Technology

Predicting the future of technology is never easy. The incredible capabilities of the smartphone in my pocket today were nearly inconceivable in 1989.

That’s when NHPR’s Leslie Bennett made this fateful comment:

“It seems like telephones have gotten as complicated as they’re ever going to get. I may regret saying that.” 

Ouch – sorry, Leslie. She was speaking from Datatech ’89, a business technology trade show in Manchester. The vendors she spoke with shared their visions for office technology in the ‘90s and beyond:

“These fax machines can talk back and forth to each other. And we do have some that are live, actually hooked up to live telephone lines … We can talk to Japan if we want to, or Russia, or anywhere else.” 

That’s right … fax machines were a hot item in 1989. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What exciting gadget from today will be a fossil tomorrow?

From The Archives this week, we revisit Leslie Bennett’s story from Datatech ’89.


Rob_ / Flickr CC

The annual Clean Tech Leadership Index measures and ranks states on a range of indicators, such as renewable energy generation, green buildings and transportation.

New Hampshire ranks twelfth overall on the 2015 index, up four places from last year. Ron Pernick of CleanEdge, which produces the annual report, says the state excels in several areas. 

dierk schaefer via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/5vGNkE

Studies show that growing up below the poverty line can have serious health implications, but can it have a lasting effect on the brain? On today’s show we continue NHPR’s series The First Decade by examining scarcity and how it can hijack a person’s neural pathways, affecting a child’s decision making later in life.

Then, a look at a technological issue that is threatening the livelihoods of farmers across the U.S. how the increasingly computerized nature of automobiles – and a far-reaching  copyright law –  is preventing farmers from maintaining their own equipment.

David Goehring via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4mMuQE

After Walter Scott was fatally shot by a South Carolina police officer last month, his family speculated he fled the police because he feared going back to jail for unpaid child support. On today’s show: a closer look at child support policies and why some argue it keeps poor men trapped in a cycle of debt, unemployment and prison. 

Then, the modern answer to hieroglyphics, emoji can convey tone and emotion in a single image. Later we’ll delve into emoji use around the world, and what it reveals about cultural and national identities. 

enablingthefuture.org

Prosthetic hands for kids are often too heavy and expensive for practical use. On today’s show we’ll hear about a company called e-NABLE that has formed a network of volunteers from across the world to create 3-d printed, low-cost prosthetics with a kid-friendly aesthetic.

Then, for centuries, meditation has been used to quiet the mind and focus attention. Now, modern technology reveals the medical benefits of mindfulness.

Tiffany Quimby / NHPR

A couple of months ago, we talked to Greg Beck – the creator of a counter-intuitive photo app called The White Album, which basically turns your smartphone into a disposable camera. Here's how it works: when you open the app a simple camera interface opens up. 

Nic McPhee via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4zGJzN

Vocal anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy have got some in the science community saying if you don’t have an advanced degree, you have no right to question the experts.  But are they right?

On today’s show, a science journalist makes a bold argument: that free speech trumps good science. Then, we’ll tackle a controversial question for pet owners: whether or not to keep domestic cats indoors in the name of saving birds.

Plus, we’ll find out why more and more Europeans are ditching Darwin’s theory of evolution and embracing creationism.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Elizabeth via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/qNttFS

With a market value up to $2.50 an ounce, and online sales on the rise, it’s been called liquid gold. On today’s show, a look into the breast milk market, and how the biotech industry is getting in on the game.

Then, the question of why Homo sapiens thrived while Neanderthals became extinct has long been debated among scientists. We’ll hear from an anthropologist with a stunning new theory that explains their extinction: humans had dogs.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Jesús Perera Aracil via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/49YiYx

Across the world more than 750 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and at least two billion don’t have proper sanitation. On today’s show, we’ll look at a project aiming to solve both problems by turning waste into drinkable water. And why disgust may prevent it from becoming a reality.

