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The Genius of Invention, BBC2&HD 9pm, 24 - 31 Jan, 7-14 Feb


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Old 25-01-2013, 12:05
LostFool
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We thought it was very good and quite informative, but too often it veered into 'schools programme trying to be cool & exciting' territory. Why three presenters? And please - why is it now considered de rigeur to have presenters carrying mugs around with them?
I don'd mind the mugs but what I find annoying is the recent trend for presenters to control what's being displayed on a screen by swiping an iPad. There's no need for it, it just says "hey, look, I have an iPad". Sky News are the worst for it but it has started to creep into other programmes.
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Old 25-01-2013, 12:12
johnan
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A few more moving graphics would hep rather than practical demos.
I'm still unsure how the condenser works .
Quite agree, the theory is easy and obvious, but it is the practical ironmongery that Watt came up with to do the job that I would have liked to see.
(and how he made it with the basic equipment that was about then)
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Old 25-01-2013, 13:03
pinkyponk34
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What I find interesting that despite how far we have come we are still mostly relying on the heating up of water to make steam to turn turbines to make most of our power,

Not exactly come along way have we.
Agreed, we've had steam turbines for 150 years yet still have the old fashioned conversion of linear energy into rotational energy powering modern petrol and diesel engines.
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Old 25-01-2013, 13:14
kwynne42
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Agreed, we've had steam turbines for 150 years yet still have the old fashioned conversion of linear energy into rotational energy powering modern petrol and diesel engines.
Even Nuclear power stations are only there to make water hot, make steam and move turbines, I was suprised when I learnt this (not in this programme) because I assumed some more complex and advanced thing was going on rather than just producing steam, in the 21st century we should have moved on, maybe the solar power they were talking about but no doubt that will be just used to heat water as well.
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Old 25-01-2013, 13:19
LostFool
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What I find interesting that despite how far we have come we are still mostly relying on the heating up of water to make steam to turn turbines to make most of our power,

Not exactly come along way have we.
We still have the wheel too. Sometimes in engineering, something just works so well there is no need for a replacement, The challenge is to make it more efficient, reliable and safer.
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Old 25-01-2013, 13:28
Andy2
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I don'd mind the mugs but what I find annoying is the recent trend for presenters to control what's being displayed on a screen by swiping an iPad. There's no need for it, it just says "hey, look, I have an iPad". Sky News are the worst for it but it has started to creep into other programmes.
Yes. I had intended to make that point, but being of a certain age my brain can only remember two gripes at once
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Old 25-01-2013, 14:01
PrinceOfDenmark
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Even Nuclear power stations are only there to make water hot, make steam and move turbines, I was suprised when I learnt this (not in this programme) because I assumed some more complex and advanced thing was going on rather than just producing steam, in the 21st century we should have moved on, maybe the solar power they were talking about but no doubt that will be just used to heat water as well.
Wind and tidal power don't use steam. Solar comes in two forms - one of which generates electricity directly, and the other heats water. Hydro-electric doesn't use steam, but geothermal does.

Other than solar, the general rule would be that if you're tapping energy from something that is already moving, then you can generate electricity directly - otherwise you need an intermediate step, such as boiling water to convert the source energy into movement, and therefore electricity.

There are a few other non-motion-based ways of generating electricity, such as piezo- or thermo-electrics, but they're not currently any use for large-scale production.
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Old 25-01-2013, 14:33
lundavra
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I don'd mind the mugs but what I find annoying is the recent trend for presenters to control what's being displayed on a screen by swiping an iPad. There's no need for it, it just says "hey, look, I have an iPad". Sky News are the worst for it but it has started to creep into other programmes.
I wonder how much is just show, at point someone tapped their iPad to start a video on the screen behind then it switched to a full broadcast quality of the video. Perhaps edited in later.
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Old 25-01-2013, 15:40
Sad_BB_Addict
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from Ratings Thread
The Genius of Invention: 1.54m (6.3%)
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Old 25-01-2013, 16:04
Eraserhead
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I did enjoy it even though it felt as if Johnny Ball should have been presenting it.

Yes, it was fairly elementary stuff but it did highlight the interesting fact that even now we're still using steam to power our generators and still shovelling hundreds of tons of coal to do the job. There must be a more efficient way of generating electricity?

And talking of efficiency, how much electricity gets lost travelling down overhead power cables? Can't they insulate them more?
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Old 25-01-2013, 16:53
lundavra
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I did enjoy it even though it felt as if Johnny Ball should have been presenting it.

