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Everyday Miracles: The Genius of Sofas, Stockings & Scanners

Professor Mark Miodownik uncovers the fascinating science behind the everyday stuff of our lives.

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About the series

Mark Miodownik Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC It could be argued that our modern lives in the developed world are as comfortable and rewarding as they are, is all down to enlightened thinking or benign government, but Mark’s contention is that it’s much more to so with stuff: with advances in materials science and manufacture.

Even at the beginning of the 20th century, our homes were pretty much as they’d been for hundreds of years. For most people they constituted basic shelters – something to keep out the weather. Furnishings were sparse and offered little comfort. The railways had recently improved transport, but personal transport still meant by foot for most. And in terms of the ‘bigger picture’, the idea of there being other galaxies – or even galaxies at all – was some way off.

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Over the last hundred years or so, our lives have changed dramatically. In just two or three generations ordinary people's homes have been transformed into pleasure palaces – filled with comfortable sofas, electronic gadgets with light and heat on tap.

Away from home, cars & bicycles carry us safely about on a comprehensive paved road network, aircraft routinely pluck us from one side of the world and deposit us on the other. These extraordinary advances are thanks to advances in metals, composites, polymers, ceramics – in short, stuff – and our ability to mass produce it, democratising a better standard of living.

Everyday Miracles explores the stories behind the everyday stuff of life. Be it on the road or in the lab, Mark Miodownik sheds new light on the everyday and the mundane, revealing it to be anything but.

You can watch Everyday Miracles from 9:00pm on Tuesday 19 August on BBC Four. Visit the BBC website for more information. Check out the latest programme below and explore OpenLearn for more related topics.

Away

This time he looks at how materials have enabled us to indulge our curiosity about the world around us. To go further and travel faster. He looks at how the bicycle suddenly stirred our national gene pool, why we should all be grateful for exploding glass and what levitation has to do with discovering your inner self. On the road and in the lab with dramatic experiments, Mark reveals why the everyday and even the mundane is anything but.

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Episodes in this series

Episode Description
Home Professor Mark Miodownik shows us what is so great about stuff. Read more
Away Professor Mark Miodownik concludes his odyssey of the stuff of modern life. Read more