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
Saturday, June 23:
"Mysteries Of the Pyramids" (Discovery Channel, 8-9 p.m. ET/PT)
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
"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
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
"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
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!