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I DIDN’T KNOW THAT

Great Britain  2006

30 х 30'

National Geographic Channel Collection

I Didn’t Know That is a 30-episode, action-packed series that exposes the little-known facts about ordinary items we take for granted. Richard Ambrose and Jonny Phillips – two bona fide industrial scientists with an insatiable thirst for knowledge – on their quest to investigate how things are made, what’s inside them, how they are tested and how they work. In some episodes, the hosts nearly kill themselves in order to prove certain theories or to finish a dangerous experiment.

There are some of the questions asked, aspects and theories discussed:

  • Can high pitched singing really shatter glass?
  • Richard and Jonny discover that 80% of women wear the wrong size bra.
  • Where is ‘Button City’ situated?
  • The scientists look into the theory that a magnet can knock out a laptop if it is powerful enough.
  • A bagless vacuum cleaner is the target of Jonny’s angle grinder.
  • How fireworks are tested?
  • Richard and Jonny use an infra red camera inside a walk-in freezer to see how ice sculptures are made.

From airbags to teabags, toothpaste and crash helmets, each 30-minute episode is a mind-blowing cavalcade of crazy demonstrations and rarely-heard info about everyday stuff.

Ep 1

In a bid to find out all there is to know about glue, Richard and Jonny recreate the classic ‘flying man’ wallpaper paste TV ad by gluing Jonny to a board and dangling him from a crane above a pool of water. Find out how chairs are tested by robotic artificial human bottoms that each clock up 3.5 million ‘sit downs’ a month. Then Jonny slices open a plasma TV to see what’s inside, while Richard looks at the technology of modern bank notes and the bacteria they harbor. Finally, ever wondered how the writing gets into seaside rock? We show you how.

Ep 2

Can high pitched singing really shatter glass? Our duo enlists the help of an opera singer before heading to a firing range to test the true resistance of bullet-proof glass. Also, find out about Bumper Harris, the one-legged man employed to travel on escalators in Edwardian London to demonstrate ease of usage. In ‘Testing Testing’ meet Sid the mannequin who is blasted daily with 1,000°C flames to test fireproof clothing. Then Jonny takes an angle grinder to a snooker ball to see what’s inside and we go behind the scenes at a soap factory.

Ep 3

Did you know that just 1km of three-lane motorway costs £13 million to build? But what are our roads made of and what makes them so strong? Our intrepid pair tests the durability of asphalt using a flame thrower, a high pressure water jet and finally, some petrol. Afterwards, we get walking at a boot factory where remote-controlled mechanical feet test water-proof capabilities and a real human endures temperatures of -40°C, all in the name of testing. Then Richard delves into the history of the telephone while Jonny takes his angle grinder to a catalytic converter to see what’s inside.

Ep 4

Richard and Jonny find out all there is to know about batteries - from standard batteries to those powered by seawater, fruit and even…urine. Then they hit the racetrack to witness a world record land-speed attempt by a battery-powered milk float. Will it beat the current record of 73.39mph? Did you know that Nazi scientists created and marketed radioactive toothpaste? Or that it’s possible to make your own toothpaste? Richard experiments. Finally, Jonny slices open a cricket ball and we go behind-the-scenes at a tea manufacturer where each minute 2000 teabags are made.

Ep 5

Did you know that brakes on some vertical-drop fairground rides operate purely through electromagnetic induction? Richard and Jonny head to the fair to investigate, before visiting a scrapyard to demonstrate the incredible weight-lifting capabilities of a magnet powered by just four torch batteries. The guys then check out the magnetic suspension on a Ferrari and look at the future use of magnets in engine-free high speed, floating trains. But that’s not all, Richard finds out all there is to know about diamonds while Jonny tackles a gearbox with his angle grinder. Finally, we visit a chip manufacturer famous for creating the Cheese and Onion flavored chip.

Ep 6

Richard and Jonny delve into the world of rubber to test tires. After whizzing around a track with a top stunt driver, they head to Dunlop’s testing chamber - The Burst Cell - to witness a Boeing 737 tire being over-inflated to destruction. From tires, onto toilets where we join a team of toilet sniffers who create fresh smells to annihilate malodors, plus see their 250 simultaneous flushing toilets designed to test cleaning products.Later, our duo finds out what’s inside a motorcycle helmet and follow the development of the ubiquitous paper clip. Finally, go behind-the-scenes at a plastic bottle factory to see how tiny plastic tubes become huge 2 liter pop bottles.

