Idea Machines is a deep dive into the systems and people that bring innovations from glimmers in someone's eye all the way to tools, processes, and ideas that can shift paradigms.
We see the outputs of innovation systems everywhere but rarely dig into how they work. Idea Machines digs below the surface into crucial but often unspoken questions to explore themes of how we enable innovations today and how we could do it better tomorrow.
Idea Machines is hosted by Benjamin Reinhardt.
Fusion, Planning, Programs, and Politics with Stephen Dean
In this conversation, Dr. Stephen Dean talks about how he created the 1976 US fusion program plan, how it played out and the history of fusion power in the US, technology program planning and management more broadly, and more.
Policy, TFP, and airshiPs with Eli Dourado
Eli Dourado on how the sausage of technology policy is made, the relationship between total factor productivity and technological progress, airships, and more.
In the Realm of the Barely Feasible with Arati Prabhakar
In this conversation I talk to the Amazing Arati Prabhakar about using Solutions R&D to tackle big societal problems, gaps in the innovation ecosystem, DARPA, and more.
Shaping Research by Changing Context with Ilan Gur
In this conversation I talk to Ilan Gur about what it really means for technology to “escape the lab”, the power of context to shape the usefulness of research, the inadequacies of current institutional structures, how activate helps technology escape the lab *by* changing people’s context, and more.
Your Equity is a Product with Luke Constable
In this conversation I talk to Luke Constable about the complicated tapestry of finance, funding projects, incentives, organizational and legal structures, social technologies, and more.
Luke is the founder of the hedge fund Lembas Capital and publishes a widely-read newsletter full of fascinating deep dives. He’s also trained as a lawyer and historian so he looks at the world with a fairly unique set of lenses.
Venture Research with Donald Braben [Idea Machines #34]
In this conversation I talk to Donald Braben about his venture research initiative, peer review, and enabling the 21st century equivalents of Max Planck.
Donald has been a staunch advocate of reforming how we fund and evaluate research for decades. From 1980 to 1990 he ran BP’s venture research program, where he had a chance to put his ideas into practice. Considering the fact that the program cost two million pounds per year and enabled research that both led to at least one Nobel prize and a centi-million dollar company, I would say the program was a success. Despite that, it was shut down in 1990.
Most of our conversation centers heavily around his book “Scientific Freedom” which I suspect you would enjoy if you’re listening to this podcast.
This conversation. I talked to Donald breathing about his venture research initiative, peer review, and enabling the 21st century equivalent of max Planck.
Donald has been a staunch advocate for forming how we fund and evaluate research for decades. From 1980 to 1990, he ran BP's venture research program. Where he had a chance to put his ideas into practice. [00:01:00] Considering the fact that the program costs about 2 million pounds per year and enabled research, that book led to at least one Nobel prize and to send a million dollar company.
I would say the program was success, despite that it was shut down in 1990. Most of our conversations centers heavily around his book, scientific freedom, which just came out from straight press. And I suspect that you would enjoy if you're listening to this podcast. So here's my conversation with Donald Raven.
would you explain, in your own words, the concept of a punk club and why it's really well, it's just my name for the, for the, outstanding scientists of the 20th century, you know, starting with max blank, who looked at thermodynamics, and it took him 20 years to reach his conclusions, that, that matter was, was quantized.
You know, and that, and, he developed quantum mechanics, that was followed by Einstein and Rutherford and, and, and a [00:02:00] whole host of scientists. And I've called, in order to be, succinct Coley's they, these 500 or so scientists who dominated the 20th century, the plank club. So I don't have to keep saying Einstein rather for that second.
I said, and it's, it's an easy shorthand. Right. And so, do you think that like, well, there's a raging debate about whether the existence of the plank club was due to sort of like the time and place and the, the things that could be discovered in physics in the first half of the 20th century versus.
Sort of a more or more structural argument. Do you, where do you really come down on that? The existence of the plank club? [00:03:00] W well, like, yeah, so like, I guess, I guess it's, tied to sort of like this, but the question of like, like almost like, yeah. Are you asking, will there be a 20th century, 21st century playing club?
Do you think, do you think it's possible? Like, it's sort of like now right now. No, it's not. because, peer review forbids it, in the early parts of the 20th century, then scientists did not have to deal with, did not necessarily have to deal with peer review. that is the opinions of the, of the expert of the few expert colleagues.
they just got on, on, Edgar to university and had a university position, which was as difficult then as it is now to get. But once you got a university position in the first part up to about 1970, then you could do then providing your requirements were modest, Varney. You didn't [00:04:00] need, you know, huge amounts of money.
Say. You could do anything you wanted and, you didn't have to worry about your, your peers opinions. I mean, you did in your department when people were saying, Oh, he's mad. You know, and he's looking a
So excited for more!
Really sharp podcast -- I replaced a depressing politics podcast to make room for this inspiring one
Excellent - lead edge tech with people you can’t find in any other forum.