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Understanding the World's Greatest Structures

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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…
Ken Burns: The Brooklyn Bridge
Part of the Series: Ken Burns America
PBS
The "Great East River Bridge" was the largest bridge of its era, a technical achievement of unparalleled scope, marked by enormous construction problems, equally ingenious solutions and heroic human achievement. In unexpected and wonderful ways, the Brooklyn Bridge captured the…
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…
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.…
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 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…
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…
Three Great Domes: Rome to the Renaissance
Episode 13 of Understanding the World's Greatest Structures
Trace the dome's evolution from the 1st century A.D. to the Renaissance. It's a journey reflected in the increasingly sophisticated domes of three great structures: the ancient Roman Pantheon, the Byzantine-era basilica of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and the Renaissance-era…
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 Towns that Changed America - Towns Designed from the Ground Up
PBS
10 Towns that Changed America focuses on ten "experimental" towns that did not evolve organically over time, but instead were designed (or redesigned) from the ground up by visionary architects, corporations, and citizens, who sought to change the lives of…
The Rise and Fall of the Gothic Cathedral
Episode 12 of Understanding the World's Greatest Structures
Gothic cathedrals are lasting testaments to the power of a series of sweeping architectural developments in medieval Europe. After examining the roots of Gothic cathedrals in their Romanesque predecessors, focus on several structural innovations: including flying buttresses and pointed arches:…
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…
Silicon Run I
Part of the Series: Silicon Run Series
Silicon Run I uses live industrial footage to show the many processes necessary to manufacture microchips, including crystal growth, circuit design, and the wafer fabrication process for CMOS technology. Using close-ups of manufacturing processes and device animation, Silicon Run I…
Colosseum - Roman Death Trap
Part of the Series: NOVA
PBS
The Colosseum is a monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty. Its graceful lines and harmonious proportions concealed a highly efficient design and advanced construction methods that made hundreds of arches out of 100,000 tons of stone. In its elliptical…
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.…
The Rise and Fall of Penn Station
Part of the Series: American Experience
PBS
In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad successfully accomplished the enormous engineering feat of building tunnels under New York City's Hudson and East Rivers, connecting the railroad to New York and New England, knitting together the entire eastern half of the United…
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?
Big Dream - Young Women Entering STEM Fields
This film follows the intimate stories of seven young women who are breaking barriers and overcoming personal challenges to follow their passion in science, math, computing & engineering (STEM) fields. Through video diaries and verite moments, each of these girls…
The Arrival of Robot Autonomy
Episode 1 of Robotics Series
Plunge into the world of robots with this engaging introduction. When did we start thinking about robots? What three components are responsible for so many advances in robot design? Why is behavioral autonomy so essential to the development of modern…
Building Across: Beams and Bending
Episode 6 of Understanding the World's Greatest Structures
Beams, combining tension and compression, are central to the second aspiration supported by engineering: building across long distances. As you survey beams from the primitive lintel over the Lion Gate at Mycenae to Norway's Raftsundet Bridge, you'll investigate scientific developments…