Archive for November, 2003
In 2003, with Mars closer to Earth than it had been in 60,000 years, scientists launched three life-seeking planetary landers. If the long journeys prove successful, all should be hard at work on the Red Planet’s surface by January 2004. NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity and the European Space Agency’s Beagle 2 represent the pinnacle in the history of the search for extraterrestrial life. Leading scientists, who believe life may exist beyond Earth, explain skepticism about ETs having visited Earth.
Hop into the cab for the ride of your life as we examine extreme trucks, including: a jet truck that can travel 300 mph; the Baltimore Technical Assistance Response Unit’s mobile command truck; a garbage truck with an articulated arm; a concrete pumper truck with telescoping boom and pumping mechanism; and a 4-wheel-drive truck that can convert from mower to street sweeper to backhoe to snow blower in mere minutes. Learn how SWAT, bomb squad, HAZMAT, and crime scene specialty trucks are built.
Based on the popular book, this episode explores historical building collapses–from ancient pyramids to the Cathedral at Beauvais to Kansas City’s Hyatt Regency–and demonstrates that clear warning signs often existed, but were ignored. We also examine the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York. Author Jim Chiles believes that designers and engineers must better prepare for all potential disasters–by understanding existing risks, they can prepare for the unknown, like terrorism.
No program better symbolizes human mastery of machines than does the space shuttle. But the breakups of Challenger and Columbia revealed the program is tragically flawed. Based on the James Chiles’s book Inviting Disaster, we look at the 1930 crash of the R-101, a dirigible which, much like Challenger, was rushed into flight and met with disaster, and the Hindenburg, whose 1937 explosion ended dreams of commercial flights for an entire industry. Will the shuttle program go the way of the dirigible?