Catherine Wong used electrical components to build an electrocardiogram that sends data by cellphone.
Courtesy of Catherine Wong
September 5, 2012 Here's a big idea: Use a cellphone to create a cheap, simple way to diagnose heart problems in countries with no health care system. High school senior Catherine Wong won our "Joe's Big Idea" video contest by inventing a mobile ECG and building a working prototype.
Solitary Genius: Thomas Edison was no lone genius. Instead, he collaborated with 40 employees in his Menlo Park, N.J., lab.
Library of Congress
September 5, 2012 Forget the notion of great inventors toiling in isolation. There's plenty of proof that geography has a big influence on innovation, with some cities inspiring far more innovation than others.
Roger Angel, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, stands in front of his new project: a solar tracker. Angel wants to use the device to harness Arizona's abundant sunlight and turn it into usable energy.
Jason Millstein for NPR
August 23, 2012 Astronomer Roger Angel completely revolutionized the large telescopes that scientists use to look at the stars. Now he wants to use his mirror technology to make solar energy cheaper and more efficient.
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August 22, 2012 We received dozens of video entries, and we've seen some great ideas. Now that the votes have been tallied, check out the young innovators who have advanced to the semifinal round.
Adam Steltzner, the leader of the rover's entry, descent and landing engineering team, cheers after Curiosity touched down safely on Mars on Sunday.
Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images
August 10, 2012 Adam Steltzner, the leader of the Mars rover's entry, descent and landing engineering team, says he was terrified of "a false positive celebration" in the control room. Fortunately for him, Curiosity landed perfectly. Now he's eyeing Jupiter's moon.
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Mmm, nice rock! This rover's looking for secrets to the history of life on Mars.
Photo Illustration Courtesy NASA
August 5, 2012 A rover poised for a Mars landing late Sunday will explore higher and farther than any before. It's loaded down with experiments designed to test the rocks and atmosphere of Mars. Question No. 1: Was there life there?
NASA engineer Adam Steltzner led the team that designed a crazy new approach to landing on Mars.
Rachael Porter for NPR
August 3, 2012 Adam Steltzner's father told him he wouldn't amount to much. He spent his youth barely passing school and "studying sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," he says. Then he found a purpose in the stars — and led the team that dreamed a daring new scheme to get NASA's latest rover on Mars.
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July 19, 2012 Sure, you've got a world-changing idea — but can you explain it? This new collaboration challenges artists to illuminate the inventions of young scientists.
Joe Palca serves up some hot tea on a very hot day at Teaism in Washington, D.C., last week.
July 11, 2012 Hot tea might not sound like the most refreshing of drinks for a 100-degree day. But neuroscientists say that receptors in your mouth may send a cool message when they detect hot foods.
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July 9, 2012 Do you have a good idea? Something that could change the world? NPR wants to know. Our new "What's Your Big Idea?" video contest will showcase the big ideas of people ages 13 to 25. It's all part of our exploration of the process of innovation and invention. So, what's your big idea?
Loosen An Egg From Its Shell: Why think simple when you can think gloriously complex?
Courtesy of rubegoldberg.com
July 4, 2012 Rube Goldberg's name has become synonymous with the American spirit of invention. No wonder: He was born on the Fourth of July. And what's more American than inventing new ways to get the ketchup onto the holiday hot dog?
Taking a shower may help inspire big ideas. Working in a blue room may help, too.
June 21, 2012 Inspiration may seem rare, but you might be able to increase the odds of having a genius moment. Research points to some surprisingly simple triggers of innovation: taking a shower, living in a far-off land or working in a blue room. Eureka!
June 8, 2012 Australian researcher Scott O'Neill is leading a charge to rid the world of dengue fever. And it's a real team sport, he says: "We don't work in isolation in any projects in science these days. The days of having someone beavering away by themselves in the backroom have long gone."
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Scott O'Neill wants to rid the world of dengue fever by infecting mosquitoes with bacteria so they can't carry the virus that causes the disease.
Benjamin Arthur for NPR
June 7, 2012 Scott O'Neill's big idea to rid the world of dengue is both clever and complex: He wants to infect mosquitoes with bacteria so they can't carry the virus that causes the disease. But, it turns out sticking mosquito eggs with a needle full of bacteria isn't easy. "It's incredibly frustrating work," he says.
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