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The Next List: Ten Innovators Changing Your World

Aired June 30, 2012 - 20:00   ET



The truth be told, we're not making a list. We're keeping one. A list of amazing people whose passion and work influence our future. They are agents of change, innovators. And in this special episode, we introduce you to ten you really should know. This is THE NEXT LIST.

Hello and welcome to a special edition of THE NEXT LIST: 10 INNOVATORS CHANGING YOUR WORLD. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

We start with two who both build communities, both focus on local concerns and both are creating quite a buzz.


ANDREW COTE, BEES WITHOUT BORDERS: Maybe it begins as a hobby and then it might work up to a small business and then it's just an obsession and then there's no turning back. It's like crack. I don't know what's so obsessive about it. I just enjoy doing it. I enjoy doing it very much. Almost every aspect, even the stings, have their place. They humble me and remind me of who and what I am.

GUPTA: Urban bee-keeping.

COTE: It's just exciting and scary at the same time.

GUPTA: It's a surprisingly addictive trend taking over rooftops from Chicago to Shanghai. A few have the global reach of Andrew.

Andrew has been instrumental in the city of New York.

GUPTA: From the heights of New York's hotels to the far reaches of the African bush, he's spreading his love of these remarkable creatures to people throughout the entire world. He's a man with a mission. And, today, he's taking us along for the ride.

COTE: I have my hands in my hives. I help run the New York City beekeeper's association. I help run bees without borders. I am a paid consultant by restaurants and hotels. I have my own private hives from which I extract and bottle honey. And I sell it at union square. I sleep sometimes with hives.

My name is Andrew Cote and I'm a beekeeper.

Many, many businesses have approached me to put these on their roofs. But I only work with those who I feel truly embrace the concept of wanting to be greener, wanting to hen the environment, wanting to raise awareness of the environment and bees seem a really way to do that.

Today is the first day and we're installing six beehives today. A lot of people really do wrongly assume cities are places with no flowers and no trees. And here we are in Manhattan and you see what's around me now. Central park is right over there. It's almost a thousand acres of green. We have more parks than I can count in New York City and five boroughs.

I have wanted to have bees on the roof for years and grow honey. When city council finally repealed the law, I said oh my god, I don't know how. That's how Andrew and I got connected. I sent an email and two weeks later we had hives up here after I took his course.

This is the third year that we've been able to keep bees legally in New York since the '90s. And the New York City beekeeper's association had a substantial role in bringing about the legalization. I sat in with DoH. I helped write the best practices guide for urban bee keeping. We have close relationships with law enforcement. NYPD calls us. There's a unique challenge because beekeeping was illegal for so long, and many people didn't know how to properly work a beehive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just one of the drones who help run it. I'm one of the founders. Our mission is to promote healthy, good, responsible beekeeping in New York City.

As perhaps a poster boy for urban beekeeping, I almost hate to say it, but I don't know that it's terribly important for urban beekeeping to exist. There are 258 types of feral bees flying around New York City without our Apis mellifera. So in terms of pollinating community gardens, I don't think that they're necessary. But I think they greatly enhance our lives here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have maybe a dozen or 15 customers in New York City.

Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the best thing that we can do to make them most likely not sting us.

COTE: This is a good question.

And many more in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. Spring and early summer, I'll visit hives once a week. Usually, in the winter, I'll do something like go to Africa, volunteer to teach beekeeping in some remote place. So I keep busy.

This is always my last stop of the day. So this is my favorite stop because I know that my 14-, 15- -, 18-hour day is at an end.

Adam, if we're going to keep two hives, right, one, two? Or do you want them spaced for any aesthetic reason?

ADAM: Not esthetic reason. Don't -- wouldn't they do better if they're slightly spaced apart?

COTE: There will be space enough apart. But I think I like having them both being able to look at the bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need a view?

COTE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A room with a view?

COTE: That's what they deserve.


BJARKE INGELS, ARCHITECTURE: In the big picture, architecture is the art and science of making sure that our cities and buildings fit with the way we want to live our lives. The West 57th project is a really beautiful site. It's overlooking the Hudson River, has a view like we have here. It's perfectly oriented to watch the south and the west.

