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Innovation Hub

PRI

Each week, Kara Miller talks to our most innovative thinkers, examining new ideas and potential solutions to today’s many challenges. Topics range from education to health care to green energy.

Each week, Kara Miller talks to our most innovative thinkers, examining new ideas and potential solutions to today’s many challenges. Topics range from education to health care to green energy.
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Location:

Boston, MA

Networks:

PRI

WGBH

Description:

Each week, Kara Miller talks to our most innovative thinkers, examining new ideas and potential solutions to today’s many challenges. Topics range from education to health care to green energy.

Language:

English


Episodes

The Evolution of American Privacy

4/19/2019
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Every day, it seems like there’s a new story about privacy: A Facebook hack that puts the private data of millions at risk. A years-long surveillance program of personal communications by the government. Endless concerns about how much of our lives we share on social media. With all this in the air, it can certainly feel like we have a lot less privacy nowadays. But is that really the case? Well, according to Vanderbilt professor Sarah Igo, author of The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy...

Duration:00:19:27

Selfies And The Self

4/19/2019
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Twitter. Selfie-sticks. Reality TV. It can seem like our society is becoming more narcissistic and self-involved. (Just read a few of the boatload of articles and think-pieces on this topic) But are we really more self-centered? The answer involves Aristotle, Ayn Rand, and 80s-era California. At least, that’s according to Will Storr, author of the book, Selfie: How We Became Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing To Us. He explains how our conception of self has changed throughout human history,...

Duration:00:19:00

Kids These Days...And Yesterday, And Tomorrow

4/19/2019
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Economist John Quiggin wants to change the way we talk about millennials. That is, he thinks we should stop talking about them altogether. In a recent New York Times editorial, Quiggin argued that the notion of generations is a pop-culture myth. He thinks we should focus on how people are affected by more significant traits like class, gender, and age.

Duration:00:10:43

Loons that Shoot for the Moon

4/12/2019
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We all know of moonshots, a grand idea we can get behind. But we sat down with Safi Bahcall, a physicist and former biotech entrepreneur, to understand a counter term he came up with: loonshots. Bahcall claims many ideas and innovations, when they are first proposed, are seen as mere fantasies from the minds of slightly (or very) crazy people. From the telephone to the computer, several game-changing ideas were turned down — in fact, microwave radar, which detected German U-boats at sea and...

Duration:00:30:43

When Tech Gets Talkative

4/12/2019
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Technology has become more hands-free, thanks to voice-activated digital assistants like Alexa and Siri. Have a question? Ask away. But in the future it won’t be just a matter of using this technology to find out facts or to determine the best route home. James Vlahos, author of “Talk to Me - How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Think,” explains how companies are trying to make the Alexas and Siris of the world more sociable. Voice tech that can apply background...

Duration:00:18:31

Humans: We May Not Be As Special As We Think

4/5/2019
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It’s easy to see ourselves as separate from the animal kingdom, but Adam Rutherford, author of “Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature - A New Evolutionary History,” believes that we aren’t as different as we might think. Fashion design, interacting with fire, and making multi-step plans all seem like qualities that are unique to humans. But according to Rutherford, species across the animal kingdom - from crabs to birds of prey - exhibit many of these complex...

Duration:00:28:43

You Really Push My Buttons

4/5/2019
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Buttons make the world go round. How else would you tell an elevator to whisk you up to the sixth floor, or get a candy bar out of a vending machine? Buttons are the simple interface for how we interact with more complex technology. They cover up the wires and inner workings of your TV and microwave, and make tech accessible at, you guessed it, the push of a button. Rachel Plotnick, author of “Power Button: A History of Pleasure, Panic, And the Politics of Pushing,” explains the origin of...

Duration:00:19:51

The Guitar Makers That Made Modern Music

3/29/2019
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In 1957, Buddy Holly appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS, strumming his tunes on a Fender Stratocaster, which was casually slung across his body. The instrument had - and would - fundamentally change American culture and music. And, to a lot of people, it was a shock. But behind the technological innovations inherent in the solid-body electric guitar is a story of two friends and rivals, people whose legacies have been inscribed on the guitars they created. Leo Fender and Les Paul,...

Duration:00:28:40

A Big, Bloody Business

3/29/2019
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You might guess that the United States is the world’s biggest exporter of corn, but did you know that it is also one of the biggest exporters of blood? In fact, the U.S. exports more blood than it does corn, soybeans, or gold. More specifically, blood plasma - the yellow liquid that separates out, once your blood is in a tube or a bag - since it is a critical component in many pharmaceutical products and medicines. Rose George, author of “Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine,...

Duration:00:20:51

Crime Is Declining. So Why Don’t We Feel Safer?

