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Innovation Hub


Innovation Hub looks at how to reinvent our world – from medicine to education, relationships to time management. Great thinkers and great ideas, designed to make your life better.

Innovation Hub looks at how to reinvent our world – from medicine to education, relationships to time management. Great thinkers and great ideas, designed to make your life better.


Boston, MA






Innovation Hub looks at how to reinvent our world – from medicine to education, relationships to time management. Great thinkers and great ideas, designed to make your life better.




Science for Sale

Undermining science, by sowing seeds of doubt, has become standard operating procedure for corporations that produce products which may be harmful to our health. That’s according to David Michaels, a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health. He says tobacco companies developed the playbook on how to question science, in order to fight government regulations. But their tactics have been imitated by plenty of other industries, from alcohol to fossil fuel to the...


A Modern Mayflower: Autonomous Driving Takes to the Water

This year marks four centuries since the Mayflower’s historic voyage from Plymouth, England to Plymouth Rock. To commemorate the journey, amid proposals to build a replica, a different sort of idea rose to the surface: sailing an unmanned ship along the same route that the Mayflower took. Brett Phaneuf, director of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship Project, discusses how the project took off, and what it could mean for the future of the shipping industry and our understanding of the oceans.


Understanding Why Neighborhoods Matter

Breaking persistent cycles of poverty may seem an impossible task, but the findings of a landmark government social experiment tell a different story. Back in the mid-1990s, a program called “Moving to Opportunity” gave some families, living in troubled public housing projects in five large cities, vouchers and additional assistance to move away to low-poverty neighborhoods. Lawrence Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard University and the principal investigator of the long-term...


Using Less and Getting More

It often feels like trash is piling up all around us, and that our consumption habits have put us on the road to environmental disaster. Just take a look at recycling bins stacked high with Amazon boxes and takeout containers. But research shows that we’re actually using fewer resources than we were 25 years ago, a process called “dematerialization.” That’s according to Andrew McAfee, the Co-Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the...


Tools To Fight A Pandemic

After the devastating Ebola virus outbreak beginning in 2014, several public health experts predicted that a pandemic of some kind lay ahead – it was not a case of if, but when. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was one of those people. He even taught a course about what it would take to prevent the next major infectious disease outbreak. Jha says we have the tools at our disposal to...


How The Coronavirus Will Shape Our Cities

City life has, mostly, slowed to a standstill. Madison Square Garden isn’t hosting basketball games. You can’t grab a drink at the bar around the corner. Great public spaces - the Spanish Steps, Times Square, Las Ramblas - are empty. This situation won’t go on forever, of course. But the coronavirus pandemic will leave a permanent mark on our cities. That’s according to Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and co-founder of the website CityLab. He...


The Advantage Of Being A Generalist

Should you be the best at one skill, or be pretty good at a bunch of different ones? David Epstein, the author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, says that practicing one skill for 10,000 hours (as some have suggested) might not necessarily set you up to be the next Tiger Woods or the next chess grandmaster. But in a world where we’re constantly encountering new experiences, Epstein believes that the ability to take knowledge from one situation and apply it to another,...


WiFi-Equipped Plants Need No Green Thumb

By 2050, almost 10 billion people are expected to be living on planet Earth, and most of them will reside in urban areas. Some experts say we will need to take advantage of everything in our agricultural arsenal to feed all those mouths. Could a technology-based method of growing veggies and herbs inside the home be part of the solution? Innovation Hub’s senior producer, Elizabeth Ross, reports on a relatively new approach to growing food which has its roots in outer space.


Striking While the Hand is Hot

You might not think that a simulation meant for kids could change how something plays out in real life, but in the 1990s, the arcade game NBA Jam did exactly that. One feature of the game allowed players to be “on fire.” The more a player scored, the higher chance he or she had of scoring again. Fast forward to today and you can’t escape the concept of a hot streak, or a “hot hand”' as it’s called in basketball. Athletes swear by it, even refusing to touch another player’s “hot” hand. But...


