Engines of Our Ingenuity

100 EpisodesProduced by Houston Public Media

The story of technological progress is one of drama and intrigue, sudden insight and plain hard work. Let’s explore technology’s spectacular failures and many magnificent success stories.

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Engines of Our Ingenuity 1655: Après le Déluge

March 22nd, 2019


Episode: 1655 After the flood: Freeze-drying the history of desegragation.  Today, we Freeze-dry our past.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2883: Dead Salmon and Good Statistics

March 21st, 2019


Episode: 2883 A dead salmon points the way to better brain imaging.  Today, outrageous research.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1654: Tidal Power, 1921

March 20th, 2019


Episode: 1654 The forgotten renewable energy source, tidal (or lunar) power.  Today, solar power and lunar power.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2879: Empty Shipping Containers

March 19th, 2019


Episode: 2879 The Economics of Empty Shipping Containers.  Today, empty boxes.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1653: Aeolian Vibration

March 18th, 2019


Episode: 1653 Aeolian harps, transmission wires, and vortex wakes.  Today, the Aeolian harp.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1652: Justus von Liebig

March 15th, 2019


Episode: 1652 Justus von Liebig and the first R&D laboratory.  Today, we create the first research laboratory.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2878: U-Boats in WW-I

March 14th, 2019


Episode: U-boats in the First World War.  Today, full speed ahead.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1650: Inherent Stability in 1916

March 13th, 2019


Episode: 1650 Learning about the stability of aeroplanes in 1916.  Today, we worry about airplane stability in 1916.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2875: Pierre Fauchard

March 12th, 2019


Episode: 2875 Pierre Fauchard, Father of Modern Dentistry.  Today, a profession comes of age.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1649: Fessenden and Radio Sound

March 11th, 2019


Episode: 1649 Reginald Fessenden endows radio with sound.  Today, we add sound to radio.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1648: An American Dirigible

March 8th, 2019


Episode: 1648 Building a dirigible to get to the California gold rush.  Today, some thoughts on success, failure, and flying to California.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2872: The Stimpmeter

March 7th, 2019


Episode: 2872 The Stimpmeter: Golf's Supremely Simple Maintenance Tool.  Today, low tech in a high tech game.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1646: Who Did What By When?

March 6th, 2019


Episode: 1646 Thinking about who had done what by what age.  Today, who did what by when?

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2870: The Canal Du Midi

March 5th, 2019


Episode: 2870 The Canal du Midi.  Today, coast to coast.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1645: Pi

March 4th, 2019


Episode: 1645 Figuring out the value of Pi.  Today, let's talk about  -- and not the kind you eat.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1644: Hufeland on Infants

March 1st, 2019


Episode: 1644 An 18th-century doctor helps great-grandmother raise grandpa.  Today, we raise a nineteenth-century child.

Engines of Our Ingenuity: 3205 Alice Augusta Ball

February 28th, 2019


Episode: 3205 Alice Augusta Ball and Her Work on Leprosy.  Today, a legacy with a sad coda.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1643: Athanasius Kircher

February 27th, 2019


Episode: 1643 In which Athanasius Kircher softens the 17th-C scientific revolution.  Today, -- after Galileo.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3204: Mobility Matters

February 26th, 2019


Episode: 3204 Transforming Transportation from Engines to Motors.  Today, our thoughts are about motors instead of engines.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1642: Halley’s Comet

February 25th, 2019


Episode: 1642 Reflections upon Halley's, and other, Comets.  Today, a comet approaches.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1641: Aaron Montgomery Ward

February 22nd, 2019


Episode: 1641 Aaron Montgomery Ward and the catalog that didn't belong in a store.  Today, meet Montgomery Ward.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2868: Scholasticism

February 21st, 2019


Episode: 2868 Scholasticism: Reason or Revelation?  Today, reason or revelation?

