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Today's Big Idea: Sputnik Moments

Today’s Big Idea: Sputnik Moments

Is innovation best pursued through fear or through long-term thinking?  

Is innovation best pursued through fear or through long-term thinking?


NASA, the government entity responsible for so much U.S. innovation in the 20th century, was a response to fear. The Soviet Union demonstrated it was well ahead of the U.S. in the space race. That is why in today’s lesson Neil deGrasse Tyson says he hates “Sputnik moments.” After all, when you experience one, it means it is time to play catch-up.

Moreover, Sputnik moments should not be inspirations to be doing things we know we already should be doing, like developing the capability of energy independence. If we are to take advantage of a Sputnik moment, it should be reserved for bold visions. And that is how this concept can best be applied to our own lives. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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