The WORST episodes of Modern Marvels

Every episode of Modern Marvels ever, ranked from worst to best by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The worst episodes of Modern Marvels!

Celebrating ingenuity, invention and imagination brought to life on a grand scale, MODERN MARVELS tells the fascinating stories of the doers, dreamers and sometime-schemers who created everyday items, technological breakthroughs and man-made wonders.

Last Updated: 1/22/2023Network:History
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Torture Devices
star
3.00
3 votes

#1 - Torture Devices

Season 10 - Episode 26 - Aired 5/22/2003

For more than 3,000 years, emperors and generals, dictators and police, criminals, clerics, and even medical doctors have created and used a vast array of torture devices--everything from the ancient Greeks' Brazen Bull, which slowly barbecued the victim, to the elaborate mechanical apparatuses of the Spanish Inquisition. A medical doctor who specializes in victims of torture reveals how the human body responds to their use--from the earliest excruciating contrivances to the more modern.

Twin Towers of the East
star
4.00
2 votes

#2 - Twin Towers of the East

Season 10 - Episode 7 - Aired 3/4/2003

Rising almost 1,500 feet high, the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia were named the world's tallest in 1996 by the Council on Tall Buildings. Connecticut architect Cesar Pelli blended traditional Islamic motifs with the modern skyscraper to create a beacon to the new Asia. Join us as we tour this gateway to the East, an engineering marvel involving experts from around the globe and the determination of Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad to transform his country into a 21st-century power.

The Technology of Lewis And Clark
star
4.67
3 votes

#3 - The Technology of Lewis And Clark

Season 10 - Episode 18 - Aired 11/27/2003

Planning, craftsmanship, improvisation and sheer determination contribute to the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Directors: Geoffrey Madeja
Hot & Spicy
star
5.00
2 votes

#4 - Hot & Spicy

Season 16 - Episode 9 - Aired 3/18/2010

Chili head alert! It's time to get hot and spicy. First we'll take you to the home of sizzling Tabasco sauce--McIlhenny Company of Louisiana, and to McCormick in Baltimore, Maryland--the leading spice manufacturer in the world. Then, head down south to see who likes it hot at the Southern Mississippi Chili Cook Off. At the Chile Pepper Institute, taste the rare "Bhut Jolokia," the hottest Chile pepper in the world, and learn about the chemical substance capsaicin, which gives the "Bhut" and other popular peppers their tongue-burning heat. At Sol Toro restaurant in Connecticut, owned by basketball great Michael Jordan, customers need to sign a waiver to dine on their sizzling dishes. Go to the manufacturers of horseradish, wasabi and mustard to find out how their roots and seeds deliver their own distinctive blazing burn. Using the same heat many savor, we'll demonstrate the powerful punch of pepper spray as a weapon.

Winter Warriors
star
5.00
3 votes

#5 - Winter Warriors

Season 10 - Episode 4 - Aired 1/31/2003

A look at how armies fight in extremely cold weather. Included: the Battle of the Bulge.

Nature Tech: Hurricanes
star
5.00
2 votes

#6 - Nature Tech: Hurricanes

Season 12 - Episode 67 - Aired 12/29/2005

Explore how hurricanes start, how scientists track them, and how if at all possible they can be stopped.

Gangster Guns
star
5.00
3 votes

#7 - Gangster Guns

Season 11 - Episode 5 - Aired 2/12/2004

During the 1920s and '30s in big cities and small towns alike, they earned a fierce reputation in a blaze of bullets. They were the best friends of criminals such as John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Al Capone, and Bonnie and Clyde. Handle their Colt 45s and 38s, Tommy guns, Whippets, and Browning automatic rifles as we uncover the stories of gangster guns.

Directors: Tom Jennings
Extreme Sports Gadgets
star
5.00
2 votes

#8 - Extreme Sports Gadgets

Season 10 - Episode 77 - Aired 12/2/2003

Join us for an exploration of the technological innovations that have made extreme sports a reality. The world's best extreme athletes, designers, manufacturers, and engineers explain and demonstrate why the gadgets, gear, and technology of these sports have captured the public's imagination and revolutionized the sporting industry. Sports covered include surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, in-line skating, street luge, wakeboarding, sport climbing, BMX biking, and sky surfing.

Writer: Rob Stone
T-34: Russian Victory
star
5.00
4 votes

#9 - T-34: Russian Victory

Season 10 - Episode 23 - Aired 5/10/2003

Stalin enlists the ideas of an American engineer to develop one of the most formidable tanks in history.

