'The Next List': A look at 25 fascinating people
June 29th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

'The Next List': A look at 25 fascinating people

Editor's note: On Saturday, CNN' s "The Next List" will air a one-hour special at 8 p.m. titled "10 Innovators Changing Your World," hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. 

Here's a look at 25 fascinating people who have been profiled by CNN's "The Next List."

They include an urban bee keeper, a bionic leg designer and a "space archeologist."

Who's your favorite? Let us know in the comment section at the bottom of the post, and check back for updates each week. FULL POST

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Filed under: The Next List • Video
June 29th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Why teachers should put students to work

Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. CNN's "The Next List" will feature Hauger on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By Simon Hauger, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Working with teenagers is wonderful. They are a joy and a challenge. They are youthful optimists who believe in their power, and have boundless energy. Young people don’t know what they don’t know, and rather than making them arrogant, it fills them with hopeful idealism. As teachers, it is our job to make direct and audacious demands on their idealism.

My journey began 14 years ago in an after-school program I created at West Philadelphia High to engage kids around math and science. My students entered and won the Philadelphia Science Fair, something kids from West Philly weren’t supposed to do. Then we grew the program into the Electric Vehicle (EVX) Team. We built a full-size electric vehicle that outperformed top universities in the nation’s largest alternative fuel vehicle competition, the Tour de Sol. We went on to create the world’s first hybrid super-car: an awesome hybrid vehicle that was fast and environmentally friendly. At a time when most people had never heard of hybrids, West Philly students were building cars that were greener than the Prius and hotter than the Corvette. The EVX Team was gaining traction and recognition. FULL POST

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Filed under: Education • Environment • Science • Tech • The Next List • Video
Berlin is abuzz with mechanical 'robot' bees
June 28th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Berlin is abuzz with mechanical 'robot' bees

By Christopher Cottrell, Special to CNN

Berlin, Germany (CNN) - Its brain is the size of a pinhead, but that doesn't stop the common honeybee from knowing basic geometry.

Widely regarded as one of the most intelligent insects on the planet, bees can use their mathematical prowess to communicate the exact location of nearby food to their hivemates via a technique dubbed the "bee dance."

It is the only known instance of symbolic communication in the animal kingdom and today a group of scientists in Germany is trying to build a robot that mimics it.

Dr. Raul Rojas, director of Berlin's Free University's Project RoboBee (yes, it's really called that),  is trying to “hack the system” of the bees’ cognitive processes by constructing a mechanical bee capable of luring real ones out of the hive and leading them to food. FULL POST

Inside Philadelphia's energy innovation hub
June 27th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Inside Philadelphia's energy innovation hub

By Heather M. Higgins, CNN

Philadelphia (CNN) –  There's a monstrous industrial eyesore that sits ominously along Philadelphia's Delaware River waterfront. However, behind the cobalt blue gates at the southernmost tip of Broad Street is a booming energy innovation center that has the potential to put the City of Brotherly Love back on the national map.

“This area was lifeless and look at it now – it's really special,” said Dave Ziel, chief development officer of Urban Outfitters, Inc, which, along with others, is helping revitalize the Navy Yard area. “The isolation is what gives it the opportunity itself.”

The hipster-friendly retailer, which also operates the Free People and Anthroplogie brands, moved its headquarters into the 19th century red brick workshops at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard in 2005. The workspace promotes a culture of socialization and connectivity while maintaining the integrity of each brand. FULL POST

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Filed under: Education • Environment • The Next List
June 26th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

In Philly, high school students learn by doing

Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. Hauger will be featured on CNN's "The Next List" this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By The Next List Staff, CNN

(CNN) – Some call Philadelphia educator Simon Hauger a “revolutionary teacher,” but his students say he’s just “a really, cool guy.” He’s an engineer turned public high school teacher who is inspiring kids to stay in school by offering an innovative approach to learning. “Students need to be engaged in solving real life problems. What we discovered was that when kids are trusted to make real decisions, a ton of learning occurs,” says Hauger, who is 42.

Hauger’s passion was fueled by the highly successful "Hybrid X Team" he formed at West Philadelphia High School thirteen years ago. In this after-school program, inner-city students built hybrid, bio-diesel and electric cars that have won multiple national competitions, beating out cars from prestigious universities like MIT. FULL POST

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Filed under: Education • Environment • Tech • The Next List • Video
June 20th, 2012
02:28 PM ET

Turning the 2,600-year-old organ into a modern, rocking instrument

By The Next List Staff, CNN

(CNN) - As Cameron Carpenter walks down Venice beach wearing leather pants, a loose-fitting Slayer shirt and a bleached blond mohawk that sports the spirit of David Bowie, you might think the guy is a rock star. Or a fashion designer. Or maybe even an actor. What you might not guess is that Carpenter is a classically trained organist with a super-conservative pedigree.

His ideas, however, are anything but conservative.

While his profession might seem to clash with his look, rest assured his renegade spirit and controversial ideas about modernizing the organ, 2,600-year-old instrument, are in lock step with his persona. Carpenter fiercely, unabashedly and unapologetically wants to change the way the organ is played, and the way the audience experiences the music. FULL POST

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Filed under: Music • The Next List • Video
June 15th, 2012
01:55 PM ET

An unreasonable man (or organist)

Editors Note: Cameron Carpenter is a world-renowned, Grammy nominated organist who plans to build his own touring organ. Watch CNN’s “The Next List” this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET to hear his full story.

