Nutopia

How We Got to Now with Steven Johnson

Revealing the story behind remarkable ideas

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Project details

In human history, more people have been killed by unclean water than by war. But most of us in the developed world never pause to think how amazing it is that we can now drink water from a tap without worrying about dying from cholera 48 hours later.

Less still do we think about the extraordinary men and women who made this ‘modern miracle' possible. Our kings and conquerors are remembered. Our inventors and idea-makers are not.

HOW WE GOT TO NOW sets out to reveal the incredible stories behind six essential innovations of modern life. Teaching us where they come from, how they transform our world in incredible ways, and inspiring us to have more of them.

This ambition meant re-inventing the way science-history is told. Steven, America’s big thinker on ideas and progress, abandons the false myth of the ‘Eureka moments’ and the isolated genius. He reveals instead a world built bit by bit, by little-known inventors. People you’ve probably never heard of, but whose ideas connected in incredible ways and triggered extraordinary chain reactions of change – both technological and cultural.

If science class back in high school was anything like this inspirational six-part series that recently wrapped up on PBS, then society would have a lot more aspiring inventors than aspiring social-media celebrities. The Wall Street Journal

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