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.


December 15, 2023

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Modern Marvels

Fire & Ice: Heating and Air Conditioning

Who could imagine life without our "man-made weather"? On cold winter nights and hot summer days, we are forever grateful to the visionaries who took two basic elements--fire and ice--and turned them into true modern marvels. Fire warmed the caves and primitive dwellings of mankind for centuries, yet the technology of keeping cool lagged far behind as we learn in this chronicle of heating and air conditioning that covers advancements from the home and industry to outer space and beyond!




Modern Marvels


It transports electricity, water, and heat. Our bodies can't survive without it, yet it can kill microbes in minutes. It brings music to our ears and beauty to our eyes. We'll delve into all of copper's impressive traits, history, and how it's mined. This versatile red metal's most famous attribute is its ability to conduct electricity--copper wires connect and energize the world. And it's revolutionizing the electronics industry by enabling ever-shrinking computer chips. It's also formed into plumbing pipes to convey water and is the metal of choice for beautiful roofs and sculptures. It doesn't only look good--it sounds great too. A visit to a bell foundry reveals why bronze, a copper alloy, has been used to make music for hundreds of years. In myriad shapes and for innumerable uses, copper figures prominently in our world.




Modern Marvels


From the spear, axe, and sword to today's high tech arsenal, iron weapons have revolutionized warfare. Visit the mines of Minnesota and discover how iron ore is extracted and made into steel. Learn how military-metallurgists create the latest weapons and demonstrate their firepower. Discover iron super magnets, and study the biggest iron magnet of all--the earth! See how iron oxide plays a significant role in creating paints for cars and houses and ink for tattoos and the dollar bill. Finally, it's off to the Moon and Mars to mine iron in space.




Modern Marvels

Gold Mines

Around the world and across the eons, gold stands as a symbol of power, wealth, and love. the quest for the yellow metal took men across oceans, into the depths of the Alaskan winter, and miles beneath South African earth.




Modern Marvels


Glass may be our most versatile material. It sheathes skyscrapers, contains liquids, aids vision, allows communication at unimaginable speeds, and yet remains a medium for artistic expression. We see how, when man learned that heating certain rocks and minerals together could produce glass, this remarkably transparent yet strong material began working its way into our culture and everyday life. As we look to its future, we learn that the only limit to what glass may do is our ability to imagine it!




Modern Marvels


It is the most widely produced chemical in the world and possibly the most dangerous. Take a look at the many uses of acid. See how the military harnesses acid to make the explosive "Comp B-4." Visit a sulfuric acid plant to see how acid can take the stain out of stainless steel and learn how it can be mixed to dissolve precious metal. At the Heinz vinegar plant discover why acid's sour taste is sweet. Finally, learn how acid loving bacteria in Yellowstone National Park may hold the key to a biological industrial revolution and meet a mad scientist who will demonstrate how acid can hollow out a penny and turn a hot dog to sludge!




Modern Marvels


Plastics are everywhere--the home, the workplace, the car, the human body, outer space, and most conspicuously, the garbage heap and landfill. Artificially created test-tube material, plastic can't be returned to nature. Will we drown in a sea of plastic? Join us as we review this protean substance's past and future.




Modern Marvels


It's Super! It's Krazy! And it can be found in everything from carpet to computers, books to boats, shoes to the Space Shuttle. It's even used in surgery! Without it, our material world would simply fall apart. In this episode, we'll visit the stuck-up, tacky world of glue. Glue's sticky trajectory spans human history and we'll cover it all--from Neolithic cave dwellers who used animal glue to decorate ceremonial skulls to modern everyday glues and their uses, including Elmer's glue, 3M's masking and Scotch tape, and the super glues. Remember the Krazy Glue commercial in which a man held himself suspended from a hard hat that had just been glued to a beam? Well, that 1970s vintage ad understates the power of glue. With the help of a crane, we're going to hoist a 6,000-pound pickup truck off the ground by a steel joint that's been bonded with glue!