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Arts & Culture

NOVA: Treasures Of The Earth: Metals

Sword making in Japan.
Courtesy of WGBH
Sword making in Japan.

Airs Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 10 p.m. & Sunday, July 22 at 2 p.m. on KPBS TV

How have Earth’s most extraordinary natural resources driven the rise of civilization?

They grace the crowns of royalty, sharpen weapons of war, and both power and pollute our cities. They are Earth’s natural resources: treasures in the forms of stunning gems that we hold dear, metals that have altered the course of civilizations, and fuels that drive our modern world.

TREASURES OF EARTH, "Gems" (July 11), "Metals" (July 18), and "Power" (July 25), is a three-part series that will take us on a journey deep inside Earth to uncover the mysteries of how these treasures were created, and to explore how they have allowed humankind to progress and build our great civilizations.

But even as that quest continues... we are discovering that some of our treasures may soon run out or have unintended consequences that bring new perils.

Can our ancient treasures reveal new secrets that will help us solve the problems we face today?

Episode 2: "Metals" repeats Wednesday, July 18 at 10 p.m. & Sunday, July 22 at 2 p.m. - The enduring luster of gold, the conductivity of copper, the strength of steel… the special properties of metals have reshaped societies and defined eras.

They have such an important role in human history that entire ages have been named after them.

But what gives metals their astounding characteristics?

Smelting bronze to forge a bell.
Courtesy of WGBH
Smelting bronze to forge a bell.

From the perfect ring of a bronze bell to the awe-striking steel construction of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium, how have humans perfected metalworking? And how have metals enabled our modern hi-tech world?

Beijing National Stadium, officially the National Stadium, also known as the "Bird's Nest," is a stadium in Beijing, The stadium was a joint venture among architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Herzog & de Meuron, project architect Stefan Marbach, artist Ai Weiwei, and CADG which was led by chief architect Li Xinggang. The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Courtesy of Doug Hamilton
Beijing National Stadium, officially the National Stadium, also known as the "Bird's Nest," is a stadium in Beijing, The stadium was a joint venture among architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Herzog & de Meuron, project architect Stefan Marbach, artist Ai Weiwei, and CADG which was led by chief architect Li Xinggang. The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Explore the science of metals with chemists and engineers as they literally test the mettle of metals and investigate how these remarkable materials have ushered humanity from the Stone Age to the stars.

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

All three episodes from this series are available for streaming on demand!

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