Then, we investigate a problem facing many American workers: food theft. We’ll find out why some people feel it’s ok to steal treats from the office fridge. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Good Gig: Lighting Designer* Laura Frank

Mar 11, 2015
Photo: LuminousFX.com

Laura Frank is the founder of Luminous FX, and as she says in her bio on her website: “I am not a designer, and I am not a technician. What I am is a creative partner. I’ve called my role a technologist, a visualist, a mediator, but ultimately I think I am a great editor. I take the genesis of the designer’s concept and make it thrive in the chaos of production.” The Super Bowl halftime show with Paul McCartney? That was some of Laura’s work. 

Wikimedia Commons

We’ve seen this dance before: presidential hopefuls stumping in New Hampshire. On today’s show, we’ll talk to the official candidate from the Transhumanist Party who says we need a new political party and new tactics for the issues of our time.

Then, Jackie Robinson’s major league debut was an obvious, watershed moment in America’s troubled racial history. But we’ll look at a lesser known moment for American civil rights: breaking NASA’s color barrier and the story of the first African Americans in the space program.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Judy van der Velden via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/b3PGUM

Diamonds are forever. Or so we thought. Turns out that global sales of diamonds and fine jewelry have been sluggish since the global recession. On today’s show,  from iPhones to better production of costume bling, is technology killing the jewelry industry?

Then, Selma, Gone Girl, and Interstellar are among this year’s Oscar snubs. We’ll approach the academy’s cold-shoulder from a different angle, and reveal entire categories notably absent from the awards.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Maurizio Pesce via Flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/kJ2MCk

Kids grow up so fast…and it turns out that girls are growing up even faster. Why is this generation of girls going through puberty much earlier than previous ones?

And while the international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas may be over, journalist David Ewalt remains giddy after touring it. He’ll recap some of the best and worst product ideas he saw at the show.

And then we’ll take a look at the sordid history of cheerleading.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

the justified sinner via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/4NKfhs

With the countdown to Christmas now measured in hours instead of days, the online holiday deals you may have shrugged off a few weeks ago are now looking downright clickable. On today’s show we’ll discuss why those offers are often too-good-to-be-true.

Plus, a literary wrap up of 2014. We’ll venture off the best-seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of the year.

And a glimpse of pre-revolutionary Cuba through the story of Julian Lobo, a sugar trader and financier, considered to be Cuba’s last tycoon.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Via Popular Science / bestofwhatsnew.popsci.com

For the past 27 years the editors of Popular Science have identified products and technologies designed to change our world. On today’s show we’ll review some of 2014’s groundbreaking technology.

Then, we’ve come to accept retouched images on magazine covers and billboard ads, but now the practice has moved to movies and television. We’ll take a look at the latest advancement in digital-alteration: frame-by-frame beauty work.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Last week, a GOP staffer resigned after political Facebook faux-pas - criticizing President Obama’s daughters for dressing like teenagers. On today’s show, we’ll take a look back at the long and fraught history of judging the President’s kids.

Then, these days just about every coffee shop, bookstore, and restaurant touts a free Wi-Fi hotspot – but at what cost? We’ll find out the hidden dangers of public Wi-Fi.

Plus, the industry secret behind the robust flavor of orange juice.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

via Facebook

Our legal system seems to be struggling with how to interpret the Constitution when it comes to today’s technology -- from threats made on social media to whether police need a warrant to search a smartphone. We’ll look at the debate over how to apply principles established more than two centuries ago to our high-tech society. 

GUESTS:

David Malkoff via flickr Creative Commons

The recent disintegration and crash of a Virgin Galactic suborbital space plane raised questions about the safety and viability of space tourism. On today’s show, we consider another issue for commercial spaceflight: the psychological effects of leaving earth.

Then, touted as the world’s most advanced ship, Royal Caribbean’s cruise-liner Quantum of the Seas is outfitted with virtual balconies, robot bartenders, Bladerunner-esque elevators, and smart apps. While the ship’s technology is impressive, we’ll find out where it all falls short.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

mbeo via flickr Creative Commons

Some people spend their vacations relaxing on a beach, others visit museums and fine restaurants. On today’s show we go off the beaten path to look into nuclear tourism. A science writer visits the site of the Chernobyl disaster, and finds it not the wasteland you may expect.

