TED Talks


Reflections on a couple TED talks.

Heat Exchanger by Within

Something of an aside, I spent a bit watching TED talks and came away learning a lot and with some new ideas. Lisa Harouni talked about the revolution that 3D printing is about to initiate in terms of allowing us to design things that were not possible otherwise. She gives some pretty compelling examples of heat exchange systems, artificial limb devices and other structures whose immensely complicated lattice design would be impossible to construct rigidly using conventional methods.

Paul Snelgrove talked about the completion of Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international study to increase our knowledge of the sea and the life it holds. He only briefly highlights some of the wondrous creatures of the sea, such as the Blobfish or the yeti crab, yet seeing just this small sliver is fascinating. It begs the question of whether the millions spent on Pandas and other land creatures should be re-directed toward studying the vast depths of the ocean for creatures that will continue to stretch our imagination.

Brian Greene, who wrote The Elegant Universe (read this a while ago and it is highly recommended) among other books, was talking about the multiverse. This idea stems from an attempt to explain the results of string theory, a framework that uses the vibration of strings smaller than atoms to explain the physical properties of the universe. Because the theory predicts that different vibrations lead to different physical properties being manifest yet we only see one set of physical rules in our universe, there is likely a multitude of universes of which we happen to be one. More importantly, he talks about certain observations that one can only make during particular periods in the Universe's lifespan, such as observing stars. Because we are moving away from other galaxies at an accelerating rate, at some point we will move away faster than light, leading to no intergalactic light reaching our galaxy. Future astronomers will see inky blackness. This is an interesting insight that might apply to other systems, such as biology, and will form the foundation of a future short story.

Yeti Crab

Jennifer Pahlka went on about using coding, or technology in general, to help improve government where it matters, at the local and bureaucratic level. This is highlighted by such app as Citizens Connect, an application that allows Boston residents to notify each other about going-ons in the neighborhood and allows more rapid responses than would be possible using city services. There are many other examples and it reminds me of the MIT@Lawerence initiative that we took part in freshmen year as part of iHouse. The goal was to use a GIS to track the location of various city utilities so they could better identify those needing repair and allow city workers to save time during emergencies. Using technology, rather than divisive politics, to move local governments forward is something I support heavily.

TED talks are but one route that allows one to listen to what others are up to outside your area of interest. I have already seen the benefits of 3D printing on biology through my work at Janelia Farm while Brian's idea that nature has physical laws that prevent observation of particular phenomena after a certain time-point has interesting applications to biology, such as observation molecular and evolutionary events. The roundabout way to improving government through improving technology, rather than trying to improve government itself, might be the solution to our many transportation problems, which are becoming so immense and disheartening. More thoughts and finds from TED talks coming up.

bahanonu [at] alum.mit.edu

more articles to enjoy:

quantized art
28 may 2012 | essay

Quantized art. The idea came about while reading how the music industry assembles top-liners, producers, artists, performers, etc. to [...]create top 40 hits. For example, there has been a recent trend in pop music to use 'drops', when the song builds to a cresendo and then a crazy, catchy bass line is released that causes everyone to dance. This has been perfected to the point where even an okay song can become popular bcause the producers know when to build, at what moment to intersperse catchy, meaningless lyrics and how to end the song on a high. I like the idea that art (as in paintings, drawings, etc.) can be dissected and quantified.

My first pass at developing an algorithm to break art down to its details and then use this knowledge to generate art that people would consider 'great'. We'll see how this evolves.

Donald J. Trump Campaign Poster 2016 No. 3
07 June 2016 | designs

Fifth in the 2016 Presidential poster series. Went to a Trump rally in San Jose last Thursday (June 2nd) to see what they are like i[...]n person. It was very (positive) high energy and the people I met were courteous, even when noting I wasn't a supporter.

Left the rally and stayed around to observe the anti-Trump protesting (rioting) after. Also high energy, but in a physically violent, intolerant, and nasty way. A complete disgrace.

This poster focuses on the positive high energy.

los suenos mios
22 august 2010 | short story | spanish

Tenía miedo de que los demás fuera a descubrir mi secreto. Para mí, cuando estaba en una situación donde las personas empezaron a [...]darse cuenta de mi problema, la única cosa que yo quería hacer era salir o tratar de correr muy lejos. Aunque, hay muchas veces cuando esta acción no era posible y por eso, les mentía.

This Spanish short focuses on the trial of a man accused of rape. It is a look into his mind, more specifically, the dreams he had and their possibly explanation of events that occurred. It is an analysis of the possibility of confusing our real memories with ones created by our dreams.

week 9-12 | scooting along
17 october 2012 | singapore

And here it seemed I'd forgotten to write about the last exhilarating weeks in Singapore. Fear not! Beautiful buildings, a Hong Kong speed-[...]run, and more food await the eager reader.

©2006-2018 | biafra ahanonu | updated 31 january 2018
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