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Inventions That Changed the World

A five part BBC 2 TV documentary series, presented by Jeremy Clarkson, that took a look at some of the inventions that have helped to shape the modern world. First broadcast on Thursday 15 ...

Genre: Documentary

Country: UK

Duration: 300 min

Quality: HD

Release: 2004

IMDb: 8.1

Season 1 - Inventions That Changed the World
"There would be no guns without gunpowder, the volatile mixture of saltpetre (potassium nitrate), charcoal and sulphur that came to Europe in the 14th century. Chinese chemists were experimenting with early forms of gunpowder by the 9th century or even earlier. Mixing gunpowder was a tricky procedure largely carried out by hand under the constant threat of accidental explosions. Gunpowder production was as dirty as it was dangerous. To make saltpetre, workers mixed rotting vegetable waste and animal (or human!) excreta together in large beds and waited for nitrates to form as a white powder, which was later refined."
"In Victorian times 'computers' were people who added up rows of figures.\n\nNow they are mechanical wonders - without them we couldn't fly planes, drive cars or even run our dishwashers.\n\nWe need them, but will they ever get smart enough to take over? \n\nJeremy tells the remarkable story of the computer's evolution from man with pencil to android with sub-machine gun.\n\nIt's an epic spanning three centuries, a tale of passion, espionage and suicide \u2013 and it's far from over.\n\nJeremy discovers that the threat from computers lies not with Schwarzenegger's Terminator but from a much more devastating computer - Armageddon.\n\nThe computer might yet change the world in a way that none of us are expecting."
"When Sir Frank Whittle was developing his revolutionary jet engines during the 1940s, he needed robust but lightweight airframes to attach them to. Aluminium was the answer. Modern aviation could not have developed without this versatile, light and durable metal. The raw form of aluminium, bauxite, was first discovered in 1807 by Sir Humphry Davy (who also invented the famous miner's safety lamp) but it took years for scientists to develop it into a usable metal. By the late 19th century, aluminium was being used to make airship frames. By the 1920s, the first all-aluminium aircraft were flying."
"At the time of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson's first successful telephone transmission in 1875, the only wires strong enough to be strung over long distances were made of iron. Iron wires had been used for telegraph systems but they were unsuitable for long-distance telephone links. But, in 1877, an American, Thomas Doolittle, developed a method of manufacturing copper wires strong enough to be strung between telegraph poles. Copper's superior conductivity preserved the integrity of the telephone signal to an extent that iron could not. The age of mass communications was born."