American Innovations

By Wondery

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Subscribers: 1941
Reviews: 10

Jesse
 Mar 31, 2020
Excellent. A great huge breath of fresh air!

Stuart Mantel
 Mar 17, 2020
Long form history of the development of a technology we take for granted today.

Nicolina
 Feb 26, 2020
I've never in my life had any interest in history. And yet I can't express enough how much I love this podcast. It is captivating and makes me connected to times from before I was born which is astonishingly unexpected.


 Feb 2, 2020

Leftfielder
 Jan 19, 2020

Description

DNA science. Artificial intelligence. Smartphones and 3D printers. Science and technology have transformed the world we live in. But how did we get here? It wasn’t by accident. Well, sometimes it was. It was also the result of hard work, teamwork, and competition. And incredibly surprising moments.

Hosted by bestselling author Steven Johnson (“How We Got To Now”), American Innovations uses immersive scenes to tell the stories of the scientists, engineers, and ordinary people behind the greatest discoveries of the past century. From Wondery, the network behind Business Wars, American History Tellers, and Dirty John.


Episode Date
Radar | Mr. Bowen Goes to Washington | 2
00:38:35

As World War II rages on, American and English scientists race to develop a microwave radar system. But both sets of scientists have something the other team needs to cross the finish line. 



Jul 09, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | How We Can Still Win | 16
00:26:03

When National Geographic science editor Nsikan Akpan began researching his latest article on the coronavirus, he asked every scientist he talked to the same question: Has the U.S. already lost? Every scientist said no – but we need a better game plan.

 

On this week’s episode, Nsikan tells Steven what we’ve been getting wrong – and what the new game plan should look like.

 

You can find Nsikan Akpan’s articles, including “Here’s How To Stop The Coronavirus From Winning,” at natgeo.com/coronavirus.

Jul 07, 2020
Radar | Welcome to Tuxedo Park | 1
00:34:05

What technology won WWII? Most people would say the atomic bomb, but the real answer is radar.

As a small island country, vulnerable to aerial attacks, England took the lead in developing radar in the 1930s. But the early radar systems were too massive to fit into planes, where they would be of most use in the fight against the Germans. At the heart of the problem was a technological catch-22. Smaller radar systems were, by definition, less powerful.

Or so everyone thought, until a mismatched pair of brothers in Northern California decided to take a crack at creating a new kind of radar...

This is episode one of our three-part series on radar, “Welcome to Tuxedo Park.”

Listen ad-free on Wondery+ here.

Jul 02, 2020
Introducing Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment
00:06:09

When we face challenges in life, we seek answers from people we believe can help us. When tragedy strikes an exclusive retreat with a self-help superstar, many people are left to wonder: how far is too far? James Arthur Ray was an Oprah-endorsed self-help teacher who achieved fame, fortune, and influence. But friends and family members of his followers questioned his unorthodox methods, and tried to stop him. From Wondery, the makers of “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” and “The Shrink Next Door,” comes a story about the dark side of enlightenment. Hosted by journalist Matt Stroud.

Listen today at http://wondery.fm/innovations_guru.

Jul 01, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | Inside the NBA Bubble | 15
00:25:41

Back in March, the NBA pressed pause on its 2019-20 season. Now, the league wants to pick up where it left off – but with Covid-19 rates on the rise, it’s not going to be easy.

This week, Kavitha Davidson, host of The Lead, walks us through the NBA’s plan to move 16 teams into a “bubble” at the Disney World Resort. What rules will players have to follow? And will the risks to players’ health be worth it?

Check out The Lead, Wondery’s daily sports podcast, at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-lead/id1478448344

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Jun 30, 2020
Encore: The Polio Vaccine | The Fight Goes On | 3
00:39:33

In 1955, the world received its first viable polio vaccine, courtesy of Jonas Salk. He was hailed as a hero until kids started to fall sick with polio. A bad batch of vaccines was thought to be the culprit. But it was also an opening for a scientist with a competing vision. Albert Sabin warned of the dangers of Salk’s vaccine from the start. The final clash between the two vaccines, and the two scientists, is the true story of how polio was conquered. 

Note: This episode originally ran in October 2018.  

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Jun 25, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | Forest Fires, Memes, & Covid-19 | 14
00:27:37

Forest fires. Ant colonies. Internet memes.

On the surface, they have nothing in common. But, according to network scientist Samuel Scarpino, they’re all complex systems that spread. Sam’s job is to crack the rules underlying their spread, and then apply them to epidemics such as Covid-19. 

Read more about Sam’s work in Steven’s New York Times Magazine article, “How Data Became One of the Most Powerful Tools to Fight an Epidemic”: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/10/magazine/covid-data.html

Jun 23, 2020
Encore: The Polio Vaccine | Can You Patent The Sun? | 2
00:44:33

Pressure mounts to release a vaccine for polio, but a rushed vaccine could have disastrous results. After all, vaccines contain benign samples of the viruses they’re designed to protect against. If a flawed polio vaccine were to be tested on humans, it wouldn’t cure the disease – it would help spread it. 

Note: This episode originally ran in October 2018.  

Listen ad-free on Wondery+ here.

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Jun 18, 2020
Wondery Presents: Murder in Hollywoodland
00:04:53

It's February 2nd 1922, and all of Hollywood is about to wake up and learn that William Desmond Taylor, the most famous film director in town, was murdered in his home last night. The investigation will shine a light on some of Hollywood's most scandalous affairs, backroom deals, and underground drug dens. This real life Murder Mystery is one of the most iconic "whodunnit" cases of the 20th century that will leave you guessing and second guessing who killed William Desmond Taylor for weeks to come. Co-hosted by Tracy Pattin & James Remar

Listen to Murder in Hollywoodland: wondery.fm/innovationsMiH.