But it's, you know, right where the West Side Highway takes off and it's in Hell's Kitchen. As you can imagine, from the name, it's like -- it's a pretty sort of industrial neighborhood. So we thought that maybe we could (inaudible) to really create a sense of place.

Having spent 10 years of our career in Copenhagen trying to escape the tyranny of the typology (ph) of the courtyard building, it could actually be an interesting thing to rediscover in Manhattan. Because if you like the European courtyard, is that the architectural scale, what central part is of the urban scale, like an urban oasis at the heart of a dead city.

This is the West 57th Street project. As you can see, it's this mixture between a skyscraper and a courtyard building, and it's to just sort of open up the courtyard for the views. It tilts from being horizontal to being almost vertical, opening up the entire courtyard for the sun from the south and the west, so we'll be able to see the sunset over the Hudson River.

And the bottom, like the southwest corner is 42 inches. So it should be the height of a handrail. And here you're up at like 430 feet. So you have this sort of (inaudible) from a human scale to the city scale in one single building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a big idea that caught everybody's attention. It's the kind of idea that when you see it, you say how come nobody's thought it before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I described him as a genius. He doesn't fit the -- what you think of as an architect. He's fresh, he's very young. But he is, I think, a true genius in the sense of being able to see designs in his mind and put them down on paper better than anybody I've met.

INGELS: Today, a lot of people have this feeling that, you know, they ask why are all modern buildings so boring? And essentially, you say like modern buildings have degenerated into these big, boring boxes, where the architecture is very passive and all the quality that makes the space inhabitable is this onslaught of machinery that pumps air and light into the building.

So what we're interested in is what you could call engineering without engines, that essentially we use contemporary technology, our capacity to simulate and calculate the performance of a building to put the attribute into the actual design of the building, the way it's structured, the way the windows are proportioned, the way it's oriented to either capture the sun or create shape.

So in a way, find new ways of informing the architecture, the design of the buildings. So essentially, what we're interested in is buildings that look different because they perform differently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The arc has that capacity to read deeply into a situation, the zoning, the economics of a project, the constructability of a project in a way that most architects tend to say, oh, the zoning is constraining. He's the zoning -- I won't say it's liberating, but it's something that if you master it, you can move onto a higher level.


GUPTA: Welcome back to THE NEXT LIST. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. As we continue our way through 10 innovators changing your world, our next two live in completely different worlds.

Hugh Herr creates machines that literally connect to the human form, while Jane McGonigal creates a virtual experience. But despite the difference, both use advanced technologies to help heal and improve lives.

GUPTA: You call it the Bio, which stands for what? Bionic --

HUGH HERR, BIOPHYSICIST: Bionic motion. So here you see the bione. Inside this metal shield, we have a muscle tendon, like, what we call actually our motor system. And we have various sensors, about 12 sensors. We also have several computers. There's three computers.

Here's the battery, the power supply. People walk, they put their heel down for their toe. They're bending their knees slightly when they walk. You can tell in someone who has an older type of prosthetic device that the walking is unnatural.

Do you want to have a race?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I do not want to race now.

HERR: How about with you? What is different?

There's a lot that's different. So these offer control when the foot is in contact with the ground than when the foot's off the ground. So these actually propel me forward so I can do all kinds of things, run or walk at all speeds and run up steps and all kinds of things.

(LAUGHTER) GUPTA: What's that like for you? Is that -- is that -- ?

HERR: It's exhilarating.

GUPTA: Something you've been -- you're sprinting up stairs with bilateral below-knee amputations.

HERR: Yes. Pretty amazing, huh?

GUPTA: Is that something you thought you'd ever be able to do?

HERR: No. No. (Inaudible) whose motor's going. (Inaudible). I feel like a bionic man.

Hello, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Herr, thank you very, very much. This is the best thing since bread and butter.

HERR: Years ago, at MIT, I had written a grant and submitted to the Veteran's Administration, Veteran's Affairs. That grant was funded and we used those moneys at MIT to develop, really, the science of how the human ankle behaves and then mapping that to how you build a synthetic device that emulates that functionality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had 39 operations between all the hospitals and West Roxboro (ph) was the last one, and that was number 40 and that was the amputation.

