American Innovations

American Innovations

By Wondery

DNA science. Artificial intelligence. Smartphones and 3D printers. Science and technology have transformed the world we live in. But how did we get here? It wasn’t by accident. Well, sometimes it was. It was also the result of hard work, teamwork, and competition. And incredibly surprising moments.

Hosted by bestselling author Steven Johnson (“How We Got To Now”), American Innovations uses immersive scenes to tell the stories of the scientists, engineers, and ordinary people behind the greatest discoveries of the past century.

Listen to American Innovations on the Wondery App or wherever you get your podcasts. You can binge all episodes ad-free on Wondery+. Join Wondery+ in the Wondery App, Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Start your free trial by visiting https://wondery.com/links/american-innovations/ now.

Episodes

The Mystery of Stuxnet | Cracking the Code | 1

In the summer of 2010, a mysterious computer virus called Stuxnet lands on the desk of Symantec cybersecurity analyst Liam O’Murchu. Stuxnet is unlike anything O’Murchu has ever seen: a highly sophisticated piece of malware that serves no obvious purpose. O’Murchu and his colleagues are determined to figure out how it works and who’s behind it -- but soon, it becomes clear that Stuxnet might be more than they bargained for.Listen to new episodes 1 week early and ad free, and access exclusive seasons of American Innovations with You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
16/12/2141m 1s

Man with No Memory | The Accident | 1

Even as recently as the early 1950s, we didn’t understand that there were different types of memory, or how the brain processed and stored memories. Then, in 1953, a radical surgery by a reckless doctor gave us tremendous insights into how human memory works. Those scientific gains came at a terrible cost, however. The surgery left the patient, Henry Molaison, a profound amnesiac -- completely incapable of forming new memories. This is his story.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
11/11/2141m 28s

Predator Drone | From Albatross to Amber | 1

What if you could design a spy plane that could be flown remotely and hover in the sky for hours, providing reconnaissance for troops on the ground? In the early 1980s, the visionary inventor Abe Karem begins building drones out of his L.A. garage. Soon, the Pentagon and the CIA take notice. Though he faces many challenges, Karem is on the forefront of a revolution that will change the face of modern aerial warfare.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
14/10/2146m 34s

Pushing Painkillers | An Untapped Market | 1

Doctors once shied away from using opioids to treat chronic pain, citing the risk of addiction. But in the 1970s, a new generation of doctors started to argue that opioids should be reconsidered, and that allowing terminal patients to suffer in agony is torturous. As the palliative care movement grows, Purdue Frederick, a small pharmaceutical company, sees an opportunity to bring opioids out of the shadows and to the masses...to devastating effect.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
07/10/2142m 33s

Social Media | Find Your Friends | 1

Today social media is such a dominant part of our daily lives, it's hard to believe that only 20 years ago, it didn’t exist. Then a newly single tech entrepreneur named Jonathan Abrams wondered: What if you could use the internet to expand your network of real-life friends? His simple idea became Friendster, the first social media site, which would change not only how people interact online, but the very nature of human connection and friendship.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
12/08/2144m 48s

Fracking | The Source Rock | 1

In the late 1970s, oil and natural gas fields across the U.S. were drying up, making the country increasingly dependent on foreign oil. Then, a Texas energy magnate named George Mitchell decided to try extracting natural gas from shale, a layer of rock almost two miles beneath the surface, using a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. His innovation would kick off an energy revolution, and spur a massive environmental backlash.Listen to new episodes 1 week early and ad free, and access exclusive seasons of American Innovations with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/innovations. Support us by supporting our sponsors! Monday.com - Visit monday.com/podcast for your free two-week trial. Peloton - New members can try Peloton classes free for 30 days at onepeloton.com/app.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
15/07/2146m 6s

Cryonics | Immortality On Ice | 1

Not everyone chooses burial or cremation after death. Some believe in cryonics, freezing their bodies in the hopes of being reanimated sometime in the future. Bob Nelson, a TV repairman with no scientific background, made history when he froze the first human being. But as Nelson would discover, freezing someone is easy; keeping them frozen is a lot harder.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
17/06/2138m 42s

