Tag Archives: TEDTalks


Yves Rossy: Fly with the Jetman

There is something about going on vacation that wipes the mind.  It could be the change in environment that makes you more attentive or maybe it’s the absence of the routine stresses that are in our day to day but that feeling of relaxation one comes back with should be bottled and sold.  Positive attitudes are good too, I hear.


My flight back was hampered by one of the worst snowstorms to occur in Toronto in quite some time.  Flights were cancelled and delayed and I had to face the unfortunate circumstance of returning a day and a half later than I had originally planned. 


The beauty of that is that I had another day to simply relax and enjoy where I was. 


I think this TED Talk evokes some of the same feelings.


Yves Rossy: Fly with the Jetman



I really like how the TED Talks changes formats every now and then.  Rossy isn’t expected to come up with a ten minute presentation to create a bond of trust with his audience and then bring about why he is there or to explain some abstract concept.  The video does all the work for him.


Within a few minutes we’re all dreaming of how dangerous the act is, how the sense of flying must be exhilarating, and that we live in an amazing age. 


As per any TED Talk, I’ve got a fair share of questions in my mind that I will try to answer.  So let’s begin.


Two ways to Get your own Jetpack Engine and Wings


1)     Be Yves Rossy.


I’m pretty certain Rossy wasn’t sitting down having a Vanilla Latte at Starbucks where a group of engineers from Jet Cat and sponsors from Breitling appeared asking if he’d like to leap out of a helicopter and try to go all Superman.  Rather this is the accumulation of Rossy’s work and dedication towards the project.


Rossy’s own website: details his history of wanting to fly.  Back in the 90’s there were several inventions of controlled maneuvering, the skysurf, wingsuit and inflatable wing and from these Rossy had the idea to power a wing using model jet engines.






Inflatable Wing:  Probably the best explanation and descriptions of inflatable wings I could find was this paper about tensairity structure.  Although another way to describe it is a really LIGHT wing.*/107170


Just to go over the jet wings some more (I had an obsession with aerodynamics when I was in grade nine), the carbon wing Rossy developed was something of his own design.  Looking at pictures, it doesn’t look that much different in material than that of an attachable carbon car spoiler but I can’t tell for certain.


Rossy himself, has a history of flying planes both routinely and also in dangerous or risky situations.  Born in Neuchatel, Rossy was a fighter pilot in the Swiss Air Force and later became flew commercial flight for Swissair and Swiss International Air Lines.


It was in 2004 that Rossy had developed the 3m-span carbon wing and would steadily improve it over the years.  It would be two years later that he would have successfully flown with two jet engines.  The prototype with 4 jet engines was fully realized in November 2006.


Rossy continues to fly and work on his wings today.  This TED Talk was filmed in July 2011, so I wouldn’t be that surprised that Rossy is finding a way to integrate Google glass prototypes or LiquiGlide into the flight suit and wing.


2. Become a Competitive Wingsuit Racer


The wingsuit flying championships are held in China each year (since 2012, so just last year) where competitors speed along at breakneck speeds.




Of course, the goal is simply to get the wings, ideally sponsored by a company vested in your racing career.


Afterwards, you can use racing proceeds to order a kerosene jet engine from JetCat engines (note: the Breitling engines, as described in the talk, appear to be sponsors not creators of the engine but I’m having trouble confirming)


Now without the wing design to merge the two together properly, this is a ‘fail video’ ending with receiving a Darwin award but I’m pretty sure the gift of flight is there.


Then again, so would sitting on a catapult. 


(Holy crap, doing a search for human catapults brings up dozens of the machines both used professionally, home made and a mess of accidents.  There might be a tiny chance someone else will go the distance to building their own wingsuit / wings / jet engines but it appears 1 in 3 people are willing to launch themselves medieval style.   I’m terrified to link any posts in fear of copy-cat-ing, or as they’re more properly known as, “copy-pulting”.)


Except maybe this one:

(Go to 2 minute mark if impatient)


(Mental note: I don’t know why but I feel really Canadian right now)


Grab some duct tape, have a beer and share,



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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Uncategorized




Filming one second every day: Cesar Kuriyama at TED2012

If anyone ever said to me that physical pain would stop you from being able to write something funny, I would have laughed.

