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inventions

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For most of us, yellow jackets are a nuisance and for some people, they’re fatal. But for Norman Patterson, they’re more of an obsession.

“As a child, I remember finding a wild honey bee hive in the woods and I was fascinated by it," said Patterson. "That’s really what got me into honey bees, which eventually got me into collecting hornets and yellow jackets for medical labs.”

Sujata Srinivasan

Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves....” For kids in the Connecticut Invention Convention program, now poised to expand through corporate grants, becoming inventors and entrepreneurs seems to be all in a day’s work.

ralphbijker/flickr creative commons

If you've ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you've experienced first hand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the MIT Media Lab over the past 25 years. We'll look at the transformative innovations that these digital magicians have up their sleeves for the coming years with Frank Moss, author of The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices.

State lawmakers passed a bill this week recognizing German immigrant Gustave Whitehead as the first to fly in rather than the celebrated Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk. It was one of just a few bills passed with bi-partisan support.

North Carolina and the famous Wright brothers are known for being “first in flight.” But Connecticut has been in an ongoing battle for that status. Some historians argue that German immigrant Gustave Whitehead made the first flight in 1901 in Bridgeport. New research this week provides more evidence in favor of Whitehead.

The Wonderful World of Tinkering

Jan 10, 2013
Breakfast for Dinner/Sinclair Lewis (Flickr Creative Commons)

What do Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Steve Wozniack, and the Wright Brothers have in common?

They’re tinkerers, of course.

Yes, tinkering isn’t just something that your uncle does on the weekends. As author Alec Foege says, tinkerers help make America great.

Today, the word tinkering can refer to any number of things. From fixing up old cars, to designing things with 3D printers, tinkerers are using the tools at their disposal to make even better tools, gadgets, and items that many of us take for granted.

ralphbijker/flickr creative commons

If you've ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you've experienced first hand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the MIT Media Lab over the past 25 years. We'll look at the transformative innovations that these digital magicians have up their sleeves for the coming years with Frank Moss, author of The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices.

Courtesy of the IP Factory

When it comes to inventing things, Connecticut still punches way above its weight. But sometimes the good ideas dreamed up here end up languishing on a shelf instead of making a difference in people’s lives. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports on a new project that aims to find a home for orphan technologies.

Sujata Srinivasan

Most people wait till adulthood to discover their knack for business. But others tap into their entrepreneurial spirit before they even hold a drivers license. In the second of a two part series on young inventors, WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan meets the teen entrepreneurs.

Sujata Srinivasan

Some young people seem driven to invent. And if that spirit is nurtured it can become the basis for a successful business career.  In the first of a two part series on early entrepreneurship, WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan met some of the state’s very youngest creative minds at Connecticut’s Invention Convention.

Flickr Creative Commons, meddgarnet

Twenty years ago, I got interested in those plastic -- usually white plastic -- outdoor chairs. "Resin casual furniture," as they were known in the industry. The most popular design was called a "bucket" chair.

North Charleston (Flickr Creative Commons)

Some 2400 high school students on 64 robot building teams gather at the Connecticut Convention Center today and tomorrow for the FIRST Regional robotics competition. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Joining us by phone this morning is one of the participants Dave Givens, he is a junior at Wolcott High School and a member of Team MAX.

Flickr Creative Commons, kakissel

What is 3-D printing? One of our guests today, Michael Weinberg explained it better than I could:

"Essentially, a 3D printer is a machine that can turn a blueprint into a physical object. Feed it a design for a wrench, and it produces a physical, working wrench. Scan a coffee mug with a 3-D scanner, send the file to the printer, and produce thousands of identical mugs."

Sujata Srinivasan

Last year’s jobs bill set aside $100 million as a loan pool to help small businesses grow and create jobs. It’s dubbed the Small Business Express Package, and applicants were promised a quick turnaround. State officials have been touring the state to explain the program to businesses that might benefit. But as WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports, they have yet to finalize a loan.

Dick Howell, Wikipedia

Contrary to what you've been told, the first flying machine may have flown in Bridgeport.

Gustave Whitehead is a mostly unsung pioneer in American aviation, and there's some evidence supporting the claim that he flew before Wilbur and Orville did.

Whitehead's story stayed buried a long time, and some believers say this was because of anti-Teutonic attitudes at the outbreak of World War I.

We'll check in with the New England Air Museum about Gustave's flight and the storm of controversy his story ignited among aviation historians.

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