Storm Chasers | Tornado Alley | 1

No extreme weather phenomenon fascinates us more than tornadoes. For most of human history, very little was known about how these graceful yet violent columns of swirling air formed or behaved. Then, in the 1950s, a teenager from North Dakota began chasing them, and a scientist from Japan began studying them. Together, they started a movement.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
27/05/2139m 36s

Hacking | What’s in the Blue Box? | 1

Hackers: the criminals who prey on our digital lives. Today they steal credit cards and personal information, or even commit acts of cyber-terrorism. But in the early days, hackers were largely seen as harmless pranksters. And it wasn’t computers they were initially interested in, but phones -- which they hacked with a mysterious device called the Blue Box.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
29/04/2140m 38s

Breaking The Sound Barrier | A Bullet With Wings | 1

In the 1940s, as planes got faster, it seemed like they were hitting a wall -- literally. Many pilots tried to travel faster than the speed of sound, often with fatal results. Could American test pilot Chuck Yeager succeed where they had failed? Or would his daredevil attitude get him grounded before he gets a chance?You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
08/04/2142m 38s

Lie Detector | The Heart of a Liar | 1

Humans are shockingly bad at telling whether or not someone is lying. That’s why, a century ago, psychologists and criminologists developed machines to detect lies for us, by measuring blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate. Their lie detectors promised to revolutionize the criminal justice system. But is it really possible for science to separate truth from lies?You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
25/02/2140m 16s

Mission To Mars | Seeing Red | 1

Even after the Apollo program put astronauts on the moon, Mars remained out of reach. Then, in 1990, an ambitious engineer hatched an ingenious plan to send the first humans to the red planet. But will anyone at NASA buy into his idea?You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
14/01/2135m 4s

Year In Review | When Will I Get the Vaccine? | 1

2020 has been a year of struggle, uncertainty and loss. It has also forced us to adapt and innovate in nearly every aspect of our lives. But no innovation this year has been more important and more astounding than the Covid-19 vaccine. On this year-end episode, Steven talks to Bruce Gellin, president of Global Immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, D.C.. about what to expect from the imminent Covid-19 vaccine.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
17/12/2030m 17s

Telephone | Call Waiting | 1

In the 19th Century, the telegraph is the cutting edge of communication. No one can imagine anything better—except Alexander Graham Bell.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
26/11/2041m 9s

Auto-Tune: From Cher to Kanye | 1

All Andy Hildebrand wanted to do was make a computer program to help singers sound better. He never expected it to kick off a battle for the soul of modern music.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
19/11/2041m 9s

The Fight Against AIDS | The Epidemic Begins | 1

In the early 1980s, a mysterious new disease spread like wildfire through the gay communities of major U.S. cities. Before it even had a name, AIDS had already killed over half its victims. Public response was hampered by ignorance, fear, and homophobia. This is the story of the doctors, scientists and activists who risked everything to lead the fight against AIDS.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
22/10/2042m 23s

Keeping Cool | A Chilly Reception | 1

Muggy. Sticky. Miserable. For eons, that’s just what summer was. In fact, when air conditioning first became available, few people took advantage of it. Wasn’t summer supposed to be uncomfortable? This is the story of how people finally warmed up to the idea of keeping cool.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
27/08/2038m 53s

Video Games | Electric Dreams | 1

Call of Duty, Fortnite, Animal Crossing.... The video game industry generates billions of dollars each year. But not so long ago, video games were mostly played by the programmers who made them. On our new season, we’re telling the story of how video games broke out of university computer labs and found their way straight to the heart of popular culture.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
30/07/2038m 56s

Radar | Welcome to Tuxedo Park | 1

What technology won WWII? Most people would say the atomic bomb, but the real answer is radar.As a small island country, vulnerable to aerial attacks, England took the lead in developing radar in the 1930s. But the early radar systems were too massive to fit into planes, where they would be of most use in the fight against the Germans. At the heart of the problem was a technological catch-22. Smaller radar systems were, by definition, less powerful.Or so everyone thought, until a mismatched pair of brothers in Northern California decided to take a crack at creating a new kind of radar...This is episode one of our three-part series on radar, “Welcome to Tuxedo Park.”Listen ad-free on Wondery+ here.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
02/07/2034m 5s

