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Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters (History Channel)

26 customer reviews

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(May 27, 2008)
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$567.37 $142.47

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Editorial Reviews

Error is inevitable in all human endeavors, but when the undertakings are engineering feats of enormous proportions, the smallest mistakes may have devastating consequences. From the Exxon Valdez disaster to a nuclear meltdown at a secret government facility, to the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, MODERN MARVELS chronicles over 40 of history s most devastating catastrophes and reveals the lessons learned from each one.

In 18 thrilling episodes, HISTORY CHANNEL dramatizes the world s most notorious engineering failures, using state-of-the-art special effects to investigate not only what went wrong, but what can be learned from these spectacular disasters. The catastrophes recounted led to the creation of Superfund sites for the cleanup of toxic waste; improved safety standards for cars, planes, and ships; and new techniques for building roads, bridges, and buildings that will withstand nature s most destructive forces.

Dark clouds with silver linings, MODERN MARVELS: ENGINEERING DISASTERS presents the tragic, yet invaluable, handmaidens of technological progress.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Modern Marvels
  • Directors: History Channel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: May 27, 2008
  • Run Time: 846 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012XIGYG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,843 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By C. Gelmi on July 30, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Finally, what I was waiting for: a large collection of case studies (18 episodes in total; at least two disasters in every episode - sometimes as many as six) taken from a large variety of engineering areas. As a chemical engineer and as an instructor, I found this collection very interesting, full of different "case studies" and lessons to learn in a very amusing way.

The episodes includes:
- New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina.
- The fire at Las Vegas MGM Hotel.
- The collapse of Seattle's Lacey V. Murrow Floating Bridge.
- The flaw that grounded the first commercial jet.
- An entire lake and the surrounding land are sucked into a Louisiana salt mine.
- Exxon Valdez incident.
- The Ford Explorer/Firestone rollovers.
- The fire on the Piper Alpha offshore oirlig.
- Computer errors that brought the world to the brink of accidental nuclear war.
- The explosion of a jet-fuel plant in Nevada.
- The Union Carbide explosion in India.
- A devastating flood in China that killed 145,000 people.
- Denver baggage system nightmare.
- Patrior missile failure
- etc.

The only drawbacks are that the DVDs come with no closed captions and no subtitles. Thanks HC.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By James E. Adam on April 21, 2009
Format: DVD
Many of the major engineering disasters of the past century are covered. Each episode provides about 5 disasters and during the 8-10 minutes is provided the effect (disaster), the cause and the solution. The dvd menu lists each disaster, so one can go quickly to the disasters of their interest.

The episodes included are #4 through #20, plus Hurricane Katrina is provided as a bonus single disaster episode. Which begs the question, what happened to episodes #1, #2, and #3, as they are not in this set? These early three episodes were generally an overview containing a wide number of disasters in brief detail. I suspect, since these episodes were so good, A&E expanded the series to provide much greater detail and limit each succeeding episode to just 5 disasters.

This set also needs an index of every disaster, either on the dvds, or with a paper insert. I loved the menus as they are so simple and easy to follow, without dumb pictures cluttering the screen.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By CeruleanGrey on January 20, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This has been one of my best DVD purchases; I highly recommend it.

I bought this for my boyfriend who is an engineer and he loves it, and so do I. I was very surprised and intrigued with the variety of engineering disasters that were presented along with the footage. Some of the best ones I've seen so far were the salt mines (the footage of the barges being sucked towards the whirlpool was unbelievable), the Love Canal, and many of the oil rig disasters. I also learned that underground salt deposits make great natural propane storage tanks.

In each episode there are multiple stories not just one or two; it is definitely worth the money.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm an engineer who's involved in failure investigations, and I found this series of video presentations to be outstanding, frankly far exceeding my expectations and hopes, given that it comes from the History Channel rather than a technical organization.

A diverse range of types of systems and failures is included, the graphics and historical footage are very useful, experts are routinely consulted to explain each failure, and appropriate lessons are drawn from the failures in terms of both technical and human factors.

No, the presentations aren't perfect. Sometimes the explanations are oversimplified, important details are omitted, and terminology is incorrect. But overall, the strengths of this series still dwarf these weaknesses.

I know of no comparable resource, and the best endorsement I can make is to note that I've started incorporating these videos into the continuing education program in my engineering firm. They're good enough that professionals can benefit from them. Yet, at the same time, they're also accessible for interested laypeople, which is no small accomplishment.

Last but not least, the price is a bargain. Grab this before it's no longer available!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 25, 2015
Format: DVD
I am an airline pilot and have taught safety courses in a professional aviation environment; I have also been a production manager at a chemical processing facility. In both of these professional venues I have striven to understand safety implications of systems, procedures, human factors, and process design and implementation (as an aside, for anyone serious about chemical processing or industrial safety, I recommend the collected works of Trevor Kletz.) "Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters" is a very good series dealing with technical and engineering failures (and the hubris and overconfidence often associated with them) in a variety of industries and historical settings.

The five DVD set oddly starts with episode four (I don't know where one through three went) and presents a number of fascinating failures, some of which have fairly obvious causes, and many of which were difficult to completely understand and required months or even years of intense investigation (e.g. the Boeing 737 rudder hardover crashes.) Most episodes contain multiple incidents (though the Hurricane Katrina special is an exception.) I am most familiar with the accidents in the aviation and process industries, although I have a passing familiarity with maritime accidents as well. As such it's natural that I notice the detail errors and generalizations in aviation analyses more than in other fields, but am sure those in the construction or architectural fields would be more familiar with other accidents (e.g. the Kansas City Hyatt Walkway collapse.) As for the flaws, the series definitely has them, though most are small visual errors induced by inappropriate use of stock footage (e.g.
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