Science and Nature

How We Got to Now

How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson is a six part documentary series that reveals the story behind the remarkable ideas that made modern life possible; the unsung heroes that brought them into the world, and the unexpected and bizarre consequences each of these innovations has triggered.

Sound

54m 41s

Imagine a world without the power to capture or transmit sound. Steven Johnson journeys to the Arcy sur Cure caves in northern France, where he finds the first traces of the desire to record sound. He also learns about the role radio played in the civil rights movement and reveals the Hollywood star who designed a WW2 weapon that would make possible the modern cell phone network.

Episodes

  • Sound: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Sound

    S1 E6 - 54m 41s

    Imagine a world without the power to capture or transmit sound. Steven Johnson journeys to the Arcy sur Cure caves in northern France, where he finds the first traces of the desire to record sound. He also learns about the role radio played in the civil rights movement and reveals the Hollywood star who designed a WW2 weapon that would make possible the modern cell phone network.

  • Cold: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Cold

    S1 E5 - 54m 40s

    Steven Johnson explains how entrepreneur Frederic Tudor made ice delivery one of the biggest export business in the U.S. and where Clarence Birdseye, the father of the frozen food industry, experienced his eureka moment. He also travels to Dubai to see how cold has led to penguins in the desert. From IVF to food, Hollywood to human migration, the unsung heroes of cold have led the way.

  • Light: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Light

    S1 E4 - 54m 40s

    Best-selling author Steven Johnson tells the story of the people who took us out of the dark and into the light, including the invention of Edison’s light bulb and how an 18th-century shipping community discovered a source of illumination by putting a kid inside a whale’s head.

  • Glass: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Glass

    S1 E3 - 54m 40s

    Best-selling author Steven Johnson considers how the invention of the mirror gave rise to the Renaissance, how glass lenses allow us to reveal worlds within worlds and how, deep beneath the ocean, glass is essential to communication. The link between the worlds of art, science, astronomy, disease prevention and global communication starts with the little-known maverick innovators of glass.

  • Time: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Time

    S1 E2 - 55m 11s

    Best-selling author Steven Johnson boards a submarine to discover what a lack of natural light means for a sailor’s working day and visits Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport, to try to get timings right at air traffic control. Learn how advancements in navigation, the way we work, technology and travel would have been impossible without the unsung heroes of time.

  • Clean: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Clean

    S1 E1 - 55m 11s

    Dirty water has killed more humans than all the wars of history combined, but in the last 150 years, a series of radical ideas, extraordinary innovations and unsung heroes have changed our world. The iPhone, the subway, flat screen TVs and even the bikini are the result of the valiant efforts of the unsung heroes of clean.

Extras + Features

  • Measuring Sound: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Measuring Sound

    S1 E6 - 4m 26s

    The high levels of noise pollution in New York City instigated the formation of a noise abatement commission. Steven explains how innovator Harvey Fletcher became part of this movement and created a roving 'noise laboratory' that measured the amount of sound on the streets of the city.

  • The Development of the Ice Trade: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Development of the Ice Trade

    S1 E5 - 4m 58s

    In this clip from the episode 'Cold', Steven tells the story of the creation of the ice trade by a young, wealthy lawyer named Frederick Tudor. Travelling around America in the incessant heat, Frederick had the idea of bringing something cold to hot places.

  • Episode 5 Preview | Cold: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 5 Preview | Cold

    S1 E5 - 31s

    Steven travels to the farthest points on earth to explain how innovators experimented with ways to control the creation and preservation of cold climates and products.

  • Episode 4 Preview | Light: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 4 Preview | Light

    S1 E4 - 43s

    Host Steven Johnson explores how light has altered sleeping patterns, architecture and more.

  • The invention of the light bulb: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The invention of the light bulb

    S1 E4 - 4m 59s

    In this clip from the 'Light' episode, Steven explains the life span of the lightbulb, from its conception as a seed of an idea to its birth as a fully-fledged working invention.

  • The Invention of the Microscope and Telescope: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Invention of the Microscope and Telescope

    S1 E3 - 4m 3s

    The invention of clear glass in the 13th century paved the way for innovations throughout the centuries that followed; most crucially, the development of the lens. In this clip from the 'Glass' episode, Steven explains how glass lenses inspired the creation of one of the most important scientific inventions of 16th century – the microscope.

  • The Story of Standardized Time: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Story of Standardized Time

    S1 E2 - 2m 51s

    Just 150 years ago, America had so many different timezones it was incredibly complicated to travel from one state to the other. In this clip from 'Time', Steven introduces the railroad clerk who created the method of standardized time still used today.

  • Episode 1 Preview | Clean: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Episode 1 Preview | Clean

    S1 E1 - 43s

    Host Steven Johnson reveals how clean water has changed our world and the way we live our lives.

  • The Development of Chlorine: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Development of Chlorine

    S1 E1 - 4m 55s

    When the toilet was first invented, it overwhelmed water systems and caused a real threat to public health. Here, Steven describes the story of how inventor John Leal doggedly pursued his idea to use chlorine to purify water.

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