Join Monty Python’s Terry Jones on a tour of the ingenuity of our ancestors. Take a humorous yet factual look at inventions we think of as unique to modern times when really they have been around for centuries and many even longer. Some of the amazing discoveries include: automatic doors, first designed over 2000 years ago, accurate pregnancy tests, a regular feature of ancient Babylon, and tanks, actually devised by the Assyrians in 8 B.C. Clearly the ancient world was every bit as inventive as our own. Episode City Life – It took Christopher Columbus over eight weeks to cross the Atlantic. Nowadays, we can do it in less than eight hours in a jumbo jet. What would Columbus or Archimedes have made of it? Well, it doesn’t mean they were less intelligent than you or me. They were probably more intelligent. And maybe all this progress that modern man seems to be making is partly an illusion. Perhaps there are even things we can learn from the science and technology of ancient times. Take the city, for example. Cities seem so much the product of modern technology and yet, in fact, they are one of the most ancient of all inventions.
Dan Snow gets down and dirty in the murky histories of London, Paris and New York, exploring their filthy histories from the bottom up. Imagine having to dodge the contents of emptied bedpans or step over rotting corpses on the way to work. That was a reality of city life before technology, public policy, and public values began to focus on the effects of poor sanitation. In this immersive three part series, sophisticated computer animation and in depth scholarship bring history’s struggles with urban filth vividly to life. Episode 3 Industrial New York – Dan Snow travels back to a seething Manhattan in the throes of the industrial revolution. Dan succumbs to some of the deadly disease carrying parasites that thrived in the filthy, overcrowded tenement buildings. He has a go at cooking with some cutting edge 19th century ingredients, clothes dye and floor cleaner, added to disguise reeking fetid meat. And he marvels at some of the incredible feats of engineering that transformed not just the city, but the world.
In the series, nova crews attempt to ferret out long forgotten secrets of early architects and engineers. How did they design and erect the medieval war machines known as trebuchets? Egyptian obelisks? The Easter Island stone monoliths called moais? Roman baths? The rainbow bridges of ancient China? Roman Bath – The plumbing that brought hot water to the communal baths the Romans enjoyed was highly sophisticated. In this section, watch as nova builds its own Roman bath, then try your hand at constructing a working aqueduct online. Also, learn about the Romans’ water system from a noted scholar, and get a taste of Roman era recipes such as scaloppine pine nut sauce.
On the eastern base of the Giza plateau below the pyramid complex is another stunning symbol of ancient Egypt the great sphinx. There are many theories as to the origin of this magnificent monument but the truth remains hidden behind the stony stare of this desert’s most impressive lion. This strange sculpture, this mysterious mixture of man and beast, crouches in front of the pyramid complex of Khafra quietly keeping the secret of it’s true significance. In Ancient Egypt sphinx’s were traditionally guardians. For the Greeks it was thought to be a representation of occult wisdom, for the Medieval Arabs it was Abu el-Hol or Father of Terror. But in the beginning experts say it was nothing more than an outcrop of rock, the remains of an ancient quarry. Rather than removing it completely, an ancient Egyptian with vision thought they could do something with it. The result of that vision is the colossus that seems to effortlessly transform animal into man.
Megastructures: Built from Disaster explores how accidents throughout the world have influenced the evolution of modern structural engineering. Bridges Episode 1 – On 2 August 2007, during a busy rush hour in the city of Minneapolis in the American midwest, the entire span of an interstate bridge broke into pieces and collapsed into the Mississippi River. Tragically, 13 people lost their lives in the ensuing carnage. The incident was caught live on CCTV, and the horrifying images sent shock waves around the world. The nation was sent into a state of panic. How could this appalling calamity have occurred?
A three part series from the Discovery civilization channel, all about the Tower of London. This is the story of the tower of London, past and present. With unique access to the tower, this series will unlock its private, as well as public life. Revealing the hidden history of well known stories, and uncovering forgotten tower secrets. More than anywhere else in Britain these building have stood at the heart of history for over 900 years. The truth of what happened here is still being discovered. From executions with block and axe, to spies shot in the first world war, it has prisoners as familiar is queen Elizabeth the first, and as recent as World War Two u-boat men. Episode 1 Fortress With unique access behind the walls and locked doors of the Tower of London, discover how it stayed at the cutting edge of military technology.
