Inspiration is seldom as easy as it seems. One of the lessons of STEVEN JOHNSON's Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation is that "Eureka!" moments -- sudden pinpoints of revelation -- are usually myths. Instead of coming like a flash of light, great ideas simmer. They benefit from intellectual incubation And this panel, also featuring one inventor, one surgeon, and one designer, is its own greenhouse of genius. Harvard's DAVID EDWARDS argues that we can stimulate better innovation from mixing art with science -- and bringing free-wheeling creative energy to laboratories. For this, we have Edwards and The Lab to thank for . . . breathable chocolate, among other delicacies. Meanwhile, MIT Media Lab designer NERI OXMAN delivers a holy-crap vision of future industrial designs determined by algorithms found in nature: wearable chez lounges based on the patterns of leaf skins; buildings created from the interlocking patterns of shark skin. "Materials," she says, between slides that will flip your lid, "are the new software." And on the practical side, our favorite Boston-based surgeon-turned-New Yorker-staffwriter ATUL GAWANDE reminds us that the 21st century is just like the 20th century -- only with waaaaaay more shit to remember than our brains are wired for.
DOWNLOAD: "Good Idea: Steven Johnson, David Edwards, Neri Oxman, and Atul Gawande" at Boston Book Festival 2010 [mp3]