Jan 9th 2011, 20:42 by P.M. | CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
WHAT is the secret of innovation? There are many explanations. “You start with some very bright people, let them hang out with other very bright people and allow their imaginations to roam,” is how Susan Hockfield, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), sums it up. But there seems to be an important local factor too.
Babbage has been along to an exhibition which has just opened at the MIT museum as part of the celebration of the institute’s 150th anniversary. Staff, students and others were asked to help pick the 150 artefacts that have been included. The idea is that these things illustrate not just some of the breakthroughs MIT has been involved with, but also the character of the institute. Some 700 nominations were made to a website and these were voted on.