Jun 17, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | Can We Ditch the Office Forever? | 13
00:26:25

Most CEOs hated the idea of employees working from home. But when the coronavirus hit, they didn’t have a choice. They sent their white-collar workers home before they’d even learned how to mute themselves on Zoom. What happened next surprised everyone. Productivity shot through the roof. Now, companies don’t know whether they should bring workers back to the office, even if they can do it safely.

We’ve invited Clive Thompson, fresh off his piece for The New York Times Magazine about remote work, to talk us through this rapid culture shift. What, exactly, makes remote work so productive? What do we lose when we work in isolation? What new technology will emerge from this moment? And how many of us will ever voluntarily do the 9-to-5 again?

Links: 

Clive Thompson, “What if Working From Home Goes On … Forever?”, New York Times Magazine:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/09/magazine/remote-work-covid.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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Jun 16, 2020
Encore: The Polio Vaccine | Marching Toward A Cure | 1
00:34:35

The virus spread invisibly and without warning. Person to person. Through contaminated food, shared possessions, and unwashed hands.

Mid-century Americans lived in fear of one disease: polio. But the story of the polio vaccine is not just a scientific story – it’s a political and financial story, too. One that played out across the corner offices of New York City, the sound booths of Hollywood, and the back rooms of Washington D.C..

Note: This episode originally ran in October 2018. 

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Jun 11, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | Why Covid-19 Disproportionately Kills Black Americans | 12
00:27:36

There’s a saying in public health circles: “When white America sneezes, black America gets pneumonia.” When the coronavirus hit, health care experts knew that black Americans would be the hardest hit. But the numbers were still shocking. Black people make up 12.7% of the U.S. population but have so far made up 22% of its Covid-19-related deaths.

On this episode, Steven talks to reporter Linda Villarosa about the reasons behind those numbers, and her quest to give them a human face in her New York Times Magazine article, “A Terrible Price: The Deadly Racial Disparities of Covid-19 in America.” Along the way, she offers hope that we might be able to turn this current crisis into a call for action.

Articles by Linda Villarosa:

“A Terrible Price: The Deadly Racial Disparities of Covid-19 in America,” New York Times Magazine: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/magazine/racial-disparities-covid-19.html

“How False Beliefs in Physical Racial Difference Still Live in Medicine Today,” New York Times Magazine: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/racial-differences-doctors.html

“Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies are in a Life-or-Death Crisis,” New York Times Magazine: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/magazine/black-mothers-babies-death-maternal-mortality.html

Jun 09, 2020
Ferris Wheel | Scott A. Lukas and the History of Theme Parks | 2
00:29:20

George Ferris aspired to build a structure for the 1893 World's Fair that could rival Paris's Eiffel Tower. And when the Ferris wheel debuted, newspapers hailed it as the eighth wonder of the world. 

The grandeur and success of the Ferris wheel paved the way for future theme parks. These fantastical spaces have become symbols of leisure and fun throughout the United States and offered innovators like George Ferris a chance to showcase attractions that pushed the boundaries of what's possible. 

On this episode, Steven speaks with Scott A. Lucas, an anthropologist, theme park consultant, and author of the books “Theme Park” and “The Immersive Worlds Handbook: Designing Theme Parks and Consumer Spaces.” Steven and Scott discuss the uniquely American history of theme parks and the ways they’ve influenced all kinds of public spaces.

Here are some of the parks and rides – old and new – mentioned in this conversation: 


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Jun 04, 2020
Wondery presents The Next Big Idea featuring Steven Johnson
00:07:54

This week on The Next Big Idea, author Steven Johnson speaks to Malcom Gladwell about the value of long term planning and how to make better decisions in your own life.


Subscribe to The Next Big Idea today: http://wondery.fm/NextBigIdea_Johnson

Jun 03, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | Can Your Smartwatch Detect Covid-19? | 11
00:22:52

These days, watches don’t just tell time. Smartwatches like Apple Watch and Fitbit measure your heart rate, count your steps, and track your sleep schedule. According to Dr. Michael Snyder, they can also tell you when you’re getting sick – and potentially spot Covid-19 before you’re even symptomatic.

On this episode, Steven talks to Dr. Snyder, who runs the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford, about his new study on whether wearables can predict the onset of Covid-19. What has the study learned so far, and what else can your wearables be trained to detect?

To participate in Dr. Snyder’s study, visit https://innovations.stanford.edu/wearables.

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Jun 03, 2020
Ferris Wheel | Wheel in the Sky | 1
00:41:46

The 1889 World’s Fair in Paris dazzles attendees with the Eiffel Tower. So, when plans begin for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, the mandate is clear: beat the Tower. 

America’s architects and engineers compete to win the job – but every proposal they submit is more outlandish and dangerous than the last. And the most dangerous of all? Well, that might be a ride that resembles a twenty-story bicycle wheel, submitted by a young man named George Ferris….

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May 28, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | Stopping the Spread of Bad Information | 10
00:23:01

According to the World Health Organization, we’re not just in the midst of a pandemic. We’re living through an “infodemic,” where misinformation is more readily available than facts.

On this episode, Steven talks to Joan Donovan, who studies misinformation in her role as the Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard Kennedy’s Shorenstein Center. Joan shares how conspiracy theories spread and how each of us can practice good information hygiene. It’s not as easy as wearing a mask … but it’s close.



