Joe's Big Idea Joe's Big Idea is a new project by NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca that examines where scientists' big ideas come from, how they pursue those ideas and how something goes from an idea to a discovery.
Joe's Big Idea Logo
Special Series

Joe's Big Idea

Exploring how ideas become innovations and inventions

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate ready for a trial in May 2020. Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

Blood Plasma Treatments Could Be Helpful For COVID-19 Patients

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/881173352/881173353" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Cell culture operators prepare a 2000-liter single-use bioreactor to produce proteins used to make vaccines. Philip Taciak/Emergent Biosolutions hide caption

toggle caption
Philip Taciak/Emergent Biosolutions

Vaccine Makers Hedge Bets On Which One Will Emerge As Effective And Safe

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/872422140/873624576" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

President Trump announced in May that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure against COVID-19. But a study published Wednesday finds no evidence the drug is protective in this way. GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images

No Evidence Hydroxychloroquine Is Helpful In Preventing COVID-19, Study Finds

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/868890277/869282889" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Dr. Jonas Salk, the scientist who created the polio vaccine, administers an injection to an unidentified boy at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1954. AP hide caption

toggle caption
AP

The Race For A Polio Vaccine Differed From The Quest To Prevent Coronavirus

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/860789014/861163054" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

New Studies Show That Developing A Coronavirus Vaccine Should Be Possible

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/859713739/859713740" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

TRACE field staff assemble nasal swabs, collection tubes and other materials into home sampling kits. All field staff are tested for COVID-19 each week prior to working. Laura de la Torre/Oregon State University hide caption

toggle caption
Laura de la Torre/Oregon State University

In Oregon Town, Volunteers Are Going Door-To-Door To Pin Down Coronavirus Infections

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/853761762/854487466" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Footage issued by Britain's Oxford University shows a person injected as part of human trials in the U.K. to test a potential coronavirus vaccine last month. Pfizer on Monday began U.S. trials of another vaccine candidate. Oxford University Pool via AP hide caption

toggle caption
Oxford University Pool via AP

Study Shows Antiviral Drug Remdesivir May Help Treat Coronavirus

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/848202731/848205670" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Medics Question A Practice That Might Speed Up Testing Of A Coronavirus Vaccine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/847447200/847447205" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The long-lost satellite was built in MIT's Lincoln Laboratory. Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Long-Lost U.S. Military Satellite Found By Amateur Radio Operator

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/843493304/844563008" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Scientists Try To Speed COVID-19 Vaccine Development

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/836719889/836719890" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Mammoth Biosciences and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are working on a coronavirus test that could run multiple samples at once, with results in 35-40 minutes. Even better, they say, it doesn't require the sophisticated, expensive equipment used in other tests for the virus. Mammoth Biosciences hide caption

toggle caption
Mammoth Biosciences

CRISPR And Spit Might Be Keys To Faster, Cheaper, Easier Tests For The Coronavirus

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/835958797/837914215" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Bepi Colombo spacecraft NASA hide caption

toggle caption
NASA

European Space Probe To Fly Past Earth On Its Way To Mercury

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/830474611/830474612" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Where Vaccines To Prevent COVID-19 Stand

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/826187801/826187802" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

An Update On The Drugs Being Developed And Tested To Fight COVID-19

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/824730497/824730501" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, headquartered near Tarrytown, N.Y., is just one of the companies now working to identify and reproduce large quantities of antibodies that could prevent or treat COVID-19. Senior R&D Specialist Kristen Pascal works on COVID-19 research for Regeneron. Rani Levy/Regeneron Pharmaceuticals hide caption

toggle caption
Rani Levy/Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using supercomputers to calculate which drugs may help in the fight against the coronavirus. Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory hide caption

toggle caption
Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Pharmacist Raphael Lynne gives a flu shot in Miami in 2018. This year's vaccination against influenza has been reducing infections by "about 40 to 50 percent," says Emily Martin, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

U.S. Flu Season Beginning To Ease, Modelers Say

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/813641072/813763916" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript