TED Session 5 – Understand

Things got better for me in this session. The kickoff speaker, Nina Jablonski had what I think was the best stage presence so far. Others will disagree, but I really liked her – I’d totally study Anthropology if she was one of my professors.

Nina Jablonski

  • this month is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin‘s birth
  • Origin of Species was published 150 years ago – just one line in it about evolution
  • Darwin likely understood the nature of the spread of pigmentation in human population, but never wrote about it
  • Darwin rejected the idea that pigmentation was related to climate
  • TOMS satellite data collected that shows levels of UV exposure of surface
  • there is a fundamental direct correlation between UV exposure and skin pigmentation in cultural groups – pigmentation is an evolutionary factor
  • melanin acts as a natural sunscreen – darker=more protected
  • also protects against DNA destruction and folate breakdown
  • UVA has no ability to make Vitamin D in skin, only UVB – significant consequences for high latitude populations
  • health and social consequences
  • Vitamin D deficiency from underexposure to UVB a significant issue – measurable effects on skeletal and mental health
  • evidence for evolution is “right on your body”
  • best speaker so far

Arthur Benjamin

  • calculus is the wrong summit for high school math
  • rather, we should teach complex probability and statistics
  • everyone should know what “two standard deviations from the mean” means
  • few people use calculus daily in a meaningful way as opposed to probability
  • calculus still critical – introduce in in 1st year of college

Hans Rosling

  • retrospective on world HIV infection rates
  • recognised in 1983 and virus discovered in 1991
  • global HIV epidemic now reaching steady state – around 1% of adult population
  • 30-40M cases in the world
  • all not reached by treatment – 6% untreated in poor countries 2 years after diagnosis
  • only by stopping transmission can we further reduce infection rates
  • HIV is very different in Africa yet the West views Africa as a single whole
  • oversimplification
  • research is now breaking the perception of Africen infection rates and the source and nature of those infection
  • 4% of the globe has 50% of the infection
  • we need Heart. Money. Brain.

Louise Fresco

  • bread is a staple of human diet
  • “real” bread is about authenticity – why do we have this image?
  • most of our ancestors were close to the land – we have mythologised the past
  • processed white bread is a significant cultural marker – plenty
  • global agricultural population is now ~4% in industrialised nations
  • never before have so few been involved in producing our food
  • the “plenty state” change in the constitution of bread (adding sugar, milk, fruit, eggs) shifts it from staple to partial cause of obesity
  • mass production ->large scale -> habitat destruction
  • we need to go back to knowing what food is about – we are removed from what our bread is
  • the anti-mass production movement bases itself on false arguments and will relegate farming communties to poverty
  • rather than hyperlocal, we need to move away from long haul food to regional food
  • we need to give agricultural communities the necessary tools
  • we need to double global food production by 2020. – the demand for protein in developing nations is a driving force
  • clever, low-key mechanisation
  • more good science
  • ask your governments for integrated food policy
  • food is about cultural respect

Elizabeth Gilbert

  • lifelong love and fascination with writing
  • will it now change with the weight of expectation after Eat, Pray, Love?
  • she is afraid of not achieving more
  • some writers undone by their gifts
  • “Encourage our creative minds to live”
  • looking for models for sane management of creativity – ancient Greece and Rome
    • creativity associated with a divine spirit
    • unknowable reasons
    • daemon or a genius – divine entities of creativity
    • Dobby the House Elf
  • Renaissance changed – Man at the center of the universe
  • you could be a genius rather than have a genius – fundamental difference
  • Tom Waits – embodiment of tortured poet
    • creative process hit him while driving – “Do you not see that I’m driving”
    • no longer tormented by creative process
  • creativity as transcendent event – painful reconciliation for performers and creators
  • Ole!

Jacek Utko

  • newspapers are dying for many reasons
  • can anything save newspapers?
  • Small. Free. Local. Focussed. Views over news
  • Cirque du Soleil as model for newspaper design
  • design posters not newspapers
  • have fun through experimentation
  • treat the entire paper like a single composition akin to music
  • have the  designer responsible for the reader experience
  • circulation grows significantly – 13-35% immediately after the redesign
  • design as a part of the whole process – not just a point
  • improve the product as well – better content
  • strategy+content+design
  • design can change product, company, you – give power tto designers
  • do all your work at the highest posssible level
  • “To be good is not enough.”

Nigel Holmes

  • new update
  • million – billion – trillion sounds inncouous
  • at the scale of a smallbrochure, 1B is 1/42″ high to 1T at 20′
  • If 10T is the deficit, we need 1B ideas

Margaret Wertheim

  • the crochet hook is a powerful tool
  • crocheting a coral reef involves – people on several continents, math, craft, activism
  • 100s of models in installation – 99% of work by women
  • a response to news of damage to Great Barrier Reef
  • aesthetic and poetic dimensions of math
  • Andy Warhol Museum asked her to exhibit
  • also Chicago Cultural Center – at 3000 square feet
  • insane, crochet overdrive
  • many contributors – local people contribute their own pieces
  • organisms in corals reefs exhibit hyperbolic geometry – only way to physically model is with crochet
  • hyperbolic geometry discovered in 19th Century – only in 1997 was use of crocheta
  • also Eucldidea anspherical geometry
  • hyperbolic space
  • “feminine handicraft” defies Euclidean geomery and general relativity – sea slugs don’t care
  • lettuce also embodies hyperbolic geometry
  • The Crochet Code
  • play – kindy for grown-ups
  • we have think tanks, we need play tanks
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