Say you're in the market for a watch. You have a few options: you could go to the department store and pick one in a familiar style, from a familiar brand. But what if you wanted something you couldn't find in stores -- like a smart watch that syncs with your cell phone and buzzes when you receive text messages? For that, there's Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website that connects up-and-coming innovators with big ideas to people who want to see them become reality, says Ethan Mollick, professor at the Wharton School.
It's 1894, and a tall, handsome, mysterious man is sitting in the ornate, elegant dining room at Delmonico's in New York. He's surrounded by admirers - nouveau riche and old money alike - and they're all whispering about the amazing feats they have seen him perform with electricity: including sending 250 volts coursing through his body, lighting up the surface of his skin from within. The man is Nikola Tesla, inventor of alternating current, and he's widely regarded by the people in the room as one of the greatest geniuses alive.
When you turn on a light bulb, fill up your gas tank, or pay your electric bill, how often do you think about the fall of the Roman Empire? Chances are, not much - but Jeremy Rifkin, adviser to the European Union and author of The Third Industrial Revolution, might urge you to start. That's because, according to Rifkin, the fall of Rome was directly tied to the Empire's failure to find new energy sources to meet the needs of its growing economy -- and, he warns, we're on a similar trajectory unless we can revamp our energy regime to fit the demands of twenty-first century society.