Ferris Wheel | Wheel in the Sky | 1

The 1889 World’s Fair in Paris dazzles attendees with the Eiffel Tower. So, when plans begin for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, the mandate is clear: beat the Tower. America’s architects and engineers compete to win the job – but every proposal they submit is more outlandish and dangerous than the last. And the most dangerous of all? Well, that might be a ride that resembles a twenty-story bicycle wheel, submitted by a young man named George Ferris….You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
28/05/2041m 46s

Enemy of All Mankind | A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt | 1

On September 11th, 1695, two ships confronted each other in the middle of the Indian Ocean: one an enormous treasure ship owned by the Grand Mughal of India, and the other a much smaller British pirate ship led by Henry Every.  What happened next changed the world. Every and his crew took off with $100 million in loot and sparked the world’s first global manhunt. They also inadvertently set off a chain of events that led to the rise of globalization, the tabloid press, and even democracy itself.All of that, and more, is the subject of Steven Johnson’s latest book, Enemy of All Mankind. We borrow Rufus Griscom from Wondery’s The Next Big Idea podcast to talk with Steven about Every and the surprising ways a single confrontation on the high seas shaped life as we know it.You can read more about Steven’s book here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/545158/enemy-of-all-mankind-by-steven-johnson/And check out The Next Big Idea, currently launching season two.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
21/05/2036m 19s

Chewing Gum: Snapping and Stretching | 1

It’s the mid-1800s and in Maine, John Bacon Curtis is back from clearing the spruce forests with a crazy idea. He’s going to sell ready-to-chew gum.But his bold plan is only the start of what will become a decades-long search for the ideal chew. It’s a search that will see the nascent gum business butt heads with newspaper tycoons, strike an alliance with oil refineries, and get a helping hand from the self-styled Napoleon of the West.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
07/05/2033m 17s

Dynamite: The Controlled Explosion | 1

In 1846, an Italian chemist discovered the volatile compound nitroglycerine, the first major breakthrough in creating man-made explosions since the invention of gunpowder a thousand years earlier. But almost everyone who experiments with the compound thinks it’s too dangerous for any commercial application–everyone except for one brooding, obsessed young Swedish inventor named Alfred Nobel. Nobel dreams of harnessing the chemical’s power to ignite an engineering revolution: blasting railway tunnels, digging out mines and canals…. But as Nobel’s quest to tame nitroglycerine becomes increasingly central to his family’s livelihood, it also repeatedly puts his own life in danger.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
02/04/2034m 14s

Fighting Coronavirus: Bruce Gellin On How COVID-19 Could Change Vaccine Development | 1

As the first in a series on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Steven Johnson speaks with Dr. Bruce Gellin, president of Global Immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington D.C.. Dr. Gellin is also a former director of the National Vaccine Program at the Department of Health and Human Services, and led the creation of HHS’s first pandemic influenza preparedness and response plan. They talk about a very new and pressing challenge: how to speed up vaccine development for COVID-19.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
26/03/2025m 37s

Organ Transplant: The Kidney Twins | 1

A century ago, organ transplants were the stuff of science fiction. But a handful of experimental surgeons believed that transplants were not just possible – they had the potential to save thousands of lives. Then, in 1954, a man agreed to donate his kidney to his twin brother – and one surgeon finally got his chance to prove the doubters wrong.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
05/03/2042m 50s

Valium: Miltown Magic | 1

Anxiety. It’s something everyone experiences at some point in their lives, but for centuries doctors had no effective way to treat it. They could send patients on rest cures, order them to do nothing at all, or prescribe barbiturates that depressed the central nervous system, easily leading to overdose and death.Finally, in the mid-1950s, chemists discovered a new class of drugs: the minor tranquilizers. The most famous of these was Valium, which would go on to become the most prescribed drug in the United States.  But Valium owes its success to its lesser known predecessor Miltown, which changed the way Americans thought about anxiety.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
06/02/2039m 31s

