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Radar -> Sputnik -> Serendipity -> GPS
Teachable Moment:This TED video discusses the invention of the GPS as a perfect example of open innovative systems where "chance favors the connected mind". I also like it because it provides a good example of how innovation can be as simple as merely the inversion of our thinking... in this case, one group of scientists had discovered how to track a moving object in space from a fixed point on the ground... and another one pushed them to think about tracking a moving object on the ground from a fixed point in space.
The launch of Sputnik was a touchstone that became the rallying cry to improve math and science. According to this interesting TED talk and article from AmericanHeritage.com it also provided the catalyst for the formation of modern day GPS.