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Science of Innovation (2013)

From Thomas Edison's light bulb to Wilbur and Orville Wright's flying machine, inventors and inventions transform the way we communicate, travel and live our daily lives--thanks to the creative process of innovation. That process is highlighted in this video series, The Science of Innovation. In celebration of the 165th birthday of one of America's greatest innovators, Thomas Edison, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and NBC Learn produced in 2013 this 11-part series narrated by NBC News' Ann Curry highlighting innovators from across the country.

Episode 1. What Is Innovation?

Whether it happens among students in a classroom, or engineers in a laboratory, innovation is a process, a series of steps that begins with imagination, and results in the creation of something of value for society.

 View video (6:56 min.)

Episode 2. Bionic Limbs

Professor Homayoon Kazerooni is a robotics engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, with more than 40 patents to his name. His research on exoskeletons relies on more than just ingenuity and engineering expertise. It's also an example of how inspiration can play a part in the innovation process, the simple desire to help other humans.

 View video (5:21 min.)

Episode 3. Biofuels

A new approach to producing biofuels that uses a marine bacterium called Saccharophagus degradans that left otherwise alone, is mostly known for its damaging impact on the environment.

 View video (5:31 min.)

Episode 4. 3-D Printing

3-D printing is an innovative manufacturing technique developed by Professors Michael Cima and Emanuel Sachs†from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Once just used to create working prototypes, 3-D printers are now used†by†people from engineers to home inventors to†make objects from their imaginations.

 View video (5:06 min.)

Episode 5. Electronic Tattoos

A micro-electronic health monitor so thin, light and portable that it can attach right to the surface of skin and go wherever a person goes. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize the field of healthcare technology.

 View video (5:35 min.)

Episode 6. Biometrics

A method for capturing and analyzing the vein patterns in the white part of the eye to help identify people. Biometrics has potential applications for driverís licenses, passports or computer identification control.

 View video (5:18 min.)

Episode 7. Self-Driving Cars

At Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., computer scientist Sebastian Thrun and his team of software engineers are creating a fleet of self-driving cars. His innovative approach to artificial intelligence is what makes these cars such a success.

 View video (5:54 min.)

Episode 8. Synthetic Diamonds

A new method for creating "synthetic diamonds" that not only creates larger diamonds, but also manipulates their toughness, hardness and color. Potential uses include cutting tools, electronics or optical materials.

 View video (5:49 min.)

Episode 9. Anti-Counterfeiting Devices

Biosensors designed for food and water safety allow a manufacturer to embed a unique biomarker into their products, helping authorities instantly detect whether it's real or fake.

 View video (5:50 min.)

Episode 10. Fuel Cell Efficiency

To operate and function efficiently, machines of all shapes and sizes need a source of energy. A series of innovations is helping to make energy conversion within fuel cells as efficient as possible.

 View video (5:20 min.)

Episode 11. Smart Concrete

By adding carbon fiber to concrete mixture, a slab of concrete is able to conduct electricity. "Smart concrete" has many potential applications, including helping structural engineers to identify trouble spots in a concrete structure long before stress or cracking is visible to the human eye.

 View video (5:37 min.)