Big Challenges

Once we went to the Moon.  Now we make smartphone apps.  We’ll talk about really taking on our big challenges, with big ambition again.  Cancer.  The climate.  Sky’s the limit.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon in 1969. (NASA)

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon in 1969. (NASA)

There was a time – and not so long ago – when Americans believed they could do anything.  And they did.  Learned to fly.  Conquered polio.  Walked on the moon.  Then something happened.  Science went on.  And innovation.

But the breakthroughs seemed smaller.  Smartphone apps, not moonwalks.  We have huge challenges in this century.  We need huge breakthroughs again.  On energy, water, cancer, climate change.  What’s in the way?  How do we do it?

This hour, On Point:  accomplishing really big things again.

-Tom Ashbrook


Jason Pontin, editor in chief of the MIT Technology Review. You can find their issue on big ideas here.

David Keith, professor of applied physics at Harvard University School of Engineering and professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Jeffrey Grossman, professor of materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From Tom’s Reading List

MIT Technology Review “That something happened to humanity’s capacity to solve big problems is a commonplace. Recently, however, the complaint has developed a new stridency among Silicon Valley’s investors and entrepreneurs, although it is usually expressed a little differently: people say there is a paucity of real innovations. Instead, they worry, technologists have diverted us and enriched themselves with trivial toys. “

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