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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 Myth of the Gendered Brain

1/17/2020
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It’s no secret that men and women are different — it’s the punchline of a hundred jokes. But does our sex really show in our brains, or is there something else at play? Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Aston University in the U.K. and author of “Gender and Our Brains,” argues that sex doesn’t play nearly as big a role in influencing our brains as we might think. Rather, she says, social cues likely start to influence children at very, very young ages - and it is those cues that account...

Duration:00:22:43

Leland Stanford: an American Disruptor

1/17/2020
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When you hear the name “Stanford,” chances are a certain university in Palo Alto, CA will come to mind. But you may be less familiar with the story of Leland Stanford, the university’s founder. As a railway entrepreneur and key player in West Coast politics, Stanford lived a controversial life that changed the history of California, strengthened a divided nation, and planted the seeds for the rise of Silicon Valley.

Duration:00:27:22

The Death of the Corporate Welfare State

1/10/2020
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In 1956, a book was published. It was called The Organization Man, and it was hugely influential. It described a world that was something like a “corporate welfare state.” A world in which, if you were able to land a job at a big industrial company like Ford or GE, you essentially had a stable job for life, with a decent salary, benefits, vacation days, and health care. If you’re under 40, this may seem like science-fiction, but it described the economy as the author saw it. So what drove...

Duration:00:26:31

The Story Behind Wikipedia

1/10/2020
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“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” The urgency behind this sentiment is stronger than ever at a time when misinformation is everywhere. So how has Wikipedia, famous for allowing anyone to edit, become a paragon for truth? Andrew Lih, author of “The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia” and the Wikimedia Strategist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, breaks down where Wikipedia came from, how it works, and...

Duration:00:23:52

Becoming An Effective Learner

1/3/2020
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You’ve probably experienced this: it’s high school, the night before an exam, and you’ve got a 500-page textbook in your left hand and highlighters in your right hand. You have highlighted all the important information in the book, and there isn’t a whole lot of white space left. Unfortunately, you’re not sure that you’ve absorbed any of the material in a meaningful way. Turns out, there is little evidence that highlighting and underlining material in books is a good strategy for...

Duration:00:17:15

When It Comes to Learning Language, Age Isn’t Just A Number

1/3/2020
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Learning a second language is tough. You have to consider grammar, pronunciation, and, sometimes, words that don’t even exist in your native language. And the conventional wisdom had been: if you want a child to learn a second language, start them as young as possible. But a new study has found that there’s a little more leeway than we originally thought. We talk with Boston College assistant psychology professor Joshua Hartshorne about his and his colleagues’ research and what it means...

Duration:00:12:27

Do Extracurricular Math Programs Add Up?

1/3/2020
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The U.S. does not fare well in math when compared with other industrialized nations, as demonstrated by international tests like the PISA. So, for parents who want to help their students get ahead in math and can afford it, after-school programs that focus deeply on the subject have become attractive. There are plenty of extracurricular math programs around, but one run by the Russian School of Mathematics (RSM) for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, is particularly popular,...

Duration:00:19:55

From Giving In To Giving Up: A Neuroscientist’s Journey from Addiction to Recovery

12/27/2019
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From the moment that Judith Grisel started drinking alcohol at age 13, she was hooked. For the next ten years, Grisel suffered from addiction, as she used drugs from marijuana to opiates to psychedelics. As a recovering addict and neuroscientist, Grisel learned that she was especially vulnerable because she was genetically predisposed to addiction. (She is one of many who are susceptible to the disease.) Grisel, a professor of psychology at Bucknell University and the author of “Never...

Duration:00:27:28

Inventing A United States Of Europe

12/27/2019
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The European Union is now a vast political and economic union of 28 member countries and, with more than 500 million people, its combined population is the third largest in the world after China and India. But the European Union did not begin as a large political project – rather as a series of small steps in an American effort to promote postwar security, according to Mark Blyth, professor of international economics at Brown University. As politicians in Britain struggle with the...

Duration:00:52:16

Loons that Shoot for the Moon

12/20/2019
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Loonshot (n): a neglected project, widely dismissed, its champion written off as unhinged 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...