Directors: Taylor Downing
U.S. Guns of World War II
star
5.00
3 votes

#10 - U.S. Guns of World War II

Season 10 - Episode 21 - Aired 5/8/2003

An examination of the weapons that battled through surf and snow, dense jungle and choking dust...the guns of the American GI. Though WWII introduced instruments that pierced the dark and weapons that released the power of the atom, the infantryman's guns were designed decades before--but in dependability they were unequaled.

Alcan Highway
star
5.00
6 votes

#11 - Alcan Highway

Season 10 - Episode 6 - Aired 2/11/2003

In the world of road making, the Alcan Highway is a feat worthy of comparison to the legendary byways of ancient Rome. Stretching 1,500 miles from British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska, the Alcan traverses incredibly difficult and hostile territory, crossing the Canadian Rockies, raging rivers and dense forest. Remarkably, it was built in just eight months. Modern Marvels ventures back to the uncertain days of World War II to tell the story of the Alcan's construction. Fearing a Japanese invasion of Alaska, the military brass decreed that a better connection between the remote territory and the lower 48 states was essential, and the Alcan was the solution. Through the recollections of workmen and extensive photos and footage taken all along the route, the Alcan Highway documents how 11,000 soldiers--nearly 4,000 of them black--bulldozed their way into engineering history.

Work Clothes
star
5.00
2 votes

#12 - Work Clothes

Season 8 - Episode 32 - Aired 10/17/2001

TBA

Tank Crews
star
5.25
4 votes

#13 - Tank Crews

Season 10 - Episode 24 - Aired 5/15/2003

During WWII, American tank crews duked it out with Nazi Panzers in a high-explosive duel to the death. The German tanks had thicker armor and better guns than the mainstay of the U.S. armored forces, the M-4 Sherman. For many crewmen, the Sherman lived up to its nickname as a steel coffin. But what the tanks lacked in firepower and protection, the crews made up for in guts and good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity. We'll meet some of these armored warriors from WWII.

Non-Lethal Weapons
star
5.25
4 votes

#14 - Non-Lethal Weapons

Season 10 - Episode 10 - Aired 3/13/2003

They stun, debilitate, immobilize--providing police and peacekeepers with options other than shouting or shooting. From the ancient caltrop--a multi-pointed contraption hurled by foot soldiers into a horseman's path--to sting-ball grenades, electrical shock devices, and sound, light, and energy weapons, we examine non-lethal weapons that disperse crowds and take down criminals. And in a whiff of the future, we see why the government thinks stink bombs might prove useful in the war against terror.

Mummy Tech
star
5.25
4 votes

#15 - Mummy Tech

Season 13 - Episode 33 - Aired 8/23/2006

After thousands of years, Egyptian mummies are speaking from the grave. With the use of state-of-the-art computer tomography scanning we explore inside a 2,000-year-old mummified body of an Egyptian child.

Writer: Jeff Cole
Cosmodrome
star
5.25
4 votes

#16 - Cosmodrome

Season 10 - Episode 27 - Aired 5/26/2003

Cosmodrome is the story of Russia's "Crown Jewels"--the finest rocket engines in the world, built under conditions of absolute secrecy to land a man on the moon. It tells how, at the height of Cold War rivalry, the engineers of the Soviet Union's elite Design Bureaux developed what today have become the most admired rocket engines money can buy--and how in the new climate, driven by commerce not conflict, those engines have found their way into American rockets.

Engineering an Empire: Rome
star
5.25
4 votes

#17 - Engineering an Empire: Rome

Season 12 - Episode 50 - Aired 9/13/2005

One of the most powerful civilizations in history, the Roman Empire ruled the world for more than five centuries. Although renowned for its military prowess, Rome's real power stemmed from its unprecedented mastery of urban planning and engineering.

Bullet Trains
star
5.33
3 votes

#18 - Bullet Trains

Season 10 - Episode 9 - Aired 3/11/2003

Traveling between 135 and 190 miles per hour with an astonishingly high safety record, bullet trains can be found throughout Europe, Japan, and on the U.S. eastern seaboard. How high-speed trains are propelled is rooted in fundamentals that haven't changed since the first electric trolleys appeared in the 19th century. We see how scientists are looking at new alternatives to electricity, including magnetic levitation that can move passenger trains 345 miles per hour and beyond!

