Innovation Hub

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.

Episodes

June 18, 2021 49 min

Constantly checking your email might feel like textbook responsible work behavior but, according to Cal Newport — a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of A World Without Email — it can actually wreak havoc on productivity. Newport argues that our out-of-control inboxes are keeping us from being the thinkers, workers, and problem solvers we could be if email ran our lives less.

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On the 2020 U.S. census, Americans faced five options: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. These might have reflected a broad swath of the population, but for citizens from any of the dozens of countries south of the United States, there was a pretty obvious choice missing: Latino.

Laura Gómez, a law professor at UCLA and the author of “Inventin...

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June 4, 2021 49 min

Exercise is a relatively recent phenomenon. After all, it’s difficult to imagine a caveman on a treadmill. And it’s safe to say that paleolithic humans never pumped iron. But something changed as we moved from the plow to the Peloton. Exercise - physical exertion for the purpose of improving health or fitness - became a huge part of modern life, and a nearly $100 billion global industry.

But why do we spend so much time and money...

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May 28, 2021 29 min

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 mo...

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It seems like every time a dictionary publishes a new update, people flock to social media to talk about it. Whether they’re responding to the addition of the word “fam” or the dad joke,

They always return to the question of what consequences these additions will have. Do they really spell disaster for the English language?

Turns out, the “updation” (new to the Oxford English Dictionary as of last year) of language isn’t necessar...

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May 21, 2021 37 min

It might be difficult to remember now, but there was a time when the news wasn’t 24/7. There were morning and evening editions of the paper; the nightly news was, well, nightly; radio offered updates from time to time. But there’s a whole lot of difference between that world and today’s never-stop cavalcade of heartbreak, tragedy, excitement, and despair.

And one of the biggest dividing lines between those two realities was the cr...

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May 21, 2021 11 min

It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when time wasn’t as exact as it is now. When people would come over on “Tuesday” rather than “Tuesday at exactly 2:30.” Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and author of The Alchemy of Us How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, and she tells the story of how Materials Science made time so important. Strangely enough, it involves a woman who sold time, using a watch named Arnold.

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May 14, 2021 33 min

Many cities fell out of favor during the coronavirus pandemic, as those with means abandoned them for safer pastures – often to the annoyance of both the people left behind and residents of the places they fled to. However, British historian and writer Ben Wilson says our love-hate relationship with cities is an age-old story that has been repeated again and again for over 6,000 years.

In his latest book, “Metropolis: A History of...

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May 14, 2021 15 min

With the pandemic creating a wave of employees who have decided to work from home part-time, it might be reasonable to assume that traffic will get a lot better. After all, how can there be traffic when a big slice of workers are sitting in their home offices? Not so fast, says Michael Manville, a professor of urban planning at UCLA, who has spent his career studying traffic. Manville argues that our new lifestyles and rhythms won’...

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When figuring out how to tackle a problem, our instincts are almost always to add: we make to-do, not to-don’t lists after all. But just because humans have a harder time seeing subtraction — which can come in the form of tearing down buildings, dismantling barriers, and pruning old ideas — as a viable solution doesn’t make it any less useful of an approach.

Leidy Klotz is a professor of architecture, engineering, and business at...

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In 2019, women were doing exceptionally well in the workplace — hitting record-setting workforce participation numbers, holding more non-farm payroll jobs than men for only the second time in history (in 2009, they had also briefly outpaced men, as men lost jobs more quickly during the Great Recession).

Then came COVID-19, which disproportionately affected women and particularly women with children.

Over many months, the issue o...

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April 30, 2021 34 min

Over the last several decades, manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have withered. Meanwhile, health care has become the fastest growing job sector in the country, and it’s been on top for years. According to Gabriel Winant, a historian at the University of Chicago, and author of “The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America,” not only are those two opposing trends related, but there are also some...

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April 30, 2021 14 min

From Mathew Brady’s Civil War photographs, to some of the first images of Earth in space, photography has shaped the way we see ourselves. Which means that when photographic technology changes and progresses, it can really shift our self-image. Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and the author of The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, and she was previously on Innovation Hub to talk about how materials scienc...

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April 23, 2021 49 min

Money is “a social agreement,” according to Frederick Kaufman, a journalism professor at the City University of New York. You and the cashier both agree that a $20 bill — a green piece of paper that any baby or dog wouldn’t hesitate to tear to shreds — is worth something, and this consensus imbues the bill with value. Eventually, babies get on board, as they’re taught the value humans have long ascribed to different types of curren...

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April 16, 2021 27 min

Do you have memories from adolescence you’d rather forget? Previously, that choice — whether to open up that embarrassing high school yearbook or keep it firmly closed — generally rested in your hands. But for kids growing up in today’s social media landscape, the digital footprint they (or their parents) create can immortalize childhood and its growing pains forever.

Kate Eichhorn, a professor of culture and media at The New Scho...

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When you have a really good idea, copycats may try to steal it for themselves — and that’s what investigators assumed was happening when an unfamiliar man was spotted in a cornfield in Iowa in 2011. They knew that companies like Monsanto were using those fields to grow new types of corn seeds, and that the company was notoriously tight-lipped about the trade secrets behind its crops; farmers didn’t even necessarily know what was b...

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April 9, 2021 29 min

How much democracy is too much? Societies have been toying with different democratic models — from how often to hold elections, to who gets to vote and what the public can vote on — for centuries. Garett Jones, an economist and former Senate staffer, argues the current setup in the U.S. desperately needs some tinkering.

Jones says the ancient Greeks, who granted brief political mandates and gave some citizens direct input on law, ...

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April 9, 2021 20 min

Last year, many American cities were shut down for long periods during the coronavirus pandemic. They were also the backdrop for widespread demonstrations against racial injustice, in response to the death of George Floyd. As the Biden administration now plots out a road to recovery, with a massive infrastructure plan, Toni Griffin’s work designing cities and spaces focused on equity and inclusion could be more relevant than ever. ...

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April 2, 2021 49 min

There was a moment in early 2020 when life narrowed and the grocery store became a lifeline — in more ways than one. It was the source of breakfast, lunch and dinner, of course. But those lines emerging from sliding glass doors and wrapping around the block? For a while, they were as close to a social life as we could get, one of our last connections to the outside world. And, when certain items were in short supply in the early da...

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March 26, 2021 26 min

Our brains are incredibly nimble pieces of machinery, and are actively being rewired and rewritten in response to experience. According to David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, the physical impact of this rewiring is so drastic that imaging is capable of distinguishing the motor cortex of a violinist from that of a pianist.

Eagleman is the author of the book Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain...

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