EVERY FRIDAY Modern Marvels

Witness the innovation, inventions, and incredible feats of mankind. See how these ideas went from dream to reality and transformed our lives.


February 10, 2023

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Modern Marvels

Nature's Engineers

Towering skyscrapers buzzing with life, intricate tunnels connecting entire communities, mighty dams that tame the wildest rivers--this is construction animal style! Take a walk on the wild side as we investigate common creatures seemingly designed to alter their habitat and remake the world. Our ability to learn and capacity for abstract thought may separate us from beavers, honeybees, birds, termites, and spiders, but these engineers of nature remind us that we're merely the latest in a long line.




Modern Marvels

Army Corps of Engineers

Made up of soldiers and civilians, scientists and specialists in an enormous variety of fields, the US Army Corps of Engineers was created over 200 years ago by Congressional mandate to respond, in peace and war, to the nation's engineering needs. The world's premier engineering and research and development agency, the Corps has blown up, excavated, grated, dredged, and remolded the shape of our continent as we pushed to expand the nation and harness the forces of nature!




Modern Marvels

Engineering Disasters 3

When design flaws fell projects, the cost is often exacted in lives as we see in this look at engineering disasters. Why did the Tower of Pisa begin to lean by as much as 17 feet; what caused the first nuclear accident in 1961 in Idaho.




Modern Marvels

Engineering Disasters 6

An in-depth look at the modern era's most complex, deadly, and controversial engineering failures. With the aid of 3-D animation, forensic experts, and footage of disasters, we seek to understand what went wrong and how mishap led to remedy. Stories include: the Marines' AV-8 Harrier "Jump Jet"; the Ford Explorer/Firestone rollovers; fire on the Piper Alpha offshore oilrig; derailment of a high-speed train in Germany; and computer errors that brought the world to the brink of accidental nuclear war.




Modern Marvels

Engineering Disasters 20

In March of 2005, the BP Refinery in Texas City, Texas, suffered a series of explosions that decimated a large portion of the facility and killed 15 workers. Examine the series of events that led to one of the worst industrial accidents in the United States. Then we'll document the unusual circumstances that caused American Airlines flight 587 to fall from the sky. What happened in Times Beach, Missouri, when a local waste hauler oiled down dusty roads with oil that was laced with dioxin? Next we'll look at what went wrong with NASA's Skylab in 1974 and finally we'll examine the fire that destroyed the gas company, Praxair, in June of 2005. Interviews with survivors help complete the picture.




Modern Marvels

Engineering Disasters of the 70's

To err is human... But when the error results in the loss of life, it's a disaster. Learn about one of the most mysterious maritime disasters of the decade--the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Was it possible that the nation was on the brink of war due to a faulty circuit board? What caused the Buffalo Creek Dam disaster in West Virginia? Finally, delve into the explosion of a super tanker in Los Angeles harbor. With the aid of 3-D animation, forensic engineering experts, and footage of the actual disasters, an in-depth look can be taken of what went wrong, and how the disasters have led to industry improvements.




Modern Marvels

Engineering Disasters: New Orleans

One of the deadliest natural disasters experienced by US, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans--submerging it under a torrent of floodwater. We investigate why the levees and water-pumping system failed and join a'Geological Detective as he sifts through the rubble to uncover how 80% of the city was left underwater and discovers how the levee system was a potential disaster in the making. We also delve deep into the 80-year-old pumping system to unearth how it flooded and why it took weeks to drain the city of up to 25 feet of water. We learn the engineering cause behind the nightmare suffered by victims seeking shelter in the Superdome. And our investigators discover the design flaws on one of the major escape routes of the city. Using satellite global positioning, we find that New Orleans and the entire Louisiana wetland coastline are actually sinking. How can New Orleans stop this from ever happening again and should it be rebuilt at all?




Modern Marvels

More Engineering Disasters

Throughout history the same builders and engineers that paved man's path out of the caves and into the modern world also caused some of mankind's worst disasters. Often a huge calamity is traced back to a tiny cause, insignificant in itself, but triggering a domino effect. We'll revisit notable disasters and search for probable causes.