How We Got to Now
with Steven Johnson

PBS
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6 videos in this collection

Clean
Dirty water has killed more humans than all the wars of history combined, but in the last 150 years, a series of radical ideas, extraordinary innovations and unsung heroes have…
Time
The world today is obsessed by time. Johnson boards a submarine to discover what a lack of natural light means for a sailor's working day and visits Heathrow, the world's…
Glass
Johnson considers how the invention of the mirror gave rise to the Renaissance, how glass lenses allow us to reveal worlds within worlds and how, deep beneath the ocean, glass…
Light
Johnson relates the story of people who take us out of the dark and into the light. Hear about Edison's light bulb, which he didn't actually invent, and learn how…
Cold
Only in the last 200 years have humans learned how to make things cold. Johnson explains how ice entrepreneur Frederic Tudor made ice delivery the second biggest export business in…
Sound
Imagine a world without the power to capture or transmit sound. Journey with Johnson to the Arcy sur Cure caves in northern France, where he finds the first traces of…

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Clean
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
Dirty water has killed more humans than all the wars of history combined, but in the last 150 years, a series of radical ideas, extraordinary innovations and unsung heroes have changed our world. Johnson plunges into a sewer to understand what made a maverick engineer decide to lift the city…
NOVA - Making More Stuff
PBS
In this four-part special, technology columnist and best-selling author David Pogue takes a wild ride through the cutting-edge science that is powering a next wave of technological innovation. Pogue meets the scientists and engineers who are plunging to the bottom of the temperature scale, finding design inspiration in nature, and…
Cold
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
Only in the last 200 years have humans learned how to make things cold. Johnson explains how ice entrepreneur Frederic Tudor made ice delivery the second biggest export business in the U.S. and visits the place where Clarence Birdseye, the father of the frozen food industry, experienced his eureka moment.…
Time
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
The world today is obsessed by time. Johnson boards a submarine to discover what a lack of natural light means for a sailor's working day and visits Heathrow, the world's busiest airport, to try to get timings right at air traffic control. The story of getting a grip on time…
Sound
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
Imagine a world without the power to capture or transmit sound. Journey with Johnson to the Arcy sur Cure caves in northern France, where he finds the first traces of the desire to record sound -- 10,000 years ago. He also learns about the difference that radio made in the…
Doomsday Volcanoes
Part of the Series: NOVA
In April, 2010 the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano turned much of Europe into an ash-strewn no-fly zone, stranding millions of travelers. But was Eyjafjallajokull just the start? Now, an even more threatening Icelandic volcano, Katla, has begun to swell and grumble. Two more giants, Hekla and Laki, could erupt…
Making Stuff Safer
Part of the Series: NOVA - Making More Stuff
The world has always been a dangerous place, so how do we increase our odds of survival? In Making Stuff Safer, David Pogue explores the cutting-edge research of scientists and engineers who want to keep us out of harm's way. Some are countering the threat of natural disasters with new…
Light
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
Johnson relates the story of people who take us out of the dark and into the light. Hear about Edison's light bulb, which he didn't actually invent, and learn how an 18th-century ship's skipper discovered a source of illumination by putting a kid inside a whale's head. See how a…
Glass
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
Johnson considers how the invention of the mirror gave rise to the Renaissance, how glass lenses allow us to reveal worlds within worlds and how, deep beneath the ocean, glass is essential to communication. He learns about the daring exploits of glassmakers who were forced to work under threat of…
Making Stuff Wilder
Part of the Series: NOVA - Making More Stuff
What happens when scientists open up nature's toolbox? In Making Stuff Wilder, David Pogue explores bold new innovations inspired by the Earth's greatest inventor, life itself. From robotic "mules" and "cheetahs" for the military, to fabrics born out of fish slime, host David Pogue travels the globe to find the…
NOVA - Australia's First 4 Billion Years
PBS
Of all the continents on Earth, none preserves a more spectacular story of our planet's origins than Australia. NOVA's four-part "Australia's First 4 Billion Years" takes viewers on a rollicking adventure from the birth of the Earth to the emergence of the world we know today. With help from host…
A Nation of Scoffaws
Part of the Series: Prohibition
On January 16, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution goes into effect, making it illegal to manufacture, transport or sell intoxicating liquor. Episode Two, A Nation of Scofflaws, examines the problems of enforcement, as millions of law-abiding Americans become lawbreakers overnight. While a significant portion of the country is…