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Understanding the World's Greatest Structures

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Objectified - Manufactured Objects and their Designers
Explore our complex relationship with manufactured objects and the people who design them. OBJECTIFIED is a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It's about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured…
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.…
Ken Burns: Mark Twain - Part 1
PBS
In his time, Mark Twain was considered the funniest man on earth. Yet he was also an unflinching critic of human nature, using his humor to attack hypocrisy, greed and racism. In this series, Ken Burns has created an illuminating…
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…
Ken Burns: Empire of the Air - The Men Who Made Radio
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
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…
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.…
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…
Understanding the World's Greatest Structures - Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity Course
The Giza pyramids. Brunelleschi's dome. The Brooklyn Bridge. Each of these structures is iconic. They are visited by millions of people each year because they provoke a sense of awe and wonder. They are as beautiful to behold as they…
24 videos
Ken Burns: Mark Twain - Part 2
PBS
In his time, Mark Twain was considered the funniest man on earth. Yet he was also an unflinching critic of human nature, using his humor to attack hypocrisy, greed and racism. In this series, Ken Burns has created an illuminating…
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…
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?
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…
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…
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…
Villa Mairea
On the eve of the Second World War, Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898 - 1976) designed the Villa Mairea for his close friends, Maire and Harry Gullichsen, in Noormarkku near the west coast of Finland. Located in a pine forest…
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,…
Nuclear Nation
March 11, 2011: A huge tsunami triggered by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hits Japan, crippling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, releasing radiation, and turning the residents of Futaba into "nuclear refugees." The devastation experienced by the town - dead…