The Western Lines

September 20, 2010

Modern Marvels: 90’s Tech

Filed under: Alex Michael Bonnici,History of Science,Modern Marvels,Technology — ralphbuttigieg @ 7:05 am

Today on Discovery Enterprise we travel back to the last decade of the Twentieth Century for a retrospective look at the beginnings of the trendy technologies that have defined that epoch and has shaped ours.

Modern Marvels: 90s Tech will take you way back to the end of the Twentieth Century and the beginning of today’s trendy technologies. From DVDs to TIVO to GPS, we’ll see how the gadgets we can’t live without all started in the 1990s.

Modern Marvels: 90’s Tech


September 18, 2010

Modern Marvels: 80’s Tech

Filed under: Alex Michael Bonnici,History of Science,Modern Marvels,Technology — ralphbuttigieg @ 7:05 am

Today on Discovery Enterprise we take a trip back in time, all the way back to the 1980s and will examine some of the most popular gadgets and fads of that defined a decade.

Join us as we take a retrospective look at Sony’s Walkman, the Rubik’s Cube, the DeLorean DMC-12, and of course the microchip which changed electronics forever.

Modern Marvels: 80’s tech

September 17, 2010

Modern Marvels: 70’s Tech

Filed under: Alex Michael Bonnici,History of Science,Modern Marvels,Technology — ralphbuttigieg @ 7:05 am

Today on Discovery Enterprise we take a retrospective look at the technology of the Nineteen Seventies.

From pong to CB radios, to the instant camera to the Pontiac Firebird and everywhere in between it all has the mark of the technology of the seventies.

Modern Marvels: 70’s Tech

September 16, 2010

Modern Marvels: 60s Tech

Filed under: 60s Tech,Alex Michael Bonnici,History of Science,Modern Marvels,Technology — ralphbuttigieg @ 7:05 am

Today on Discovery Enterprise we take a ride back to the 1960s and recall the technological happenings that helped shape the decade.

Colour TV, computers the size of Mac® trucks and Lava lamps we return to the heady days of the Space Age with this affectionate look at the advances that convinced us the “future is NOW!” For over a decade, Modern Marvels has brought grand stories to life. This documentary is the ultimate celebration of engineering excellence.

From broadcast satellites to superballs, high-tech advances in the 60s improved every part of our lives.

Modern Marvels: 60s Tech

July 31, 2010

Albert Einstein – How I See the World

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present a documentary from the highly acclaimed PBS series American Masters concerning the twentieth century’s greatest theoretical physicists – Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein is considered one of the greatest scientific thinkers of all time. His theories on the nature of time and space profoundly affected the human conception of the physical world and set the foundations for many of the scientific advances of the twentieth century. As a thinker on the human condition, politics, and all issues of the day, he was as well-respected as anyone in his time.

Born in Ulm, Germany in 1879, Einstein was brought up in Munich. His parents were of Jewish German ancestry, and his father ran an electrical equipment plant. He did not speak fluently until after he was nine and was considered slow. Though his grades were fair in high school, he was eventually expelled for his rebellious nature. Always an individual, he traveled around before re-enrolling and completing school in his new home in Zurich, Switzerland.

After graduating from high school, Einstein enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he studied the works of classical physicists. By 1900 he graduated with a teaching degree and three years later married his college sweetheart, Mileva Maric. Unable to find a teaching job he tutored high school students until beginning work at the Swiss Patent Office. His job at the patent office allowed much time for independent work and it was during these seven years that he made his most important discoveries.

By 1905 Einstein had brought together much of the works of contemporary physicists with his own thoughts on a number of topics including the nature of light, the existence of molecules, and a theory concerning time, mass, and physical absolutes. The “Theory of Relativity” proposed a revolutionary conception of the physical world, suggesting that time, mass, and length were not fixed absolutes, but dependent on the motion of the observer. Two years later he presented his equation E=MC2 (Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared). With this early work Einstein unhinged the assumptions of the absolute within the physical world and set the course for the scientific investigations of the century.

Though the Theory of Relativity was to be his most famous, his other work that year was equally important. With his publication of the article, “On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid Demanded by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat,” he abandoned Newton’s theory that light was made of particles, in exchange for one that presented light as being made of particles and waves. It was for this work with light that he was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize (1929) for physics.

