Thought Innovation


How the Myth of the American Frontier Got Its Start

Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis informed decades of scholarship and culture. Then he realized he was wrong

bell hooks, pictured in 1999

Groundbreaking Feminist Scholar bell hooks Dies at 69

The prolific American writer shaped a generation of discourse around Black feminism and intersectionality

Close up on Atlanta University's "City and Rural Population. 1890" data visualization

W.E.B. Du Bois’ Visionary Infographics Come Together for the First Time in Full Color

His pioneering team of black sociologists created data visualizations that explained institutionalized racism to the world

Detail of a copy of the Declaration printed by Goddard

Mary Katharine Goddard, the Woman Whose Name Appears on the Declaration of Independence

Likely the United States' first woman employee, this newspaper publisher was a key figure in promoting the ideas that fomented the Revolution


Restaurateur José Andrés Dreams of Milking the Clouds

In a conversation with architect David Rockwell, the philanthropic chef urges an invested effort in technology that could collect water from the clouds


The Innovative Spirit: Changing Our World For the Better

In partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, we look at the innovative spirit within the Smithsonian and beyond

"Time Banking" Is Catching On In the Digital World

Apps that allow users to pay for services in redeemable credits instead of cash are helping to build communities

What Happened to America's Public Intellectuals?

Our nation has always depended on these heavyweights to guide us, but are they still with us, and if so, who are they?

The world’s largest model world, the Unisphere was erected for the grand fair themed “peace through understanding.”

What the Unisphere Tells Us About America at the Dawn of the Space Age

A towering tribute to the future past—and one man’s ego

A smartphone could help people fight depression.

How Mobile Technology Can Help Universities Combat Depression

Using sensors on smartphones and smartwatches can shed light on patients' symptoms, even identifying ones they didn't notice or share with counselors

When Robots Take All of Our Jobs, Remember the Luddites

What a 19th-century rebellion against automation can teach us about the coming war in the job market

Holograms, even those not carrying secret messages, need to be preserved.

Why Holograms Will Probably Never Be as Cool as They Were in "Star Wars"

But those that do exist must be preserved and archived

The Best Books About Innovation of 2016

If you have a lover of big ideas on your holiday shopping list, consider these thought-provoking titles published this year

The Expensive Material Behind the Huayra's Incredible Speed

While much of the Pagani Huayra's speed comes down to innovative design, one material used in its Formula 1-inspired monocoque is crucial

Author Steven Johnson looks at many of history's "artifacts of the future" that hinted at huge technological, scientific and cultural breakthroughs to come in his new book, Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World.

If Necessity Is the Mother of Invention, Then Play Is Its Father

In a new book, Steven Johnson argues that many inventions, considered mindless amusements in their time, wind up leading to serious innovations later

The Pagani Huayra Is Faster Than a Jumbo Jet at Takeoff

The optimum effects of the Pagani-designed dual aerodynamic system are embodied by the Huayra. In just 25.8 seconds, it crosses the 185 MPH mark

The Future of Libraries

Besides lending books, the local institutions are training young journalists, renting garden plots and more

How Real-time Translation Apps and Online Tools Are Helping Refugees in Turkey Forge New Lives

Refugees and the technology of exile

Innovators May Be Non-Conformists, But They Are Not Risk-Takers

In his new book, Wharton School professor Adam Grant looks at what really drives creativity and progress

Why Does America Prize Creativity and Invention?

Our politics encourage it, there's a high tolerance of failure, and we idealize the lone inventor

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