By Cameron Carpenter, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I'm unreasonable - as most organists will tell you. (My agent would agree).

If you play the guitar or the violin, or if you're a singer - or if you play any reasonable musical instrument that can be moved from place to place without a five-figure tab and a debate-ridden crew of experts; if you play any reasonable instrument that you can mention to your friends without invoking images of "The Abominable Dr. Phibes," "Phantom of the Opera" (and "Dr. Phibes Rises Again") – if you play any instrument that doesn't cost millions of dollars to build - then you are LUCKY. Because you sure don't play the pipe organ.

Even the Brobdingnagian double bass is Gucci-bag fashionable and portable in comparison to the pipe organ. There's something ominously metaphorical about an instrument that literally isn't going anywhere. One has to wonder: does this earthbound immobility extend to the attitudes that surround the instrument? Does it influence the mentalities, the expectations, the ambitions of the people who play it? Does it shape our expectations as listeners?

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An ancient instrument goes mobile
Cameron Carpenter and Robert C. Tall before organ performance on Venice Beach.
June 14th, 2012
01:00 AM ET

An ancient instrument goes mobile

By Heather M. Higgins, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) – Perched high above Glendale, Calif., in the dry heat of the Verdugo Mountains sits an octagonal room that houses a musical instrument with a storied past and an uncertain future.

“There's no question about it that the pipe organ will always be the most revered of the organs, but it doesn't reach the masses now like the digital organ will,” said Robert C. Tall, PhD., 74, an organist who has played many of the great organs around the world.

If you've never stepped inside a church like the magnificent Milan Cathedral, or if you've never attended a concert at a hall like the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, chances are you haven't heard live organ music. All of that could change. The fledgling digital organ, which has been relegated to second class, has a new generation of champions.

One of those champions is virtuoso and traveling sensation, Cameron Carpenter.

“The organ is in a kind of crisis. I think it needs radically outsider approaches to reestablish its connection with the world at large. And that's what I'm doing,” said Carpenter at the TED 2012 conference in Long Beach, Calif. earlier this year.

Carpenter is embracing new technology to design a digital touring organ invented specifically for the 21st century.

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Filed under: Future • Music • The Next List
June 12th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Bringing the organ into the 21st century

Editor's note: Cameron Carpenter is the subject of CNN's "The Next List" on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By The Next List Staff, CNN

(CNN) - Cameron Carpenter is a fiercely talented musician whose passion is to play the organ in an unprecedented way. Decked out in Swarovski crystals and leather, he doesn’t look like what you’d expect an organist to look like.

And he surely doesn’t sound like one.

“The organ is in a kind of crisis,” he says. “I think it needs radically outsider approaches to reestablish its connection with the world at large. And that’s what I’m doing.”

Carpenter has a love-hate relationship with the instrument he’s dedicated himself to playing. He thinks the traditional pipe organ we see attached to churches and concert halls is outdated.  But he sees the digital organ, which is often seen as the ugly stepchild of organs by many musicians, as the future of the instrument.

He’s embracing that technology by designing his own digital touring organ.

“The instrument that I want is an organ that will answer my every need and which will give me something for every musical genre and will hybridize all the organs that I love,” he says.

Most organists don’t ever have the opportunity to build a relationship with their own instrument. Often they travel from place to place and play in churches and concert halls around the world, none of which are standardized.

Cameron’s touring organ will allow him to play one organ no matter where he is in the world, decked out with all the bells and whistles and with his own brand of theatrical flair.
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June 11th, 2012
05:09 PM ET

Taylor Wilson, nuclear prodigy

Editor's note: Taylor Wilson was the subject of CNN's "The Next List," airing Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By The Next List Staff, CNN

(CNN) -  Taylor Wilson is an applied nuclear physicist. He is also 18.

A recent graduate of Davidson Academy, a school for profoundly gifted kids in Reno, Nevada, Wilson has been captivated by nuclear energy and nuclear power since he was 10 years old..

Among his many achievements:

Wilson became the youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion when he was 14 years old. He began the project in his garage in Arkansas but finished it while a student at Davidson, which is located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.

He has built a device that can detect nuclear materials in cargo containers and is currently being field tested.
He entered that project last year in Intel’s premiere science fair and won $50,000.

He also showed his counter-terrorism device off to President Obama at the White House Science Fair this year to great effect.

Wilson's latest achievement is developing a working prototype to make radioactive isotopes in a much smaller, more portable, device.  It could revolutionize how and where cancer treatments are administered.

The teen-ager was inspired to work on medical isotopes by his grandmother, who died of cancer.

He has won a dozen awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) the Super Bowl of science fairs, over the past four years.

Despite offers from the top universities in the country, he’s chosen to take a fellowship offered by Peter Thiel, of PayPal fame. The fellowship pays him $100,000 over the next two years. Wilson plans to start a company to further develop and market his devices.

Taylor Wilson is a prodigy who could do just about anything he wants. His goal is to use his gifts to solve some of the biggest scientific and medical challenges facing mankind.

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