Plus, from walk sign buttons that don’t reflect reality to digital signs over-estimating wait times at amusement parks, we’ll consider why technology is sometimes designed to give us the illusion of control.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Women In Gaming And Tech

Nov 24, 2014
John / Flickr/CC

While just as many females as males play, the gaming world has a reputation as a less-than-welcoming community for women, with some extreme harassment in a recent controversy dubbed Gamergate. We’ll look at the conversation since Gamergate, from why gaming culture has these elements, to the challenges women face in the tech industry.

GUESTS:

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Among the things we take for granted in today’s America is knowing the time, which makes transportation, business and national events possible. This, however, was not always the case.

On today’s show, from building sewers to standardizing time, the invisible innovations that got us where we are today. And, protests in Ferguson, Missouri prompted calls for a national conversation about race and racism. A filmmaker asks: Can we have a productive discussion if the privileged majority can’t name what it means to be white?

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

A Luminous Dress Inspired By The Firefly

Nov 13, 2014
Charlie Lemay

Biologists call it “signaling”, traits and behaviors that evolved because recipients respond to them in ways that benefit the signaler. Among humans, signals may not be quite as overt as the peacock fanning its tail:

or fireflies courting and sparking on a summer night:

Brad Flickinger / Flickr/CC

As laptops, iPads, and smartphones become commonplace in kids’ lives at home and school, parents are increasingly uneasy about where to set limits, or even what counts as 'screen time.' We’ll talk about that, and then also another conundrum of the digital age: whether taking time to teach kids handwriting and cursive in school still has value.

GUESTS:

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  About 60 9th grade students in Manchester High School West are participating in a new science-focused magnet program called STEAM Ahead, this year. The partnership between the school district and several local tech companies also involves state colleges. It aims to boost the local workforce and retain youth and talent.

It’s morning in biology teacher Christine Aspinwall’s class. The students are scrambling to fill beakers with pureed food.

Press Release Finder via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/CL7zT

The next big digital frontier seems to be wearable technology. One example that comes to mind is the newly-announced Apple Watch, but what if the device in question wasn’t a device per se, but electronics built into what you’re already wearing?

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

 A newly-formed group of independent video game developers in Manchester looks poised to open a game developers’ incubator in the city’s Millyard by the end of the year.

Local game developer David Carrigg is one of the founders of the state chapter of the International Game Developers Association, which is leading the creation of the incubator called Game Assembly.

via vertu.com

We spoke to Gabriel Roth, who took the Aster for a test drive at one of Vertu’s upscale boutiques and wrote about the phone for Fast Company, "The Cadillac Bentley of Cell Phones." The Aster starts at a meager $6900 for the 'entry-level' calf leather model and rises to $9700 for a bright pink ostrich skin model.

Jeremy Weber via flickr Creative Commons

Tesla cars…Louis Vuitton luggage…Philippe Patek watches…luxury brands are selling well. How about a $10,000 cell phone? On today’s show, we’ll learn about the new handcrafted cell phone with optional concierge service that’s become a new symbol of conspicuous consumption.

Also today, from fierce fighters in the Trojan wars to Wonder Woman, Amazons have been described as figures of myth. A classics scholar sifts through new DNA evidence and other proof that these female warriors on horseback were real.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Robots And The Future Of Work

Oct 7, 2014
a_Inglis / Flickr/CC

As computers and robotic machinery grow more sophisticated, there are concerns that automation is making it harder for human workers to compete. But others say robotic workers will lead to better jobs, more productivity, and even an age of leisure for humans. We’ll hear from the experts on how the rise of the robot may change the face of the workforce.

This program was originally broadcast on 8/21/14.

GUESTS:

Phalinn Ooi via flickr Creative Commons

Surgery requires years of education, steady hands, extreme confidence, and…kindness? On today's show we ask: when it comes to being a good surgeon, does bedside manner matter? We'll also look into the growing digital house key market and the complicated math behind queue design.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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