Science and Creativity from Studio 360: the art of innovation. A sculpture unlocks a secret of cell structure, a tornado forms in a can, and a child's toy gets sent into orbit. Exploring science as a creative act since 2005. Produced by PRI and WNYC, and supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Recently in Science and Creativity

Constructal Law: A Theory of Everything

Friday, March 02, 2012

Over the last 16 years, the mechanical engineer Adrian Bejan, now a professor at Duke University, has been working on a theory for how the world works. It’s a theory of everything: how living creatures are shaped, how lava flows down mountains. It’s called the constructal law ...

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Aha Moment: Gravity's Rainbow

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gerald Joyce is a professor of biochemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. In the 1970s, he was studying biochemistry at The University of Chicago, when he discovered Gravity's Rainbow, the sprawling World War II novel by Thomas Pynchon ...

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Beauty, Truth, Math, Art

Friday, February 03, 2012

Last month, thousands of mathematicians attended the Joint Mathematics Meeting in Boston — the largest annual gathering of its kind. In addition to presentations on phylogenetic algebraic geometry and trace formulas, the conference featured an art exhibition, with 80 artists presenting ....

Video: Mathematical Art

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Tesla vs. Edison

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tesla’s biggest innovation was introducing alternating current as the standard for modern electric power, breaking Thomas Edison’s monopoly on DC power. Author and monologist Mike Daisey performs a one-man show about Tesla. In this segment he describes the inventor's obsession with electricity ...

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Wanted: Bold Thinkers

Friday, January 27, 2012

Much of science today is grant-dependent and discourages dreamy, out-of-box thinking — who wants to fund mistakes? "I really think of [Tesla] as one of the last people inventing on his own,” Samantha Hunt tells Kurt Andersen. “He didn't have funding from the Department of Defense ...

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Garage Inventors

Friday, January 27, 2012

All over the country, amazing science is happening without institutional or government funding. We visit inventors working in garages, basements, even a Quonset hut on a farm. Rachel Zimmerman works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, but she was an amateur inventor first ...

Video: Frank Polifka's "Tornado in a Can"

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Tesla and Twain

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mike Daisey tells the story of Tesla’s salons, where he played fast and loose with technology. "When he had you there, he'd show you inventions, then make you part of the inventions," Daisey explains. The inventor "cured" Mark Twain of his constipation with an electrical charge ...

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Mr. Spock and Dr. Strangelove

Friday, January 27, 2012

Samantha Hunt describes the turning point in Tesla’s life when he began acting like a mad scientist we recognize from movies, and Biologist Vincent Pieribone traces how scientists have been portrayed on screen — from Dr. Strangelove to Independence Day. He remembers watching ...

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Transmit This

Friday, January 27, 2012

A lot of us learned that Guglielmo Marconi invented radio, but Nikola Tesla transmitted electromagnetic waves before Marconi — the Supreme Court decided the case in 1943. Jim Stagnitto, the Director of Engineering for WNYC, gives Kurt a tour at the top of the Empire State Building ...

Video: Kurt Andersen tours the WNYC radio transmitter

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Introducing Nikola Tesla

Friday, January 27, 2012

Part visionary, part mad scientist, and absolute genius, Tesla should be as famous as Edison — but he’s been largely forgotten. Kurt talks with Samantha Hunt about her novel The Invention of Everything Else. Tesla is the protagonist, and despite the outlandish ...

Bonus Track: Samantha Hunt reads from her novel

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Photographing the Microscopic World

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Like any other talented photographer, Bernardo Cesare combines skilled use of lenses and light with his own judgment and timing to capture striking images. His photographs investigate the history of the earth and expose the mysteries of its formation. His work fits into a tiny niche in the ...

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Phonautogram

Friday, January 06, 2012

Did you know there are audio recordings that predate Thomas Edison's phonograph by almost 20 years? The phonautogram was invented by a Frenchman named Eduoard Leon-Scott and patented in 1857, translating sound waves (shakily) onto sheets of paper. But for the last century ...

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Robopainter

Friday, December 16, 2011

AARON is the world’s first cybernetic artist: an artificially intelligent system that composes its own paintings. Incredibly, the system is the work of one man, Harold Cohen, who had no background in computing when he began the effort. Cohen was a prominent painter; he represented ...

Quiz: Was this art made by a human or a computer?

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Eve Sussman's Algorithmic Noir

Friday, December 16, 2011

A new film premiered this year that is truly one of a kind. whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir was made by Eve Sussman and her collaborators, known as the Rufus Corporation.  They shot most of the footage in Kazakhstan, improvising the script and taking advantage of the Soviet Union’s ...

Video: watch the trailer

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Lisa Randall: Knocking on Heaven's Door

Friday, December 16, 2011

Harvard physicist Lisa Randall is at the forefront of the search for new theories about how the universe works.  She’s especially interested in dark matter and is involved in work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  And although her work requires complex math and work on the theoretical ...

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Smart Programs Read Shakespeare

Friday, December 16, 2011

Patrick Winston is Principal Investigator at MIT's Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. He believes that creating better artificial intelligence is not a matter of more powerful processing: we have to teach computers how to think more like humans. “We are a symbolic species,” he ...

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DARCI: A Computer With Great Taste

Friday, December 16, 2011

To make art, a computer first needs to understand what art is. A group of computer scientists at Brigham Young University is attempting this by feeding their program images by the thousands and describing those images. Digital Artist Communicating Intent (she goes by DARCI) recognizes ...

Slideshow: DARCI evaluates art

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The Carsten Höller Experience

Friday, December 09, 2011

Don’t stand too close, hands away from the art, don’t talk too loud — you know the etiquette. But right now at the New Museum in New York there's a huge exhibition that breaks all those rules. There are pieces you can climb on, ride on, stick your head into, smell. Even swallow. Carsten Höller  ...

Slideshow: Carston Höller at the New Museum

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Aha Moment: From Proto-Punk to Perception

Friday, November 18, 2011

Larry Rosenblum is a professor of psychology with a focus on perception — he’s written a book about the senses called See What I’m Saying. Rosenblum credits a musical revelation with leading him down that path. Growing up with 1970s prog-rock, he thought that virtuosity and spectacular showmanship were the hallmarks ...

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Greg Stock: Redesigning Humans

Friday, November 04, 2011

Nearly a decade after the human genome was decoded, scientists are only now beginning to understand its implications. One of the leading thinkers in this field is the biotech entrepreneur Gregory Stock. A biophysicist by training, his 2002 book Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future ...

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