Ep 7

To demonstrate the remarkable force of water, Richard and Jonny enlist some firemen to push their car using water jet force alone before trying their hand at some barefoot waterskiing. They then witness a machine that cuts through steel and rock with water propelled at 1000 meters a second – about the speed of a flying bullet. Then onto a floor testing facility, where real technicians walk on wet floors that increase in incline until they fall over. In a bid to find out how we spend £4 billion a year on chocolate in the UK, Richard tracks down a 2.5 ton Kit-Kat and a £140 truffle made for Madonna. Lastly we visit a Wellington boot factory where it takes just 6 minutes to make a wellie

Ep 8

Our duo examine the pros and cons of plastic including Bakelite, celluloid and Kevlar used in anti-stab material. Then there’s Teflon, this slippy plastic isn’t just used in frying pans, it’s also used for sledges, so the lads head to a ski slope to test its effectiveness. Using his angle grinder, Jonny attempts to see if it’s true that golf balls contain elastic bands. Meanwhile, on an investigation into the history of the humble brick, Richard meets a brickie who can lay 350 bricks per hour and attempts the sport of brick throwing. Finally, we visit a newspaper printing plant too see how 4.4 million papers are rolled off the press each week.

Ep 9

Richard and Jonny turn graffiti artists to test the properties of anti-graffiti paint. Then it’s off to the Humber Bridge for a spot of painting – little do they know it takes three years to paint the railings alone. Then it’s off to meet Keith, the man whose job it is to watch paint dry…literally! While Richard finds out all there is to know about a 1950s invention - car airbags, Jonny cuts open a pair of trainers. Then it’s off to a domestic fire alarm testing center to see how chip pan fires, petrol arson attacks and sofa fires are simulated to save lives. Finally, we head to an acoustic guitar workshop to see how nine different types of wood become a musical instrument.

Ep 10

Steel is one of the few manmade materials that is 100% recyclable - not only could your household cutlery be made of an old Victorian bridge or an old battleship, but after 9-11, NYC authorities dispatched thousands of tons of the wreckage around the world for recycling. Steel shipping containers can also be turned into surprisingly spacious and appealing housing as Jonny discovers on a visit to London’s Docklands. We also witness the super-strength of world record holder Manjit Singh who risks impalement to bend steel using his neck. Richard examines the trusty lawnmower invented by Englishman Edwin Budding and Jonny finds out about the amazing properties of Japanese Samurai swords before raising his grinder to some bathroom scales.

Ep 11

In this episode, the big story is supermarkets. Richard and Jonny reveal the techniques the stores use to make you shop. They look at how fireworks are tested, and use an infra red camera inside a walk-in freezer to see how ice sculptures are made. Richard asks whether it’s possible for a sniper’s bullet to hit a small target a mile away, and we go behind the scenes at the UK’s biggest toilet manufacturer to see how the porcelain bowls we take for granted are created.

Ep 12

Richard and Jonny go behind the scenes at a mail center to see how the oldest postal service in the world works, the British Postal Service: The Royal Mail. We get a look at how baby prams are tested, and an infra red camera checks out a vacuum cleaner in action. Richard asks whether a Kung Fu Master can really chop a big stack of blocks in two, and we get a behind the scenes look at one of the UK’s biggest carpet manufacturers.

Ep 13

Rocket power is the big story as Richard straps on rocket powered roller skates, and the boys reveal the science and demonstrate the principles using firework rockets. They see how motorbikes are tested, and once again the infra red camera comes out. This time it checks out a microwave oven in action. Jonny tests some methods to try an beat a lie detector test, and we get a look at one of the UK’s steel drinks can manufacturers to follow the process from moulding to final can.

Ep 14

We go underground for this episode to check out the London Underground train system known as The Tube. Opening in 1863, the all-electric four rail system is the world’s oldest. To shake things up, the boys test in-car satellite navigation units by shaking the units to simulate days of car vibration. Richard and Jonny take the infra red camera to check out the heat emanating from a family fridge freezer, and Jonny tries to crack a safe by using a doctor’s stethoscope – just like in the old caper movies. Finally, we go behind the scenes at a pioneering scheme in Liverpool where old window panes and empty drink bottles are recycled.

