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LISTEN: Science Friday Host Ira Flatow Coming To Town


The host of Science Friday is coming to Pensacola on April 19 to talk about the Catalysts of Creativity. WUWF’s Bob Barrett talked to Ira Flatow about his visit and what it takes to become an inventor. Here are some highlights of that conversation:

  • You don't have to be another Einstein to be a really creative person. Flatow looked back at the history of some inventions and saw that many average people have earned patents over the year, including some celebrities including Heddy Lamar, Michael Jackson, even one of the Marx Brothers who invented a heart pace maker. He says just about anyone can be an inventor.
  • These are well thought out inventions, not "happy accidents". Some are simple like fishing lures and children's items. Some are complex like the aforementioned pace maker.
  • Flatow will also look at the history of women inventors. He says about 100 years or so ago women were not allowed to hold patents. The prevailing school of thought at the time was they "weren't smart enough" to hold patents! They had to have the patent underwritten by a husband or collaborator or some other male.
  • Flatow thinks the ubiquitous technology in our everyday lives is actually helping us become more creative. He also talks about "Maker Fairs", which are like science fairs for inventors. These fairs have people in their teens and 20s coming up with and displaying all kinds of inventions. It was at one of these fairs that Flatow says he saw his first 3-D printer. 

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Ira Flatow guest starred in an episode of The Big Bang Theory a few seasons ago. Bob jokingly asked "What's Jim Parsons was really like?"and Ira talks about his experience on the set of TBBT.

Ira Flatow talks about guest starring in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

  • It's his experience at Science Friday that, despite what you might hear from some, people love science and invention. When he goes out and talks to listeners at events like the one coming up in Pensacola, there is no particular target age group. He says the audience is like their radio audience, everything from students in grade school to older people. "Science doesn't have an age, people just want to know how the world works".
  • Science and creativity has changed a lot since the days when Flatow was the host of Newton's Apple, which was a PBS show that Flatow hosted in the early 1980s. He says on that he show he tried to show people how things works. "Basically what I do for a living is I try to show people how things work". And he's not just talking about hearing aid or microwaves ovens, it's also how the universe works and how nature works. "There are areas of science now that didn't really exist, we weren't even talking about them when I was doing Newton's Apple". He pointed out global warming and the micro biome as examples.
  • Flatow is now in his 25th year of hosting Science Friday and they are going through the archives to find interesting interviews they've done over the years. He remembers a segment from 1993 called "What's This Thing Called the Internet?"

Ira Flatow is the host of Science Friday, heard Fridays at 1pm on 88.1 FM. Flatow will be visiting Pensacola for a sold out presentation called Catalysts of Creativity at the Museum of Commerce on Tuesday, April 19. You can see that show live during a special webcast here on WUWF.org.