The history of Britain and the aspirations of her Christian communities can be traced in the glorious excesses of the cathedrals. From Norman grandeur to the modern interpretations found in Liverpool and Coventry, explore the changing styles of the cathedrals in our midst. A 5 part series that takes a looks at the ingenuity behind the construction of Britain’s most famous cathedrals, using CGI and reconstructions to describe the dramatic stories of riot, fire, war, murder, and flood that shaped the history of these impressive masterpieces. Flood at Winchester – Home of England’s first Kings, Winchester cathedral stood for a thousand years as a proud symbol of national identity. But in the early 1900s it faced total destruction when it was discovered that the building was literally sinking into the swamp on which it had been constructed. This ancient architectural gem owes its survival to the bravery, ingenuity and endurance of one man, working diver William Robert Walker, who put his life on the line to save a piece of England’s history. This is the extraordinary story of the cathedral that began to sink and of the incredible underwater adventure that was launched to save it.
Modern Marvels celebrates the ingenuity, invention and imagination found in the world around us. This series tells fascinating stories of the doers, the dreamers and sometime schemers that create everyday items, technological breakthroughs and man made wonders. Episode Tower Bridge – Bruce Nash and Christoph Ritter take the helm in this documentary glimpse at London’s Tower Bridge, the iconic connected towers that have dominated the Thames since 1887. Archival footage of the building process and the bridge’s evolution over the years lends fascinating historical detail to a fixture of the London skyline.
Get an inside look at the aircraft that flies U.S. presidents all over the world in this fascinating National Geographic documentary about Air Force One. Viewers will take a tour of the plane and learn about flight strategies for presidential travel. In addition to exploring the high tech wonder at rest, the program follows former President George W. Bush as he travels to the Middle East on Air Force One in January 2008.
Join Monty Python’s Terry Jones on a tour of the ingenuity of our ancestors. Take a humorous yet factual look at inventions we think of as unique to modern times when really they have been around for centuries and many even longer. Some of the amazing discoveries include: automatic doors, first designed over 2000 years ago, accurate pregnancy tests, a regular feature of ancient Babylon, and tanks, actually devised by the Assyrians in 8 B.C. Clearly the ancient world was every bit as inventive as our own. Episode War and Conflict – Julius Caesar never used a mobile phone, Socrates never consulted a digital watch, and Alexander the Great never flushed the lavatory. But that doesn’t mean they were stupid. Archeologists tell us the human brain is the same size now as it was 60,000 years ago, and our ancestors were every bit as intelligent as we are today, so we shouldn’t assume that the scientists and inventors of the past have nothing to teach us. In fact, when it comes to weapon’s technology none of it is as new as we think it is. Guided missiles, flame throwers, chemical weapons, tanks, even the theory of the atom bomb, they’re all ancient inventions.
Don Wildman gets down and dirty in the murky history of New York, exploring it’s filthy history from the bottom up. Imagine having to dodge the contents of emptied bedpans or step over rotting corpses on the way to work. That was a reality of city life before technology, public policy, and public values began to focus on the effects of poor sanitation. In this documentary sophisticated computer animation and in depth scholarship bring history’s struggles with urban filth vividly to life. Episode 3 The Slums Of New York – Don Wildman (in the U.S.A. version) travels back to a seething Manhattan in the throes of the industrial revolution. Millions fled persecution, poverty and famine in Europe in the 19th century in search of the Promised Land. When they arrived what they found was even worse than what they’d left behind. New York was a city consumed by filth and corruption, its massive immigrant population crammed together in the slums of Lower Manhattan.
In the series, nova crews attempt to ferret out long forgotten secrets of early architects and engineers. How did they design and erect the medieval war machines known as trebuchets? Egyptian obelisks? The Easter Island stone monoliths called moais? Roman baths? The rainbow bridges of ancient China? Medieval Siege – In the Middle Ages, those who attacked castles used trebuchets, military engines capable of firing missiles with frightening force. In this section, view an actual trebuchet nova built, and construct and fire one of your own online. Also, find out what other weapons were used and what daily life was like in a medieval castle.
In China, there exists an astonishing place. A burial ground to rival Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. In 221 B.C., China’s first Emperor united warring kingdoms into a nation that still exists today. To memorialise this achievement, he bankrupted the national treasury and oppressed thousands of workers to build one of the world’s biggest mortuary complexes. China’s second dynasty, the Han, inherited the daunting challenge of building larger tombs to command respect and establish their right to rule without running the nation into the ground. Although no Han emperor’s tomb has been opened, the tombs of lesser Han aristocrats have revealed astonishing things and at least one corpse so amazingly well preserved some believe Han tomb builders knew how to “engineer immortality”.