“Haha!” I would say confidently, “Are you kidding?  I live in Canada, where we wrestle moose and hunt bear with a can opener.”


But I would be wrong.  Dreadfully wrong.  Having sprained my foot during the holiday, and brilliantly respraining it while late to a meeting, I had learned the definition of replacing one’s foot with a bruised cantaloupe.  (Followed by hurting the other foot via overcompensation)  It’s been an adventure, I’ve learned that I can utilize logic, work daily, even maintain deep concentration for various strenuous tasks like walking and getting a glass of water.  Sitting still long enough to contemplate a TED talk on the other hand, was painful futility.


On the other hand I’ve also managed to learn, is that someone can write when stoned on enough painkillers to make an elephant dance Gangnam style.  This is also a lie, I spent the past week sleeping.


This week’s TED Talk is… a bit of mystery.  I stumbled across a news item about the 1sec App, now available on the iPhone and the idea intrigued me.


Much to my surprise, I seem to be completely unable to find the TED Talk.  (Although Kuriyama is pictured on stage at TED)


You can find the BLOG link here:


And this brings up to me several questions.  For one, this is a very neat idea that I’d like to try out.  Not forever, not necessarily for an extended period time at all, yet somehow there was something about it that I just wanted to ‘try it’. 


And why? 


And that brings us to this:


Five things Filming One Second Every Day made me realize


1)     Humans are forgetful


We forget things.  We forget all the unimportant details that might clog up brain, and sometimes we forget the important things because they’re clogging up the brain as well.  Heck, sometimes we just forget random crap because we drank too much.




According to Scientific American, the answer is more confusing than anything else.  The split between short term memory (accurate) versus the long term memory (fuzzy) seems to be related.   Link:


(Personally I think it must be a link between the two.  If our consciousness is conceptualized as an empty stage, short term memory would be props on stage and long term memory are props that are brought on by crew members who try do it as sneakily as possible.


Where the actors?  They would be the active senses / visualizations that is going on in the mind.  Staring at a familiar picture, a new song playing in the background, a random odor in the nose, physical limitations, active thoughts at the time, all gum up the works of which props (memories) are triggered or used in identification/classification/survival reflexes. 


I should point out that nothing is forgotten, but it definitely needs to be first observed and crew members need to grab the right props.  Of course, I’m probably wrong so let’s keep searching.)


According to, our brain forgets things due to an overload of information versus priority.  Where survival was once the primary condition for memory, we are now capable of remembering much more information instead of where the nearest waterhole is.  Read more here:






2)     Humans are incredibly self centered machines of self centeredness


I think as time passes, this expectation of self centeredness is taken in as a natural piece of our evolution.  Not just that we have the basics to be self centered, but this, much like our fight/flee response, is a genetic response and not necessarily one that is willed into existence.


We can pretend to flight, we can seek fighting and likewise we can seek to become self centered.  However, there can also be the reverse, where we seek to not be self centered but the fancy pants chemicals in our brain kick in and we start doing duck faces into cameras.


My personal favorite proof, however, was recently referred to in a article.  Link:  (see the part about Sherlock Holmes)


This is in reference to the Forer effect as per Bertram Forer.  This feat is similar to those television shows where people talk to ghosts, psychics talk about people and various selling / seduction skills. 


So what is this magic trick?  The Forer effect is that when you talk about the person in broad sweeping terms, that the person will be more willing to accept it and they themselves will fill in any blanks.  The reason being is that you’re talking about THEM.


 Forer effect wiki link:


Proof #2:




That contains more evidence of vanity and self centeredness than anything in the universe.  The internet was once in danger of crashing due to kitten / baby pictures, but today it is due to self portraits and our incessant need to prove we are as smart / pretty / right as we think we are.


3)     We care about our memories


Memories have two paradigms that affect us immediately.  The first is that we ‘own’ our memories, that once we have a thought or experience, that it is personally ours.  The second is that memories is a part of our being, they helped us define ourselves. 


In essence, live situation A, remember situation A, act in behavior B which is a response to situation A. 


Interestingly enough, there is a mental practice that exists which is about changing our behavior B.  It is based around the concept that we are stuck in a vicious cycle of behavior, a way to alter it is to alter our base memory about it.  More specifically, it’s about thinking about events and quite literally, remembering them differently.


I do not know any more about this as I learned the above through a conversation with a friend.  (I also have reason to believe the method is copyrighted so I digress here)


Interesting barely related factoid:  Bruce Willis almost sued Apple as he was NOT allowed to leave iTunes collection to his daughters.  Link:


I bring this up because what we consider ‘memories’ from our lifetime also appear in the form of keepsakes.  Small items that trigger memory that we effectively ‘care for’.  If all of our fondest items are digital downloads and software related items, none of these keepsakes will be able to be handed down.


And I wanted to pass on my World of Warcraft account.


Another reason we love memories is because memories generate stories, which relates us to the next section.


4)     Humans still follow the scientific method


First off, I’ve found a remarkable study about Knowledge and Memory on  It is quite long (probably 100 pages) and is very well written. 


To summarize, it is about memory being a story based template which is often construed with like stories (too many similar events, making things forgettable), no reflection (not having a story tell about it makes it forgettable), and purposeful disdain (no talking about it, lessens the memory).  Significantly, however, is that our story telling has a purpose, not only in remembering but in use of our day to day lives either it being a form of catharsis, teaching a lesson or assistance in getting what you want.


The link can be found here:


Personally, I’m not a big fan of story telling being the core of memory processing.  For one, imagery/odor/sound is omitted due to the natural limitations of recitation and two, the time it takes to formulate a story is so far greater than the time to actually live an event that if we had to tell stories in order to remember things we wouldn’t remember very much at all.


However, it does make a great method to remember. 


When I was a child, I had found a book by the famous new age mentalist Edgar Cayce about Improving Memory.  It was about the use of radical imagery to remember routine events.  Effectively, we create a wild and crazy story, we remember our grocery list better.


Wow, that was a tangent. 


Back to the scientific method: 





Scientific method can be described as follows:


Define a question, gather observations, form hypothesis, test it, analyze data and draw conclusions for future hypothesis.


Stove looks hot, I can touch it, if I touch it I’ll burn myself, touch stove and do NOT burn myself, the stove is actually turned off.  The little orange light on the stove represents nothing related to it being hot.


Our memories become enacted in a very similar fashion, in the sense that we remember things to further future predictions. 



5)     Our self reflection is the greatest way to bring about change


And so it brings it back full circle to where we started.  After I read the article about One Second Everyday, I downloaded the app and have been using it for the past week.  It’s quite amusing.  Not only do I plan my day a little bit more, sometimes thinking about ‘when/where’ I should film my one second, but it does make me reflect more often upon what was happening during those days that I would not have.


The idea is a good one, for the end result is a digital product that we CAN share with our children and one that they will be able to absorb in a limited amount of time.  


If there is something that we can do to best help our own situation, it is to remember strongly our past and to use it for the future.


Try to remember to share,



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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Uncategorized



Clay Shirky: How social media can make history

Clay Shirky: How social media can make history

I’m uncertain if I like this new world of posting bi-weekly, it feels lazy. 

There’s actually a very psychological reason why new posts (for EDTalksTed) should be two weeks apart, and that’s to keep the method of Ted Talk ingestion closer on par with the general user.  Fact is, the typical TED viewer isn’t someone who is watching TED Talks on a daily basis. 

And so, when watching ANY Ted Talk, it’s normally taken in as a novelty, it’s new and there’s a natural curiosity.

In a very strange manner, this concept of ‘freshness’ also comes into play when examining the American elections (held earlier this week).  It doesn’t matter how often one watches election coverage, when it finally comes back around again four years later, it usually feels like a new experience.  Even more so, social media is adding to the mechanisms with which we ingest knowledge.  On to the Talk!