Watch Now:iTunes
Taxidermy
star
5.33
3 votes

#19 - Taxidermy

Season 12 - Episode 15 - Aired 3/9/2005

It began as a tool used by prehistoric man to attract animals to the hunt. Over time it became an invaluable study aid for the natural scientist and a popular hobby for hunters and fishermen. Join us for a tantalizing look at the history of taxidermy, the craft of preserving animal skins and using them to recreate a still life of the animal as it appeared in life. We also check out fiberglass reproduction, which is gaining popularity as fish and game regulations become stricter. Finally, we examine human subjects in taxidermy. Using the very latest process of plastination, the once taboo science and art of preserving and displaying human corpses now draws crowds in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., proving the age-old practice continues to mesmerize us!

The Basement
star
5.33
3 votes

#20 - The Basement

Season 12 - Episode 19 - Aired 4/26/2005

Venture down that creaky staircase to explore the most misunderstood room in the house! From Pompeii to Pittsburgh, the dark, cool, and forlorn spaces beneath our living quarters have always contained things that helped us live comfortably. Ancient Hittites, Phrygians, and Persians carved subterranean rooms for food, water, and wine storage, and for shelter from weather and marauders. For ancient Greeks and Romans, a basement greatly increased a house's value. Ruins of homes at Pompeii reveal the importance of basements in providing both heat and storage for rich Roman families. Renaissance architects placed kitchens, servant quarters, and laundry rooms there, hidden from the eyes of their aristocratic patrons! Colonial Americans expanded the practice, and by the 20th century, the basement was a routine feature. Come along as we demystify this domestic underworld, which turns out to be an area of innovation, imagination, and creativity.

Writer: Jim Hense
The John Hancock Center
star
5.33
3 votes

#21 - The John Hancock Center

Season 12 - Episode 28 - Aired 6/8/2005

A steel giant standing 1,107 feet high on broad shoulders, this vertical city houses 1,200 people. Join us as we explore how a young architectural team from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill conceived of an innovative 100-story, multi-use tower. A construction crisis halted the project for six months, but once it resumed, it took just four years and 50 million man-hours to complete the John Hancock Center. In the heart of Chicago, the John Hancock Center rises 100 stories above the luxury shops and restaurants that line the famous Magnificent Mile. It opened on May 5, 1970 with 237,657 square feet of retailing, 812,160 square feet of offices, 703 rental apartments (converted to condominiums in 1974), 507-car parking garage, and an ice skating rink! There are 1,250 miles of wiring and 11,459 panes of glass. Nicknamed "Big John", it cost $100-million and took 46,000 tons of steel to build.

Antibiotics
star
5.33
3 votes

#22 - Antibiotics

Season 6 - Episode 4 - Aired 9/28/1998

Mega Machine Countdown
star
5.33
6 votes

#23 - Mega Machine Countdown

Season 19 - Episode 2 - Aired 7/23/2012

Modern Marvels is going big, and counting down. We take the “best of” Modern Marvels and give you the MEGA Top 10 countdown. On this edition: Awe-Inspiring Machines–featuring the top ten mightiest, strangest, and most unique innovations from our archives.

Watch Now:iTunes
Beans
star
5.50
2 votes

#24 - Beans

Season 16 - Episode 8 - Aired 3/11/2010

Follow the soybean from field to refinery with CHS, Inc. as they convert billions of soybeans into vegetable oils, flour, and soy meal. These products, in turn, end up in salad dressings and margarines, baked goods, animal feed and even bio-fuel and plastics. Pay a visit to the Kelley Bean Company which cleans 80,000 pounds of dry beans per day. B & M Baked Beans stirs up some New England tradition by baking beans in steel kettles and brick ovens. Then, Italian chef and bean lover Cesare Casella whips up a few bean dishes using rare heirloom beans, some of which cost $35 per pound. For dessert, Japanese pastry makers prepare traditional bean-based confections with the azuki bean. Fry up some falafel and puree some beans into a paste called hummus with the most widely consumed legume in the world...the chickpea. Last but not least, the makers of Beano explain how it works to prevent that unfortunate bean byproduct: gas.

World's Strongest (1)
star
5.50
4 votes

#25 - World's Strongest (1)

Season 13 - Episode 49 - Aired 10/18/2006

Strength...a powerful word, but what does it mean? How is it measured? Why are some things simply stronger than others. How strong is a rope, a tractor, a diamond, a tugboat or even plastic. How and why strength matther to us every day.

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