Right Now in Invention

Air conditioning has had a profound impact on modern life -- and in more ways than you might realize. In this trio of Invention episodes, Robert and Joe explore pre-AC cooling methods, the invention itself and the many ways it changed the shape (and temperature) of our lives.

Air Conditioning, Part 1

Air conditioning has had a profound impact on modern life -- and in more ways than you might realize. In this trio of Invention episodes, Robert and Joe explore pre-AC cooling methods, the invention itself and the many ways it changed the shape (and temperature) of our lives.

The Telescope

The telescope is one of the most important inventions in human history, ultimately enabling humanity to gaze beyond the limits of biological sight and begin a greater understanding of the cosmos. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore the invention’s history and impact.

Bubble Wrap

Don’t take bubble wrap for granted! Someone had to invent it and you might be surprised to learn where it came from. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe discuss the history and future of packing material.

Listener Mail: Machine

It's listener mail time again on Invention! You've written in with your thoughts on past episodes and now Robert and Joe are going to read some of them -- with the help of a brand new mailbot.

Scissors

Let's cut to the chase: scissors are an excellent and ancient invention that impacts our lives in a number of ways. In this episode, Robert and Joe discuss their origins, use and examples from past and present -- along with a little scissor myth and folklore.

Bread/Toast/Toasters

Who invented toast? Who then went on to invent the toaster? In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe chase the origins of bread transformed through the Maillard reaction and consider the origins of the specialized mini-oven we use to do it.

The Hypodermic Needle

Sit back. This might sting. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore the history of hypodermic needles: what came before in human and evolutionary history and where we’re going with drug injections and blood withdrawls. 

The Earthquake Detector

How does earthquake detection work and when did humans device the first method of detecting them at a distance? In this Invention two-parter, Robert and Joe first discuss the mysterious invention of ancient Chinese polymath Zhāng Héng before moving on to modern innovations.

Penicillin

A fungal accident in the early 20th century opened the door for the medical wonders of the antibiotic age. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore what came before and how Alexander Fleming’s discovery changed the world. 

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum is everywhere today, but where does it come from? What did we chew before Bubblicious? How does gum affect us? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Invention. 

The Museum

We all love a good museum, but how long have we had them? In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe discuss just what a museum actually is and when the concept seems to have entered human civilization.

Dreams of a Gastro Automaton

Sometimes necessity ISN’T the mother of invention. Case in point: Humanity’s long-standing desire to create machines that poop. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe discuss Vaucanson’s digesting duck and modern takes on the technology. 






The Condom

Condoms are an important part of human health and medicine, but where did this invention come from? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Invention. 

The Atlatl Spear Thrower

The spear is a truly ancient human technology, but this preceded one of humanity’s oldest mechanical inventions: the atlatl or spear thrower. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore the history and physics of this amazing hunting device.

Listener Mail: Mothers of Invention

Finally, it's listener mail time on Invention! You've wrote in with your thoughts on past episodes and now Robert and Joe are going to read some of them -- with the help of a brand new mailbot. 

The Motion Picture, Part 3

Finally, Robert and Joe finish their look at early motion picture history and invention, discussing some early examples of narrative film and how it continues to manipulate our senses and minds.

A Motion Picture Mystery

In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe talk with show researcher Scott Benjamin about a mysterious disappearance in the history of the motion picture. What happened to Louis Le Prince and his claim on the invention? 



The Motion Picture, Part 2

In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe continue their exploration of photographic technology by taking it to the next phase in its evolution: the motion picture! 

The Motion Picture, Part 1

In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe continue their exploration of photographic technology by taking it to the next phase in its evolution: the motion picture!