May 26, 2020
Enemy of All Mankind | A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt | 1
00:36:19

On September 11th, 1695, two ships confronted each other in the middle of the Indian Ocean: one an enormous treasure ship owned by the Grand Mughal of India, and the other a much smaller British pirate ship led by Henry Every.  

What happened next changed the world. Every and his crew took off with $100 million in loot and sparked the world’s first global manhunt. They also inadvertently set off a chain of events that led to the rise of globalization, the tabloid press, and even democracy itself.

All of that, and more, is the subject of Steven Johnson’s latest book, Enemy of All Mankind. We borrow Rufus Griscom from Wondery’s The Next Big Idea podcast to talk with Steven about Every and the surprising ways a single confrontation on the high seas shaped life as we know it.


You can read more about Steven’s book here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/545158/enemy-of-all-mankind-by-steven-johnson/

And check out The Next Big Idea, currently launching season two.

May 21, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | Will We Remember 2020 A Century From Now? | 9
00:23:24

While the U.S. has countless WWI memorials, it has almost none dedicated to the 1918 flu pandemic – even though the pandemic claimed six times as many American lives.

On this episode, Steven talks to historian Nancy Bristow, author of American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, about the blind spot in America’s collective memory. Why did we forget the 1918 pandemic? And how well will future generations remember this one?

New episodes of “Fighting Coronavirus” will publish here every Tuesday, or you can listen and subscribe at https://wondery.com/shows/fighting-coronavirus/

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May 19, 2020
Introducing The Daily Smile
00:04:12

Everyone needs a reminder about just how good people can be. On Wondery’s new series The Daily Smile, host Nikki Boyer brings you stories that will make you feel good each weekday morning. With interviews, inspiring clips, and chats with special guests and passionate friends, The Daily Smile takes you on a journey into goodness, gives you all the feels, and will leave you with a smile on your face. Listen to the full episode: wondery.fm/dailysmileAI

May 18, 2020
Chewing Gum | The Champion of Chewers | 2
00:41:33

It’s the early 1890s and thanks to the adoption of chicle, chewing gum is bigger than ever. But it’s still a niche American habit. Men still shun it in favor of tobacco, and women who chew it in public are frowned upon. 

But that’s all about to change thanks to the newest face on the gum scene. He’s name is William Wrigley Junior and he’s going to teach the world to chew.

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May 14, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus | We’re More United Than You Think | 8
00:22:44

Communication and cooperation across our society are as important as they’ve ever been. This week, Steven talks with Andy Slavitt, the former Medicare and Medicaid chief, who has emerged as one of the most effective communicators during this crisis. Andy and Steven discuss the future of healthcare, how to find trustworthy news sources, and how to make the most of your child’s senior year in isolation. (Hint: Start a podcast together!)


Check out Andy Slavitt’s podcast In the Bubble.

You can learn more about his new healthcare nonprofit, the United States of Care, here


May 12, 2020
Chewing Gum: Snapping and Stretching | 1
00:33:17

It’s the mid-1800s and in Maine, John Bacon Curtis is back from clearing the spruce forests with a crazy idea. He’s going to sell ready-to-chew gum.

But his bold plan is only the start of what will become a decades-long search for the ideal chew. It’s a search that will see the nascent gum business butt heads with newspaper tycoons, strike an alliance with oil refineries, and get a helping hand from the self-styled Napoleon of the West.

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May 07, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus: Is Social Distancing Enough? | 7
00:24:16

If we really want to reopen our economy, we need to do more than just flatten the curve. In the words of Dr. Jim Kim, the former president of the World Bank, we need to “start coming down the mountain.” And to do that, Dr. Kim says there is only one valid solution: “contact tracing,” one of the most low-tech and labor-intensive weapons in our public health arsenal.

On this week’s episode, Steven talks to Dr. Kim about how he convinced Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to invest in contact tracing when other governors wouldn’t even return his calls, and why contact tracing is the best way to contain the spread of Covid-19.


New episodes of “Fighting Coronavirus” will publish here every Tuesday, or you can listen and subscribe at https://wondery.com/shows/fighting-coronavirus/

Listen ad-free on Wondery+ here.

May 05, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus: Pandemic DIY | 6
00:25:27

When health care workers began running out of protective equipment, makers around the world powered up their 3D printers and got to work. This week, Steven talks to journalist Clive Thompson about the maker movement, an informal network of sewers, tinkerers, and engineers whose ingenuity is bridging supply gaps and increasing the pace of technological innovation, sometimes in a very retro way. 

Read Clive Thompson’s article, “When Government Fails, Makers Come to the Rescue,” on Wired.com.

Download Budmen Industry’s templates for 3D face shields.

Enter the CoVent-19 Challenge.

Apr 28, 2020
Dynamite: Audrey Kurth Cronin on New Technology and Terrorism | 4
00:31:36

Alfred Nobel worked on dynamite in distinctly unglamorous labs, but his ambitions were as grand as his labs were small. He envisioned dynamite transforming cityscapes and connecting rail lines across Europe. When Alfred finally got dynamite right, it did exactly that – but it also led to new and terrifying forms of political violence.

On the last episode of our dynamite series, Steven Johnson talks to security expert Audrey Kurth Cronin, author of “Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists.” Cronin argues that Nobel’s story is also the story of our times: once again, backyard inventors are spearheading new technology but not always thinking through the technology’s consequences.

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Apr 23, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus: Are Our Kids Alright? | 5
00:30:30

Let’s face it: we’re worried about our kids. How can we protect their mental health? Should the normal rules around screen time still apply? What will school look like come September? This week, Steven talks with Anya Kamenetz, an education correspondent for NPR and author of the book The Art of Screen Time, to get some answers.