Megastructures: Built from Disaster explores how accidents throughout the world have influenced the evolution of modern structural engineering. Ships Episode 2 – At sea, you don’t get a second chance. Once out of sight of land the only thing you can depend on is your ship, and tragically, for thousands of people, the ship has let them down. But out of every catastrophe comes knowledge, from the Titanic to the Estonia, every disaster at sea has had a radical effect on the design of the ships that followed. Examining the latest in Arctic cruise liners and hi-tech, high speed passenger catamarans, this programme shows how ships have become more technologically advanced than ever before, and by following the building of one of the world’s most advanced and luxurious vessels, Ruby Princess, the design secrets that allow modern passenger ships to operate safely, with thousands of passengers and crew on board will be revealed.
This is where it all began, Adam Hart-Davis first foray, directly inspired by the Monty Python sequence from “The Life of Brian”, where the People’s Front of Judea discuss “What have the Romans done for us?”, into how the foundations of modern society were laid by the surprising cultural and technological achievements of the Roman empires. This is the first series of “What The … Did For Us” hosted by Adam Hart-Davis. Episode 3 Building Britain – Within 30 years of the invasion there were 60,000 Roman troops in Britain, they had come from some of the most advanced places in Europe, and to them this sort of settlement must have seemed primitive. This is the story of how they transformed the landscape and laid the foundations for the countryside and the cities Britain has today. Hart-Davis analyses the Romans’ ingenious farming methods and looks at the creation of early towns. He visits York and discovers the remains of the Roman city and a Roman sewer that is still working. Butser Ancient Farm, described as “an open air laboratory”, this reconstructed Iron Age farm and settlement is an archaeological research project, investigating the ancient methods of Celtic farmers. Housesteads Roman Fort, Britain’s most intact Roman fort, all the more impressive for its clifftop location, built by Hadrian in the second century. Fire brigades and primitive fire extinguishers, demonstrated by Hart-Davis, were developed under the auspices of the Emperor Nero.
The history of Britain and the aspirations of her Christian communities can be traced in the glorious excesses of the cathedrals. From Norman grandeur to the modern interpretations found in Liverpool and Coventry, explore the changing styles of the cathedrals in our midst. A 5 part series that takes a looks at the ingenuity behind the construction of Britain’s most famous cathedrals, using CGI and reconstructions to describe the dramatic stories of riot, fire, war, murder, and flood that shaped the history of these impressive masterpieces. Murder at Cantebury – Canterbury was at the forefront of an architectural revolution the first Gothic cathedral to be built in Britain. But the building we know today has its origins in the most infamous murder of the medieval age – Thomas Becket in 1170. After his death a devastating fire meant that Canterbury could be rebuilt as a shrine to the martyred archbishop. This is the cathedral as theatre with the story of the murder etched in stone, marble and glass. It takes the pilgrim on a journey from darkness into light – from the horrors of the slaying in the North transept to the new Trinity Chapel where Becket was reburied in a magnificent tomb sparkling with gold and precious stones.
Modern Marvels celebrates the ingenuity, invention and imagination found in the world around us. This series tells fascinating stories of the doers, the dreamers and sometime schemers that create everyday items, technological breakthroughs and manmade wonders. Episode Big Rigs of Combat: Tanks – The rousing story of the tank, from its primitive appearance in WWI to the high tech world of modern tank warfare, with emphasis on the tank’s Golden Age during WWII. The story of how the tank has determined the fate of nations in the past and how they will continue to do so in the future. Today’s state of the art tank, the Abrams is the realization of over 4000 years of armored development. The early attempt at armoring things were first of all to prevent the enemy weapons from doing damage to the people that were using the chariots, the second thing was to provide mobility to that armored platform, so you have two things, armored protection and mobility.
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. What could be next? How about a scientific search for the secrets of its incomparable beauty and astonishingly rapid construction? With unprecedented access, NOVA unravels the architectural and engineering mysteries of this celebrated ancient temple.