HERR: What we're -- what we plan to do and will do is systematically build body parts from the ground up, literally. So we're starting with ankles. The next act of iWalk is knees and after that will be hips and we'll just rebuild the human from the ground up.

Go up the shallow ramp and then, if you would, down this steep ramp?


HERR: Yes, either way. (Inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel more like a human being, complete, whereas, you know, I can watch people in the eye as I walk down the street instead of watching the ground or where I'm stepping. It's, you know, being a normal person again. It's fantastic. You can't beat it.

HERR: I founded iWalk and then I did actually help advance technology that people will use in my lifetime. And I can see the direct results of my invention, my ideas, on the world. So it's fun both being the scientist and the professor and also the entrepreneur, where I can directly affect society in the short term.

JANE MCGONIGAL, VIDEO GAME DESIGNER: Games are an extraordinary way to tap into the best version of yourself, the most determined, the most creative, the most resilient in the face of failure, the most likely to collaborate with other people. Just sort of heroic qualities. And it seems that if we play more games, games that we love, these qualities can actually spill over into our real lives. I'm Jane McGonigal. I'm a game designer and I'm the inventor of Super Better.

I've actually been studying games since 2001. And I was really interested in what would happen to gamers when they stopped playing their favorite games. Did it change the way that they would think about themselves and what they were capable of? Would it change what they tried to do in real life?

And so I started to track this phenomenon. My process for making a game usually starts with a problem. Someone has a problem. Either I have a problem or somebody out in the world has a problem. And they think that a game might be the right solution.

Evoke was designed as a crash course in changing the world. It was a 10-week game that you would play and we aimed it first at young people in sub-Saharan Africa, although we wound up inviting the whole world to play.

You would play it -- you would learn about social enterprise or how to start your own business that could not only make a sustainable profit, but also tackle a social issue, like clean water or clean energy.

And at the end of the game, if you completed all of the quests and the missions, you would not only get certified by the World Bank Institute as a social innovator, you were also eligible for funding for a business that you would design during the game.

MARINA GORBIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE: I think this is Jane's greatest genius and contribution, is that she is reframing the whole conversation about gaming. She created a game called Super Struck. We asked people to envision four, five very disruptive scenarios for the future around energy, around water shortages.

MCGONIGAL: For example, we had a super threat called Generation Exile, which was considering the possibility that there might be mass migration due to climate change.

GORBIS: We asked people, how would you cope with these challenges? We had thousands of people from all around the world participating.

MCGONIGAL: And the result was this really amazing collaborative future forecast, this kind of epic report. I believe that most of us want to rise to the heroic occasion and to be able to see gamers stepping up and really doing it, we're going to be much better able to tackle the toughest challenges.

GUPTA: And coming up on this special edition of THE NEXT LIST, a blueprint for education innovation.


GUPTA: As you'll see, every Next Lister signs into the show. And the backwards writing puts a subtle poetic nod to history's greatest innovator, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci is said to have had this unquenchable curiosity and fostering that particular quality along with creativity and collaboration make up the blueprint of our next story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This school has been around for about five years now. It started as a play group and it developed into kind of a pre- school and now it's a bona fide school with a bona fide location that we're all very happy about.

And it was one of those things where, when we started working on it, we realized we had hit a nerve, because people came out of the woodwork, other families. But teachers, educators in the field, neuroscientists, and they said, this is something that they've been thinking about and wanted to help us develop.

GUPTA: Welcome to THE NEXT LIST. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Today you're going to meet three agents of change who are challenging traditional methods of teaching kids.

They've begun an educational revolution, so to speak, certain that nurturing the human spirit is as essential as learning to read. These innovators opened Blue School, where the emphasis is on collaboration, creativity and the curiosity that leads to adventure.

So what makes them experts in the art of learning? And how do they come up with the educational idea of a lifetime? As you'll see, the inspiration and the name, they didn't come out of the blue.




GROUP: Who's there?


GROUP: Banana who?


GROUP: Who's there?


GROUP: Banana who?


GROUP: Who's there?


GROUP: Orange who?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aren't you glad I stopped saying banana?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world that kids are graduating into now is so fast-paced and changing that they actually need to be students of innovation. They don't necessarily have to be artists. They don't necessarily have to be inventors. But everyone needs to know how to get up on that wave and ride it, as opposed to being knocked over by it.

