Smithsonian Magazine is hosting the first-ever American Ingenuity Awards here in Washington on Wednesday, hat tipping the country's top innovators. Winners include musician Esperanza Spalding (who will perform), Pardis Sabeti, a computational geneticist who moonlights as a rock musician, and Elon Musk, the man at the helm of SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City, among others.
"We had a few of them that were moved to tears when they heard they had won," Smithsonian Magazine editor-in-chief Michael Caruso told Yeas & Nays. "I think it's the gold standard for science, for technology, for history, for so many of these categories, I just think it's really -- it's the Super Bowl," he said of the Smithsonian brand.
Nominations were solicited from the directors of the Smithsonian's museums -- and the zoo -- and eventually whittled down to nine winners, all of whom plan to attend this week's ceremony. Being a Smithsonian event, the gala will be held at the National Portrait Gallery. Keeping with the idea of innovation, the awards themselves are a bit cutting edge. Designed by architect Thom Mayne, they were created using a 3D printer. "I told him I want you to create the Oscar of innovation," Caruso explained.