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"Modern Marvels"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Modern Marvels" More at IMDbPro »

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26 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A Cornerstone Show On The History Channel

10/10
Author: alexkolokotronis from Queens, New York
16 July 2008

When I think History Channel I think Modern Marvels. In a strange way it is very addictive. You learn so much you just want more and more. You could watch a marathon of this and not notice that hours have passed by. It covers everything from entertainment to architectural achievements to politics. It is so explanatory and at the same times it gives you a time line of whatever the show is displaying. What makes this show so great is that it could cover any topic including ones I'm not interested in and make me interested. This show at times has compelled me to research further to extensively learn about something for myself. A great show that does not base its episodes on speculation but on facts and examines and investigates them as well. I couldn't ever imagine this being taken off the air.

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Greatest Show Ever!

10/10
Author: melissa-langston-2007 from United States
30 January 2007

Anyone whoever has a chance to watch this show should! It is very entertaining. You need no scientific or engineering knowledge whatsoever...They cover every single topic: From movies and sex, to ships and storm, to terrorism and the military. Every topic is entertaining. You can watch the shows for FREE on the History Channel website. Any topic that has ever interested will be described in detail...the history and the future of the topics are covered. Some of the best episodes are the Engineering Disaster episodes. These episodes talk all about things that fail from the 1900's on. Watch this show...you will learn...and you will be entertained...

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Oddly Addictive

9/10
Author: SamuelChase from United States
26 June 2007

I gotta say I love this show. It really indulges your inner curiosities about a WIDE range of subject matter. What on the surface would sound like some documentary on a lackluster topic you'd watch in grade school, Modern Marvels makes fascinating.

Whether it's guns, engines, shipping, mining, plastics, or something as seemingly mundane as plumbing, Modern Marvels presents an entertaining and well-organized program taking you from the subject's origins to where it's likely headed in the future. This insightful program is highly recommended for those who have even the slightest curiosity, and who desire an understanding of the things that create our society.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Manhatten Project episode

3/10
Author: greenforest56 from San Francisco, California
10 July 2008

The first ¾ of this film is factual and useful. However, at the end it provides the usual moral distortion currently popular about America's use of the atomic bomb to end WWII. First, the main motive for dropping the bomb was not Russia but American casualties.

The American leadership was not indifferent to the spread of Soviet domination. However, at the time of decision the battle of Okinawa was still going on and Truman was looking at casualty reports of 5,000 a week and had been seeing those reports for weeks. In all, there were over 72,000 American casualties in this battle. So high was the casualty rate that congress called for an investigation. Over 200,000 Japanese died on Okinawa. It is not known how many were wounded.

Over 30 American ships were sunk and 164 were damaged. By comparison, only 9 ships were sunk and 14 damaged at Pearl Harbor. Several thousand American and Japanese aircraft were lost, far more than were lost in the Battle of Britain. In fact, more aircraft were lost at Okinawa than the entire June, 1940 combat strength of the RAF and Luftwaffe combined.

Thus, the small island of Okinawa was one of the largest battles of World War II.

It was estimated that there would be up to 1,000,000 American casualties if we had to invade and conquer Japan. Japanese casualties were estimated to be ten times higher. So many Purple Heart Medals were manufactured in anticipation of the casualties from the invasion that to this day wounded soldiers are awarded Purple Hearts from this WWII stock.

Ship losses were expected to be greater because a new form of Kamikaze, besides 10,000 remaining aircraft, in the shape of suicide attack boats, would also be met in the Home Islands. Aircraft losses were expected to be high because many more would be lost to ground fire. Thus, the invasion of Japan was going to be perhaps the largest and most horrendous battle in world history.

The second and little known reason was Japan had a secret biological weapons research program. They had also been bombarding America with balloon bombs that drifted across the Pacific to America on the jet stream. (In fact, it was a Japanese scientist, using balloons, that discovered the jet stream in the 1920's. It is used to this day by commercial airline flights from Tokyo to L.A. to save fuel.)

However, a strict news blackout kept the Japanese from knowing the success of this program, named "fūsen bakudan", and so they did not combine their biological weapons with these balloon bombs. Over 9,000 of these balloons were launched and about 1,000 reached the United States. They fell all over North America, as far north as Alaska, as far east as Detroit and as far south as Mexico.

