To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 9.0.115 or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.

Smithsonian Institution

Please download the Flash player to see this element.

Washington DC

Episode Premiere: THURSDAY April 11th at 9PM. Repeat broadcast: Friday 12th at 7PM, Saturday 13th at 8PM

Established in 1846 by a scientist named James Smithson, The Smithsonian is the largest museum and research complex in the world, with over 10 million visitors every year, and nearly 137 million specimens and artifacts.

In this episode we take off in a World War Two era Zero to find out why Japanese squadrons ruled the skies, and how they were defeated.  We meet military and civilian amputees who have been made whole by transplantation, then dive into the trenches of World War One to reveal the story of a homing pigeon that saved American lives.  We witnessthe successful test of a rocket that could take humans to Mars, then deconstruct the bad-boy image of the Harley Davidson.  And finally, we meet aspiring vocalists who hope to perform the national anthem before a football game to discover why the Star Spangled Banner is so hard to sing.

Secrets revealed in this episode

Heroic Pigeon

In World War One, a pigeon named Cher Ami was given a medal for braving German gunfire to deliver a message to US headquarters. How did the pigeon find his way? And was he really a hero?

Rocket to Mars

This antique American rocket pioneered the liquid fuel technology that put humans on the moon. Can liquid fuel take us to Mars? Or do we need a brand new propulsion technology?

Mystique of the Harley

The Harley is an icon of American freedom and American violence. How did it acquire its enduring mystique?

After Amputation

Removing a limb can be a life-saving operation on the battlefield but after… the patient must live with a prosthetic. Is there any way to make an amputee’s body whole again?

Star Spangled Banner

At sporting events, the American national anthem can be thrilling (think the late Whitney Houston) but often it sounds horrible (think Roseanne Barr). Why is the Star Spangle Banner so hard to sing?

Japanese Zero

Zero squadrons were the villains of Pearl Harbor and the Pacific air-war that followed. How did American pilots defeat them?