Visionaries

Reflect on the past. Analyze the present. Invent the future.™

Einstein
Albert Einstein. Physicist.
Visionary.

The motto above isn’t just a pleasing chain of words: it represents a philosophical approach to the study of scientific and technological innovation.

A key premise of this approach is that although innovation is by definition attuned to the needs of the present and the potential of the future, we can’t afford to forget that we stand on the shoulders of predecessors. The marketing of new ideas drives us to create a culture of the present moment, in which the pressure to seem up-to-date, edgy and hip can lead us to pretend that in science and invention, the past is nothing more than something to escape from.

But this pretense is a great mistake. The muscles, sinews and mind of contemporary science and invention are products of a rich past. This heritage is no less enduringly important to current innovation than the great masterpieces of classical art are to the graphic creators of the 21st century. It’s as vital a frame of reference for modern inventors and discoverers as Citizen Kane is to the vocabulary of modern Hollywood. By studying past visionaries of science and invention, we can constantly refresh and liberate our own imaginations.

Moynihan
Daniel Moynihan. Statesman. Visionary.

For these reasons an acute awareness of science’s colorful history, and of the genius and quirks of past innovators, informs our Center's work -- especially our mission to help the public appreciate that science and invention are not only economic imperatives of the present day but fundamental elements of our cultural lifeblood. Scientific data changes and technologies evolve, but the methods, imaginations and dreams that motivated and inspired past innovators are as timelessly relevant to us as the symphonies of Beethoven and the words of Shakespeare.

If you've visited our Home Page you may have noticed that it features the images of several innovators. These are figures who excite and inspire us. We believe they will also intrigue and stimulate you. Here are links that will tell you more about each of them ... and about some other thinkers who have concerned themselves with the shape of things to come, and with the overlaps between technology and society. If you already know them and their works, we hope you’ll find something newly interesting about them in these links. If you’re meeting them now for the first time, may your contact with them here be the beginning of a long and rewarding friendship with these remarkable minds.

Daniel Burnham | Marie Curie | Nikola Tesla | Dennis Gabor | Thomas Edison | Arthur C. Clarke | Charles Drew | Ada Lovelace | Wilbur & Orville Wright | Marshall McLuhan | Jane Jacobs | Morton & Lucia White | Albert Einstein | J. Robert Oppenheimer | Louis Sullivan | Lewis Mumford | Charles Reich | Loren Eiseley | Daniel Moynihan | John Dewey | Robert Moses | Ray Bradbury | Saskia Sassen | John Ruskin | Buckminster Fuller | Jacob Riis | Jorge Luis Borges | Charles Jencks