Wednesday, October 25, 2006

National Geographic Channel Uncovers The Unexpected Behind Those Everyday Items

From Shaving to Toilets to Packages, NGC Reveals the Surprising Stories Behind Life′s Daily Rituals

Modern conveniences such as disposable razors, toilets and tamper-proof aspirin bottles are just part of the backdrop of our daily lives - objects we habitually see, we use absent-mindedly, and we couldn′t live without. Underappreciated, mundane and presumably dull, these objects are also rich with history, rife with controversy... and are absolutely ingenious.

The National Geographic Channel (NGC) presents three specials - A Closer Shave, Flushed and Shrink-Wrapped & Boxed Up - that explore the science, art and cultural impact of some of daily life′s common paraphernalia. A Closer Shave and Flushed premiere on Tuesday, November 7, 2006, at 9 and 10 p.m. ET/PT. The premiere of Shrink-Wrapped & Boxed Up follows on Wednesday, November 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Each one-hour show focuses on the evolution of a seemingly simple thing - shaving, toilets and packaging - tracing its course through history as it takes root in our culture and ultimately changes the way we go about our daily routines. And along the way, surprising facts are revealed.

Get to the bottom of such questions as: "What tool was first used for shaving?" "How do astronauts go to the bathroom?" "What bubble-like packaging sent 3,000 people to the emergency room?" "How many miles of whiskers will the average man grow over his lifetime?"

Venture inside high-tech laboratories where scientists and technicians are taking well-known products to the next level. Viewers will learn how tiny spy cameras may be the key to the next leap forward in razor technology, and how packages full of some of the world′s deadliest cargo are built to withstand the most extreme tests imaginable. Each show draws from a wide variety of sources, including interviews with scientists, historians and sociologists to explore the past and future of surprisingly complex everyday things.

A Closer Shave
Tuesday, November 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Could our modern Western preference for hairless mates have its origins in prehistoric dating? A Closer Shave gets to the root of one of life′s daily rituals, tracing the quest to be rid of unwanted hair back more than 30,000 years. The show explores the shaving methods humanity has employed over thousands of years - from sharpened rocks to the multiblade disposable razor - stopping to gaze back in distress at some of the hair-raising designs that never quite caught on. It also features the story of two inventors named Gillette and Schick, who made shaving history and spawned one of the most intense corporate rivalries of the past century. Researchers demonstrate high-tech designs for shaving perfection from thermal imaging devices that detect slight variations in electric shavers′ heat to computer simulations that reveal a microscopic view of atoms from a single piece of hair being sheared apart.

Tuesday, November 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Flushed dares to tackle the key item in one of life′s remaining private sanctuaries ... the toilet. The show suggests how this discreet device, often the household′s most underappreciated item, may in fact be the key to modern civilization. Flushed explores how people through the ages have taken care of their private business, from the sociable Romans, to the buttoned-up Victorians, to astronauts answering nature′s call in zero gravity. The program examines the rise and fall of Roman plumbing and the visionary inventions of clean-living crusaders throughout the centuries. Viewers will venture inside modern day′s Deer Island Treatment Plant near Boston, a $4 billion state-of-the-art waterworks plant that processes 350 million gallons of waste water in a single day. Then viewers will go into a New York City high-rise that functions as a self-contained wastewater plant, treating water in the basement and then piping it right back upstairs into the toilets. The program also tackles the toilet′s environmental impact and reveals how the toilet of the future could help solve the water problems of the world.

Shrink-Wrapped & Boxed Up
Wednesday, November 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Packages have been a cornerstone of consumer culture ever since the ancient Greeks and Romans started storing wine in ceramic vases. Shrink-Wrapped & Boxed Up takes viewers to the cutting edge of modern industry where researchers and scientists are developing packages that can withstand the impact of an F16 airplane, outwit shoplifters and reduce the amount of landfill trash. Shrink-Wrapped & Boxed Up visits two testing facilities in rural Pennsylvania as engineers put packages through extreme tests, simulating such effects as weather conditions at the North Pole or a high-speed train crash. The show also explains how the CD jewel case intensified customer frustration and reveals how the so-called "clamshell" packaging is responsible for sending 3,000 people to the emergency room in one year alone. This program also sheds light on two forms of packaging - a revolutionary new compostable plastic made from corn and a plastic formula created with tapioca starch - that may point the way to a cleaner, greener future.

These three shows find the unexpected in the ordinary. Informative and entertaining, each hour-long special provides a comprehensive look at the fascinating stories behind some of the things we take for granted in our daily lives.

A Closer Shave, Flushed and Shrink-Wrapped & Boxed Up are produced by the Atlas Media Corp for the National Geographic Channel. Executive producer for Atlas Media Corp is Bruce David Klein. Series producers are Shawn Cuddy and William McClane. Producer/writer for A Closer Shave and Shrink-Wrapped & Boxed Up is William McClane, and Flushed producer/writer is Ted Schillinger. For the National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Ashley Hoppin; senior vice president of production is Juliet Blake and executive-in-charge of production is John Ford.