New episodes of “Fighting Coronavirus” will publish here every Tuesday, or you can listen and subscribe at https://wondery.com/shows/fighting-coronavirus/.

Apr 21, 2020
Dynamite: The Merchant of Death is Dead | 3
00:35:46

How did Alfred Nobel, the “Merchant of Death,” go from inventing dynamite to establishing the Nobel Peace Prize? The answer lies in a personal ad, a poorly vetted obituary, and a surprising new use for nitroglycerine.



Apr 16, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus: How Can Data Save Lives? | 4
00:28:23

Where are new cases being detected? How many beds are available in local hospitals? What’s the growth rate of ICU admissions? These are some of the most urgent questions in the world right now, and they’re being answered by data pioneers like Dr. John Brownstein, the Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Brownstein talks to host Steven Johnson about his new crowdsourced website, CovidNearYou.org, and how public health data doesn’t just track deaths, but helps prevent them.

New episodes of “Fighting Coronavirus” will publish here every Tuesday, or you can listen and subscribe at https://wondery.com/shows/fighting-coronavirus/

Contribute to Dr. John Brownstein’s live map of Covid-19 symptoms at https://covidnearyou.org/.

Apr 14, 2020
Dynamite: The Loneliest Millionaire | 2
00:32:43

Alfred Nobel had solved the critical problem of detonating nitroglycerine reliably, but his efforts to turn his new "blasting oil" into a successful commercial product create new challenges. An explosion in his Stockholm lab leads to personal tragedy, and draws the ire of local authorities. And a wave of industrial accidents involving nitroglycerine around the globe has critics accusing Alfred of murder. 

Alfred knows that if his "blasting oil" is ever going to realize its potential, he's going to have to figure out a way to keep it from accidentally exploding during storage and transport. Nitroglycerine is clearly the most powerful explosive known to man. The question is: can Alfred's customers actually use the stuff without blowing themselves up in the process?

Apr 09, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus: When Will the Lockdown End? | 3
00:23:45

Reading the forecast models that track and predict the spread of the coronavirus can feel like a glimpse into the future. And epidemiologists – the scientists behind these models – have suddenly become the most important figures in this fight. Dr. Tara Smith, an epidemiologist and professor at the Kent State University College of Public Health, talks with Steven about what most people misunderstand about these models, whether there’s an end in sight for social distancing, and why the public health sector is our “invisible shield.”

New episodes of “Fighting Coronavirus” will publish here every Tuesday, or you can listen and subscribe at https://wondery.com/shows/fighting-coronavirus/

Apr 07, 2020
Dynamite: The Controlled Explosion | 1
00:34:14

In 1846, an Italian chemist discovered the volatile compound nitroglycerine, the first major breakthrough in creating man-made explosions since the invention of gunpowder a thousand years earlier. But almost everyone who experiments with the compound thinks it’s too dangerous for any commercial application–everyone except for one brooding, obsessed young Swedish inventor named Alfred Nobel. 

Nobel dreams of harnessing the chemical’s power to ignite an engineering revolution: blasting railway tunnels, digging out mines and canals…. But as Nobel’s quest to tame nitroglycerine becomes increasingly central to his family’s livelihood, it also repeatedly puts his own life in danger.

Apr 02, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus: How Can We Protect City Life? | 2
00:26:05

When public health is threatened on a mass scale, we have a long history of working together to take on the challenge. On this new weekly series, Steven will speak with experts from the worlds of health and technology about how the current moment compares with past pandemics, and what the coming months might look like. 

On this episode, Steven talks with Richard Florida, a bestselling author on cities and urban rebirth. The population density of cities has always been key to driving new ideas, new collaborations, and new social movements. But today, as the coronavirus spreads, that density is creating danger. How can cities protect their way of life, and how they can come out of this crisis even stronger than before?

New episodes of “Fighting Coronavirus” will publish here every Tuesday, or you can listen and subscribe at https://wondery.com/shows/fighting-coronavirus/

Read Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo’s 10-Point Preparedness Plan for Cities.

Mar 31, 2020
Fighting Coronavirus: Bruce Gellin On How COVID-19 Could Change Vaccine Development | 1
00:25:37

As the first in a series on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Steven Johnson speaks with Dr. Bruce Gellin, president of Global Immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington D.C.. Dr. Gellin is also a former director of the National Vaccine Program at the Department of Health and Human Services, and led the creation of HHS’s first pandemic influenza preparedness and response plan. They talk about a very new and pressing challenge: how to speed up vaccine development for COVID-19.

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Mar 26, 2020
Introducing Joe Exotic: Tiger King
00:05:41

Joe Exotic devoted his life to raising and breeding lions, tigers, and other exotic animals at his Oklahoma zoo. He croons ballads, shoots guns, and puts it all on YouTube. But he’s also made a lot of enemies. And the biggest of all is the owner of a big cat sanctuary in Florida named Carole Baskin. The feud between Joe Exotic and Carole gets messy, vicious, and outrageous -- until both of them are pushed far beyond their limits. From Wondery, comes ‘Joe Exotic: Tiger King’, the story about two people who want to save animals and destroy each other. For the full episode go to: wondery.fm/AIjoeexotic.

Mar 24, 2020
Organ Transplant: The Heart Race | 3
00:44:58

In 1967, an unlikely surgeon performs the first human heart transplant – and shocks the world. As others race to replicate his achievement, one surgical team makes a mistake that could spell the end of organ transplants in the United States.


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Mar 19, 2020
Where Are Past Seasons? | 1
00:00:28

Hey American Innovations listeners!  You might be wondering what happened to some of our older seasons. We’ve moved them to our new premium service, Wondery+, where you can listen ad-free and get access to more Wondery shows. For a limited time, we’re offering listeners of American Innovations a free week of Wondery+. Just go to wonderyplus.com/AI.

