Breakthrough: The Ideas that Changed the World

Take a mind-blowing journey through human history, told through six iconic objects that modern people take for granted, and see how science, invention and technology built on one another to change everything. These are the secrets of how we got to our modern world.

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Polybius Square


Polybius invents a code so words can be exchanged between battalions freely.

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Hollywood Icon Hedy Lamarr


Hedy Lamarr invents a way to control torpedoes remotely.

The Rocket Equation


Franklin Chang-Diaz demonstrates the energy required to launch a rocket into space.

The Ultimate Rocket Fuel


Jim Al-Khalili demonstrates why hydrogen is the ultimate rocket fuel.

The First Long Distance Test Drive


In 1886 Karl Benz has his patent accepted for what is regarded as the first automobile.

A Chicago Slaughterhouse


In 1909, the Model T’s first year of production, Henry Ford sells over 10,000 cars.

Robots That Think for Themselves


How military robots let the charge towards autonomous machines.