Electronic Television: The Picture Radio | 1

The invention of the electronic television was uniquely complicated for its time. So complicated, in fact, that the prevailing narrative is that it couldn’t have been invented by a single person -- let alone Philo Farnsworth. After all, some of the most brilliant minds in the world spent the first quarter of the 20th century working on television systems -- and some even managed to transmit images. But none of those systems were ever able to deliver the quality of images they’d need to be commercially viable. None except Philo Farnsworth, a farm boy from Utah, who got the idea for television when he was fourteen years old. You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
16/01/2038m 57s

Kodak Roll Film: As Convenient as a Pencil | 1

Today, if we want to take a photo, we unlock our phone, aim, and click. It can be done on a whim, without a second thought. We document everything from new haircuts to latte art, cute cats to baby’s first smile. But prior to the 1900s, photography was the exclusive domain of professionals and dedicated hobbyists -- people willing to learn complex skills and spend hours on the craft.Responsible for that shift was a man named George Eastman. Armed with a radical vision for what photography could be, and a cold-blooded business sense, Eastman delivered photography to the masses and altered the way most of us experience our lives over time.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
28/11/1935m 48s

The Modern Ambulance | 1

Today, if you or someone you know experiences a medical emergency, you dial 9-1-1 and a squad of trained medical professionals arrives at your door. But just 55 years ago, that was not the case.Emergency calls were generally dispatched to funeral homes simply because their vehicles were suited to transporting bodies. You’d be lucky if the person transporting you had any first aid training at all. A soldier shot in Vietnam had a better chance of surviving than a housewife in a car accident because the soldier in Vietnam got immediate trained medical care.Throughout the 1960s, volunteer rescue squads began experimenting with different kinds of pre-hospital care. But in Pittsburgh, 20th century topography converged with the fates of a few individuals, and one ambitious vision, to spin a medical revolution into being.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
21/11/1943m 17s

Electric Chair | War of the Currents | 1

On August 6, 1890, a prisoner named William Kemmler became the first man executed in the electric chair. It was designed to be a more humane form of execution, but the gruesome scene in the death chamber that day revealed the device to be anything but. Still, the chair stuck around. And Kemmler’s execution proved to be a pivotal moment in the history of capital punishment. But if you pull back just slightly, you’ll see that the story of the electric chair was just one small chapter in another story — a much larger story — that would come to define the world we live in.This other story involved three titans of innovation—Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse — locked in a desperate fight for control of the future of electricity. Their conflict would take lives, spark scientific advances and revolutionize human existence. And it would come to be called the War of the Currents. You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
17/10/1944m 52s

Skylab: NASA’s Best-Kept Secret| Apollo’s Leftovers | 1

Fifty years ago, America’s space program achieved its greatest triumph, when Apollo Eleven put the first men on the moon.The Apollo program was a remarkable success story. But as NASA was sending men to the moon, they were engaged in another, less celebrated project — one even more important than the moon landings to humanity’s potential future in space. That project was called Skylab — America’s first space station.Chances are you’ve never heard of Skylab. If you know anything about it at all, you know that after it was launched into orbit, it came crashing back down to Earth. But before that crash, Skylab taught NASA more things about living and working in space than any program before it.So why did one of the engineers who worked on Skylab once call it “the little redheaded bastard out behind the barn”? Why do so many accounts of NASA’s achievements barely mention it? Why have most Americans never heard of America’s first space station?You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
26/09/1939m 2s

Corn Flakes | The Brothers of Battle Creek | 1

For the first 150 years of American history, American citizens were plagued by gastrointestinal issues. Diarrhea, gastritis and dysentery were pretty much a way of life. Indigestion was such an immense problem, the poet Walt Whitman called it “the Great American Evil.” All these stomach issues were thanks, in part, to breakfast—which looked very different than it does today. Roast pork, pickled vegetables and thick gruel were common staples on the American breakfast table. That is, until two brothers — John Harvey and Will Keith Kellogg — invented a ready-to-eat dry cereal that changed American commerce, medicine, and the way we eat even as it locked the brothers in a vitriolic battle that would last their entire lives. You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
22/08/1940m 36s

