A fantastic provocative talk by Sam Harris on moral progress and science. Thoughts?
Suspended animation is a beautiful term in itself, but it’s far off from eye candy topic-wise if that’s what you’re after. Mark Roth presents what might become another step in medical treatment, which today sounds like science fiction but is actually much closer to reality than we think. The first time I heard about suspended animation was back in 2009 through another TED talk by Peter Ward and earth’s mass extinctions and sure hope that I’ll be hearing about it more often from now.
Bottom line, suspended animation can be induced by temperature or hydrogen sulfide, which reduce the organisms’ need for oxygen and in some cases allow them to be brought back to life without harm. Think mammals turned reptiles, as reptiles can withstand conditions of low temperatures and oxygen access that put mammals out of whack. Think being able to inject heavily injured people with liquid hydrogen sulfide to operate on them a day later when they can get to a hospital.
After the Iran – Twitter showdown, we’ve heard all about the role of new media in enabling political change around the world. What intrigues me further is what seems to be an active engagement with digital media of politicians and governments in the UK and the US. We’ve also witnessed Obama’s campaign embracing new media in a way never seen before. Digital Britian (pdf file) is a conscious step in the UK to immerse it in more digital participation while Gordon Brown claims that ‘tech has changed foreign policy’ and it’s one of the few times this has been said publicly by a member of a government. What will be the next steps in this trend? Will the new media enhance what democracy is meant to be about in its purest sense of participation?
Inspiring talk by Jane Poynter about a 2 year experiment of creating a new sealed biosphere that served as an environment for people to live in. The talk brings ideas about sustainablity on Earth today and other possible environments, because ultimately one day, we might just need to build new environments or move to other planets if the Earth becomes inhabitable. Enjoy!
Hans Rosling explains facts about the HIV spread around the world that will hopefully clear some of the common misunderstandings of the disease. This TED talk is not only hugely informative but also stunning to watch because of Rosling’s fantastic data visualisations.
Apart from the live news reportage usage of Twitter, I haven’t been seeing it as as much of a world-changing tool as some people around me do. Many digital things including Twitter happen when they become either playful or useful. The former case would be the by now semi-famous Baker Tweet, a tool designed by POKE to let them know when the hot buns are coming out of the ovens from the bakery across from their office. This win-win-win project has given regulars from the area the ability to know when edible bread is available, increased the sales of Albion, the bakery involved in the Twitter project, and given POKE extra publicity.
A case of a useful tool connected to Twitter has been recently created by Energy Circle, a company that sells energy-saving products and has created a new energy-monitoring system that sends home energy usage stats to Twitter. The system uses an energy measuring device called TED to create Google Visualization enabled charts that are then tweeted to everyone involved. Google itself has been working on a similar project, but it’s still in it’s non-practical stages. The designer’s family has been using the device for six months and claim that they’ve since managed to lower their energy use by 15%.
I may be a bit biast in posting this short talk this morning – the speaker is Polish and from a design and publishing background, but I think his 6min convey an important message that can spill over plenty more than newspaper design. Take it away, Jacek!
I still vividly remember my first grade teacher Ms Czajkowska from my small primary school in Krakow. I must have been about 7 when thanks to her I first heard about the idea of doing things ‘the green way’. Not that I was cruel to animals or dumped things into rivers before meeting her, but apart from being a part-time mountain village girl while growing up, nothing gave me more motivation to be responsible in relation to the environment than her. I don’t know what this woman does these days and how aware she was of her impact in her teaching days, but at that age, it had changed me forever. She was what led me to exploring the ideas behind Greenpeace, and inappropriate at that age as it was to watch it, the TV program Animals, revealing all kinds of nasty things that were filmed in Polish industries exploiting animal experiments.
I recently came across as initiative called The GREENS stemming from Ed Burtynsky, the creator of Manufactured Landscapes, WGBH and TED that promotes green initiatives to kids. The site includes cartoons, avatars, things kids can download and share with their friends. It teaches about everything from recycling to carbon emissions through interactive and fun features that make learning about these things look like fun. I think starting kids on being aware of these things can never be too early. Until now except for documentary-style programs for kids, I haven’t really been an advocate on allowing kids to use the net, but heck, my mind might just change one of these days if more things like The GREENS come around.
Can we approach the most troubling issues of the world without a coordinated political and economical initiative? Bjorn Lomborg drew public attention to reaching a consensus on resolving the world’s most troubling issues. According to the Copenhagen Consensus we should first enhance HIV prevention, fight the malnutrition occurring in the 3rd world, establish a better organised free trade worldwide, and help African countries stop malaria. Global warming was the last thing on the list of things we should strive to resolve right now, as it would require most investment to produce relatively little effect.
The talk drew my attention to the immense problems we have to face, but also to the immeasurable trivialities we seem to get caught up in while positioning ourselves politically and ideologically. How far should our perspectives reach? I’m not setting out to convince anyone that the global warming consequences or blood sheds should be left alone, but I feel that there is much more beyond to resolve and explore both in fields of technology and medical research. The human mind has evolved to understand distances we can travel and time stretches we can perceive within our lifetimes, but with our current understanding of history, space, and biology, we should strive to push ourselves and our perspectives a little further.
The agricultural history dates back roughly 2000 years and we’ve been developing the industrial side of our existence for only about 300. At times I feel that humanity is squabbling with itself rather than focusing on what’s ahead. The European politics, with yes, some important issues, but overall with an immense amount of human potential simply flushed down the drain to short-term and short-sight visions and solutions. How come is so much of the world still so far behind compared to its current capabilities? Going back to economics, it would take $40-70 bln a year to resolve most of the disease/malnutrition quagmire by 2015. I really do not mean to bash, but the $100 bln the US is pouring into Iraq seems a little out of place right now.
Yesterday I heard a fascinating talk on Ted. The speaker was Janine Benyus and her topic was biomimicry. The topic relates to finding solutions in engineering areas that both improve our current systems and are naturally in tune with the environment.
With all the fun linguistics is, I’ve always wished I’d taken more hard sciences in the good old days. One of my favorite sources that let me tap into the fresh information in this area and is Twis. They are the ones who get me up to date on the quirks and news of medical studies and technology and manage to do it with both wit and language comprehensible to my sad lay ear. Do check these guys out. If this isn’t enough to send you there, they’re also the people who started the Unicorn Museum and work to spread the word about the Brights.