Mar 18, 2020
Organ Transplant: A Matter of Life and Death | 2
00:36:52

By the early 1960s, surgeons have proven that it's possible to transplant kidneys and lungs. Now, with heart disease still the leading cause of death, they've set their sights on performing the first human heart transplant. But first, they've got to overcome the ethical, legal, and surgical challenges of removing a donor's heart before it stops beating for good.

Mar 12, 2020
Organ Transplant: The Kidney Twins | 1
00:42:50

A century ago, organ transplants were the stuff of science fiction. But a handful of experimental surgeons believed that transplants were not just possible – they had the potential to save thousands of lives. Then, in 1954, a man agreed to donate his kidney to his twin brother – and one surgeon finally got his chance to prove the doubters wrong.

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Mar 05, 2020
NBC News presents Into America
00:07:00

A new podcast about politics, about policy, and the power that both have in shaping the lives of the American people. Into America is hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Trymaine Lee, and features the journalists of NBC News.

For the first episode, Trymaine heads to East New York, a community that experienced more stops than any other part of New York City under Former Mayor Bloomberg’s stop and frisk policy. In order to have a real shot at the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg needs the support of Black voters. Days before announcing his candidacy, Bloomberg apologized for the policing tactic. But will his past decision to champion the use of stop and frisk hurt his chances? 

Subscribe to Into America now: http://wondery.fm/intoamerica


Mar 02, 2020
Valium: Mother’s Little Helper | 3
00:39:58

Within 10 years of Valium’s introduction, people are starting to realize it’s not quite as harmless as they had been led to believe. Patients are building up a tolerance to it, taking stronger and stronger dosages, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they quit. Women, who have been prescribed Valium at twice the rates men have, spearhead the fight to increase regulation.

When former First Lady Betty Ford announces her own addiction to Valium, the public outcry against the drug finally causes the government to act. They hold days of hearings and tighten up the rules around prescribing the medication, but more importantly, Valium’s reputation is severely damaged.

But decades later, doctors start to wonder if the backlash went too far….


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Feb 20, 2020
Valium: The House That Leo Built | 2
00:37:52

With Miltown sweeping the nation, pharmaceutical companies around the country want in on the action and vie to create their own versions. At Hoffman La Roche, a brilliant scientist by the name of Leo Sternbach leads the charge.  

 

While Roche executives want him to create a copycat drug, Sternbach has bigger ambitions: he wants to invent an entirely new class of tranquilizer. After Roche loses faith in his vision, Sternbach continues his work in secret – and lays the foundation for Valium, soon to become the most commonly prescribed drug in the United States.


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Feb 13, 2020
Valium: Miltown Magic | 1
00:39:31

Anxiety. It’s something everyone experiences at some point in their lives, but for centuries doctors had no effective way to treat it. They could send patients on rest cures, order them to do nothing at all, or prescribe barbiturates that depressed the central nervous system, easily leading to overdose and death.

Finally, in the mid-1950s, chemists discovered a new class of drugs: the minor tranquilizers. The most famous of these was Valium, which would go on to become the most prescribed drug in the United States.  

But Valium owes its success to its lesser known predecessor Miltown, which changed the way Americans thought about anxiety.

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Feb 06, 2020
Electronic Television: The TVs of The Future | 3
00:27:56

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, television manufacturer LG debuted a TV set that rolls up like a poster. It's a far cry from our grandparents wooden boxes with black and white screens and bunny ear antennas. And despite impressive new television tech, many people these days are turning to phones and tablets to consume their favorite shows and moves. Today we conclude our series on the television with Susan Murray, Professor or Media, Culture and Communication at NYU. She joins us talk about the history and evolution of the television in our everyday life.

Jan 30, 2020
MSNBC Presents: So, You Wanna Be President? with Chris Matthews
00:05:38

Chris Matthews and campaign veterans who have had front row seats to presidential history dive deep into the six most important lessons learned from presidential campaigns that win. Chris and his guests tap into their experience, historical insight, passion for electoral politics, and love for our country to explain why these lessons matter, and how they’ve separated winners from losers.

Subscribe today: http://wondery.fm/SYWBP

Jan 27, 2020
Electronic Television: A Great Depression And The World's Fair | 2
00:41:30

While Philo Farnsworth was building gizmos out of a loft in San Francisco, the Radio Corporation of America was already plotting domination of the yet-to-be television industry under the leadership of a man named David Sarnoff. Sarnoff recognized television’s virtually limitless potential, and he was determined to bring it to the masses — with or without the help of Philo Farnsworth. 


Sarnoff would rely on inventors like Vladimir Zworykin, who had also figured out how to transmit pictures electronically through his patented Iconoscope. At least, in theory. The missing piece wouldn’t fall into place until Zworykin visited Farnsworth’s lab — setting off a court battle to claim ownership of one of the most iconic inventions of the 20th century.


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Jan 23, 2020
Electronic Television: The Picture Radio | 1
00:38:57

The invention of the electronic television was uniquely complicated for its time. So complicated, in fact, that the prevailing narrative is that it couldn’t have been invented by a single person -- let alone Philo Farnsworth. 


After all, some of the most brilliant minds in the world spent the first quarter of the 20th century working on television systems -- and some even managed to transmit images. But none of those systems were ever able to deliver the quality of images they’d need to be commercially viable. None except Philo Farnsworth, a farm boy from Utah, who got the idea for television when he was fourteen years old. 