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1640: Learning Electricity

February 20th, 2019


Episode: 1640 Learning electricity and learning about technological revolutions.  Today, we become electrified.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2865: Computer Divide

February 19th, 2019


Episode: 2865 Computer Divide: The Future of Microprocessors.  Today, two roads.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1639: Flying to the Edge of Air

February 18th, 2019


Episode: 1639 Helios, NASA's high-flying almost-satellite.  Today, let us ride Helios' golden chariot.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1638: Floating Airports

February 15th, 2019


Episode: 1638 Floating airports: How to fly the ocean in 1930.  Today, let us hop across the ocean.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2863: Bits, Nibbles, and Bytes

February 14th, 2019


Episode: 2863 Bits, Nibbles, and Bytes.  Today, bits, nibbles, and bytes.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1637: Natural Magic

February 13th, 2019


Episode: 1637 In which science and magic struggle to become separate pursuits.  Today, let's practice Natural Magic. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2860: The Cascade Tunnel

February 12th, 2019


Episode: 2860 Navigating the Cascade Tunnel.  Today, the tale of a tunnel. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1636: Of Books and Learning

February 11th, 2019


Episode: 1636 Of books and learning in nineteenth-century America.  Today, thoughts on books and learning. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1635: The Sign of the Barber Pole

February 8th, 2019


Episode: 1635 At the Sign of the Barber Pole: of barbers and barber-surgeons.  Today, reflections in a barbershop.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2859: The Mind of Georg Cantor

February 7th, 2019


Episode: 2859 The Mind of Georg Cantor.  Today, who was Georg Cantor?

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1634: Daedalus

February 6th, 2019


Episode: 1634 Flying the Aegean Sea in Daedalus' slipstream.  Today, we mix a magic drink for Daedalus and Icarus.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3203: The Shape of Proteins

February 5th, 2019


Episode: 3203 The Shape of Proteins.  Today, let's talk about the shape of proteins.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1633: Studying Calculus

February 4th, 2019


Episode: 1633 In which a Cambridge don doubts his own calculus teaching.  Today, a mathematician misses the point.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1632: The Sunken Monitor

February 1st, 2019


Episode: 1632 Rediscovering the sunken Union Monitor.  Today, we find the first modern warship -- on the ocean floor. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3202: Gladys West

January 31st, 2019


Episode: 3202 Gladys West and the Geoid.  Today, a quiet hero.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1631: Borrowing a One

January 30th, 2019


Episode: 1631 Learning to subtract 49 from 62: more than meets the eye.  Today, what is 49 from 62?

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2857: Leonid Kantorovich

January 29th, 2019


Episode: 2857 Leonid Kantorivich, Soviet Mathematician and Economist.  Today, an economic wonder.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1630: Creating Nature

January 28th, 2019


Episode: 1630 In which we ponder a very subjective notion of reality.  Today, nature changes before our eyes.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1629: Resisting Change

January 25th, 2019


Episode: 1629 An old book tells about textile engineering and conservatism.  Today, we resist change.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3201: Minimalist Music and Dennis Lee Johnson

January 24th, 2019


Episode: 3201  Some Reflections on Minimalist Music.  Today, minimal. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1628: The First Red Cross Ambulance

January 23rd, 2019


Episode: 1628 The first red cross ambulance.  Today, we care for wounded soldiers.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3200: The Banach-Tarski Paradox

January 22nd, 2019


Episode: 3200 Two for One: The Banach-Tarski Paradox.  Today, two for the price of one.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1627: The Medical Genius

January 21st, 2019


Episode: 1627 A shocking look at medications in 1892 shows us how far we've come.  Today, we measure how far we've come. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1625: Elisha Gray and Miracles

January 18th, 2019


Episode: 1625 Telephone inventor Elisha Gray talks about miracles.  Today, a telephone inventor talks about miracles.  

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1624: Garrett Morgan

January 16th, 2019


Episode: 1624 Garrett A. Morgan: Black American inventor.  Today, thoughts about traffic lights, gas masks, and hair straighteners. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2855: Gregorian Chant

January 15th, 2019


Episode: 2855 Plainchant, Gregorian Chant, and Today's Music.  Today, plain and simple. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1623: Joel Dorman and Esther Steele

January 14th, 2019


Episode: 1623 The textbooks of J. Dorman and Esther Steele.  Today, we meet two very special teachers.  