Yes, it was fairly elementary stuff but it did highlight the interesting fact that even now we're still using steam to power our generators and still shovelling hundreds of tons of coal to do the job. There must be a more efficient way of generating electricity?

And talking of efficiency, how much electricity gets lost travelling down overhead power cables? Can't they insulate them more?
Insulating (electrically) the cable doesn't have any effect on losses.

INVESTIGATION INTO TRANSMISSION LOSSES ON
UK ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION SYSTEM
June 2008


A small percentage of the energy transferred over the GB electricity transmission system is lost
every year, due to physical processes such as resistive heating of transmission lines and
magnetic and resistive losses in transformers. This loss is typically of the order of 2% of the
energy transferred across the network. National Grid is incentivised to minimise losses as part
of the Balancing Services Incentive Scheme.
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Old 25-01-2013, 17:07
LostFool
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There must be a more efficient way of generating electricity?
Well, if you could think of one then you'd be rich and famous!

One of the reasons we still use coal is that it is relatively cheap. You just have to dig it out of the ground and burn it. Nuclear energy was supposed to be so efficient that it would be "too cheap to meter" but that's before you take into account the astronomical costs of building and decommissioning the plants.
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Old 25-01-2013, 18:06
Sad_BB_Addict
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Reviews

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Old 25-01-2013, 19:02
Stigid
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I know Stuff...

I didn't know any more after watching this dumbed down excuse for a Science Programme.

Deleted from Series Link, I gave up after 20 minutes.

Get down Shep !


Not a patch on the RICL Xmas Lectures.

Dr Cassie Newland was a hyperactive annoyance.
(The obligatory female Scientist, industrial archaeologist)


Telegraph review.... physicist Michael Mosley !!

He's a Medical Surgeon. ( and nearly a Psychiatrist )

A Physician... not a Physicist
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Old 25-01-2013, 19:13
Doghouse Riley
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I know Stuff...

I didn't know any more after watching this dumbed down excuse for a Science Programme.

Deleted from Series Link, I gave up after 20 minutes.


Not a patch on the RICL Xmas Lectures.

Dr Cassie Newland was a hyperactive annoyance.
(The obligatory female Scientist)


Telegraph review.... physicist Michael Mosley !!

He's a Medical Surgeon.

A Physician... not a Physicist
I agree, I posted something similar to this on a forgotten duplicate thread.

Who is the "genius" who comes up with up with so many similar and in this case, dumbed down programmes about the industrial age?
This started out as if it were some type of reality show.

Newcomen's steam engine demonstrated was only shown in Lucy Worsley's excellent Elegance and Decadance programme on Tuesday night, where she was seen "having a go on it."

I'm only surprised that the two production teams didn't bump into each other.

Shades of "Wicker Island?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn8Pua5rhj4

There was nothing on here that hasn't been dealt with recently in better BBC documentaries, even Fed Dibnah's often repeated programmes covered lots of it.

The fact that Bolton and Watt took a third of the cost of the amount of coal saved, by mine owners changing from atmospheric engines to theirs, had to be shown to an obviously perceived dumb audience, by showing three pound coins in the palm of a hand and then taking one away!

Doh!

To be fair, we were shown two different sized mounds of coal at Drax Power Station, which some poor schmut was obviously asked to pile up with a digger, in case anyone still didn't understand what was, "a third."
The obvious questions like, with such an arrangement, who paid for the engines? How much did they cost? Who paid for the manning and maintenance of them? How much was a ton of coal at the time? were left unanswered.

This was pitched at "Blue Peter/The One Show level," hardly the sort of documentary for which BBC2 was once praised.
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Old 25-01-2013, 19:39
anielled
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Not sure why people need too complain. If your remotely interested then please go and read a proper book on the subject and teach yourself. If it gets a few kids/adults interested enough to educate themselves then great.

As for electricity generation, a little research shows that there are many many many better ways of doing it and these will occur in around 50 years+ when they are needed but it will NOT be in Britain. The know how is already there and when it becomes viable (ie costs) then it will be adopted. But for now Gas is the 21st century that oil was to the 20th. It's all about money and good education, it's that simple.
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Old 25-01-2013, 20:08
Doghouse Riley
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Not sure why people need too complain. If your remotely interested then please go and read a proper book on the subject and teach yourself. If it gets a few kids/adults interested enough to educate themselves then great.

