Modern Marvels

About the show

Celebrating ingenuity, invention and imagination on a grand scale, "Modern Marvels" tells the amazing stories of the doers, dreamers and sometime-schemers who create everyday items, technological advancements and manmade wonders.

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Upcoming episodes

Nov 30th
700a

Crash Testing

Delves into the little-known, hugely important, multi-billion-dollar industry of product testing - where wrinkles get ironed out, and goods are stripped of marketing and hype to see if they work. Meet product testers who serve as truth squads in an eccentric world of machines devised to "sneeze" at tissue paper and "sleep" on mattresses.
Nov 30th
800a

Eiffel Tower

It was meant to be a temporary exhibit, a demonstration of French engineering acumen at the Paris World's Fair. But to Parisians, the tower, designed by the brash, young Gustave Eiffel, came to stand for much more--revolution, innovation and a soaring spirit.
Nov 30th
900a

Electric Light, The

The race began when an already-famous Edison announced a grand plan for central lighting in New York--without a light or an electrical system to run it! Would the cigar-chomping alcoholic and his band of "muckers" triumph again?
Nov 30th
1000a

Firefighting! Extreme Conditions

Any fire raging out of control is a hazard, but when compounded with obstacles of extreme conditions, such as an oil well blowout or acres of forest ablaze, firefighters face new elements of danger. Meet a W.W.II London firefighter, "Hell Fighters" who squelch oil well infernos, and smokejumpers who parachute into forest fires.
Dec 1st
700a

Gasoline

Traces the history and evolution of the world's most important fossil fuel. Without gasoline, modern life would grind to a halt. Americans use about 360-million gallons of gas every day. And though most of us could not function without gas, very few understand what it really is, how it is made, what all those different octane numbers really mean, and how researchers developed cleaner burning gasoline. All these questions will be answered as we look at the history of this "supreme" fuel.
Dec 1st
800a

George Washington Carver Tech

One of the 20th century's greatest scientists, George Washington Carver's influence is still felt. Rising from slavery to become one of the world's most respected and honored men, he devoted his life to understanding nature and the many uses for the simplest of plant life. His scientific research in the late 1800s produced agricultural innovations like crop rotation and composting. Part of the "chemurgist" movement that changed the rural economy, he found ingenious applications for the peanut, soybean, and sweet potato. At Tuskegee Institute, Dr. Carver invented more than 300 uses for the peanut, while convincing poor farmers to rotate cotton crops with things that would add nutrients to the soil. A visionary, Carver shared his knowledge free of charge, happy in his Tuskegee laboratory where he could use his gifts to help others.
Dec 1st
900a

Glass

Glass may be our most versatile material. It sheathes skyscrapers, contains liquids, aids vision, allows communication at unimaginable speeds, and yet remains a medium for artistic expression. We see how, when man learned that heating certain rocks and minerals together could produce glass, this remarkably transparent yet strong material began working its way into our culture and everyday life. As we look to its future, we learn that the only limit to what glass may do is our ability to imagine it!
Dec 1st
1000a

Gothic Cathedrals

Built of stone and glass, persistence and prayer, gothic cathedrals are an epiphany of imagination and an articulation of joy. Featured are such masterpieces as Chartres, Notre Dame and the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
Dec 2nd
700a

Grand Coulee Dam

The world's largest concrete dam--and the largest concrete structure in the world--lies on the Columbia River in the State of Washington. Built in 1931, it is also one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world.
Dec 2nd
800a

China's Great Dam

When completed, China's Three Gorges Dam will tower 607 feet in the air and 40 Great Pyramids. Other than China's Great Wall, it will be the only man-made object visible from the moon. Supporters see it as key to a new China, controlling floods and bringing hydroelectric power to one of its least-developed areas. Critics voice a litany of concerns - from environmental to flooding the spectacular area for which it is named. We trace its story - from ancient flood control to current controversy.