Funds from this grant support the production of four science- and technology-themed documentaries to be broadcast by The American Experience, the longest running and most successful history series on television. Supported episodes include Nikola Tesla, a two-hour special about the visionary inventor of the alternating current electric supply system and radio control technology who forecast the Internet, solar power, and military drones. The documentary will draw on the recently published Sloan-supported biography by Bernard Carlson, which contains original research about Tesla's technological training and a wealth of detail about his endless inventions, both successes and failures; The Race Underground about the great engineering challenge to build the first subway and transform urban transit told via the competition between brothers Henry and William Whitney, one in New York and one in Boston; and The Aeronauts, a fascinating little-known tale of the Air Force researchers and test pilots who paved the way for the U.S. space program by testing the limits of the human body in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The topic of the fourth show is yet to be determined.
Additional grant funds will support marketing, advertising, and promotion of the episodes, both on air and online; an active social media campaign; and targeted outreach to communities and organizations with a specific interest in these subjects.