A Science Odyssey Title Technology Title

non-tabled version

Technology has transformed our lives, our work, and the way we think about the world in the twentieth century. How did it happen? This program traces that revolution from a time of unparalleled enthusiasm for technology to a time of doubt and questioning. Meet the inventors, entrepreneurs, and industrial scientists whose work fueled this technological boom. Trace the development of new technologies and the industries they spawned. And consider the broader social forces -- government spending, the Cold War, and the growth of consumerism -- that have redefined the role of science in our society.

Program Contents

Our technological odyssey starts in a modest, turn-of-the-century home. Inklings of change are apparent, but are the residents prepared for the transformation the coming years will bring? The startling view of humans flying "free from the earth at last" is just an introduction to the surprises ahead. And, each new technological development -- whether a car for the masses or a worldwide computer network -- brings profound changes to homes across the country and to the lives of the people in them.

Hour 1 subtitle Hour 2 subtitle

Past visions of the future

What's state-of-the-art in 1900?

Competition drives technology
  • Airplane wows public at 1910 air show
  • Wright brothers stun Europe
    ANIMATION: Wing warping for plane stability
  • First trans-American flight, 1911
  • Political tensions boost European aviation
  • Airplanes' role in WWI and beyond
The Automobile
Technology for the masses
  • Henry Ford
    ANIMATION: Model T design
  • The Tin Lizzie's success
  • Mass production and consumption
  • Impact on society and urban development
Technology in search of an identity
  • From telegraph to sound broadcast
  • Commercial radio's origins
  • Early programming
  • Economics and the rise of radio networks
Faith in Technology's Benefits
The marriage of technology and big business
  • Search for the first synthetic material
  • Wallace Carothers develops nylon, 1934
  • FDR opens 1939 World's Fair
  • Corporate world envisions the future

War yields new products and incentives

The military sponsors digital technology
  • Early computer technology
  • ANIMATION: Binary code
  • Development of Whirlwind computer
  • Air defense network lays path for future
The Space Race
Politics drives technology
  • Soviet achievements spur U.S. space program
  • Goal: the Moon
  • Apollo 8 -- Can we make it?
  • ANIMATION: Attaining lunar orbit
  • New view of the Moon -- and Earth
Technology's Ills
Reassessing the promise of technology
  • Unexpected consequences
  • Raised expectations
The Internet
Technology for the 21st century
  • Personal computers/microprocessors
  • Roots of the Internet
  • ANIMATION: Uniting computer networks
  • The World Wide Web
  • Cyberspace -- hopes and fears
Factors in technology's future
Activities Title

Quality, Quantity, and Other Questions
Evolution or Revolution?
Testing the Virtue of Virtual
In-Depth Investigation: Super Polymers!

Appendix: Jumping Frog Origami

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