trap thousands with no escape route; a boiler explosion on a Mississippi riverboat results in the worst maritime disaster in history; two buildings completely collapse from the same construction methods, and a cockpit warning system malfunctions, causing a terrible crash before the plane ever takes off.
Oct 3rd
1100p

16

Chaos in Guadalajara, Mexico when the city streets explode; an airplane crash outside of Paris that ranks as one of the worst in history; two mining dams in Italy collapse engulfing a village in a tidal wave of sludge; a generation of children in a small Texas town are entombed in the rubble of their school; an oil tanker runs aground off the coast of England and introduces the world to the devastation of the first super spill...Engineering Disasters 16 will delve into the shocking chain events leading up to each of these horrific catastrophes and then examine the resulting technological improvements designed to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Oct 10th
900p

17

It's another chapter of complex, deadly and controversial engineering failures, using 3-D animation, forensic engineering experts, and footage of the actual disasters to understand what went wrong, and how disaster has led to improvement. In Sun Valley, California, weeks of record rain turn a crack in the middle of a street into a 200-foot long sinkhole. Months later, rain led to the Laguna Beach, California landslide, which destroyed 11 homes and caused millions in damage. On May 23, 2004, four people were killed when the roof of the new Terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris collapses. Other disasters: the 1931 crash of Fokker F-10 passenger airplane with coach Knute Rockne aboard; the sinking of the coal ship Marine Electric off the coast of Virginia; and the blinding reflection of the new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.