3/22/2019
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Talk to anyone who lived in New York City in the 1970s, and they will probably highlight the city’s widespread crime. Times Square wasn’t yet Disney-fied and Brooklyn hadn’t been taken over by hipsters. Most people agreed that New York was a dangerous place. But then something happened: murders, and violent crime in general, began to drop. And that trend wasn’t unique to New York: It happened in many places across America. So who do we have to thank for the crime decline? To find out, we...

Duration:00:18:32

Sand. It’s Slipping Through Our Fingers

3/22/2019
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Unless we’re relaxing on it at the beach, or kicking it out of our shoes, we probably don’t think too much about sand. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Sand is a vital ingredient in concrete. And glass. And asphalt. It makes our modern, urban life possible. And our hunger for it is causing more and more trouble. Vince Beiser, author of The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization, explains why sand matters, and how the quest to extract more of it is...

Duration:00:14:48

Rationality vs. Intelligence

3/22/2019
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Have you ever taken an IQ test? Think about the results. Did you do well? You might have gotten a high score, but, often, intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with rationality. There is a marked difference between the two, although we often conflate them. We talk with York University associate professor Maggie Toplak and Boston University professor Carey Morewedge about why even smart people do irrational things.

Duration:00:15:24

Lessons From The World’s Quirkiest Innovators

3/15/2019
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Obsessed with work, insensitive, socially detached, and neglectful of family and friends. Those may not be the most endearing qualities, but they are just a few of the common characteristics that longtime innovation researcher, Melissa Schilling found when studying some of the world’s most famous and prolific inventors in the fields of science and technology. Schilling, a professor of management and organizations at New York University’s Stern School of Business, explores the ingenuity of...

Duration:00:25:49

Television Created the Scientist Star

3/15/2019
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We all know the legacy that Sputnik had on U.S. science education. Washington poured more than a billion dollars into overhauling the U.S. science curriculum. But television was transformed too. According to Ingrid Ockert, a Haas Fellow at the Science History Institute and a NASA History Fellow, the television show “Continental Classroom” was launched as a direct response to the Sputnik challenge. Five days a week, “Continental Classroom” was broadcast into American homes to encourage and...

Duration:00:24:00

Cleanliness, Health...and Microbes

3/8/2019
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Are you a self-proclaimed germaphobe like President Trump? Well, if you think your home is sparkling clean, try walking around with a microscope. According to Rob Dunn, a professor of Applied Ecology at both North Carolina State University and the Natural History Museum of Denmark, we are surrounded by thousands of tiny species, living on every imaginable surface. And while some bacteria can be harmful, most just humbly co-exist with us... and some are more helpful than we know. In his...

Duration:00:27:49

The Fight For Our Rights During WWI

3/8/2019
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In 21st century America, citizens assert their individual rights loud and clear. Media coverage shows that Americans defend, debate, and demand individual liberties, including freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. Yet just over 100 years ago, Americans valued the greater good of the country more than their personal freedoms, according to Christopher Capozzola, the author of “Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen.” Capozzola explains that the...

Duration:00:21:32

China Deal, or No China Deal?

3/1/2019
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In a modern-day Mexican standoff, the U.S. and China are confronting each other over trade practices. The United States believes China has been luring away jobs and stealing American technology. But what if the issue isn’t that China is stealing innovations, but that it is out-innovating us? George Yip, a professor of marketing and strategy at Imperial College Business School in London thinks that the Chinese are no longer mere imitators but have become serious innovators in their own...

Duration:00:33:30

What’s Worth Worrying About?

3/1/2019
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Spiders and grizzlies and snakes, oh my! Ask someone what they are afraid of, and the answer is likely to be something like a plane crash or shark attack. But the authors of the book “Worried?: Science Investigates Some of Life’s Common Concerns,” Eric Chudler and Lise Johnson explain why they believe we often waste our energy worrying about the wrong things. Chudler, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington and Johnson, an assistant professor of physician assistant studies at Rocky...

Duration:00:15:57

Full Show: More Screens, More Problems

2/22/2019
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If you’re reading this on your smartphone, it might be time to reevaluate how much time you spend in front of a screen. Author Cal Newport offers a road map toward digital minimalism. Then, how did American capitalism become so unequal? And where is it headed? Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein thinks it’s time for a change.

Duration:00:50:23

Our Digital Dilemma

2/22/2019
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Think you might need a digital detox? You’re not alone. It’s becoming more and more of a trend to take time away from our online lives. Cal Newport author of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused life in a Noisy World” shares his approach to avoiding digital distraction and reclaiming time. He discusses how to be more intentional about how you use technology, and more aware about how technology uses you. We’ll discuss everything from the neuroscience of the human brain to how to do your...

Duration:00:30:24