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1622: Fingerprints

January 11th, 2019


Episode: 1622 Fingerprints, crime detection, and identification.  Today, I ask, "Who are you?" 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2853: Radio Frequency Identification

January 10th, 2019


Episode: 2853 Radio frequency identification and toll roads.  Today, we ease on down the road.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1621: Motherland

January 9th, 2019


Episode: 1621 Motherland: The Stalingrad Memorial.  Today, we visit a really big statue.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2364: The Longest Year

January 8th, 2019


Episode: 2364 46 BC: In which Julius Caesar creates the longest year.  Today, UH scholar Richard Armstrong tells us about the longest year in history.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2566: Champagne

January 7th, 2019


Episode: 2566 Taking Champagne to the Masses.  Today, we pop the cork.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1620: The Indian Canoe

January 4th, 2019


Episode: 1620 The Indian canoe -- another perfected technology.  Today, birch-bark canoes. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2850: Dutch Flood Control

January 3rd, 2019


Episode: 2850 Centuries of Dutch Flood Control.  Today, living on the delta. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1619: A Theatre of Machines

January 2nd, 2019


Episode: 1619 Theatre of Machines -- forerunners of engineering handbooks.  Today, the first handbooks.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2848: Corrugated Cardboard

January 1st, 2019


Episode: 2848 The Corrugated Cardboard Box.  Today, the power of fluting.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1585: Dissonance

December 31st, 2018


Episode: 1585 In which the elephant Prathida teaches me about dissonance and Christmas.  Today, dissonance, elephants, and the holiday season.   

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2669: Christmas Greenery

December 28th, 2018


Episode: 2669 Plants and greens associated with the Christmas Season.  Today, Christmas greenery. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2847: Life Saving Engineering

December 27th, 2018


Episode: 2847 Life Saving Engineering at UNICEF.  Today, we save lives. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1618: Existence and Uniqueness

December 26th, 2018


Episode: 1618 Today we wonder whether something other than one solution exists.  Today, the forgotten lecture in your math course.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2845: Floating Islands

December 25th, 2018


Episode: 2845 Floating Islands and The Maldives Grand Experiment.  Today, we float.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1617: Connections

December 24th, 2018


Episode: 1617 Reflections on the dicey question of cause and effect in history.  Today, the connections problem. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1616: Ivan Pulzunov

December 21st, 2018


Episode: 1616 Ivan Polzunov and early Russian steam engines.  Today, the steam engine comes to Russia. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3199: The Rise of DC

December 20th, 2018


Episode: 3199 Direct current makes its presence known.  Today, getting from A to D.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1615: Learning to Use Coal

December 19th, 2018


Episode: 1615 On learning to use coal.  Today, we learn why we shouldn't bring coals to Newcastle.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3198: Subatomic Particles

December 18th, 2018


Episode: 3198 The Subatomic Particle Zoo.  Today, all the way down.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1614: Advice for Living, 1836

December 17th, 2018


Episode: 1614 Advice on how to live our lives from 1836.  Today, we learn how to live our lives -- in 1836.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1613: Faraday and Magnetism

December 14th, 2018


Episode: 1613 In which Michael Faraday helps us to parse the word, Genius.  Today, we watch genius at work.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2842: Engineering Magnet

December 13th, 2018


Episode: 2842 A Creative Way to Teach Engineering.  Today, an open house. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1612: Enemy at the Gates

December 12th, 2018


Episode: 1612 Trying to tell the story of the worst battle.  Today, we wonder how to tell of history.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2840: Seattle’s Floating Bridges

December 11th, 2018


Episode: 2840 Homer Hadley and Seattle's Floating Bridges.  Today, Homer Hadley’s folly.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1611: Benjamin Franklin and Cotton Mather

December 10th, 2018


Episode: 1611 Benjamin Franklin and Cotton Mather: ideologies diverge and converge.  Today, Benjamin Franklin and Cotton Mather.  