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Jan 16, 2020
The Year in Innovation | 6
00:42:29

It's a new year and a new decade, and that means a lot of new innovation and tech to look forward to. But, as we wonder what the future has in store, it's important to look back at the past year and what it has taught us. Author Clive Thompson joins us to talk about the innovations that caught his attention in 2019 and what he's looking forward to in 2020 and beyond.

Jan 09, 2020
Kodak Roll Film: Brownie Boom | 3
00:38:37

After George Eastman cut ties with his chief emulsion-maker-turned-saboteur, Henry Reichenbach, the Kodak company started to falter. Some batches of film literally fell apart on the shelves. Others seemed fine, but yielded blurry, unprintable photos.

Eastman had tried to find a suitable replacement for Reichbach, but no one was able to make a stable emulsion at the volume he needed. Eastman was starting to get desperate.

He knew that if he didn’t fix his film fast, his Kodak cameras would never amount to more than a passing fad. Eastman wasn’t just looking to get rich and get out. He was after a legacy that would stand the test of time. In order to do that, Eastman would not only have to make his product reliable, he’d have to continually innovate — constantly turning out one new demographically-targeted product after another. In the end, this strategy would make Kodak a household name, and then doom it to obsolescence.


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Dec 12, 2019
Kodak Roll Film: Kodak Fiends | 2
00:36:50

George Eastman had made technological breakthroughs and forays into the photography market, but his images still weren’t good enough for professional photographers and the photographic process was still too complicated for recreational photographers. 

Eastman needed to improve his product and simplify his process, but he couldn’t do it alone. His novice chemistry skills had already carried the company as far as they could go. So Eastman reached out to a gifted chemist for help, and made his company vulnerable in ways greater than he had feared.


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Dec 05, 2019
Kodak Roll Film | As Convenient as a Pencil | 1
00:35:48

Today, if we want to take a photo, we unlock our phone, aim, and click.  It can be done on a whim, without a second thought. We document everything from new haircuts to latte art, cute cats to baby’s first smile.  But prior to the 1900s, photography was the exclusive domain of professionals and dedicated hobbyists -- people willing to learn complex skills and spend hours on the craft.

Responsible for that shift was a man named George Eastman. Armed with a radical vision for what photography could be, and a cold-blooded business sense, Eastman delivered photography to the masses and altered the way most of us experience our lives over time.


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Nov 28, 2019
The Modern Ambulance | 1
00:43:17

Today, if you or someone you know experiences a medical emergency, you dial 9-1-1 and a squad of trained medical professionals arrives at your door.  But just 55 years ago, that was not the case.

Emergency calls were generally dispatched to funeral homes simply because their vehicles were suited to transporting bodies. You’d be lucky if the person transporting you had any first aid training at all. A soldier shot in Vietnam had a better chance of surviving than a housewife in a car accident  because the soldier in Vietnam got immediate trained medical care.

Throughout the 1960s, volunteer rescue squads  began experimenting with different kinds of pre-hospital care. But in Pittsburgh, 20th century topography converged with the fates of a few individuals, and one ambitious vision, to spin a medical revolution into being.


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Nov 21, 2019
Google's Quantum Breakthrough
00:30:18

In October, Google announced in a paper in the journal Nature that it built a chip called "Sycamore" that achieved what is known as "quantum supremacy." It's being hailed as a massive step forward in the world of quantum computing. Quantum computing's principles lie in the fascinating world of quantum mechanics, and while it is extremely complicated to understand, the theoretical applications of a quantum computer could have a massive real-world impact. We'll talk with Scott Aaronson, the David J. Bruton Centennial Professor of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin, and director of its Quantum Information Center, about Google's discovery. Aaronson reviewed Google's paper before it was published and has worked for years on these complex problems.


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Nov 14, 2019
Electric Chair | A Matter of Light and Death | 3
00:39:00

In the summer of 1888, just as the electric chair controversy was unfolding, Nikola Tesla moved to Pittsburgh to work for George Westinghouse, fulfilling a year-long commitment he made when Westinghouse purchased Tesla’s AC motor patents.

The deal would make Tesla a millionaire, but it would ultimately threaten to topple Westinghouse’s business.


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Oct 31, 2019
Introducing The City: Reno
00:06:11

The City, USA Today’s critically acclaimed investigative podcast, is back with Season 2. This time, it shines a spotlight on Reno as the city transforms into an offshoot of Silicon Valley. Who decides what kind of city Reno becomes? What is lost and gained in the name of progress? 

Start listening to The City: Reno today at: http://wondery.fm/TheCityReno

Oct 29, 2019
Electric Chair | The War Becomes Electric | 2
00:40:46

After his unceremonious departure from Edison Electric, Nikola Tesla found himself broke and dejected, but more determined than ever to share his alternating current system with the world. And thanks to the help of one man who really believes in his work -- a man with vision, money and power -- he’ll soon have his chance.

Tesla has Edison in his sites, and the Current War is about to get deadly.


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Oct 24, 2019
Electric Chair | War of the Currents | 1
00:44:52

On August 6, 1890, a prisoner named William Kemmler became the first man executed in the electric chair. It was designed to be a more humane form of execution, but the gruesome scene in the death chamber that day revealed the device to be anything but. 

Still, the chair stuck around. And Kemmler’s execution proved to be a pivotal moment in the history of capital punishment. But if you pull back just slightly, you’ll see that the story of the electric chair was just one small chapter in another story — a much larger story — that would come to define the world we live in.

This other story involved three titans of innovation—Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse — locked in a desperate fight for control of the future of electricity.  Their conflict would take lives, spark scientific advances and revolutionize human existence. And it would come to be called the War of the Currents. 