Duration:00:28:05

Why Aren’t We Happier?

12/20/2019
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Experiences of mental illness are common in the United States and behind each individual case is a history. In his book, Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry, Randolph Nesse, the director of the Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University, looks at emotional and mental disorders from an evolutionary perspective, and considers why natural selection left us with fragile minds.

Duration:00:22:06

The Power of Conservative Talk Radio

12/13/2019
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When Rush Limbaugh’s conservative talk show hit Sacramento in the 1980s, no one could have guessed the power that he - and other right-leaning radio hosts - would eventually wield. Limbaugh’s show was part of an attempt to reinvigorate AM radio, which had been rapidly losing audience to FM, and he quickly gained a die-hard audience. Over the ensuing decades, as conservative talk radio grew in power and popularity, it dramatically reshaped the Republican party. And it may well have played a...

Duration:00:49:32

The Rise of the Comedian

12/6/2019
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Humans have always enjoyed a good laugh, but the concept of stand-up comedy is relatively new. Wayne Federman, a comedian who teaches at the University of Southern California, and hosts the podcast The History of Stand Up, talks about the origin of the modern comedian. From the earliest vaudeville circuits, to the rise of the comedy record, to the role of late-night television in break-out comedy moments, we pay tribute to the power of the comedian.

Duration:00:31:03

Why Fast Fashion Might Need To Slow Down

12/6/2019
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Americans buy, on average, almost 70 items of clothing a year. And many of those garments are worn just seven to ten times before being thrown away. This breakneck consumption of clothes is only possible because of fast fashion, a system in which clothing is made quickly, sold cheaply, and seen as pretty disposable. Dana Thomas, author of “Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes,” walks us through the origins and effects of fast fashion.

Duration:00:19:14

The Secret Agency that Created Agent Orange, Self-Driving Cars, and the Internet

11/29/2019
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DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been developing new military technologies for the United States since shortly after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. But Sharon Weinberger, the Washington Bureau Chief for Yahoo News and the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency that Changed the World, says there’s more to the Agency than new weapons and military strategies. DARPA, Weinberger explains, not only incubated the internet, but it...

Duration:00:29:01

Honey, Income Inequality Led Me to Overwork the Kids

11/29/2019
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How would you describe your childhood? Did your parents have a laissez faire attitude, letting you run wild and free, or did they have more rigid rules, which dictated your life choices? Perhaps you’re now a parent yourself — which parenting approach have you chosen? Matthias Doepke, a professor of economics at Northwestern University, argues that we often assume that parenting is all about culture, and that the reason that those from different countries or backgrounds parent differently is...

Duration:00:21:24

The Guitar Makers That Made Modern Music

11/22/2019
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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:00:28:02

From Famous To Forgotten

11/22/2019
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If you have that gnawing feeling that you’re forgetting something, chances are you’re right. And it may not be your keys, but something a little bigger. César Hidalgo, director of MIT’s Collective Learning Group, explains how society experiences generational forgetting. Hidalgo says: even if you have a pristine memory, time greatly impacts the names, books, movies, and historical events that are common knowledge at any given moment. Researching how culture gets passed down (or doesn’t) from...

Duration:00:21:56

Our Compulsion to Be Good

11/15/2019
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There is a famous quote from French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre: “Hell is other people.” While some may agree with that sentiment and crave solitude, there’s a lot of evidence that people are drawn to each other. We form friendships, sports teams, knitting circles and complex societies, unlike any other species on Earth. Nicholas Christakis, a doctor, sociologist, and author of “Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society,” has spent years trying to understand why...

Duration:00:26:56

What’s Missing From Childhood Today?

11/15/2019
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Childhood today is radically different than it was just a few generations ago. These days, kids’ busy schedules include school, homework, chores, sports, music lessons and other activities. But those packed schedules leave out one key element that turns out to be crucial to growth and learning — play. That’s according to Dorsa Amir, a postdoctoral researcher and evolutionary anthropologist at Boston College. Amir has studied the Shuar people of Ecuador, a non-industrialized society, and...

Duration:00:22:27