How Do They Do It?

This week, Robert discovers how fireworks are made. The Chinese city of Liuyang is home to some of the world’s largest fireworks factories, where the thousand-year-old art of pyrotechnics is constantly being refined. Robert learns that the bright stars that light up the sky during a display are made from a mixture of gunpowder and mineral salts, which give the firework its colour. This highly explosive combination is made with extreme care by hand. Firework makers are understrict instructions never to wear man-made fibres – even in their underwear – because of the risk of spark of static electricity.

Having explained how fireworks are made, Robert gets to set off his own big bang as he detonates 11 tonnes of explosives at one of the UK’s largest limestone quarries in Yorkshire. Limestone is a vital ingredient in everyday items ranging from aggregate and cement to glass and toothpaste. Keeping industry supplied with limestone requires some of the biggest excavators, trucks and crushers in the country, and Robert discovers that just one Yorkshire quarry can produce over two million tonnes a year

Also this week, Robert visits the Voest Alpine factory where they make the longest rails in the world. At up to 120 metres long, these tracks provide a smoother ride and reduce wear on train carriages. Inside the factory, Robert witnesses the making of the rails first hand. Red-hot ribbons of metal are doused in high-pressure jets of water, causing impurities to flake off the surface, before they are fed through massive rolling mills that bend and squeeze the track into shape.

Monday 11 February / 7:30pm

how do they do it? (5/10)

This fascinating series explores the extraordinary machines, processes and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. In tonight’s edition, Robert Llewellyn explores the use of fibre optics in telecommunication, the movement of goods into the UK via Southampton, and the production of zips in China.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. Comedian Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) and a team of inquisitive presenters get their hands dirty in a bid to better understand the technology that keeps the modern world moving.

First up this week, Robert and the team discover how a tiny glass filament, finer than a human hair, carries phone calls and internet traffic around the world at a speed of 300 million metres a second. Fibre-optic cables are the backbone of modern telecommunications, with a single fibre capable of carrying 40 gigabytes a second. Bundled together, they transport masses of data across thousands of kilometres faster and more reliably than any satellite. But connecting continents requires specialist vessels which can hold 5,000 kilometers of cable and carefully lay it out across the mountains and valleys of the ocean floor.

Elsewhere tonight, Robert heads to Southampton, one of the UK’s busiest container ports, to discover how millions of tonnes of goods –everything from computers to kumquats –get into this country. Over 90 per cent of world trade is transported by sea, and most of that is in standardised shipping containers. More than a million containers a year pass through the Southampton Container Terminal, where they are loaded and unloaded by an army of 90-metre high ship-to-shore cranes and over a hundred smaller straddle carriers.

Finally, Robert and the team reveal the vital role played in all our lives by the Chinese town of Qiaotou. Without the workers of Qiaotou, most of our trousers would fall down –because this is the zip capital of the world. Over 80 per cent of the world’s zips are made here –amounting to more than 200,000 kilometres of zips per year.

how do they do it? (4/10)

This fascinating series explores the extraordinary machines, processes and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. In tonight’s edition, the crew discovers how Cold War military hardware is being recycled into something completely different; how to mix the perfect martini; and how plasma television screens are made.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. Comedian Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) and a team of inquisitive presenters get their hands dirty in a bid to better understand the technology that keeps the modern world moving.

First up this week, the team pays a visit to DavisMonthan Air Force Base in the Arizona desert. Because of its dry conditions and alkaline soil, the airfield was nominated as a storage site for old planes after the Second World War. Recently, however, a new use has been found for the decommissioned craft that rest here. Old fighters from the Cold War, such as B-52 bombers and F-4 Phantoms, are ground down so that their materials can be used to make such things as mobile phones, computer hardware and televisions.

Elsewhere tonight, Robert looks at the key components of a top-notch gin. Brought to this country by soldiers returning from fighting in the Netherlands in the 1600s –hence the term ‘Dutch courage’ –gin’s name derives from the juniper berries that give it its distinct flavour. But juniper is not the only ingredient in gin –others may now include orange peel, cinnamon, coriander or liquorice. Once he has brushed up on the facts, Robert takes centre stage and attempts to mix a masterful martini.

Finally, Robert reveals how the same form of matter that produces the Aurora Borealis –or Northern Lights –and makes up all of the stars, has been harnessed inside widescreen TVs. Plasma is by far the most common phase of matter in the universe, and it is now making an appearance in home cinema. By passing an electric current through a mixture of inert gases trapped between two glass plates, Robert discovers, plasma can be used to create highdefinition TV images.

how do they do it? (3/10)

This fascinating series explores the extraordinary machines, processes and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. Tonight, the team finds out how light bulbs are made; how a tower is demolished safely with explosives; and how giant cranes are assembled.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. Comedian Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) and a team of inquisitive presenters get their hands dirty in a bid to better understand the technology that keeps the modern world moving.

This week, How Do They Do It? discovers how billions of light bulbs are mass-produced every year. Thomas Edison may have worked out how to make a long-lasting electric light bulb over 125 years ago, but for decades all those bulbs were blown by hand. It was not until almost 50 years after Edison’s invention that mass-production techniques were developed, making gaslight a thing of the past. Philips’s Pila factory in Poland makes over 50,000 light bulbs an hour – more than 400 million a year. Crucially, each light bulb must be free from oxygen, otherwise the tungsten filament would quickly burn out.