Ep 15

In this episode, the big story is food. How we taste any flavor is based on our sense of smell, so Jonny blocks up Richard’s nostrils as he samples three different liquids. The humble domestic three pin electric plug is tested, and Richard and Jonny snuggle up with bedbugs using an ultra powerful camera lens. Richard attempts to beat the house as a casino boss shows him the ropes. On production line we watch how, in the 50 hour long process, a brass trombone is manufactured.

Ep 16

The big story is hi tech clothing, and Jonny reveals the secrets of the suit that can help a bomb disposal expert survive a blast. We visit the British seaside resort Blackpool to see how they test a state of the art roller coaster every morning, and an ultra powerful camera lens is used to get up close and personal with the fleas on man’s best friend. Jonny faces one of this toughest and most exhausting challenges as he tries to beat a professional tracker dog across farmyards, fields, and freshwater. And finally, we see how a pair of disposable contact lenses are made.

Ep 17

This episode takes a look at fire. At dangerously close quarters, they check out a fire eater and learn his secrets. Richard and Jonny take a look at elevators and how they are tested, including a pair of doors that have been in an ongoing test since 1976. Under 200x magnification, the boys probe a human hair and reveal the head lice within. Richard questions whether it is possible to beat the house at Black Jack or roulette, and we go behind the scenes at a manufacturer of artificial legs.

Ep 18

Taking a look at wood, Richard and Jonny discover cellulose is extracted from wood, and the gooey liquid is used in marmalade, photographic film, cheese and even ice cream. We see how the model 46 RS yacht, costing ₤400,000, is tested to make sure the compasses are precisely aligned to Magnetic North. Jonny whips out his angle grinder to see what is inside a bowling ball, and Richard dices with death as he discovers whether a gamer who flies helicopter simulations can fly the real thing. We end by going behind the scenes at a mountain bike manufacturer, where models cost up to ₤4,000.

Ep 19

In this episode, the big story is electricity. The boys find that there are enough kilometers of cable lines in the UK to go around the Equator 20 times! We get a look at how the famous, bright yellow, British-made hydraulic diggers are tested, and Jonny once again fires up his angle grinder to slice open a parking meter to see what’s inside. Jonny takes up the gentle art of Origami…but on a massive scale, his mission is to see how many times a piece of paper measuring 50 feet by 50 feet can be folded. On the production line, we see what goes on behind the scenes at a yacht manufacturer to see how they spend four months and £400,000 making a state of the art vessel.

Ep 20

In this final episode of the season, Richard and Jonny take a look at dams. They explain how dams can prevent flooding, irrigate farmland, produce hydro-electric power, and provide fresh drinking water. We get a look inside the testing process of dust masks, and see artificial lungs breath in and out to test the product. The angle grinder comes out again to slice open a traffic speed camera, and Jonny tames the flashing beast. Richard turns cat burglar to see whether it’s really possible to beat motion sensors, and we go to the Massey Ferguson tractor factory in France to see how 3,000 technicians make around 75 tractors per day.

Ep 21

The big story is photography. Richard and Jonny go back to basics to show how a simple pinhole camera works - only theirs is the world’s first camera shed! On testing testing, see how Bungee Ropes are tested. They’re made of military shock cord – the same stuff that’s used in missile launch tests. In cutaway, Jonny angle grinds open a pool table. Once through the solid slate playing surface, the insides of the table are revealed. Jonny investigates whether Wild West gunfights, as portrayed in the movies, matched the reality by firing a replica Colt Revolver from 1851. Jonny discovers how hard it was to fire accurately. In production line we travel to China – a country which doesn’t celebrate Christmas – to see how they mass-produce Christmas trees for the western market.

Ep 22

Concrete is the focus as Richard and Jonny carry out their biggest experiment yet, but first they check out an extraordinary new transparent concrete. We see how a rally car is tested before a big rally, and Jonny uses his trusty angle grinder to slice open a hover mower. Richard turns movie spy in a bid to try and secretly eavesdrop on conversations. As the two “I Didn’t Know That” spies speak in hushed tones, Richard overlooks the scene and tires to hear the details using different, supposedly long range, microphones. In production line, we travel to Qiaotou in Southern China - known as ‘Button City’ because it produces over 60% of the world’s buttons.

