Introduction: The Car (01:56)
Humans first migrated out of Africa 180,000 years ago; today, more than one billion automobiles transport their descendants over twenty billion miles of road. The car represents freedom to many, but required environment changes to fully utilize.
Domesticated for Transportation (04:45)
Remains of specialized wolves and sled runners were found at an excavation site on Zhokhov Island; Biological Anthropologist Alice Roberts explains how the animals were adapted to running and pulling weight. Harnessing them allowed humans to hunt reindeer and survive in the arctic.
Harnessing the Circle (05:18)
The innovation of smelting and discovery of bronze enabled precision tool manufacture; the chisel was used to perfectly round and size wheels and axles. Invented approximately 3500 BCE, the wheel revolutionized transportation and triggered social changes worldwide, allowing interactions between civilizations.
Rocking Beam (04:35)
In 1712, Thomas Newcomen innovated a water pump driven by a steam engine, enabling miners to dig deep underground without risk of flooding.
Turning Wheels and Triggering Industry (05:23)
Industrialist John Wilkinson invented a boring machine to create perfectly cylindrical cannon muzzles, preventing backfiring. James Watt innovated the condenser, increasing engine speed and power; he enlisted “Iron Mad” to bore him precision cylinders and pistons, required for engines used for transportation.
In 1886, Karl Benz patented the first automobile; it was considered a novelty. In 1888, his wife drove it 66 miles over country tracks, learning operation and maintenance during the journey. News of her accomplishment spread and transformed notions about the invention’s practicality.
Early Models (03:57)
Jay Leno shows his private automobile collection, sharing history of inventors and technology. In 1900, one third of cars were electric, but had limited range; Thomas Edison invented the nickel iron battery, powering vehicles for 100 miles, but it was impractically expensive.
Replacing the Horse (09:29)
In early twentieth century, cities rapidly urbanized, equating to massive rise in horse populations and wastes. Henry Ford solved industrialization problems by making the automobile more affordable, innovating the simplified Model-T engine and assembly line. By 1912, New York City streets were filled with cars.
Progressive Solutions (07:30)
The automobile’s commonality transformed infrastructure and city planning, and created environmental crisis. Technology developers aspire to improve electric options and autonomous vehicles. In 2004, physicists discovered graphene, finding the strong, lightweight material able to hold charge.
Credits: The Car (00:29)
Credits: The Car
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