Steven Johnson

November 6, 2014 - Steven Johnson 11/06/2014 Views: 40,778

"How We Got to Now" author Steven Johnson discusses the tremendous impact of six innovations, including clean drinking water and air-conditioning. (5:44)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW BOOKAND TV SERIES CALLED "HOW WE GOT

TO NOW." I TOOK A LIMO

PLEASE WELCOME STEVEN JOHNSON!

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )HEY, STEVEN, GOOD TO SEE YOU.

HOW ARE YOU?

THANKS FOR COMING BACK.

THIRD TIME HERE.

THREE TIME'S A CHARM. THANKS FORLOOSENING YOUR TIE.

LOOKING CASUAL.

>> I WORE A TIE, I THOUGHT IMIGHT TRY AND MATCH

>> Stephen: SIR, YOU ARE THEAUTHOR OF EIGHT BEST-SELLING

BOOKS INCLUDING "EVERYTHING BADIS GOOD FOR YOU" AND "WHERE GOOD

IDEAS COME FROM."

YOUR LATEST IS "HOW WE GOT TONOW."

SIX INNOVATIONS THAT MADE THEMODERN WORLD.

>> THAT IS CORRECT.

>> Stephen: IS AMERICA ONE OFTHOSE INNOVATIONS.

IT'S THE GREATEST INNOVATIONMANKIND EVER GOT

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF AMERICANSIN THE BOOK, SO IF THAT'S ENOUGH

TO SATISFY YOU.

>> Stephen: WHAT ARE THE SIXINNOVATIONS.

BOOM LET'S DO IT, LET'S BUZZFEEDTHEM

>> ONE OF THEM IS A GLASS OFCLEAN DRINKING WATER IN A LARGE

METROPOLITAN CITY.

THAT IS AN EXTRAORDINARYBREAKTHROUGH.

>> Stephen: WHICH IS THEINNOVATION, THE GLASS OR THE

WATER?

THE WATER.

THE FACT THAT YOU CAN DRINK AGLASS OF WATER FROM A TAP AND

NOT WORRY ABOUT DYING OF TYPHOIDTHREE DAYS LATER.

>> Stephen: YOU CAN, BUT, OFCOURSE, YOU'RE GOING TO DRINK

MOUNTAIN DEW.

SO WATER.

>> YEAH, ARTIFICIAL LIGHT.

>> Stephen: THERE WE GO.

>> THE ABILITY TO RECORD THESOUND AND TRANSMIT THE SOUND --

>> Stephen: WE'RE DOING THAT,TOO.

>> THE SIMPLE MATERIAL GLASS,WHICH WAS ARGUABLY THE SINGLE

MOST IMPORTANT MATERIAL OF THELAST 1,000 YEARS.

>> Stephen: THE GLASS LENSES ONTHESE CAMERAS, WHAT ELSE?

>> AND THEN THERE IS CLOCKS ANDTIME.

WITHOUT ACCURATE MEASUREMENT OFTIME AND COLD-- TECHNOLOGIES OF

REFRIGERATION AND AIRCONDITIONING.

>> Stephen: SO, CLOCKS, WE'REON A CERTAIN TIME RIGHT NOW.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: AND REFRIGERATION.

I'M SUPER COOL.

SO ALL OF THE-- WHAT DO YOU MEANREFRIGERATION?

REFRIGERATORS ACTUALLY HAVE ALOT OF THOSE THINGS, TOO.

THEY REFRIGERATE, LIGHT INSIDE,GLASS SHELVES, WATER OUT OF

DOOR. THE REFRIGERATOR IS THEENCAPSULATION OF ALL THAT IS

GOOD ABOUT INVENTIONS.>> YOU BROUGHT IT ALL TOGETHER.

>> Stephen: WAIT, SO HOW DIDWE GET TO NOW?

HOW DID WE GET REFRIGERATION?

THAT'S ACTUALLY-->> SO REFRIGERATION, THAT STORY

BEGINS WITH A CRAZY GUY NAMEDFREDERICK TUDOR WHO IN THE EARLY

1800s HAD THIS IDEA THAT HECOULD TAKE LARGE BLOCKS OF ICE

FROM FROZEN NEW ENGLAND LAKESAND SHIP THEM ALL THE WAY TO

RIO, AND BOMBAY AND THECARIBBEAN, SELL WHAT WAS

EFFECTIVELY FREE IN NEW ENGLAND,SEE IT TO

PEOPLE IN HOT PLACES IN THEWORLD.

IF YOU WERE GROWING UP IN THECARIBBEAN IN 1800 YOU WOULD HAVE

NEVER EXPERIENCED ICE IN ANYFORM.

HE ACTUALLY MANAGED TO DO THIS.

>> Stephen: THEN HOW DID THEYMAKE THOSE DELICIOUS DAIQUIRIS.