PHIL: Hi, I'm Phil.

CHRIS: I'm Chris.

MATT: I'm Matt, and we're three of the six co-founders of Blue School.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the world is clearly neither sustainable or harmonious at this point. And it's really going to take us and everyone around today and the kids growing up into being the leaders in the world to change our course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think to solve those problems, the problems we have today and in the future, it's going to take a level of creative thinking that maybe education hasn't done the best job at in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Innovation, we believe, is actually something that can be taught. It's something that can be nurtured. I think there are a number of reasons what brought us and the other three founders to starting Blue School.

In some ways, it felt like it was a reaction to the culture and what was out there or what was not out there. In another way, we felt as if creativity and socioemotional learning and collaboration wants to be folded into the education experience as much as any of the other academic subjects.

MOLLY: I'm Molly. I'm a kindergarten teacher here at Blue School. This is one of the few places that I have seen, participated in, where children are at the heart of the learning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you'll see is a class will decide that they want to talk about the weather. As kids of a certain age always do, they get fascinated by tornadoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From tornadoes you can go to so many areas. You can go to mathematics and other sciences. You can also go to geography. You learn that the only other place in the world where tornadoes take place besides the American Midwest is Mongolia. So this is how you use threads to get into a place that they are excited by and artfully weave in all the other disciplines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This school has been around for about five years now. It started as a play group and then it developed into kind of a pre-school and now it's a bona fide school with a bona fide location that we're all very happy about.

And it was one of those things where, when we started working on it, we realized we had hit a nerve, because people came out of the woodwork, other families, but teachers, educators in the field, neuroscientists, and they said that this is something that they'd been thinking about and wanted to help us develop.

KEN ROBINSON, AUTHOR: I'm Ken Robinson. I'm an educator and an author and I'm on the advisory board of the Blue School. I met Matthew, Phil and Chris through the Ted Conference. They saw the talk I gave in 2006 on creativity and contacted me.

We arranged to meet for an hour for lunch and the hour turned into eight hours. I canceled the rest of the day because I just thought they were great. I loved them. I've just thought they were great.

I look what they're attempting to the school. I looked the way they're thinking about it, but I took an interest in it because I like to see schools trying to do something different.


GUPTA: The Blue School is challenging the traditional methods of teaching. And when we return, we're going to meet a man whose innovation in the classroom is to make us all innovators by making us all makers.


GUPTA: Dale Dougherty believes everyone should be passionate about making something. And that idea has evolved into a fairly complex worldwide movement. But at its core, it's still this simple message that we can all be makers.


DALE DOUGHERTY, MAKE MAGAZINE FOUNDER: I am Dale Dougherty and I am the publisher and founder of MAKE Magazine and the creator of Maker Faire. I think that as an overall philosophy of making, it is something that just seems basic to who we are. It's not necessarily about technology. It's really about people. But I think technology creates a lot of the interest today. Cooks are makers. People who create garments and dresses and things are makers. But some of the people who tinker with electronics and carpentry and other areas, as well.

But I think one of the things that happens in making is that we are gaining some control over the world we live in. Where we are actually doing something important and valuable and it's making a personal connection to that thing. When I see a young kid connect a battery and a light, and he realize the two, you know, work together and the light goes on and they kind of just disconnect and connect, disconnect and connect, just almost make the point that they're controlling it.

This is a maker space in an educational setting, I call it project make. I worked with the local high school to get an opportunity for kids to make things. The basic idea is what do you want to make.

GUPTA: Right.


GUPTA: You can feel the energy in here. And they just came right in and immediately got to work.

DOUGHERTY: Right. This is a pilot program here for just proving, I think, in ways that kids want it.

GUPTA: So, you recently got a DARPA grant? Is that right?


GUPTA: DARPA, it's something part of the Department of Defense, right?

DOUGHERTY: Right. It's a research arm of defense. And, I mean, they're behind the internet and lots of things. I think the rationale behind this is they don't see kids in high school interested in science and technology to the degree that matters. But they're not making things. Kids aren't looking and saying, I want to go in a -- you know, I want a career in making something. And I saw that and that's why I wanted to apply for the grant and see, you know, can we get this into high schools.

