The finale focuses on the recording and transmitting of sound, an ability that was desired long before it became a reality. Included: the importance of radio to the civil rights movement; Alexander Graham Bell's initial vision for the telephone; and the role of sound in medicine.
How humans have learned to make things cold, featuring the stories of Boston-based ice entrepreneur Frederic Tudor (1783-1864); and Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956), the father of the frozen food industry.
How light changed the world. Included: Edison's light bulb; an 18th-century ship's skipper's discovery of a source of illumination; a French scientist's accidental discovery of neon light. Also: the roles that teamwork and collaboration played in the most transformative ideas.
How glass has shaped the modern world. Included: the invention of the mirror, which spurred the Renaissance; the worlds within worlds that glass lenses revealed; and the crucial role glass plays in communication. Also: glassmakers who were forced to work; a physics teacher who used a crossbow to shoot molten glass; and a scientist whose tinkering enabled 600 million people to see man set foot on the moon.
Host Steven Johnson boards a submarine to discover how the lack of natural light impacts a sailor's day; and visits Heathrow, the world's busiest airport, to learn about air-traffic control. Also: America's standardized time system.
Science and technology writer Steven Johnson shares the stories behind the ideas that made the modern world possible, beginning with clean water. Included: the maverick engineer behind America's first sewer system; and the man who introduced the use of chlorine as a water-treatment agent. Also: other "clean" endeavors, including the iPhone, subway, flat-screen TVs and the bikini.