Not immediately recognized for the important thinker he was, Einstein moved through a number of teaching jobs before being offered a research position at the University of Berlin in 1914. Soon after his move to Berlin, Einstein was divorced by his wife and married his cousin Elsa. During the 1920s Einstein’s fame grew and he spent much of this time traveling throughout the world with Chaim Weizmann, the future president of Israel, promoting the cause of Zionism. By the early 1930s the growing threat of Nazi fascism had made it impossible for Einstein to continue working in Germany, and he moved to Princeton, New Jersey. There, while teaching at Princeton University, he continued to elucidate his theory of relativity and work on new theories that brought together our understanding of other physical phenomenon.

It was from Princeton, in 1939, that Einstein signed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt discussing the possibilities of creating an atomic bomb. Though Einstein was never directly involved in the creation of the bomb, it was his earlier theories that had paved the way for its possibility. After its eventual use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Einstein became a constant and vocal activist for peace—spending much of the rest of his life speaking and writing on the subject. By the time of his death in 1955, Einstein was considered by many not only the most important scientist of his time, but the smartest man alive. It is impossible to understand how different the events of the last hundred years might have been without the work of Albert Einstein.
Copyright PBS

American Masters: Albert Einstein – How I See the World

July 24, 2010

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – The Harmony of the Worlds

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present the third episode of Carl Sagan’s highly acclaimed PBS documentary series – Cosmos.

Join us as we follow Carl Sagan in tracing the life of Johannes Kepler, the last scientific astrologer and the first modern astronomer.

Johannes Kepler was the author of one of the first science fiction novels ever written – Somnium (The Dream).

Kepler provided the insight into how the moon and the planets move in their orbits and formulated the three laws of planetary motion that bare his name. It’s also a story about the scientific process of discovery, and how the search for truth is never easy but always worthwhile.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – The Harmony of the Worlds

July 14, 2010

Nikola Tesla – The Man Who Created the Future

Nikola Tesla invented or developed many of the electrical technologies which form the basis of our technological civilization, including: alternating-current (AC) power transmission and electric motors; high-frequency (HF) communications, the basis for radio and television; neon lighting; remote radio-control; radio astronomy and X-rays. He was the man that developed the technology that electrified America and the world. He is credited by many maverick inventors as the man who almost single handedly created the future. Yet despite his great body of work he is a largely forgotten by the general public at large.

Nikola Tesla’s influence could also be seen in such diverse fields as the development of RADAR, hybrid-fuel automobiles, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and particle beam weaponry. Tesla even foresaw the need for alternative energies sources such as geothermal and solar power and also envisioned an age where electric power would one day be transmitted wirelessly.

But, his visionary genius and technical skill was countered by his lack of business acumen and an eccentric personality.

Yet, despite his failures in life Nikola Tesla is very much revered today and has gained an almost legendary mystical aura. After dying penniless in 1943, his “missing papers” regarding the construction of a ‘death ray’ became the focus of much international intrigue. And maybe one day, late in the twenty-first century, Tesla’s work may lead to advanced beamed energy interstellar propulsion systems that will take humanity to the stars.
One such idea is already potentially being developed by Joe Davis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in connection to a memorial dedicated to the victims of hurricane Katrina. Imagine, if you will, a hundred-foot tower to throw some of nature’s fury back into the sky. The tower will be constructed like a lightning rod, but with three vertical masts made of aluminum. When lightning strikes the tower, a resonant cavity is formed that breaks down nitrogen in the air and triggers an ultraviolet laser discharge, sending the beams back into the sky. Its possible use in spacecraft propulsion can be seen if we combine this concept with one developed by Robert L Forward of using a vast reflective sail pushed by laser beam to the outer edges of the Solar System and beyond.

Nikola Tesla’s Mad Electricity Modern Marvels

July 1, 2010

Benjamin Franklin – America’s Renaissance Man

Today on Discovery Enterprise in order to help commemorate the two hundred and thirty fourth anniversary of the founding of the United States of America we explore the life of perhaps the greatest inventive mind that ever graced America’s cultural landscape before the birth of Thomas Edison and the arrival of America’s greatest import – the creative technological genius Nikola Tesla.

Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. His signature appears on all the documents related to the founding of our nation from the Declaration of Independence to the Treaty of Paris which formally ended the American Revolutionary War between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States of America.

Franklin was a noted polymath, a leading author and printer, a leading satirist, political theorist in colonial America, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass ‘armonica’. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.

Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as a writer and spokesmen in London for several colonies, then as the first American ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation and embodied the frontier spirit of a young vigorous nation in the making.

So join us today on Discovery Enterprise in our salute to the founding of the United States of America as we honor its greatest son and its one true Renaissance man – Benjamin Franklin.

Modern Marvels – Ben Franklin Tech

June 26, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci and the Code He Lived By

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present another delightful and informative documentary concerning the enduring legend and quintessential Renaissance man – Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo was a man who came from humble beginnings who sort to remake, and redefine his life. In a very violent world he sort to create beauty and master the forces of nature.

Today’s hour and half documentary “Leonardo da Vinci and the Code He Lived By” recreates the world, the historical epoch and political milieu, with all its intrigues and assignations, of Leonardo’s society with magnificent vivacity.

The program covers some of the major events and influences in Da Vinci’s life. This not only served to humanize this great historical figure but also chronicle the formation of a great genius. Da Vinci was 1452, the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary named Ser Piero and Caterina, a poor farmer’s daughter. As the boy grew to manhood a new intellectual endeavor was to take hold, humanism, a study of every aspect of man. Science, philosophy and art would begin to displace the dark ages. His prospects for life where bleak, as a bastard child he would not inherit any financial security, business or even a family name. For most illegitimacy was a dead end, a sentence of poverty. Young Leonardo had something few had, imagination, and that is what made a difference.

Leonardo started life in a world of violence. Men wore armor under their fine clothes. Bodyguards and food tasters surrounded the rich and powerful. For the lower class life was cheap. Leonardo sought to associate with a guild, but his dubious birthright would bar him from that way out. Only his artistic talent could possibly save him. It was here that Da Vinci learned that artist had access to the powerful. The rich and prosperous would commission paintings and statues. A talented man could make a name for himself among the power brokers of the day. He could work on art destined for the leading family of Florence, the Medici.

The show also has an excellent recreation of the Easter Sunday attack on the infamous Medici family in Florence. The young Da Vinci saw warfare first hand resulting in several of his early innovations. The young man became infatuated with the mechanics of war which lead to his designs of what would now be called SUCBA gear and reinforced tanks. While working with the master artist, Andrea del Verrocchio, Leonardo learned the self disciplines that would make him a perfectionist. He also sees that although his master is not high born he is treated with respect among the powerful. At twenty years of age he has finally earned the rights to join a guild but opts to remain with his former master. Although gifted beyond his peers Leonardo had doubts of working on his own. The young man refused to eat meat, he felt that nature was the ultimate in engineering and art and refused to devour any living creature.

Leonardo da Vinci and the Code He Lived By

June 25, 2010

Leonardo’s Marvelous Inventions

Today on Discovery Enterprise we again explore the life and work of a man, who more than anyone else in history, epitomizes the Age of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci.

In this episode of the History Channel’s Modern Marvels we take another close look at the technological innovations that flowed forth from Leonardo’s prodigious imagination and intellect.

Nearly 500 years after his death, Leonardo da Vinci still intrigues us. Most people think of him as a great artist, but he was also a remarkable scientist and inventor. His love of mechanics was unparalleled and he filled his notebooks with pages of incredible machines–from weapons of war to “Ships of the Skies”, from submarines and scuba suits to robots and an analogue computer…even contact lenses and alarm clocks! How did a 15th-century man envision such modern innovations? If we follow his plans, would any of his designs work? We need wonder no more. With recent technological advances and new materials, we’re the first generation able to bring Leonardo’s drawings to life–to learn whether his “mechanical dreams” were workable plans. We explore the fascinating intersection of his art, science, and engineering marvels, and use them to offer insight into this “Genius of Geniuses”, who remains as elusive as Mona Lisa’s smile.

Modern Marvels – Da Vinci Tech

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