GUPTA: What is it you're trying to make here?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We're making a (INAUDIBLE) actually does have solar panels on it.

GUPTA: Would you have learned this in your regular school or no?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, definitely not in regular school. I mean, I would never have had this opportunity. So, this has been really cool.

DOUGHERTY: I'm really interested in what individuals and small groups can do. Maker Faire is one of those, I think, positive, special places where you can see lots of different ways that people are working to create new things. To do things that you might not think possible.

GUPTA: If someone were at a Maker Faire, what does it look like?

DOUGHERTY: Well, it's kind of a science fair, an art fair, a little bit of burning man and things like that. It's kind of wild and crazy. But, you know, in a very simple way, it's about a conversation with an enthusiast whose eyes light up when you talk to them. Who is excited about what they've build. And it's the kind of conversation, "hey, where did you get that idea?"

The surprising thing I think is, this is stuff that's in people's backyards and basements. It's not always visible. So, it's kind of flushes this out from the community. And we get to see that innovation-making and creating is kind of an everyday thing that lots of people do. It's not -- it doesn't have to be elevated. It's not something that just geniuses do. We're all inventors. We're all makers.


GUPTA: Still to come on this special edition of THE NEXT LIST, the artistic side of innovation.


GUPTA: Welcome back to THE NEXT LIST. Ten Innovators Changing Your World. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Ubaldo Vitali is a fourth-generational silversmith who adheres to the traditional practices of his craft while Chef Cantu is a young, mad scientist constantly experimenting with futuristic methods of preparing food. But both of them are artists. And their work, while appreciated differently, is masterpiece.


UBALDO VITALI, FOURTH-GENERATION SILVERSMITH: I am Ubaldo Vitali and I'm an alchemist.

I do believe that the biggest gift that we have is to converse with a work of art, the way we interact with a work of art. The great alchemist used to say, true knowledge does not come from books, but it comes through your feet as you walk through life. I hope I can communicate it to the young people.

When you walk into a museum and look at the young people, especially the young people, because they are the future, looking at the works of art and I see their face illuminated by pleasure, part of me wants to perhaps help them to share with them the work that it took and the lessons that I have learned.

That is why I tried to give lectures, because this interaction is going to disappear. In recent years, the computer, the great computer age, we are losing, in a certain way, interaction with real objects. I mean, the computer can capture everything, but basically there is one thing that it cannot capture.

Computer doesn't feel any pain. It doesn't feel any joy. It cannot suffer. Those things can only be learned through human contact. Not through the books and not through the computer. Art fulfils a specifically the aspect of life. Art can communicate all of those things, all of them in a very quick and easy way. Just look at them, look at the work of art, it doesn't matter if it's a painting. Listen to a work of art. Communicate with it. They're talking to you. Just listen and answer.

HOMARO CANTU, CHEF AND MOLECULAR GASTRONOMIST: My name is Homaro Cantu, and I'm a molecular gastronomist. I own Moto, iNG and Cantu Designs in Chicago.

A molecular gastronomist is really just someone who explores the world of science and food. We're always playing with your expectations as to what this food could be. We use a lot of different tools - centrifuges, sonifiers, lasers. We're actually starting to work with some super conductors. If you look at, you know, the limitations of creating new products, you're only limited by the technology that you have to work with.

You know, the - the real thrill with the food experiments that we do is creating something that's impossible, creating something that just shouldn't be. I built a lab in my restaurant because we really wanted to take experimentation to the next level and just bring it right in front of the guests.

You know, we have, you know, three moving parts here. We have Cantu Designs, which is really the hub of innovation. We can implement those ideas at Moto Restaurant, and then see if they're more applicable to the mainstream, at iNG Restaurant, which tends to be a much more fast, casual establishment.

Well, what's very different about Moto and iNG, you know, as opposed to other restaurants in the similar price categories is we're always looking for a bigger idea. You know, we don't want to make just, you know, crazy food to be crazy. For example, we serve an edible menu here, we have almost since day one, and that's because serving edible menus makes a lot of sense.

Every month about 20 tons of paper are wasted in restaurant menus alone, and so, you know, by that rationale, if you just ate your menu that was made from organic, local products, you could eliminate that paper waste. It looks like a sushi roll, it tastes like a sushi roll, but it's your menu.

