Segments in this Video

Early Bicycle Innovations (03:26)


In his teens, Professor Mark Miodownik took for granted materials used to create technology for exploring the planet. The Laufmaschine was invented in 1820 and the Boneshaker was developed in 1870.

Modern Bicycle (01:56)

Learn about materials innovations that made steel tubing, roller chains, and pneumatic tires possible in the 1880s.

Revolutionary Bicycle Technology (04:40)

Miodownik enlists racing cyclists to compare the 1880s prototype to its predecessor, the Boneshaker. Modern materials transformed the machine and made it accessible to all, increasing our mobility.

Motor Car Development (02:00)

Miodownik rides in a 1903 Sunbeam model. An open air design limited the speed of early cars. Glass shields protected drivers from the elements, but shattered in an accident.

Inventing Safety Glass (03:48)

Compression between a rapid cooled outside and a molten interior toughen Prince Rupert's Drops. When they break, a chain reaction creates tiny fragments safer than early windshields. Modern windshields have plastic between layers to contain shards.

Telescope Technology (02:27)

Glass lenses allowed us to see outer space. Telescopes and microscopes were developed in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 19th century, glass lenses increased in size.

Glass Lens Limitations (02:11)

The Northumberland Telescope's lens is huge and heavy. As the size increases, so does chromatic aberration; 19th century astronomers realized they'd have to use a different material to see further.

Metal Lenses (02:23)

Mirrors without glass can magnify lenses, eliminating chromatic aberrations. Large metal mirrors mounted on solid quartz helped to avoid distortion; Hale needed a material to support a five meter mirror.

Pyrex Glass (02:15)

The Corning Glass Company used boron to develop a heatproof glass. They made a mirror for Hale's telescope that debuted in 1949 and revealed new truths about the universe's size.

Carbon Fiber Composite (03:42)

Experts use a new material to produce prosthetic limbs. A young Paralympic hopeful explains how his carbon fiber leg imitates the springing action of his regular leg. It is used in sports equipment, racing cars, and commercial airliners.

Carbon Fiber Strength (02:21)

Miodownik uses a standard weight test to demonstrate the strength of carbon fiber strands and explains how epoxy plastic keeps them from bending.

Engineering Carbon Fiber Composite (03:06)

Miodownik demonstrates how layers of carbon laid in different directions strengthen the material. Racing bicycle frames are now made of light weight carbon fiber composite for strength and flexibility.

Superconductivity (02:47)

MRI technology relies on magnetic fields and superconductors. Miodownik demonstrates how superconductors are cooled to eliminate electric resistance, allowing free flowing electricity and creating magnetic fields.

MRI Scan Technology (02:05)

A lack of resistance in superconductors enable ultra-efficient electromagnets. MRI coils are cooled below absolute zero, producing a strong magnetic field. Hear how it is used to produce a picture of the human body.

3D Printing Technology (02:45)

Miodownik explains how 3D printers print digital files to create objects that are difficult to mold. Creators can use plastic, metal, or ceramic materials.

Biomedical Manufacturing (02:18)

Nottingham University researchers use 3D printing to make human body parts. Stem cells develop into a certain type of tissue according to the material they grow on.

Regenerating a Nose (02:07)

Experts use 3D printers to produce plastic body parts that function as a scaffold for stem cells to grow on. Researchers are optimistic that they'll be able to produce all organs in the near future.

Forth Bridges (03:51)

An 1890 cantilever railway bridge near Edinburgh still functions, made possible by the invention of steel. The Forth Road Bridge is a suspension design and uses higher quality materials.

Reinforced Concrete (02:23)

A cable-stayed bridge will hang suspension cables from concrete towers. Pouring around steel reinforcement rods made concrete the most common construction material worldwide.

Bridge Building Technology (03:35)

Engineers compare construction methods from the Forth Bridge to the latest bridge in the Edinburgh region. Steel, reinforced concrete, and worker safety have progressed over a century, as has our use of materials to shape and explore our world.

Credits: Everyday Miracles: Away (00:41)

Credits: Everyday Miracles: Away

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Everyday Miracles: Away

Part of the Series : Everyday Miracles: The Genius of Sofas, Stockings, and Scanners
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Professor Mark Miodownik's investigation into the complexities of modern invention concludes with an insight into how new materials enabled people to become curious about the world around them. He reveals the impact the advent of the bicycle had on the national gene pool, and highlights how the concept of levitation provided the spiritually inclined to set out in search of their inner self.

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL75345

ISBN: 978-1-60057-925-7

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.

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