Science and Nature

Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World

Take a mind-blowing journey through human history, told through six iconic objects that modern people take for granted, and see how science, invention and technology built on one another to change everything. These are the secrets of how we got to our modern world.

The Smartphone

54m 51s

Dial in to the fascinating history of the smartphone, from its roots in Morse Code to 2007, when Apple unveiled the first-ever iPhone. Plus, see how the next generation of smartphones will allow us to communicate through them just by thinking.

Episodes

  • The Smartphone: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Smartphone

    S1 E6 - 54m 51s

    Dial in to the fascinating history of the smartphone, from its roots in Morse Code to 2007, when Apple unveiled the first-ever iPhone. Plus, see how the next generation of smartphones will allow us to communicate through them just by thinking.

  • The Rocket: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Rocket

    S1 E5 - 54m 51s

    Learn the explosive history of the rocket, from its origin in ancient China, to its use as a weapon of war, to how adding hydrogen allowed it to carry astronauts all the way to the moon.

  • The Car: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Car

    S1 E4 - 54m 51s

    Go for a ride through the 9,000-year history of the car, from its roots in dogsleds to Henry Ford’s affordable and assembly line-built Model T, and meet the scientists working on the next generation of self-driving automobiles.

  • The Robot: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Robot

    S1 E3 - 54m 51s

    Learn how robots were first conceptualized in ancient Rome and see how their use has evolved over the centuries, from the calculator to the Roomba. Then, take a sneak peek at what future robots will be able to do.

  • The Airplane: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Airplane

    S1 E2 - 54m 51s

    Take to the sky with the dreamers whose work gave humans the ability to fly. From Leonardo da Vinci’s “flying machines” to the modern commercial plane, without these inventions, we may have never left the ground.

  • The Telescope: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Telescope

    S1 E1 - 54m 51s

    Meet the brilliant minds throughout history, from Galileo to Edwin Hubble, responsible for creating the telescope. Today, their invention allows humanity to reach the furthest limits of seeing – 13 billion light-years out.

Extras + Features

  • Hollywood Icon Hedy Lamarr: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Hollywood Icon Hedy Lamarr

    S1 E6 - 2m 56s

    In 1941 the Nazi’s are winning the war in Europe. The Nazi U boats are fast and agile and the allied torpedoes are not very accurate. Hollywood star, a secret inventor, Hedy Lamarr is determined to help fight the Nazis. Inspired by a player piano, she invents a way to control torpedoes remotely and creates the world’s first secret communications system.

  • Episode 6 Preview | The Smartphone: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 6 Preview | The Smartphone

    S1 E6 - 30s

    Dial in to the fascinating history of the smartphone, from its roots in Morse Code to 2007, when Apple unveiled the first-ever iPhone. Plus, see how the next generation of smartphones will allow us to communicate through them just by thinking.

  • Polybius Square: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Polybius Square

    S1 E6 - 1m 42s

    Polybius, a Greek statesman and tutor to the Roman general, Scipio Africanus, sees that the Romans' method of signaling on the battlefield is limited to a small number of messages. He decides to invent a code so words can be exchanged between battalions freely. The result: the first long distance messaging system.

  • The Rocket Equation: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Rocket Equation

    S1 E5 - 2m 29s

    Franklin Chang-Diaz demonstrates the energy required to launch a rocket into space.

  • The Ultimate Rocket Fuel: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Ultimate Rocket Fuel

    S1 E5 - 2m 27s

    Jim Al-Khalili recreates Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s thought experiments to demonstrate why hydrogen is the ultimate rocket fuel.

  • Episode 5 Preview | The Rocket: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 5 Preview | The Rocket

    S1 E5 - 30s

    Learn the explosive history of the rocket, from its origin in ancient China, to its use as a weapon of war, to how adding hydrogen allowed it to carry astronauts all the way to the moon.

  • The First Long Distance Test Drive: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The First Long Distance Test Drive

    S1 E4 - 2m 48s

    In 1886, German inventor and engineer, Karl Benz, has his patent accepted for what is regarded as the world’s first automobile, but it’s a failure. Benz doesn't sell a single one for two years. Facing financial ruin he plunges into depression. Thankfully for humanity one person sees great potential in his "motor wagon" - someone who also knows how to create a bit of publicity, his wife Bertha.

  • A Chicago Slaughterhouse: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    A Chicago Slaughterhouse

    S1 E4 - 3m 23s

    In 1909, the Model T’s first year of production, Henry Ford sells over 10,000 cars at $825 each. It’s a promising start, but it’s still only affordable for the well off. Ford has set his sights on creating a car for "everyman." He needs to speed up the Model T’s construction and slash its price in half. Therein lays the challenge. The solution comes from a visit to a Chicago slaughterhouse.

  • Episode 4 Preview | The Car: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 4 Preview | The Car

    S1 E4 - 30s

    Go for a ride through the 9,000-year history of the car, from its roots in dogsleds to Henry Ford’s affordable and assembly line-built Model T, and meet the scientists working on the next generation of self-driving automobiles.

  • Humanoid Robots: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Humanoid Robots

    S1 E3 - 4m 19s

    A lab in Germany is developing a robot that could fill our factories with mechanical workers.

  • Episode 3 Preview | The Robot: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 3 Preview | The Robot

    S1 E3 - 30s

    Learn how robots were first conceptualized in ancient Rome and see how their use has evolved over the centuries, from the calculator to the Roomba. Then, take a sneak peek at what future robots will be able to do.

Schedule

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