HOW WE GOT TO NOW WITH STEVEN JOHNSON: Light
Airs Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV
Monday, October 20, 2014
Credit: Courtesy of Paul Olding
HOW WE GOT TO NOW, a new six-part series co-created and hosted by best-selling science and technology author Steven Johnson ("Where Good Ideas Come From," "Everything Bad is Good for You"), examines the fascinating stories of the unlikely people whose ideas have made our modern world possible. The series looks at the little-known stories of the men and women who came up with revolutionary innovations that have had far reaching consequences beyond their original intent and play a role in just about every aspect of our daily lives. The ideas are broken down into six themes that encompass the pillars of modern civilization: Clean (Oct. 15), Time (Oct. 15), Glass (Oct. 22), Light (Oct. 29), Cold (Nov. 5) and Sound (Nov. 12).
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“It is very easy to take many of the conveniences that we encounter every day for granted. Most people wouldn’t think sipping a glass of ice water in the summer is very remarkable. Yet clear glass, clean water and the ability to keep ice frozen in warm weather are all the products of innovations without which the world as we know it today would not exist,” said Steven Johnson. “And amazingly, the amateur inventors, entrepreneurs and tinkerers who made our modern world possible have nearly been forgotten to history.”
The enthusiasm, curiosity and humor that are hallmarks of Johnson’s award-winning writing on popular science are evident on screen as he goes to great lengths and distances to illustrate how these ideas shape our lives. In San Francisco, he climbs into a rat and cockroach-infested sewer that keeps the above-ground world clean; in Dubai, he goes skiing in a gigantic indoor winter wonderland in the middle of the desert; and, in Venice, he meets a descendant of Angelo Barovier, the first person to create crystal-clear glass—an invention that creates a chain reaction of innovations that has made everything from deep space exploration to global communication possible.
Episode Four: "Light" airs Wednesday, October 29 at 10 p.m. - Best-selling author Steven Johnson relates the story of people who take us out of the dark and into the light. Hear about Edison’s light bulb, which he didn’t actually invent, and learn how an 18th-century ship’s skipper discovered a source of illumination by putting a kid inside a whale’s head. See how a French scientist accidentally discovered how to create neon light, leading to a revolution in advertising. Dispelling the myth of the individual “eureka” moment, Johnson reveals that teamwork and collaboration led the way to the most transformative ideas. Whether changing our genetic make-up, altering the world’s sleeping patterns, transforming architecture, taking us into space or triggering one of the great social reforms in American history, the pioneers of light have made themselves indispensable throughout human history.
Up Next: "Cold" episode airs Wednesday, November 5 at 10 p.m. Only in the last 200 years have humans learned how to make things cold. Host Steven Johnson explains how ice entrepreneur Frederic Tudor made ice delivery the second biggest export business in the U.S. and visits the place where Clarence Birdseye, the father of the frozen food industry, experienced his eureka moment.
Preview of Light
Preview of Cold
Preview of Sound
Where do good ideas come from?
Steven's Memorable Moments
Preview of Glass
Preview of Clean
Preview of Time
How We Got To Now Preview
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