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Understanding the World's Greatest Structures

Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life

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Great Cathedral Mystery
Part of the Series: NOVA
PBS
The dome that crowns Florence's great cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore--the Duomo--is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity and an enduring source of mystery. Still the largest masonry dome on earth after more than six centuries, it is taller…
Secrets of Stonehenge
Part of the Series: NOVA
PBS
Dated to the late Stone Age, Stonehenge may be the best-known and most mysterious relic of prehistory. Every year, a million visitors are drawn to England to gaze upon the famous circle of stones, but the monument's meaning has continued…
I Dream of Wires
I Dream of Wires is a documentary about the rise, fall and rebirth of the machine that shaped electronic music: the modular synthesizer. The film explores the synthesizer's remarkable history, revealing how innovators like Robert Moog, working at Columbia University's…
Secrets of the Parthenon
Part of the Series: NOVA
PBS
For 25 centuries the Parthenon has been shot at, set on fire, rocked by earthquakes, looted for its sculptures, almost destroyed by explosion, and disfigured by well-meaning renovations. It has gone from temple, to church, to mosque, to munitions dump.…
Tesla - Master of Lightning
PBS
This program recounts the life of scientist, inventor, and visionary Nikola Tesla, often remembered as more of an eccentric cult figure than an electrical engineering genius. Many of his achievements are still attributed to contemporaries Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi.…
Linotype - Revolutionizing Printing and Society
Linotype: The Film is a feature-length documentary centered around the Linotype type casting machine. Called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by Thomas Edison, it revolutionized printing and society. The film tells the charming and emotional story of the people…
10 Buildings That Changed America
PBS
10 Buildings That Changed America tells the stories of ten influential works of architecture, the people who imagined them, and the way these landmarks ushered in innovative cultural shifts throughout our society. From American architectural stalwarts like Louis Sullivan and…
Ken Burns: Empire of the Air - The Men Who Made Radio
Part of the Series: Ken Burns America
PBS
For 50 years radio dominated the airwaves and the American consciousness as the first "mass medium." In Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio, Ken Burns examines the lives of three extraordinary men who shared the primary responsibility…
Hagia Sophia - Istanbul's Mystery
Part of the Series: NOVA
PBS
Whether serving as Christian church, Islamic mosque, or secular museum, Hagia Sophia and its soaring dome have inspired reverence and awe. For 800 years, it was the largest enclosed building in the world--the Statue of Liberty can fit beneath its…
Renewable Sources of Electricity
Episode 13 of Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life
Survey the three most important sources of renewable energy: hydropower, wind power, and solar power. Look at the inner workings of hydroelectric dams, wind turbines, solar-thermal power stations, and photovoltaic arrays to see how each takes a renewable energy source…
The Sewer King
Part of the Series: Seven Wonders of the Industrial World
BBC
Seven Wonders of the Industrial World - The Sewer King - Episode 4 In the hot summer of 1858, a window was opened in the Houses of Parliament and Britain's great government suddenly ground to a halt. Disraeli and other…
The Transformability of Information
Episode 1 of The Science of Information
What is information? Explore the surprising answer of American mathematician Claude Shannon, who concluded that information is the ability to distinguish reliably among possible alternatives. Consider why this idea was so revolutionary, and see how it led to the concept…
Le Cabanon par Le Corbusier
The wooden cabin situated in the hillside of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in the French Riviera was to serve as a model for minimal living. However, when architect and painter Le Corbusier sketched his Thoreau-like hut in December 1951, he did so in…
Deepwater Disaster - The Untold Story
Part of the Series: Horizon
BBC
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is one of the world's biggest environmental disasters. Horizon reveals the untold story of the 87-day battle to kill the oil blowout a mile beneath the waves. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster sent millions…
Learning to See and Understand Structure
Episode 1 of Understanding the World's Greatest Structures
How are ideas for buildings, bridges, and towers transformed from sketches to concrete reality? What are the three essential qualities that make a structure great? What's the difference between seeing a structure and actually understanding it?
Ken Burns: Mark Twain
Part of the Series: Ken Burns America
PBS
Mark Twain was a lifelong creator and keeper of scrapbooks. He took them with him everywhere and filled them with souvenirs, pictures, and articles about his books and performances. But in time, he grew tired of the lost glue, rock-hard…
Computation and Logic Gates
Episode 2 of The Science of Information
Accompany the young Claude Shannon to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where in 1937 he submitted a master's thesis proving that Boolean algebra could be used to simplify the unwieldy analog computing devices of the day. Drawing on Shannon's ideas,…
Meltdown - The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster
This short documentary examines the nuclear disaster that followed the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan's Fukushima Prefecture. That day, Japan is hit with the 5th-strongest earthquake ever recorded, but the real legacy of this disaster is…
The Building Envelope
Episode 5 of Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life
Now that your house is framed, it needs a building envelope that can shed rainwater and melting snow, and also keep precipitation from entering through the foundation. Learn about the five integrated layers of protection: shingles and cladding, drainage plane,…
The Melnikov House
An icon of modern architecture, the Melnikov House designed by world-famous architect Konstantin Melnikov (1890 - 1974) tells the incredible story of how this utopian design from the late 1920's in Moscow imprisoned the fate of the architect when Joseph…