Ep 23

Richard and Jonny look at the many different types of balloons in use today – from those used in surgery and floodlighting to those used by scientists to gather vital information from the earth’s atmosphere. See how lifejackets are tested as they’re taken to a sizzling 65 degrees Celsius and then to a -30 degrees Celsius. Jonny cuts open a seriously thick undersea communication cable which, even in today’s satellite age, still carries 95% of the world’s communications. Jonny looks into the theory that a magnet can knock out a laptop if it is powerful enough, and we once again travel to China, where they make a toy doll called Lucy Doll.

Ep 24

Celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the big story is the bra. Richard and Jonny discover that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra….and that the infamous 1960’s burning of the bra never actually took place. We reveal how police riot gear is tested, and Jonny fires up his angle grinder to slice open a 1980’s jukebox - one of the last to use 7 inch vinyl records. Richard investigates whether aliens make crop circles – they’ve been attributed to the earth’s magnetic field and even the weather, and we meet an international authority who explains the Plasma Vortex Theory. In production line, we take a look at how they make the All-American Maryland Chocolate Chip cookie…in Blackpool, England!

Ep 25

This episode’s big story is sewage. Human waste, along with the stuff from our washing machines, sinks, baths, rain, etc. are what make up sewage. Richard and Jonny go underground to see some of the 400,000 kilometers of sewers in the UK. We go to a lab in Holland that tests how human-like crash test dummies are, and Jonny opens up a cycling helmet with his angle grinder. Jonny risks his life to see first-hand what it is like to slowly sink in quicksand, and we go to Shenzen, China where 1,400 workers assemble laptops in just five minutes.

Ep 26

In this episode, Richard and Jonny take a look at the UK road network, as well as the Traffic Management Centre in South Wales. They see how traffic is monitored 24/7 in this futuristic setting. The boys go to a laboratory in Holland to see how much a motorbike helmet can endure, and they cut open a 1970’s hood drier from a salon with Jonny’s angle grinder to see how this machine dried the popular beehive hairstyle so fast. Jonny poses the question of whether or not custard is explosive…revealing a shocking truth. Finally, we travel to one of the largest purpose built factories in China, with half a million square feet of working area, and 3,000 on staff.

Ep 27

In this episode we go underground as we take a look at the 50 kilometer Channel Tunnel. It is the longest underwater tunnel in the world, linking Britain and France. Richard and Jonny are granted access to the service tunnel, allowing them to straddle the point where the two countries meet. Moving above ground to Bristol Airport, we get a look at how the specialist fire fighting team copes with a blazing emergency on the runway. Jonny cuts open a slot machine - the earliest of which gave out gum rather than cash - to see how it works, and Richard reconstructs events from 1950’s America when an advertising executive claimed he was able to influence an entire cinema audience to buy popcorn just by inserting a very brief message suggesting they do so…subliminal advertising.

Ep 28

This episode’s big story is the 1960’s British invention, the hovercraft. Richard and Jonny go back to basics and check out the original model, which inventor Sir Christopher Cockerill used to demonstrate the principle. Jonny fires up his angle grinder to open a set of temporary traffic lights, and Richard delves into phone tracing. He finds out that the movies and television scenarios are not completely accurate. In production line we travel to the south eastern corner of China to a town that’s generally known as ‘Zip Town’ because almost every factory there produces zips.

Ep 29

The big story is milk, and the boys visit a state of the art robotic milking station that needs no human to be present, and when something goes wrong, the system texts the farmer on his mobile. To keep the children of the UK safe, public playgrounds must be tested annually, so we take a look at the process of making sure the equipment is safe to play on. A bagless vacuum cleaner is the next target of Jonny’s angle grinder, and we look into the ancient technique of dowsing – finding water with two hand held rods. We then head to a medical lab in Blackpool to see how they make artificial eyeballs, which they have been doing since World War I. They make over 6,000 bespoke eyes a year, every one is tailored to its wearer.

Ep 30

In this season finale, Richard and Jonny focus on ice. They visit the British Antarctic Survey Headquarters in Cambridge to see, first hand, some ice cores from that deeply-frozen region. We get to see how “super” super-glue actually is when it is tested using a tensometer, and see an I-pod sliced open by Jonny’s angle grinder. Richard sees if the boomerang – invented by Australian Aborigines over 25,000 years ago – always returns to sender, and we see how the traditional British lollipops (Swizzels) are made in the high peaks of beautiful Derbyshire. The factory has been making them since 1940 and each one takes 30 minutes to produce.

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