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
Sep 22, 2014
President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP/Evan Vucci)

A tough, critical examination of US plans to take on ISIS. Strategy in the hot seat.

Sep 22, 2014
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People's Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit. Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 19, 2014
Joseph O'Neill (courtesy of the author)

Author of “Netherland,” novelist Joseph O’Neill is back, with “The Dog,” on globalization, capitalism, and self-discovery in Dubai.

 
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

ISIS and arming Syrian fighters. Scotland rejects independence. NFL turmoil. US troops and Ebola. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment