TEDActive 2012: Brian Greene, Sarah Parcak, Peter Wayland

Though I was a bit distracted by the Hackathon, I still managed to listen to and watch several talks from TED while out in Palm Springs.  Here are a couple of brief notes and opinions, and links to the talks themselves from TED.com when available.

Brian Greene: One of the nice things about this talk was the imagery, in particular the point about the degree to which we may not be able to see or study some phenomenon because the evidence no longer exists.  Imagine, he suggests, a future in which all the stars and galaxies have moved so far away from Earth that the night sky is no longer full.

Some TEDsters were saddened by the idea, but I’m rather drawn to the prospect of change.  After all, imagine the beauty of a night sky with just a moon, full and pregnant, hanging alone.  Might that not have its own unique kind of beauty?  Different isn’t always worse and the undercurrent conversation about moving into the future versus holding onto the past I think became a theme this year.

Sarah Parcak: My takeaway here was basic – science is fucking awesome and Parcak is fucking glad to be a scientist.  Which I entirely agree with; having just complete another round of psych studies (and yes, I’ll talk about them when I’m ready), science is awesome.  She talked about how 90% of Egyptian ruins remain uncovered and I know that at least that much of what is interesting about human behavior remains just as buried.  Which is daunting, inspiring, and generally awesome, on both counts.

Peter Weyland: First of all, I loved that they were willing to do something “fictional” as a way of looking at what the future could be.  I’m not sure I felt the character really said that much, in that I don’t think humanity actually is anywhere near the kind of hubris that makes us challenge “the gods”.  Individuals may have pride, but if there is anything I take from human history, it is that competition and cooperation force even the most strident individual voice back into alignment.  Villains always manage to find heroes.