The Real Cost of Expensive Housing

Picking up and moving to new opportunities has always been a part of the American dream. But, says Tamim Bayoumi, a deputy director at the International Monetary Fund and a co-author of the paper “Stranded! How Rising Inequality Suppressed US Migration and Hurt Those Left Behind,” that narrative has shifted in modern America. As well-paying jobs are increasingly concentrated in cities with high living costs, some Americans find themselves unable to pursue the careers that could most help...


Home DNA Tests Reveal More Than We Bargained For

More than thirty million people have used at-home DNA testing kits, sold by companies such as 23andMe, Ancestry and others, to flesh out their family tree or to help them discover long-lost relatives. However, mail-in genetic tests can sometimes bring unexpected and unsettling results that challenge long-held assumptions about who we think we are. In her book, “The Lost Family,” journalist Libby Copeland investigates the consequences of the commercialization of our genes and considers the...


Out of Focus: Concentrating in a Distracting World

Are you looking at this article while you’re supposed to be doing something else? Chris Bailey, author of, “Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction,” says you’re not alone. From the hits of dopamine we get when we check social media, to the trick our minds play on us when we’re multitasking that makes us think we’re being more productive than we really are, our world is a really distracting place. It is possible to undo the effects of all that stimulation and...


Reinventing Schools For An Era Of Innovation

On this week’s show, we explore efforts to remake public education in North Dakota and beyond with Governor Burgum, Cory Steiner, the superintendent of Northern Cass School District where By next school year, grade levels are expected to be a thing of the past and students will chart their own course to high school graduation, at their own pace, and Ted Dintersmith, a venture capitalist and the author of, “What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America.” Two...


The Worldwide Web’s Worldwide Reach

Access to the internet is prized across the world. Payal Arora, author of The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond The West, says that young people, in non-Western countries, will make up the bulk of the next billion online users. Western aid groups often make assumptions about what these new users want from technology, but they are frequently mistaken. How exactly are young people in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America using technology? One example: in countries where dating...


FDR’s Overhaul: The New Deal and Its Lasting Legacy

In the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned on a platform that would bring radical change to America: a package of policies he called the New Deal. The New Deal completely reinvented our infrastructure and central government, according to Eric Rauchway, a professor of history at the University of California, Davis, and author of the book Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal. He says that the effects of FDR’s revolutionary plan...


Battles Over Barbie: The Question of Intellectual Property

When Carter Bryant invented Bratz dolls, Mattel (the makers of Barbie) took its former employee to court, claiming he had come up with his ideas on the company’s time. Bratz were the first dolls to successfully compete and - in some places - outsell Barbie. Orly Lobel, a law professor at the University of San Diego, has written about the lengthy and costly legal fight Mattel and Bryant engaged in over Bratz in her book: You Don’t Own Me: The Court Battles That Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side....


Political Teamsmanship

Politics in the United States has long been dominated by two main groups – the Republicans and the Democrats – but, in recent decades, we’ve seen increasing divisiveness and conflict. Voters have become less concerned with what government does, and more interested in politicians they believe represent who they are. Lilliana Mason, assistant professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, and Marc Hetherington, professor of Political Science at the University of North...


Cracking the Code on Wall Street

Have you ever wanted to be rich? Really rich? Gregory Zuckerman, a special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of “The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution,” shares the story of the mathematicians who cracked Wall Street’s code. Starting from humble beginnings in a strip mall on Long Island, NY, the hedge fund company that Simons started (where about 300 people work today) now pulls in more money in a year than companies like Hasbro and Hyatt...


Can You Hear Me Now?

At this very moment, you’re probably being inundated with noise. Whether the sound is something you chose, like music or our podcast, or something outside of your control, like traffic outside or planes overhead, you are essentially never enjoying true silence. According to David Owen, a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World,” all that noise is doing something to our brains; and it’s not very good news.


Funding the Cure: But For Whom?

In 1983, Congress passed the Orphan Drug Act which incentivized the development of treatments for rare diseases. Since passing, the legislation has helped to create hundreds of new treatments for rare diseases... but it may have also had some side effects. According to Dr. Peter Bach, a pulmonologist and intensive care physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the push towards finding cures for rare diseases has been so strong that drug companies are paying little attention to...