As late as 1955 one with live ordnance was found in Alaska. Another was found in 1992, its ordnance too corroded to explode. Thus, only because of the news blackout were American and Canadian civil populations were spared widespread attack from biological weapons.

This was no small menace and the American leadership had to weigh it in the balance.

This film episode fails to mention either of these facts.

It is also a moral perversion to have the testimony of 'victims' of the atomic bomb without the moral balance of testimony of the victims of the true atrocities of the Japanese.

Such as: the victims of the Rape of Nanking where hundreds of thousands of Chinese were brutally raped, murdered and abused. Some were tied to posts and used for bayonet practice. Others were used for karate practice, 'practiced' on until they died.

The American and Philippine soldiers who were victims of the Bataan Death March who were brutalized, shot, stabbed, starved and given no water on their tragic march to their prison camps. Thousands died.

Or the Korean 'comfort'women who were enslaved and sent into prostitution by Japan to 'comfort' Japanese soldiers. Or the American captives who were sent to Manchuria where Japan conducted their secret biological weapons program. American G.I.'s were the guinea pigs. Or the U.S. Marines who were all beheaded after they were forced to surrender after defending Wake Island. Etc., etc.

It is a moral imbalance to present only the tearful testimony of a Japanese present at Hiroshima without providing a larger moral context of the war in general. Such an imbalance is a distortion to the point of moral perversion.

NOTE: This criticism is for the "Manhatten Project" episode only. The 'Modern Marvel" series in general is good to excellent and I recommend it.

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"Panama Canal Supersized" (and others) Unwatchable

Author: wingsrfs from North Carolina
15 April 2015

Little good it will do posting here, but History Channel has obscured any feedback paths to their programming department.

I really would like to watch this show. I managed to get through to the first commercial. But it's the sound. Rather, the NOISE. Their sound editor seems compelled to pull out all the sound effects he can find and throw it into the program at an unreasonably high volume. I have to crank up the volume to hear the narrator, which causes others in the room not interested in the show to scream to turn it down. It's very annoying to me too, especially that sound of someone dragging sheet metal off a truck. Really.

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"Panama Canal Supersized" is the best episode of all!

10/10
Author: mrussell-9 from United States
8 April 2015

Be sure not to miss "Panama Canal Supersized" that premieres Saturday evening, April 11 at 9 pm. The special reveals for the first time the 5.5 billion expansion project of the Panama Canal.

Radiant Features filmmakers Dylan Robertson and Bill Ferehawk seamlessly integrate time lapse, drone and regular photography with full immersive sound in a fast-paced, one-hour narrative.

Memorable sequences include a tour through the underground channels while water rushes in, a concrete pour ten stories high, and the fabrication of the jumbo gates in Italy. The expansion project itself started in 2007 and is projected to be finished around early 2016.

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A review of the Robots episode

7/10
Author: robotbling from Canada
4 December 2011

Modern Marvels' episode takes a look at the history of mobile robots in the United States. The show begins with the original Shaky and Stanford Cart, all the way up to the massive field robots developed by Red Whittaker at Carnegie Mellon to deal with nuclear accidents. It's particularly interesting because there really weren't any machines (robots or otherwise) capable of dealing with these sorts of disasters before Whittaker and his team began developing them.

While some have criticized Japan for failing to build practical robots capable of dealing with situations like the Fukushima plant, the United States was in the same position when the meltdown occurred at the Three Mile Island reactor. Whittaker jokes that the start-up he founded was the robotics equivalent of an ambulance chaser, making bank on the backs of disasters as they happened. It then goes into some of the early legged robots and autonomous vehicles.

Though it does touch very lightly on humanoids, it almost goes out of its way to tiptoe around Japan's dominance in that area (perhaps not to upset WW2 buffs, the History Channel's target demographic). Instead of Japanese humanoids (of which only familiar clips of Honda's P2 are shown despite the episode airing in 2004!), it focuses on the comparably simplistic animatronics for entertainment and Nolan Bushnell's failed household robotics venture Androbot. Even though our beloved humanoids are not the focus of the episode, it's still a history lesson worth taking, though its American bias is slightly annoying.

Modern Marvels also did a couple of episodes with robotic tangents ("Super Human" has a short segment on Raytheon SARCOS's exoskeleton).

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