>> EXACTLY.

THEY HAD NO IDEA.

>> Stephen: REALLY? BEFORE THATTHEIR DAQUIRIS WERE HOT?

>> STEAMING HOT DAIQUIRI.

IT WAS DELIGHTFUL.

( LAUGHTER )YOU KNOW, THE POOL SCENE WAS

REALLY DISAPPOINTING.

IT WAS LIKE, THIS IS SO HOT.>> Stephen: NO ONE'S GOING TO

SANDALS>> BUT HERE'S THE THING.

HE ACTUALLY MANAGES TO GET THESEBLOCKS OF ICE THERE WHICH IS

AMAZING HE GOT IT THERE WITHOUTIT MELTING.

BUT WHEN IT ARRIVED, PEOPLE ARELIKE, "WHAT AM I GOING TO DO

WITH THAT?

I'VE BEEN LIVING HERE 500 YEARSAND NEVER HAD ANY ISSUE NEEDING

ICE," SO NO ONE WANTED TO BUYIT.

HE HAD TO CONVINCE LOCALS THATICE CREAM WAS A NICE THING AND

HAVING DAIQUIRI BY THE POOL WASA NICE THING AND EVENTUALLY MADE

HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARSSHIPPING ICE BLOCKS AROUND THE

WORLD.

>> Stephen: BUT THAT'S NOT AIRCONDITIONING.

I DON'T MEAN TO BLOW THE DOORSOFF YOUR BOOK.

SO-->> I'M NOT A SCIENTIST, SO I

DON'T -->> Stephen: OKAY, PERFECT.

NOW, HERE'S THE THING, I LOVEBOOKS LIKE THIS.

I LOVE TV SHOWS LIKE THIS.

I LOVE WATCHING THIS STUFF.

I DON'T WANT TO USE ANY OF THISINFORMATION IN POLICY MAKING.

THIS IS A VERY POPULAR SHOW ONPBS.

THIS IS A VERY POPULAR BOOK.

HOW COME POLITICIANS DON'T WANTTO USE THE SCIENCE?

WHY DO THEY RUN AWAY FROM ITWHEN THEY GET TO OFFICE?

>> I THINK BECAUSE SOMETIMESSCIENCE ASKS THAT WE ALTER OUR

BEHAVIOR IN SOME WAY.

ONE OF THE WAYS AC, ONCE IT WASINTRODUCED, ALL THESE PEOPLE

MIGRATED -- IT TRIGGERED THELARGEST MIGRATION OF HUMAN

BEINGS IN THE HISTORY OF THEUNITED STATES WHERE THEY MOVED

TO THE SUNBELT AND MOVED TOFLORIDA AND THESE DESERT STATES

WHERE MAYBE THAT MANY PEOPLESHOULDN'T ACTUALLY BE LIVING.

AND IT TRIGGERED CLIMATEPROBLEMS, AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT

THE CLIMATE SCIENCE, IT DOESREQUIRE SOMETIMES THAT PEOPLE

ACTUALLY CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIORAND PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO HEAR

THAT.

>> Stephen: SO AIR CONDITIONINGITSELF MOVED PEOPLE TO PARTS OF

THE WORLD THAT WERE NORMALLY TOOHOT TO LIVE IN AND THEN THEY

NEEDED MORE AIR CONDITIONING TOCOOL IT DOWN.

>> THAT IS PARTIALLY THE CYCLE

>> Stephen: WHY DON'T WE BUILDA BIGGER AIR CONDITIONER

FOR THE ENTIRE EARTH?

>> YOU MAY BE ON TO SOMETHING.

>> Stephen: HOW DID AIRCONDITIONING LEAD TO REAGAN?

>> THAT'S THE THING, ALL THESEPEOPLE-- IT'S TRUE.

I KNOW THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSEHE'S A HERO OF YOURS.

RIGHT AFTER AIR CONDITIONING ISINTRODUCED, THERE'S A MASS

MIGRATION TO THE SOUTH, AND THATENDS UP TRIGGERING A HUGE SWING

IN THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AIR,60-VOTE SWING FROM THE NORTH TO

THE SOUTH AND REAGAN WINS IN1980 BUILT AROUND THIS SUNBELT

COALITION THAT SIMPLY DIDN'TEXIST 30 OR 40 YEARS AGO.

WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING, IT'SENTIRELY POSSIBLE RONALD REAGAN

WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ELECTEDPRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

>> Stephen: SO THE GREATESTGIFT GOD EVER GAVE MANKIND WAS

FREON.

THAT AND FIVE OTHER GREATINVENTIONS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

STEVEN JOHNSON, "HOW WE GOT TONOW."

THE FINALE IS NEXT WEDNESDAY ONPBS.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.