The Heimlich Maneuver | 1

In the 1960s, choking was a national epidemic. In the United States alone, close to 4,000 people were dying from choking every year. Lobster, ham, and hamburger were common culprits. But steak was by far the greatest offender. Coroners called for a solution to these “Cafe Coronaries,” and the medical community responded with weird and dangerous gadgets: vacuum tubes and long tweezers. But Dr. Henry Heimlich knew this problem required something else; a simple technique that anyone can use to save the lives of choking victims—the Heimlich Maneuver. The Heimlich Maneuver would save the lives of thousands of people, including Carrie Fisher, Cher, New York Mayor Ed Koch, and at least one American President. And yet, Dr. Heimlich would spend a decade fighting for the legitimacy of his life-saving maneuver. You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
15/08/1943m 45s

Innovation Fails: DeLorean | Driven to Succeed | 1

Normally on American Innovations, we look at the history of the science and technology that transformed the world we live in. These stories teach us about the vision, grit, competition, and teamwork required to conquer new frontiers and forge new pathways to the future. But equally valuable, perhaps, are the stories of those visionary innovators who seemed poised for greatness, who aimed for the stars, and then fell, crashing spectacularly back to earth.In this series, we’ll examine one of the greatest failures in automotive history: the life and work of John DeLorean, the maverick engineer whose technical achievements seemed destined for the history books, among the likes of Henry Ford and Elon Musk. But instead, he became known for his dramatic demise. Support us by supporting our sponsors! Viima - Go to viima.com/AI to get a free two-month Premium plan subscription with unlimited users.Zip Recruiter - To try Zip Recruiter for free, go to ziprecruiter.com/AISee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
25/07/1940m 24s

The Birth Control Pill | But Can It Be Done? | 1

When Margaret Sanger opened her birth control clinic in 1916, she knew she was breaking the law. Distributing contraceptives, or even literature about birth control, was a jailable offense. But she didn’t care. As a nurse, Sanger had sworn to devote herself to the welfare of those in her community. And in the early 1900s, that meant doing something about the public health crisis caused by unplanned pregnancies.At the turn of the century, many women were having babies with no break in between pregnancies. It put them at risk for anemia, and uterine ruptures. Miscarriages were common. Of the children that were born, one in five died during the first five years of life.To Sanger, the solution was clear: a safe, effective, discrete contraceptive for women—a pill, no bigger than an aspirin. At the time, the idea seemed more radical than putting a man on the moon. And in some ways, developing it would be even more difficult.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
13/06/1940m 56s

Star Wars' Cinema Technology | 6842 Valjean Ave | 1

When STAR WARS debuted in May 1977, it gave rise to a pop-cultural phenomenon unlike any the world had ever seen. The movie was so singular and iconic, and so technically ambitious -- that it almost never came to be.To bring Star Wars to the screen, new technology had to be invented and existing technology had to be utilized in ways never before imagined. None of the special effects companies in Hollywood could handle the blend of creativity and innovation necessary to bring director George Lucas’s vision to life. So Lucas built his own studio, and forever changed the way movies are made.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
16/05/1943m 15s

Airplane | The Flight of the June Bug | 1

Think for a moment about some of the pioneering developments from the earliest days of American aviation: The first pilot’s licence; the first flight from one city to another; the first airplane sold commercially. More than a century later, most people attribute these milestones to the Wright brothers. But the Wright brothers were responsible for none of these firsts. In fact, all of these achievements belong to just one man: Glenn Hammond Curtiss, the father of modern aviation. So why is it that most Americans have never heard his name?You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
18/04/1944m 15s

XX Factor | The Woman Who Put Man on the Moon | 1

Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are preparing to land on the Moon. The whole world is watching live on television. But something is very wrong, their warning alarms are flashing and they don't know what it is. There’s only one woman who can fix it: MIT software engineer Margaret Hamilton.This is the first episode of a special series with Smithsonian Magazine highlighting the lives of women inventors to celebrate Women’s History Month. Head over to Smithsonian.com/Wondery to go deeper, or find us on Twitter @InnovationsPod.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
14/03/1940m 33s

Coca-Cola: The Cocaine Clinician | 1

In the wake of the Civil War, Atlanta emerged as both the cultural capital of the New South, and the epicenter of its snake oil trade. A shell-shocked populace, haunted by poverty, hunger and disease sought salvation in the dubious cure-all tonics of the pharmacy trade. What they got instead would go on to become the most famous beverage in the world: Coca-Cola.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
21/02/1942m 30s

