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Ghost Canyon

'How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson'
(2 DVD / NR / 2014 / PBS)

Overview: This 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.

DVD Verdict: At first blush, and taking one of the six (6) subject matters only, a 60-minute TV program on "glass" might seem, well ... too transparent. I mean, glass is glass. It is clear, it lets us see through it, while keeping the rain and cold out. But where did glass come from? How was it first discovered? How many innovations did it make possible?

While I cannot attempt to cover it all in this short review, I will give one example. It starts with European winemakers. They used screw-driven grape presses to extract the juice. Then one enterprising gentleman names Gutenberg had the idea of using the basic mechanics of a wine press to make a printing press, allowing for the first time the mass production of printed books. But where's the glass connection?

Well with books came more and more readers. But many of those found they could not read the blurry print, because of poor eyesight. So the yet scarce use of spectacles became a giant need and the development of new lenses led to things like the microscope and the telescope, and the rest if the history of discovery of both the micro world and the distant worlds of our universe.

All because someone found out how to make clear glass and others came up with new uses. As a scientist myself, a Chemist who first hand made use of the many applications of glass in the laboratory, it is a totally engrossing subject, presented very well.

Thus, watching the other five (5) subjects on topic here - Clean, Time, Light, Cold and Sound - all proved to be just as strangely engrossing. I hope you will think so also, as this 2-Disc presentation is simply divine to behold. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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