90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
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

Guests

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. “

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 28, 2015
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Pellissippi State Community College Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP)

The promise of free community college. What it might mean for our economy and our fraying social contract.

Jan 28, 2015
tasty

Did our sense of taste make us human? From evolution to culture, a new book explores the science and perception of flavor.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 27, 2015
As any ant knows, building a reliable team can be hard. (Flickr / Guildmn20)

From Silicon Valley to your office, some teams work better – and smarter – than others. We’ll look at the surprising reasons why.

 
Jan 27, 2015
Leader of Syriza left-wing party Alexis Tsipras speaks to his supporters outside Athens University Headquarters, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. A triumphant Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left Syriza party's win in Sunday's early general election meant an end to austerity and humiliation and that the country's regular and often fraught debt inspections were a thing of the past. (AP)

A leftist victory in Greece, and anti-austerity pushback across Europe. We’ll ask where this goes.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
2 Comments
 
Caller To Author Ron Rash: ‘You Cared About People Like Me’
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015

An unexpected caller from South Carolina brings back guest Ron Rash’s years as a community college professor in a movingly real way.

More »
1 Comment