Thoroughly impressed by TED

Steel girders and sky

Initially drawn in by the Al Gore video, I have been watching lots of the films from the TED conference, and being impressed by many of them. I am more impressed than ever by cephalopods, and some of my idle curiosity about how ants decide what to do has been satisfied. I also learned about some new reasons for which we should be wary about the long-term use of antidepressant drugs.

Putting these short lectures online is an excellent way of demonstrating the power of the internet to distribute ideas. Even for those of us who would balk at flying to California to attend some very neat talks, fiber optic links provide a low-carbon alternative.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

19 thoughts on “Thoroughly impressed by TED”

  1. Dark Matter Exists

    The great accomplishment of late-twentieth-century cosmology was putting together a complete inventory of the universe. We can tell a story that fits all the known data, in which ordinary matter (every particle ever detected in any experiment) constitutes only about 5% of the energy of the universe, with 25% being dark matter and 70% being dark energy. The challenge for early-twenty-first-century cosmology will actually be to understand the nature of these mysterious dark components. A beautiful new result illuminating (if you will) the dark matter in galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56 is an important step in this direction. (Here’s the press release, and an article in the Chandra Chronicles.)

  2. Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness –- shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

  3. TED talk: Joshua Klein’s vending machine for crows

    Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he’s come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human.

    Joshua Klein will hack anything that moves — his list includes “social systems, computer networks, institutions, consumer hardware and animal behavior.” His latest project, though charmingly low-tech, has amazing implications for the human-animal interface.

    Right now, Klein is working at Frog Design as a Principle Technologist, while developing mobile/social applications, health care-related systems and other tools that improve people’s lives. He’s the author of the novel Roo’d, which was the first modern book (after Tarzan) to be ported to the iPhone.

    “Klein envisions a new symbiotic relationship between these intelligent birds and the humans that encroach on their habitat. … Why not turn a longstanding rivalry between man and crow into something that profits both species?”

  4. One day, I very much hope to attend a TED conference.

    It seems to be one of the few conferences that would justify the associated travel emissions.

  5. I absolutely approve of Ted.

    However, it’s one of the few conferences I would never consider attending unless it was without travel – I think that the presentations transfer so well to the video format that there is no need to attend in person. The reason why it is better to be at a conference rather than simply watch it on the internet is the ability to ask questions and to interact with others at the conference, but since there is no real coherence to the attendees, I don’t see the point. Conferences are about networking with other experts in your own field. In some ways, TED seems more like a weekend long all day elaborate cocktail party than a conference.

  6. It would be meeting the other attendees that justifies the travel. Attending means getting through a screening process (as well as paying $2,000). I imagine most of the people there would be extremely interesting.

  7. Double-amputee New Zealander has mermaid dreams fulfilled

    New Zealander Nadya Vessey — who lost both of her legs to the knee when she was a child — has just received a prosthesis that’s pretty much unlike anything we’ve ever seen (outside of Splash). About two years ago, she approached Weta Workshop, who specialize in design and manufacturing of costumes and special effects (and have worked on projects such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy) to see if the company might be interested in making her a working, prostethic mermaid tail. Turns out they were, and they’ve just completed the final product. The tail, which is composed of wetsuit fabric and plastic molds, with a custom paint job and digitally-imaged effects, enables Nadya to swim quite effectively, apparently, and is an all around sexy piece of machinery. No word on what one of these slick dudes would cost in real life, but we have a feeling we couldn’t justify the expense just to tool around in the kiddie pool.

  8. February 10, 2009, 12:02 pm
    TED’s Greatest Hits

    Yesterday, I promised to tell you about a few of the 150 moving, inspiring and depressing talks I saw at the TED conference last week. Today, a few notes.

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