By B.L. Ochman
Yesterday, I went to TEDx East, an extraordinary, head-stretching event that stuffed our heads with almost eight hours of talks by visionary thinkers and performers who presented everything from space travel to opera, mathematics to concepts of beauty, love, and disgust. And that was just in one hour.
I’ve been a TED fan for ages. The invitation-only conferences showcase “ideas worth spreading” in carefully crafted 18-minute presentations. As someone said yesterday, “giving a TED talk is like the smart person’s Oscar speech”.
Unlike most conferences, where the usual suspects tell us about their great work and try to sell us on hiring them and/or buying their books, TED is all about new thinking. Admission to the TEDxEast conference requires submission of an application for approval. After being accepted, you pay the $200 fee and you’re in. The theme for the NY conference, held at the NY Times Center, was “The View From Here.”
Among the many highlights of the day:
– Keith Yamashita “The Other Side of Separation: about our ongoing search for connection and why one must choose love over fear.
– Planetary scientist Oded Ahronson, who participates in spacecraft explorations of distant planetary bodies, who told us about exploration of Titan, where water and other signs of life have been found.
He also told us about The Drake Equation, which predicts how many technological civilizations may exist in our galaxy. What we found on Titan What we found may have been unique, and we don’t know how many planets have life, he said. But if there’s even one more place, then the universe is teaming with life.
– Cassandra Lin, 14, whose science project TGIF, Turning Grease Into Fuel, converts used cooking oil into heating oil for the needy. She came up with the idea when she was 10. So, what were you doing to save the world when you were 10? :>)
– Dr Beth Coleman, artist, MIT professor, and researcher, whose “City as Platform” talk asked if we aren’t losing out on spontaneous and serendipitous experience by always having our heads down, peering into our mobile devices, instead of having live interactions that are right in front of us.
Each of the talks and performances were equally extraordinary, and one that had the entire audience on our feet was the PS 22 Chorus of 5th graders from Staten Island. Here they are. Enjoy! And go watch TED talks!!!
Bonus Links: The talks were live-streamed, and you can watch them on YouTube. Erwin R. Gonzalez has outlined his take on the day’s presentations on his blog, The Perspiration Journal.