Elsewhere, the team heads to Cardiff to see how the 40m-high tower from an old television factory is to be demolished. The steel structure is too tall to be broken up while it is still standing, so the demolition experts must use oxyacetylene torches to make a series of cuts in the steel girders, before packing the base with nitroglycerine. The cuts should ensure the legs on the eastern side of the tower are blown out first, causing it to fall in the required direction.

And finally, the show investigates how giant tower cranes are built. These spindly metal giants dominate city skylines the world over – but how do they reach such dizzying heights? The answer is that these cranes effectively build themselves. The arm and the cabin are put together on the ground and then lifted onto a device called a ‘top climber’. This has four massive rams that lift the arm off into the air, allowing the first section of the tower to be bolted underneath. The process is then repeated as the crane climbs, section by section, into the sky.

how do they do it? (2/10)

Robert Llewellyn continues his quest to understand the extraordinary engines, machines and structures that form the backbone of 21stcentury living. Tonight, the team visits a giant salt mine in Canada; gets to grips with a hovercraft; and learns about the technology used in trainers.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. Comedian Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) gets his hands dirty in a bid to better understand the technology that keeps the modern world moving.

Each episode contains three stories that venture out of the ordinary, as the series meets the boffins who are constantly striving to make things bigger, faster, smaller or better. The show also examines poorly understood and little-known details, such as how to make a golf ball and how to change the tyre on a jumbo jet.

In tonight’s programme, How Do They Do It? visits the world’s largest salt mine, 600 metres below Lake Huron in Canada. The research team descends the equivalent of two Eiffel Towers below ground, before undertaking a five-kilometre drive through 20-metre high caverns to reach the rich seam of rock salt. The guide explains that the miners use explosives to loosen tonnes of salt, which are then carried back to the surface on a seven kilometre-long conveyor belt.

Back in the UK, Robert goes on an adventure to Southampton, where he learns to drive a hovercraft. The technology behind these versatile vehicles is now being adopted by fire services and coastguards to provide extra access during floods. Modern, lightweight hovercraft can carry three to six passengers over land, water, mud and ice, and cost the same as a family car – making them ideal transportation in emergencies.

Also this week, the programme explores the amazing technology inside trainers. During a marathon, runners take an average of 30,000 steps – each one generating forces on their heels and ankles of up to four times their bodyweight. How Do They Do It? finds out about the remarkable shock-absorbing gel that designers use to counter-act these forces.

how do they do it?(1/10)

Starting on Five this week is a new factual series that lifts the lid on the incredible engineering behind everyday life. Presenter Robert Llewellyn is on a quest to understand the extraordinary engines, machines and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. In this opening episode, the team visits Volvo’s factory in Korea to find out how excavators are built; ventures underground to see some of Britain’s sewers; and learns how state-of-the-art tyres are made.

How Do They Do It? puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. As the world becomes progressively more automated and mechanised, people grow further removed from the way things are made and how things are done. To rectify this, comedian Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) get his hands dirty in a quest to understand modern technology.

Each episode contains three stories that venture out of the ordinary, as the series meets the boffins who are constantly striving to make things bigger, faster, smaller or better. The show looks at the biggest ships, the tallest buildings and the fastest cars. But it also examines poorly understood and little-known details, such as how to make a golf ball and how to change the tyre on a jumbo jet.

In tonight’s programme, the How Do they Do It? team visits Volvo’s vast factory in Korea to find out about excavators. Just one of these massive machines can weigh up to 70 tonnes, and yet – thanks to their carefully calibrated hydraulics – they move with the grace of a ballet dancer and can pick up an egg without cracking its shell.

Elsewhere, Robert heads beneath the city streets to explore the amazing network of tunnels that whisk away the waste we pour down the sink, and he discovers what happens when these unseen arteries become clogged.

Also this week, Robert reveals how rubber, steel and rayon fibres come together to make a modern car tyre capable of travelling at 200 miles an hour. He pays an exclusive visit to Pirelli’s tyretest chamber, where engineers work hard to ensure that even at top speed, their tyres create almost no noise.

how do they do it?

This new factual seriesputs the modern world under the microscope in order to understand the extraordinary engines, machines and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. As the world becomes progressively more automated and mechanised, people grow further removed from the way things are made and how things are done. To rectify this, comedian and presenter Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) get his hands dirty in a quest to understand modern technology.

Each episode contains three stories that venture out of the ordinary, as Robert meets the boffins who are constantly striving to make things bigger, faster, smaller or better. The show looks at the biggest ships, the tallest buildings and the fastest cars. But it also examines poorly understood and little-known details, such as how to make a golf ball and how to change the tyre on a jumbo jet.

In the first programme, Robert visits Volvo’s vast factory in Korea to find out about excavators. Just one of these massive machines can weigh up to 70 tonnes, and yet – thanks to their carefully calibrated hydraulics – they move with the grace of a ballet dancer.

Also in the opening episode, Robert heads beneath the city streets to explore the amazing network of tunnels that whisk away the waste we pour down the sink; and he visits one of Pirelli’s factories to find out how car tyres are made.

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