We -- we just have to always be putting ourselves in a position of taking a bigger risk, because our customers, they expect that. They want to see something really new, you know? They're looking for their hair to be blown back 10 ways, and that's a very big challenge.

We -- we like to do a fun thing with what we define seasonal products to be. Here, we have a biosphere and we have some seafood products that are going to go in that biosphere. So here we have some sea beans, we have some saltine crackers, we have cushy oyster, which definitely has a nice brininess to it. A little bit of crab meat.

Next, we have sea foam, so that's sort of reminiscent of going to the ocean. And then finally we have some smoked apple puree.

Next thing we're going to do is take this biosphere and we're going to place it right onto that apple puree to form a watertight seal. We're going to take this gas right here, which is nine times heavier than air, which is going to enables us to pull off this trick of creating a weather system within this biosphere. It's really cool to watch.

Then, at the table, you basically pull that off, and then this -- this inner gas starts falling, and then the smoke just sort of, you know, goes right over the food. We clear this, and then the diner just starts shoveling stuff in their mouth that's really tasty. And that's -- that's our seafood biosphere. You know, I liked to compare what we do to like the iPhone. A tremendous amount of engineering and thought goes into that product, but, when you see it at the table, you're not really thinking about that.

The stressful part that I put pressure on my staff is what are we going to create today? And then, how is it going to become a bigger player in the global picture?



GUPTA: We're down to our final two innovators who have one major thing in common. Both are reinventing what they so obviously love to do. Sarah Parcak explores ancient civilizations using modern methods. And Jad Abumrad is taking storytelling to genius levels. Take a look.


SARAH PARCAK, SPACE ARCHAEOLOGIST: The most exciting moment as an archaeologist happened when I was looking at the great archaeology site of Tannis, which of course we all know from "Indiana Jones."

We got satellite imagery of the city of Tannis, we processed it, and literally from thousands of miles away from my lab in Alabama, we were able to map the entire city. Using this technology is an enormous shortcut.

My name is Sarah Parcak and I am a professor of archaeology. I'm an Egyptologist. I'm a remote sensing specialist and I'm a space archaeologist.

This completely invisible world just comes to life when you're processing the satellite data.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There's this whole other way to use geography and GPS and light and she absolutely turned me onto this entire field.

PARCAK: When I'm teaching about this technology, I start with Google Earth, because that's something that everyone knows about. Google Earth is an incredible resource because from hundreds of miles in space, we can zoom in, and we can find things.

Whether, you know, everyone always looks for their house first, and then people go to the great pyramid of Giza. And that is the tip of the iceberg with remote sensing.

I tell my students on day one, a picture is worth a thousand words, a satellite image is worth a million dollars. Imagery is powerful. Imagery is provocative, satellite imagery much more so because it is from space and it allows us to get this perspective that we don't have to have otherwise.

And when you add on top of that the ability to see a little bit differently, all of a sudden you have an amazing scientific tool that you can use to answer all sorts of questions about climate change, environmental change, population change and social change.

When you visit the site of Tannis and you walk over the surface, it's this big brown (INAUDIBLE) you can't see anything on the ground. But what you're seeing here is the outline of an entire city.

GUPTA: This reminds me it's better than medical terms like looking at an ultrasound of a baby.

PARCAK: As the technology gets better, we're not only going to be able to see these more clearly, but we're going to be able to see what's underneath them. So, it is going to be like an ultrasound. We are going to literally be able to dive into the surface of the earth, which is really exciting.

JAD ABUMRAD, RADIO HOST, RADIOLAB: I like drones and washes and weird, almost anti-musical things. I love the sound of the refrigerator. You know, I love the sound of lights when they buzz. I love the sound of machines as they break down.

You know, as far as I can remember, I would like, I would mow the lawn for four times longer than I actually had to, because I loved the sound of the lawn mower. You know, that weird kind of ditchery drewish drone, kind of, rwar, rwar.

I grew up in Tennessee. Both of my parents are scientists, this Lebanese kid in Tennessee. So I spent my whole time in the practice rooms, you know, just playing piano. That was somehow -- like that was the thing that made sense to me as a kid. I had pretty much figured out that I was going to be a film scorer.