As for electricity generation, a little research shows that there are many many many better ways of doing it and these will occur in around 50 years+ when they are needed but it will NOT be in Britain. The know how is already there and when it becomes viable (ie costs) then it will be adopted. But for now Gas is the 21st century that oil was to the 20th. It's all about money and good education, it's that simple.
BIB I think you've a very good point there.
Far too little seems to be taught in schools these days, about our industrial heritage.
It's as if the educators are embarrassed about it, and I'd entirely agree with with you, were this programmed for around tea-time, but not at naffin' 9.00pm......when the age group for which it seemed to be mostly pitched, should all be in bed....
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Old 25-01-2013, 20:48
redvers36
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Yay the usual BBC climate change lecture!
Yes what did the climate do in the past? Well it changed a lot all on its own.....
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:58
Kolin Klingon
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What I find interesting that despite how far we have come we are still mostly relying on the heating up of water to make steam to turn turbines to make most of our power,

Not exactly come along way have we.
It's a bit like the wheel - Once you have found the best way to do something, it can't be improved. So that is why we still have the wheel and steam driven turbines as that is the best way to solve that problem. Unless a totally new way comes along later that is as simple and as efficient.

Even nuclear power stations only use the nuclear material to heat water and then it's back to the same process of steam turbines that are used in all power stations. Only the heating source changes.

EDIT: Ah! I see others have already addressed these points.
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:03
Kolin Klingon
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Also Westinghouse who made AC generation commercially viable (Edison was pushing for DC).

But I guess it's about British genius
I think the AC vs. DC battle was mainly in the USA because of intense competition between companies there.

I have an excellent booklet Electricity in Manchester which has plenty of information on the development of the electricity supply there.
Now that is an interesting area that I don't know about - How did Edison generate his DC? Did he generate AC and then rectify it into DC? That would be very inefficient.
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:36
VintageWhine
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Now that is an interesting area that I don't know about - How did Edison generate his DC? Did he generate AC and then rectify it into DC? That would be very inefficient.
I would think that his generator would be in the form of a dynamo (as opposed to an alternator). A dynamo makes use of a commutator (just like a dc motor) to switch the direction of current so that it doesn't alternate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamo

Dynamos were commonly used in cars for battery-charging purposes, until they eventually got replaced by alternators (this change being made possible by the advent of cheap solid-state rectifiers).
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:41
VintageWhine
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On the subject of the show itself, I have to say I didn't bother with it because I could see what it was going to be like from the trailers (and by the BBC's reputation of recent decades).

I think you can present science and technology in an informative and accessible way, without dumbing it down to the level of a 5-year old and thereby turning off a sizeable sector of your audience. Does anyone remember Adam Hart-Davis's Local Heroes? That's how it should be done - presented by someone who is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and informative, and without too much interference from meddling bosses.

Unfortunately even he eventually became somewhat dumbed-down by his masters...
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Old 27-01-2013, 11:27
lundavra
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I would think that his generator would be in the form of a dynamo (as opposed to an alternator). A dynamo makes use of a commutator (just like a dc motor) to switch the direction of current so that it doesn't alternate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamo

Dynamos were commonly used in cars for battery-charging purposes, until they eventually got replaced by alternators (this change being made possible by the advent of cheap solid-state rectifiers).
Initially electricity was only from batteries so it was natural that dynamos would be used to charge batteries or provide a DC supply.

I seem to remember the AC vs. DC battle in the US got quite dirty with one of the companies involved trying to claim AC was more dangerous because it was used in the electric chair (or was it the other way around?).

Some bits of the programme were quite basic but it was interesting seeing the big machines and their constituent parts.
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Old 27-01-2013, 16:20
brangdon
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A few more moving graphics would hep rather than practical demos.
I'm still unsure how the condenser works .
I followed the verbal explanation, but I'd have liked a diagram. At one point he was waving around a length of drain-pipe with a tube at one end, but he didn't show how it fitted in with the piston.

I did like the bit about the difference between turbines and windmills, though.
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Old 27-01-2013, 16:26
Doghouse Riley
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I followed the verbal explanation, but I'd have liked a diagram. At one point he was waving around a length of drain-pipe with a tube at one end, but he didn't show how it fitted in with the piston.

I did like the bit about the difference between turbines and windmills, though.
I noticed this, for all the explanation that was given, this item given such reverence he was wearing gloves as he handled it, might just as well have been a bit of the exhaust muffler from his car.

Maybe it was and it was still hot?
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