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Oct 17, 2019
Introducing The Next Big Idea
00:08:16

Ideas are coming at you every day from all directions. How can you process it all? You can start with The Next Big Idea. Host Rufus Griscom and legendary thought leaders Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Dan Pink, and Susan Cain, will be your personal “idea” curators. Open your mind and get ready for something big, because the right idea--at the right moment--has the power to transform your life. Listen now at http://wondery.fm/TNBIWondery

 

Oct 15, 2019
Skylab: NASA’s Best-Kept Secret | Falling Back to Earth | 3
00:39:41

The resourcefulness of NASA’s engineers and Skylab’s first crew helped save the space station from near disaster. Now, as the station’s second crew settles into their fifty-nine day mission, another kind of crisis is about to threaten Skylab—one that has nothing to do with the hazards of space travel.

In the fall of 1973, the United States is struggling. Gas prices are skyrocketing thanks to an oil embargo. The Vietnam War is dragging on, costing thousands of American lives and hundreds of millions of dollars. In the White House, Richard Nixon’s presidency is hanging by a thread, as details of the Watergate scandal leak out. 

Against this backdrop, public interest in the U.S. space program is waning — and with it, Congress’s will to continue funding it. Now, faced with deep budget cuts, NASA may have no choice but to bring its space station program to a premature end.


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Oct 10, 2019
Introducing Lost at the Smithsonian with Aasif Mandvi
00:06:16

Check out Lost at the Smithsonian, a new podcast from Stitcher! Comedian and pop culture fanatic Aasif Mandvi gets up close and personal with the most iconic artifacts at the National Museum of American History. Join Aasif and his guests as they explore how vintage clothing, ratty furniture, and mismatched shoes transformed into Fonzie's leather jacket, Archie Bunker's chair, and Dorothy's ruby slippers and became defining symbols of American culture along the way. Lost at the Smithsonian is out NOW — listen wherever you get your podcasts, or at smarturl.it/LostAtTheSmithsonian

Oct 04, 2019
Skylab: NASA’s Best-Kept Secret| We Fix Anything | 2
00:39:08

Skylab was NASA’s underdog — a cobbled-together  program that lived in the shadow of the Apollo moon landings. But with the last of those moon landings completed in December of 1972, it was finally Skylab’s time to shine.

That is, until launch. Now the eighty-ton space station is in orbit, but it’s badly damaged — possibly uninhabitable. And the timing couldn’t be worse. With America in the midst of a recession, politicians’ patience for NASA’s huge budgets is wearing thin. If Skylab turns out to be a two billion dollar boondoggle, it could set the entire American space program back decades.


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Oct 03, 2019
Skylab: NASA’s Best-Kept Secret| Apollo’s Leftovers | 1
00:39:02

Fifty years ago, America’s space program achieved its greatest triumph, when Apollo Eleven put the first men on the moon.

The Apollo program was a remarkable success story. But as NASA was sending men to the moon, they were engaged in another, less celebrated project — one even more important than the moon landings to humanity’s potential future in space. That project was called Skylab — America’s first space station.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Skylab. If you know anything about it at all, you know that after it was launched into orbit, it came crashing back down to Earth. But before that crash, Skylab taught NASA more things about living and working in space than any program before it.

So why did one of the engineers who worked on Skylab once call it “the little redheaded bastard out behind the barn”? Why do so many accounts of NASA’s achievements barely mention it? Why have most Americans never heard of America’s first space station?


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Sep 26, 2019
Introducing The Lead: Your New Daily Sports Fix
00:07:59

From Wondery and The Athletic, The Lead is the first daily sports podcast that will bring you one big story each day from The Athletic's all-star team of local and national sports reporters. Subscribe now to hear new episodes each weekday morning: http://wondery.fm/TheLeadED

Sep 16, 2019
Sex, Cereal, and Nut Milks - The Complicated Legacy of the Kelloggs | 4
00:29:35

We conclude our series on Corn Flakes with Howard Markel author of "The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek." Markel joins us to talk about how he discovered the Kellogg's story and how their innovations changed the world of medicine, business, and of course, what we eat for breakfast today. 


Sep 12, 2019
Get Ready for College Football Season
00:06:39

If you’re a fan of all the pageantry and excitement that college football brings, then The Solid Verbal is the podcast for you. Join hosts Dan Rubenstein and Ty Hildenbrandt as they offer insights into each conference, game analysis, and plenty of commentary throughout the season and beyond. Start listening today at: http://wondery.fm/solidverbal

Sep 06, 2019
Corn Flakes | Kellogg vs Kellogg | 3
00:39:21

Now that Will has officially left the San, it would seem his days of servitude and humiliation are finally over. But John has no intention of leaving him in peace.

As Will forges ahead with his groundbreaking cereal business, John resorts to desperate measures to make sure he’ll never have to share the spotlight with his brother. Even if it ends up costing him everything. 