I didn't even know what that meant, exactly, but that was sort of the thing that I had decided.

Four or five years out of school, I was kind of in mid-flail and I was having that conversation with my then-girlfriend, now-wife. And she was like, well, radio's kind of like writing, but it's kind of like sound, it's really kind of the two are together. I was kind of like, wow, radio. Never listen to the radio, but maybe I'll work in radio.

I freelanced a piece for NPR. It took me months. It was insane. I remember that feeling of like making a piece of radio that was four minutes, and it was like, this is kind of like composing.

Like, this is the same thing, but there are words and there's narrative and all that. Kind of started to figure out what it meant to be a journalist. That whole part of it was slowly turning on. Somewhere along the way I ended up getting my first full-time job in public radio.

The program director at WYNC here, he had this slot, and he said, you -- I happened to be in the hall at that point, and he said, you, just do something in this spot, just make something up.

For the next three years, I basically just worked around the clock to fill these three hours. I spent a long, long time thinking I was great, having good ears, but the things I was producing, I knew they weren't -- I knew it wasn't good, you know?

You know, hourglass has talked a lot about the gap, you know? The idea that your taste is killer initially, but your skills are not. So you have this recognition of man, I'm just not very good right now. And most people fall into that gap and they never make it out.

IRA GLASS, RADIO HOST, THIS AMERICAN LIFE: Really, the only thing you can do is just make work. Like, you have to just like make a lot of work. And just basically fight your way out of it, like a soldier.

ABUMRAD: Get through that gap, and understand that maybe you suck, and that's OK, because sucking actually is the path you have to walk to be great.

GLASS: And also, nobody tells you like, where do ideas come from for stuff? Like you think, like, they'll be sprinkled on me like fairy dust. Like I get an amazing idea for something. But actually finding an idea to make your work about is a job.

ABUMRAD: Somewhere along the way, Robert Krulwich, he heard what was happening, he was like, hey, that was pretty interesting. Let me come and play.

ROBERT KRULWICH, RADIO HOST, RADIOLAD: When he first showed this stuff to me, I thought, wow, that's way I thought, whoa.

ABUMRAD: And so we would just experiment really early in the mornings, really late at night. And that's kind of how it went for a while, you know, he and I just kind of messing around, trying to fill these gaps.

And somewhere along the way, this station decided it was worth paying attention to it, but it existed for a long time in this state of like benign neglect.

KRULWICH: The program begins with a particular 30, maybe 15-second bit of noise.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You're listening to Radiolab.



UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: From New York Public Radio.



KRULWICH: Music has a strange noise and things like that, and I didn't know what it was but I knew that there was something smart about it. It's porous. People like the kind of movie and they sit down and hmmm -- wonder what they're going to say now.

ABUMRAD: Right now, the story we're telling is that you're born pure and then somehow you get populated slowly with bacteria.

There is an odd couple aspect to this. You know, like he's 25 years older than me. We have very different styles. The despairing mouse went globally, blah, blah, blah.

KRULWICH: He's insane. I'll say to Jad, you're an idiot. I say it all the time, or he to me. That's what friends do.

ABUMRAD: He's the kind of person that has to make you laugh every five minutes.

He's the most brilliant guy I've ever known. I start to get kind of crazy in the story telling, and he's like, do you really know that? I'm like, yes, you're right. Let's go report that, but they're actually deeply you in that they determine who you are moment to moment, in some sense.

KRULWICH: That's, I think, his secret, that he's got an open heart.

ABUMRAD: The movie "Seven" comes to mind, Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt. I'm a little bit more to Brad Pitt and the two of us kind of brushed, he's more the wise guy. You know, he's been there, he'd done that.

GLASS: I think that they think that they've come off as this like, we're always sparring like this crazy old couple, but as a listener, I don't really hear that.

ABUMRAD: Let me tell you something Ira, when you come over and you watch us edit the show, you'll see some gladiatorial duels.

GLASS: They're crazy if they think that we have any idea like they're fighting or disagreeing or anything. They have no idea what they're talking about.

KRULWICH: Well, you know, this is not a happy mouse.


GUPTA: Thanks for watching this special edition of THE NEXT LIST. Remember, you can see us every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. THE NEXT LIST with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.