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Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World

Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World

  • Premiered: 
    April 17, 2019
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter:
  • Tags: science, engineering, technology

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  • Complete Series
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Plot Synopsis

Narrated by Patrick Stewart, BREAKTHROUGH: THE IDEAS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD is a one-hour documentary series that documents how humans and six revolutionary inventions changed the world forever. Told through iconic, modern-day objects -- the telescope, airplane, robot, car, rocket and smartphone -- the series is the culmination of the long-held human dream to explore, communicate and find one's place in the universe. Featuring passionate visionaries such as Alexander Graham Bell, Carl and Bertha Benz, Henry Ford, Robert Goddard, Hedy Lamarr, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Ada Lovelace, Samuel Morse and more, the series captures how these revolutionary individuals, who faced triumphs and challenges - ridicule, poverty and, in some cases, death -- advanced humankind with breakthrough after breakthrough. Episodes include:

"The Telescope" (Premieres Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 10pm): Look back in time to see how humans invented the telescope and used it to discover the universe. Meet the brilliant minds throughout history, from Galileo to Edwin Hubble, responsible for creating the telescope. Today, their invention allows humanity to reach the furthest limits of seeing -- 13 billion light-years out.

"The Airplane" (Premieres Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 10pm): Take to the sky with those who inspired the Wright brothers to invent the first successful airplane. From Leonardo da Vinci's "flying machines" to the modern commercial plane, without these inventions, we may have never left the ground.

"The Robot" (Premieres Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at 10pm): Check out the history of robots and learn how they are fast becoming a part of everyday life. Learn how robots were first conceptualized in ancient Rome and see how their use has evolved over the centuries, from the calculator to the Roomba. Then, take a sneak peek at what future robots will be able to do.

"The Car" (Premieres Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 10pm): Go for a ride through the 9,000-year history of the ultimate freedom machine -- the car -- from its roots in dogsleds to Henry Ford's affordable and assembly line-built Model T, and meet the scientists working on the next generation of self-driving automobiles.

"The Rocket" (Premieres Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 10pm): Blast off into history to learn the explosive history of the rocket, from its origin in a cave in ancient China to its use as a weapon of war to how adding hydrogen allowed it to carry astronauts all the way to the moon.

"The Smartphone" (Premieres Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 10pm): Dial in to the fascinating history of the smartphone, from its roots in Morse Code to Alexander Graham Bell's invention to Apple's 2007 unveiling of the first-ever iPhone. Plus, see how the next generation of smartphones will allow us to communicate through them just by thinking.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Bigger Bang