Rubber: The Miracle Material | Bouncing Ideas | 1

You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple PodcastsIn a world where materials were limited to wood, leather, metal, and cloth, rubber was something new: a substance that was strong, soft, flexible, and waterproof—but completely undependable. Then along came a 33 year-old hardware merchant named Charles Goodyear, who made it his personal mission to conquer rubber at any cost. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
31/01/1936m 55s

Virtual Reality I The Sword of Damocles | 1

You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple PodcastsIn the 1960s a group of scientists and engineers had a vision: that one day people could put on a pair of goggles and enter a whole new world.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
13/12/1841m 46s

Conquering Pain | The Frolic | 1

For decades, Americans resigned themselves to gritting their teeth through the agony of surgery. And then along came an eminent surgeon, a charming swindler and his hapless mark and changed everything.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
15/11/1833m 20s

Preventing Paralysis | Marching Towards a Cure | 1

You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple PodcastsBy the middle of the last century Americans lived in fear of one disease: polio. The story of the polio vaccine is not just a scientific story- it’s a political and financial one, too. One that would pave the way for medical research fundraising campaigns that followed. You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
18/10/1834m 41s

Thinking Machines | Artificial Intelligence | 1

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the stuff of science fiction. And it’s about to get much more powerful: machines that can reason, create, predict the future, even dream. AI is likely to be one of the most transformative technologies of the 21st-century.This is the first in our four-episode series about the rise of artificial intelligence and humanity's quest to breathe intellectual life into computers. In this episode, we're going to meet the mavericks who first dreamed of a world where machines capable of being smarter than the people who created them.And what better way for smart machines and their creators to face off in a battle of wits -- than by playing chess?Pre-order Steven Johnson’s new book Farsighted now before it is released on September 4th.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
30/08/1839m 49s

Nuclear Energy | E = MC Squared | 1

You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple PodcastsIn 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower went on national television introducing a new kind of power plant, one that will transform the world. Nuclear energy and the Atomic Age took America by storm, but this misunderstood technology’s potential has always been in question.Last series we looked at the building blocks of life, DNA. This time we’re turning to atoms, and specifically to the energy that comes from splitting atoms. We’ll take you to one of the most powerful and controversial energy sources on earth: nuclear energy.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
14/06/1846m 51s

Where Are Past Seasons?

Hey American Innovations listeners! You might be wondering what happened to some of our older seasons. We’ve moved them to our new premium service, Wondery+, where you can listen ad-free and get access to more Wondery shows. For a limited time, we’re offering listeners of American Innovations a free week of Wondery+. Just go to wonderyplus.com/AI.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
10/05/1828s

Life's Building Blocks | Lost Pioneers | 1

In 2000, President Bill Clinton held a press conference to share a milestone for humanity. He said, “we will all see the unbelievable capacity to be noble.” Science and technology embrace this idea, leading to the incredible innovations that change the world, and yes, even humanity. This is American Innovations, a series that will look at the most important innovations of the last century, and go into the lives of the people behind those innovations.That great milestone Clinton was referencing? That was the mapping of the human genome. For a long time, we didn’t know what was actually buried deep inside our cells that made humans humans. Now we know it’s much more than a simple molecule. DNA has revolutionized society, creating new fields of research, business - even changing how we catch criminals. This is The Dynamo of DNA from American Innovations.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
10/05/1842m 31s

Introducing: American Innovations

DNA science. Artificial intelligence. Smartphones and 3D printers. Science and technology have transformed the world we live in. But how did we get here? It wasn’t by accident. Well, sometimes it was. It was also the result of hard work, teamwork, and competition. And incredibly surprising moments.Hosted by bestselling author Steven Johnson (“How We Got To Now”), American Innovations uses immersive scenes to tell the stories of the scientists, engineers, and ordinary people behind the greatest discoveries of the past century.You can binge all episodes of American Innovations exclusively and ad-free on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in the Wondery App or on Apple Podcasts.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
26/04/182m 8s
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