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Sep 05, 2019
Corn Flakes | Crunch Time | 2
00:40:27
Aug 29, 2019
Corn Flakes | The Brothers of Battle Creek | 1
00:40:36
Aug 22, 2019
The Heimlich Maneuver | 1
00:43:45
Aug 15, 2019
Author Jason Torchinsky Talks Our Autonomous Future | 3
00:33:30
Aug 08, 2019
Introducing Sean Carroll's Mindscape
00:08:56
Aug 05, 2019
Innovation Fails: DeLorean | Shifting Gears | 2
00:42:42
Aug 01, 2019
Innovation Fails: DeLorean | Driven to Succeed | 1
00:40:24
Jul 25, 2019
Biologist Timothy Mousseau Can’t Stop Going Back To Chernobyl | 4
00:26:53
Jul 04, 2019
The Birth Control Pill | Paradise and the Pill | 3
00:41:13
Jun 27, 2019
The Birth Control Pill | A Matter of Money | 2
00:41:29
Jun 20, 2019
Introducing 1865
00:11:16
Jun 18, 2019
The Birth Control Pill | But Can It Be Done? | 1
00:40:56
Jun 13, 2019
Molly Wood: In A Changing Climate, How Can Tech Help Us Survive? | 4
00:45:50
Jun 06, 2019
Star Wars' Cinema Technology | The Audience is Listening | 3
00:40:45
May 30, 2019
Sneak Peek of Inside Star Wars
00:13:21
May 29, 2019
Star Wars' Cinema Technology | The Saga Continues | 2
00:43:15
May 23, 2019
Star Wars' Cinema Technology | 6842 Valjean Ave | 1
00:43:15
May 16, 2019
Airplane | Rewriting Aviation History | 3
00:40:55
May 02, 2019
Airplane | Wrights and Wrongs | 2
00:41:17
Apr 25, 2019
Airplane | The Flight of the June Bug | 1
00:44:15
Apr 18, 2019
Introducing Sports Wars
00:05:55
Apr 17, 2019
Jaron Lanier Wants You to Delete Social Media | 5
00:43:15
Apr 11, 2019
XX Factor | Hedy Lamarr | 4
00:46:51
Apr 04, 2019
XX Factor | Margaret Knight | 3
00:46:26
Mar 28, 2019
XX Factor | Madam C.J. Walker | 2
00:39:59
Mar 21, 2019
XX Factor | The Woman Who Put Man on the Moon | 1
00:40:33
Mar 14, 2019
Coca-Cola: The Perfect Package | 2
00:42:10
Feb 28, 2019
Coca-Cola: The Cocaine Clinician | 1
00:43:00
Feb 21, 2019
Making Decisions with Malcolm Gladwell | 4
00:47:20
Feb 14, 2019
Rubber: The Miracle Material | Trials and Tribulations | 3
00:36:43
Feb 07, 2019
Rubber: The Miracle Material | Things Heat Up | 2
00:37:24
Jan 31, 2019
Rubber: The Miracle Material | Bouncing Ideas | 1
00:36:55
Jan 24, 2019
Bill Nye Wants to Save the World | 5
00:47:14
Jan 17, 2019
2018's Best and Worst Tech Moments | 4
00:49:33
Dec 27, 2018
Virtual Reality I VR Gets Luckey | 3
00:34:58
Dec 20, 2018
Virtual Reality | Simulation Sickness | 2
00:48:33
Dec 13, 2018
Virtual Reality I The Sword of Damocles | 1
00:42:23
Dec 06, 2018
Interview | Stuff You Should Know | 4
00:50:14
Nov 29, 2018
Conquering Pain | Ether Dreams | 3
00:42:54
Nov 22, 2018
Conquering Pain | The Swindle | 2
00:39:58
Nov 15, 2018
Conquering Pain | The Frolic | 1
00:33:57
Nov 08, 2018
Preventing Paralysis | And Stay Out! | 4
00:46:18
Nov 01, 2018
Preventing Paralysis | The Fight Goes On | 3
00:40:16
Oct 25, 2018
Preventing Paralysis | Can You Patent The Sun? | 2
00:46:04
Oct 18, 2018
Preventing Paralysis | Marching Towards a Cure | 1
00:36:29
Oct 11, 2018
Thinking Machines | Garry Kasparov | 6
00:48:32
Oct 04, 2018
Thinking Machines | Passing For Human | 5
00:45:33
Sep 27, 2018
Thinking Machines | I Learn Therefore I Am | 4
00:40:56
Sep 20, 2018
Thinking Machines | Siri-ous Business | 3
00:39:20
Sep 13, 2018
Thinking Machines| How Do You Make a Computer Bslink | 2
00:40:15
Sep 06, 2018
Thinking Machines| Artificial Intelligence | 1
00:41:39
Aug 30, 2018
The Future Of | Predicting the Future | 4
00:54:31
Aug 23, 2018
The Future Of | Commerce | 3
00:33:34
Aug 16, 2018
The Future Of | Health | 2
00:48:18
Aug 09, 2018
The Future Of | Food | 1
00:43:11
Aug 02, 2018
Nuclear Energy | Interview with James Mahaffee | 7
00:40:37
Jul 26, 2018
Nuclear Energy | A Glowing Future | 6
00:41:48
Jul 19, 2018
Nuclear Energy | Backlash | 5
00:40:06
Jul 12, 2018
Nuclear Energy | Meltdown | 4
00:41:21
Jul 05, 2018
Nuclear Energy | Atoms For Peace | 3
00:41:07
Jun 28, 2018
Nuclear Energy | Bombs Come First | 2
00:37:53
Jun 21, 2018
Nuclear Energy | E = MC Squared | 1
00:47:14
Jun 14, 2018
Life’s Building Blocks | Interview with Britt Wray | 7
00:42:56
Jun 07, 2018
Life’s Building Blocks | Return of the Mammoths | 6
00:46:25
May 31, 2018
Life’s Building Blocks | Testing Times | 5
00:38:39
May 24, 2018
Life’s Building Blocks | The Race for the Genome | 4
00:45:27
May 17, 2018
Life’s Building Blocks | Double Helix | 3
00:43:22
May 10, 2018
Life’s Building Blocks| Civil War | 2
00:45:10
May 10, 2018
Where Are Past Seasons?
00:00:28
May 10, 2018
Introducing American Innovations
00:02:08
Apr 26, 2018