www.whyville.net Jun 21, 2001 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

What's On!

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What's On!

Times Writer

Another paper, another week of cool shows! I've got stuff for astronomers, engineers, biologists, firemen, jet fighters, actors, and a lot more, as usual. Check it out!

Friday, June 22, 2001

"The Jet Age" (History Channel,9-10 a.m. ET/PT) This documentary about aerial propulsion starts with the jet planes that Germany and England built in secret 60 years ago (the show is an episode in a series called "Weapons of War''). You will then see how jet technology was re-configured to reach today's supersonic speeds.

"Poisoned Fire" (The Learning Channel, 6-7 p.m. ET/PT) Chemical fires burn hotter and faster than other blazes that "haz-mat" (hazardous materials) firefighters sometimes have to knock down. With 30,000 new chemicals invented every year, each fire involving chemicals is potentially more dangerous. This documentary explains how science and fire crews in the U.S. and Europe prepare to deal with these situations.

"Young Sherlock Holmes" (American Movie Classics Channel, 8-10 p.m. ET 5-8 p.m. PT) This movie speculates about the boyhood of a master of scientific deduction. The original Conan Doyle novels, which tell about Holmes as a grown-up, didn't contain much stuff on which to base such a movie, so the film makers had to do their own deducing from evidence in those old novels. Since many of those books talked about technology used years and years ago, some neat retro stuff is portrayed in the movie. So it looks a little like "Young Indiana Jones" but with older, more scientifically accurate devices. Nicholas Rowe stars. It's available on video and DVD if you miss it on cable. (Rated PG-13, which means a parent is supposed to watch it with you if you're under 13. Just be ready for a lot of annoying questions from them about how Holmes figured things out so quickly based on such tiny bits of data.)

Saturday, June 23:

"Mysteries Of the Pyramids" (Discovery Channel, 8-9 p.m. ET/PT) In this documentary engineers, physicists and astronomers explain how various pyramids around the world were built. Sometimes builders based their calculations on measurements derived from the position of constellations in the sky, not unlike NASA using celestial navigation when calculating conditions for a launch.

Sunday, June 24:

"Grand Coulee Dam" (Discovery Channel, 2-3 p.m. ET/PT) With the nation facing an electric supply problem it's interesting to know something of how it's generated -- and the mixed blessings involved. Our biggest hydroelectric facility runs 'clean' -- meaning no greenhouse gasses are generated, but damming the river in Spokane, WA destroyed a salmon run and ended the way of life for a group of Native Americans.

"Inherit The Wind" (Turner Classic Movies Channel, 6-8:30 p.m. ET, 3-5:30 p.m. PT) Did you know that some states are still trying to pass laws requiring that kids be taught that evolution didn't happen? As a result of such laws in the past, teachers have been regularly put on trial if they mentioned Charles Darwin's "Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection" and the theory that humans are descended from apes. This movie is the best dramatic recreation of the most famous of these trials. The arguments on both sides are so interesting that you might not end up with all your preconceived notions intact.

"Search For Atlantis" (A&E Channel, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT) With all the fuss about Atlantis going on due to the new Disney animated movie, you might as well watch this documentary about the underlying myths -- and even some of the tantalizingly probable archeological explanations for the existence of Atlantis. (Whyville is a sort of Atlantis, if you think about it for a minute.)

Monday, June 25:

"The Junkyard Wars" (The Learning Channel, 8-9 p.m. ET/PT) This is sort of a tech-oriented "Survivor" show. Each week competing teams of tool-toting friends are let loose in a junkyard to build the surprise mechanical challenge of the day. In this episode it's an "underwater chariot" -- it has to function submerged. (Another odd idea for Whyvillians to try? But virtually, please, rather than with the rusty metal and duct tape they use in the TV show.)

"The Cola Wars" (History Channel, 9-10 p.m. ET/PT) Here's a bio-chemistry documentary to end all bio-chemistry documentaries. It's about the contents and marketing of a substance that we consume daily -- in amounts that exceed our consumption of water. (Who said water is vital to life? Coke and Pepsi are!)

"Descent From The Skies" (History Channel, 11-11:30 p.m. ET/PT) Set your VCR to capture some documentary footage of young hotshots experimenting with parachute technology. Early on, before the famous military applications of the technology that you'll be seeing on HBO this fall in a new Steven Speilberg show about WWII, results weren't too successful. But nowadays even grandparents practice skydiving as a sport.

Tuesday, June 26:

"Shakespeare's Globe" (Ovation Network, 6-7 p.m. ET, 3-4 p.m. PT) In this documentary about acoustics and archaeology we see scientists figure out how the builders of the theatre where Shakespeare put on his plays put the place together. It was like a giant popsickle-stick structure -- and the British recreated it again full-scale a few years ago using the same tools, more or less, as folks did 500 years ago. No roof and a dirt floor and it worked just fine. Better than the Astrodome, it seems.

"Witches' Curse" (PBS, 9-10 p.m. ET/PT) This new documentary looks at dietary habits, including problems caused by subsisting on contaminated crops, as well as psychological problems as possible explanations for the symptoms exhibited by people that used to be called "bewitched". It turns out that, during the time of the Pilgrims, an historical period every kid is supposed to study about, folks were put on trial and even put to death for "witchcraft" when they should rather have been sent to a doctor.


Until next time, I am the MediaWiz!



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