Certain landmarks have captured the imagination and awe of modern architects and engineers around the world as they work to solve the mystery of how their ancient forebears were able to construct such beautiful, timeless and revolutionary structures with none of the machines and materials available to modern engineers. Episode Angkor Wat – Experts estimate workers must transport at least 300 blocks of 3 – 5 tonnes of sandstone. Situated deep in the Cambodian jungle, the majestic temple of Angkor Wat – designed to honour the Hindu god Vishnu – took over 30 years to build.
This Documentary describes Pythagoras. It was produced as part of a series on Geniuses in 1996. Pythagoras, 530 BC must have been one of the world’s greatest men, but he wrote nothing, and it is hard to say how much of the doctrine we know as Pythagorean is due to the founder of the society and how much is later development. It is also hard to say how much of what we are told about the life of Pythagoras is trustworthy, for a mass of legend gathered around his name at an early date. Sometimes he is represented as a man of science, and sometimes as a preacher of mystic doctrines, and we might be tempted to regard one or other of those characters as alone historical.
In 2009, a team of marine archaeologists carrying out a sonar survey of the seabed around the Italian island of Ventotene made an astonishing discovery. The wrecks of five ancient Roman ships were found in pristine condition. Remarkably, much of the cargo remained exactly as the ancient Roman crews had loaded it. What happened to these ancient ships? What were they carrying and why had they traveled to this remote, rocky island in the first place? Lost Ships of Rome follows the team as they explore the sites in detail, salvage artifacts and piece together the history of the ships and why they were lost at Ventotene two thousand years ago.
Battlefield Britain is about famous battles in the history of Great Britain. From Boudicca’s destructive rebellion against the Romans to the incredible feats of The Few who saw off the Luftwaffe, these battles all had wide reaching consequences and implications for the future of the British isles. Presented by father and son team Peter and Dan Snow. Peter explains the battleplans, Dan the perspective of the common soldier, sailors and airmen. The episodes also featured interviews with soldiers from both sides, re-enactments of the battles and computer generated scenes with bird eye views and blocks to show troop movement. Episode 4 The Spanish Armada – Britain’s defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was a victory against one of the great seagoing nations. The dramatic events helped seal the British reputation as a seafaring people.
Megastructures: Built from Disaster explores how accidents throughout the world have influenced the evolution of modern structural engineering. Episode 3 Tunnels – the word evokes mystery, adventure and claustrophobia. They make mountains manageable, connect our cities and can even bring together continents. But every tunnel is an enclosed space – a very dangerous place to be if something goes wrong. This episode looks at how recent catastrophes at the Channel Tunnel, Mont Blanc and Gotthard Tunnels of Europe spawned a revolution in tunnel building technology that is still evolving today. From failsafe evacuation systems through fireproof concrete and radical new approaches to tunnel design itself this programme will see how new tunnel projects are using high tech to keep alive if the worst happens. At the core of the programme is the cutting-edge Marmaray Tunnel in Turkey – this US 4 billion project will connect Europe and Asia with a dual bore rail tunnel running under the Bosphorous Straits. But there is a problem, the Anatolian Fault Line lies 11 miles from the site.
This is where it all began, Adam Hart-Davis first foray, directly inspired by the Monty Python sequence from “The Life of Brian”, where the People’s Front of Judea discuss “What have the Romans done for us?”, into how the foundations of modern society were laid by the surprising cultural and technological achievements of the Roman empires. This is the first series of “What The … Did For Us” hosted by Adam Hart-Davis. Episode 4 Arteries of the Empire – Hart-Davis analyses the Romans’ ingenious surveying methods that enabled them to build their arrow-straight roads. Groma surveying, demonstrated by Hart-Davis, allowed the surveying of perfectly straight roads such as Watling Street and Stane Street. The construction of Roman roads, demonstrated by Hart Davis, has allowed them to endure to this day. He also commissions a replica of an ingenious giant water wheel used to remove water from flooded Welsh gold mines. The remains of a Roman fortification dating back to their first century landing, as well as a museum of Roman life.
Get to the bottom of the world’s great cities – literally! Sink into subterranean discovery lead by intrepid explorers Eric Geller and Don Wildman. With each step below street level you travel back decades, even centuries, into the fascinating past of the world’s great cities. What mysteries await discovery in the dark corners of these subterranean realms? This is the stuff of fantasy exploring secret chambers and forbidden passages beneath city streets, unlocking mysteries of the past and discovering forgotten relics. City of Caves Budapest – Exploring caves beneath Budapest, Hungary. Included an underground World War II hospital.