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1608: Members in Tension

December 7th, 2018


Episode: 1608 The brief race to build very tall buildings: 1885 to 1931.  Today, we design for tension.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3197: Sharing Computers

December 6th, 2018


Episode: 3197 Internet Enabled Distributed Computing.  Today, thinking big - really big.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1607: Fire Control

December 5th, 2018


Episode: 1607 Continuous-aim firing: a diagnosis of an ill-received idea.  Today, we aim a gun from a rocking platform.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2839: The World’s Largest Ships

December 4th, 2018


Episode: 2839 The Rise and Fall of Supertankers.  Today, a new breed of big.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1606: The Skycity

December 3rd, 2018


Episode: 1606 The Skycity: a concept struggling against its own Gothic weight.  Today, the skycity.   

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1605: The Rush to Height

November 30th, 2018


Episode: 1605 The brief race to build very tall buildings: 1885 to 1931.  Today, the brief day of the first skyscrapers.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3132: Kitchen Gadgetry

November 29th, 2018


Episode: 3132 Gadgets in the American Kitchen.  Today, gadgets galore. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity: 1604 Hydrogen

November 28th, 2018


Episode: 1604 In which hydrogen balloons bind science to technology.  Today, hydrogen -- in 1783.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2835: Reverse Engineering the Brain

November 27th, 2018


Episode: 2835 Reverse Engineering the Brain.  Today, we look to the brain.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1603: Old Galileo

November 26th, 2018


Episode: 1603 Galileo: An old man grieves his daughter and writes his last book.  Today, an old man writes his most important book.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1602: The Tragedy of the Commons

November 23rd, 2018


Episode: 1602 The tragedy of the commons revisited.  Today, the tragedy of the commons.  

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3196: Flannery O’Connor

November 22nd, 2018


Episode: 3196 The Life and Writing of Flannery O'Connor.  Today, dirtied feathers.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1601: Dirt

November 21st, 2018


Episode: 1601 Mother dirt.  Today, let's play in the dirt.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3195: The Converging Literacies of the Digital Age

November 20th, 2018


Episode: 3195 Newspapers vs. the Internet: The Converging Literacies of the Digital Age.  Today, we read old newspapers.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1600: Adams’s Education

November 19th, 2018


Episode: 1600 Henry Adams ponders the Virgin and the Dynamo.  Today, a nineteenth-century intellectual struggles with the twentieth century. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1599: Urban Archaeology

November 16th, 2018


Episode: 1599 Urban archaeology: a privy provides a window to the past.  Today, history in a trash bin. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3194: The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

November 15th, 2018


Episode: 3194 Purple Men: The History of the Color Purple.  Today, whatever happened to SETI? 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1598: Surface Tension

November 14th, 2018


Episode: 1598 Surface Tension: a tiny force, but omnipresent.  Today, we look at the edge of a water droplet.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3193: Purple Men

November 13th, 2018


Episode: 3193 Purple Men: The History of the Color Purple.  Today, we see purple.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1597: Ottoman Telegraph

November 12th, 2018


Episode: 1597 The Ottoman Empire telegraph, linking Europe and Asia.  Today, the telegraph connects Europe and Asia.   

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1596: The First Automobile?

November 9th, 2018


Episode: 1596 Looking for the "first" automobile.  Today, let's try to find the first automobile. 

Engines of Our Ingenuity 3192: Self Reflection

November 8th, 2018


Episode: 3192 Behind the Scenes at The Engines of Our Ingenuity.  Today, inside the Engines of Our Ingenuity.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1595: Alfred Stieglitz

November 7th, 2018


Episode: 1595 In which Alfred Stieglitz and 291 anticipate Modern.  Today, Stieglitz and photography, art and reality.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 2832: Claude-Louis Navier

November 6th, 2018


Episode: 2832 Math meets engineering: Claude-Louis Navier's bridge.  Today, building bridges.

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1594: The Mad Scientist

November 5th, 2018


Episode: 1594 The Mad Scientist -- he keeps coming back.  Today, the mad scientist.  

Engines of Our Ingenuity 1593: LST-325

November 2nd, 2018


Episode: 1593 The LST-325: Thirty old men and an old ship become young again.  Today, the LST-325.

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