June 13, 2024   11:24pm

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On Harriett's Mind

The TED Conference

I know I’m evangelizing, but TED remains on my mind … so even if you read this last week, there’s now a bit more about the rest of the experience …

Every year I look forward to this one momentous conference — yes, really, a conference. It’s called TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), and, while this year’s theme is “The Big Questions,” it’s focus is on people and their passions which are changing the world. It spans innovations in every discipline you’ve heard of and many you probably haven’t.

In just one afternoon at TED in Monterey, California, I heard an anthropologist, a paleonanthropologist, an artist, and a neuroanatomist talk about “Who are we?” And that was followed by the question “What is our place in the Universe?” Taped just for our viewing, Stephen Hawking discoursed on whether we’re alone in the universe (he thinks we are); a particle physicist explained dark matter (in a way that you could actually understand it); an astrophysicist and Microsoft developer introduced for the first time, the Worldwide Telescope, which will be available to all of us this year. It takes the best images in earth and space from the world’s best telescopes and weaves them together seamlessly so that a six year old can take you on a journey through the observable universe; John Hodgman (who you know as the PC guy in those Apple commercials) brought us to hilarious laughter talking about his experiences with aliens; a paleontologist/astrobiologist talked about why complex life is uncommon in the universe; a spiritual teacher taught us the importance of listening to our own breathing; and this was all followed by an amazing guitarist and a live BBC World Debate on the question of “How true is your world view.”

The next 2 days focused on: What is Life? … Is beauty truth? … Will evil prevail? How can we change the world? … How do we create? … What’s out there? … What will tomorrow bring? … What stirs us? — a total of more than 55 eighteen minute talks and 7 three minute ones interspersed with music, poetry, beauty, shock, and humor. Of course, we couldn’t possibly have gotten all the answers, but we did get a window into activities surrounding their pursuit, plenty of Aha! moments and — as always at TED — new insights that will impact our own lives (and, possibly, those of others.)

You can experience TED by checking into TED.com, where you’ll find some of what’s happened in this 2008 conference, but also watch presentations from prior ones — most of which will open new worlds of thought and just blow you away.

Do yourself a favor, block out some real time and visit TED.com … I’ll be surprised if you don’t return again and again.


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