Cold
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now

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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…
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…
Making Stuff Colder
Part of the Series: NOVA - Making More Stuff
Cold is the new hot in this brave new world. For centuries we've fought it, shunned it, and huddled against it. Cold has always been the enemy of life, but now it may hold the key to a new generation of science and technology that will improve our lives. In…
How We Got to Now - with Steven Johnson
PBS
Join best-selling author Steven Johnson to discover extraordinary stories behind six remarkable ideas that made modern life possible, the unsung heroes who brought them about and the unexpected and bizarre consequences each of these innovations triggered.
Time’s Arrow
Embark on the quest that will occupy the rest of the course: Why is there an arrow of time? Explore how memory and aging orient us in time. Then look at irreversible processes, such as an egg breaking or ice melting. These capture the essence of the one-way direction of…
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…
Curved Spacetime and Black Holes
By developing a general theory of relativity incorporating gravity, Einstein launched a revolution in our understanding of the universe. Trace how his idea that gravity results from the warping of spacetime led to the discovery of black holes and the big bang.
Quantum Mechanics
In 1926 Erwin Schrodinger developed an equation that underlies much of our modern quantum-mechanical description of physical reality. Solve a simple problem with the Schrodinger equation. Then learn how the merger of quantum mechanics and special relativity led to the discovery of antimatter.
Metaphysics and the Nature of Science
Episode 1 of Redefining Reality
Start with the metaphysical concept of reality and how it led to a scientific worldview. Then see how the scientific picture of reality changes as theories are refined or overthrown. Explore examples such as the germ theory of disease and philosopher Thomas Kuhn's influential idea of paradigm shifts.
Big Bang Cosmology
Episode 6 of Redefining Reality
Investigate the underlying reality that governs the universe. Is the universe eternally the same? Or is it changing and unstable? In modern times, this debate culminated in the contest between the steady state theory and the big bang model. Hear how unexpected events led to a spectacular solution.
An Evolving Universe
Trace the discoveries that led astronomers to conclude that the universe began some 14 billion years ago in a big bang. Detailed measurements of the cosmic microwave background and other observations point to an initial period of tremendous inflation, followed by slow expansion and an as-yet inexplicable accelerating phase.