December 31, 2015

Skyscrapers in Hong Kong

Skyscrapers in Hong Kong. Credit: See-ming Lee / Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes we talk to people who are giants in their field – whether that field is technology, publishing or comedic music parodies.

But this week, we focus on some ‘towering figures’ of a very different sort.

First, when you think of creative people with the power to change the world, who do you imagine? A lauded professor? Some whizkid entrepreneur?

Author Alexa Clay says you should start considering pirates, camel milk traders, and hackers. Clay leads us on a tour of the ‘misfit economy’ - and all the innovation happening inside it. Concepts like franchising and democracy were tested out by misfits first, she says, before being co-opted by mainstream society.


Then we’ll take a look at one area, science, and the men and women who make up the public face of science. People like Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Brian Greene. Author Declan Fahy explains what our interest in these ‘celebrity scientists’ says about our attitudes towards science and technology. And we’ll hear from Paula Apsell, the Senior Executive Producer of NOVA, about how scientists have warmed to the camera.


And lastly, we’ll explore an entirely separate sort of towering… skyscrapers. According to John Ochsendorf of MIT, they’re not built to last. Indeed, he says, most of our new construction won’t last more than fifty years. Ochsendorf wants current architects and engineers to take a page from ancient societies, who designed structures that have lasted millennia. (Did you know that the Incas built a rope bridge that has been used continuously for 600 years?)


And here's the Incan rope bridge he mentioned:

An Incan rope bridge

An Inca grass bridge. Credit: Rutasha Adventures / Wikimedia Commons

Coverage of our environmental and sustainability reporting comes, in part, from The Kendeda Fund.

architecture, misfits, MIT, Fahy, clay, NOVA

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