Date Filmed: June 2009

 Length: 15 minutes, 48 seconds

Total Views so far: 798,376

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Social Media

1. President Barack Obama sets new social media records regularly.

It was said four years ago, that Barack Obama was the FIRST president that had utilized the internet appropriately in his campaign.  Heck, this was even in the forecast before the results of the election at the time.  Social media in itself was still new (and is still new now), and it was in love.

People have grown to love technology, it isn’t just a tool anymore it’s a fascination.  It provides users with entertainment, a sense of pride and sometimes some feelings of comfort and stability.  More significantly however, is that these products are highly recognizable. 

Let’s add another detail to this as well, and that technology is creating shared user experiences.  We all have cellphones, we all know what they’re like.  They suck.  Reception issues, weird user interfaces, having to navigate through poorly designed electronic phone lists, cellphones might lift us onto gods as compared to other animals but they’re still a very humbling experience to use.

When someone sees a picture of Obama, chances are he’s using cellphone. 

This is probably just luck of the draw for photography purposes, but the resultant impact is still there.  To talk on the phone is a human experience, seeing someone talk on the phone, well, they’re just like everyone else trying to make it in the world.  A person on the phone is someone who is real.

And yesterday, Obama set a new record on Social Media with his tweet after being re-elected.

2. Crowd Sourcing is the ultimate Think Tank and Observer

Also recently this week on Reddit, social media possibly saved a life.  This news story is practically viral so chances you may have heard it already.  (So let’s pretend it’s five years from now and this is new to you)

A joke was posted where a man peed on his girlfriend’s unused pregnancy test and the result came back positive.  Much to the joke creator’s surprise, there was a resultant wave of responses warning that the man should test for testicular cancer.  He told his friend, whom the joke was from, and as a result his friend is now being treated for cancer.

Here’s where the ‘social’ in social media stands out.  It wasn’t a one way joke where the guy makes his joke and walks off stage.  It’s no longer a soap box delivery and people can make public responses in return.  That is, unless you’re an Xbox live user and you’re shouting obscenities into your headset.

I personally don’t use Xbox Live for anything, I just constantly hear about it.  And when it’s so bad that there’s parodies of it online, then it has to be real.

Xbox Girls Get Revenge

3. Social Media has become the tool for Social Self Vigilance

Shirky makes the comment right out of the gate with his talk where he talks how users of social media are using it to inform others of wrongs being made and reporting them. 

Doing a general search for how social media is used in this manner, from organizing international protests,  reporting unhealthy school lunches to recording police for offensive behavior, there is enough data on the internet to go all night and forever.

Social media is not just for duck faced photos and the pretentious who want to show off.  It just happens those pictures are usually more interesting.

Speaking of which, the rich kids of Instagram still remains quite popular, for reasons that no one can figure out.

Now a bunch of links, cause.. why not.

Arab Spring was a social media revolution

Unhealthy lunches!

Police sing Call Me Maybe  (ok, this might not be the most offensive example, but its hilarious)

Rich Kids making me hate my life, someone please pass me another package of Mr. Noodles so I can drown myself in its delicious salty broth of tears

4. Our social dynamic is changing faster than social media can keep up with it

Ok, I’m kind of lying here.  It isn’t that social media isn’t able to keep up with the changing social dynamic, it is that media still doesn’t completely cover all the needs of our natural social tendencies 

So without changing the human social world, the social media tools is still trying to keep up. 

Imagine moving into a new condominium.  They hand you your brand new door and locker keys and then also give you the electronic passkey for an email interface. 

This email interface gives you the farewell letter from the previous tenant.  Oh, that’s nice.

There’s general announcements from the building manager about upcoming repairs.  Useful.  Some general invites from someone on the second and fifth floors about an upcoming social function in the area.  There is someone on the tenth floor spamming about some community theater show they’re in and tickets will be sold in the lobby that Friday.

Wait a second, you didn’t sign up for an account, you were handed this account when you moved into the building. Yet, there is useful information already sent to you and/or waiting for you all because you updated your social ‘profile’ by becoming a building member.  

Our social profile changes so very quickly, from changing relationship status, being a bus rider because your car is broken down, or whether or not you decide to go on a diet. 

Now currently we have things like Twitter, where we can lumpsum place all our personal updates but this information isn’t spread in a manner that is particularly helpful to others. 

5. Social Media is an untamed beast that threatens us all

Social media is still quite new, and as such governments around the world don’t know exactly how to control it or even IF it should be controlled. 

Then again, it lets a piece of %&*$ blog like EDTalksTed exist, and I guess that’s pretty damn scary.

– Question and share


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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized



Lucy McRae: How can technology transform the human body?

Lucy McRae: How can technology transform the human body?

EdTalksTed is under reconstruction.  Simpler, clearer, and possibly more rant filled.  Let’s begin!


Date Filmed: April 2012

Length: 3 minutes, 59 seconds

Total Views so far: 585,968

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Transforming the Human Body

1. Human sourced Perfume is already here.

It isn’t always the sweetest but the human body is a stink machine that is firing off on all cylinders every time we hit the stairs, become stressed or venture to eat a pound of the super hot black mamba wings. 

But it’s exactly one person’s stench that becomes another person’s pheromone of seduction.  For whatever reason, perspiration, aka the production of fluids secreted by the sweat glands, has already been known to be a traditional trigger of attraction.  Finding the correct level for the particular nose is one of the greater quandaries.  We all love the smell of bubblegum, but working at the candy factory where you need to wear surgical masks or die from ‘popcorn lung’ is something entirely different.

More about Popcorn lung disease:

Its not that an overdose of human sweat is going to kill you, but when surrounded on a bus on a sweltering hot day, the will to live drops dramatically.

2) The nose knows.. . 

Some people smell nice when they spray three squirts of perfume on their skin.  That same person might also be causing elderly people to choke and gasp in absolute terror from the artificial stench.

For many reasons, humans have various degrees of sensitivity in their noses and this changes with age, certain habits such as smoking and even possible mental disorders. 

Blind people do not necessarily have a keener sense of smell, nor do those trained in quality control or safety inspection necessary have a better ‘sniffer’.  If anything they might have a more trained nose and have a better idea of identification and nasal ‘direction sense’.

If sniffing perfume is something you’d like to do as a job, there’s instructions on how to make use of your nose as a skillset on Ehow.

There is a great article about our ability smell things that can be found here:

3.  McRae has a website dedicated to swallowable perfume  located at

Although the product isn’t yet on the market there is a downloadable press release pdf on the website available that covers the general ideas behind Swallowable Parfum.

Looking at products that are in abundance in the world today already, we know that eating certain type of curry will come out in our sweat.  Likewise, it’s already known that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet leads to sweat stinking like ammonia.

If McRae is finding a proper blend of various food techniques to adjust our levels of smellitude, then that would be something fantastically clever.

If you’re just looking to find a way to lower your stink meter, there is an article on Yahoo might help.

4. Technology transforming the Human body is exceptionally fashionable

The art and costumes McRae shows are provocative to the eye, there’s something incredibly eye catching about the images that went across the screen during her Talk. 

And although most of those art pieces might be a little too extreme to wear to the office on Monday, technology has already made it’s way onto the human body. 

Glasses, eye contacts and watches are typical pieces of technology that are on our body for very much most of the day.  Clothing itself, is a constantly changing technology that we take for granted.  It is the fact that we take all these items as everyday devices that we forget the beauty behind their design and sophistication.

Currently there is a trend to include even more powerful tools onto our body that we can use for work or play.  These devices not only might transform the human body but might very well transform society as we know it.

For instance, the step into science fiction world with Google’s Glass Explorer.  When we can pull data on virtually anything we see, the world not only becomes more interesting but possibly more informed.

For more on Google Glass Explorer, check out their presentation at Google I/O in San Francisco.

And although Google’s device is designed to be useful, sometimes the human cyborg hybrid isn’t useful at all.

NeuroWear “Necomimi”, the mind controlled Cat Ears:

And who hasn’t wished they had cat ears?

This device isn’t just some hypothetical or future piece of technology, it’s on sale right now.

That site is in Japanese so it might be difficult to navigate.  The same cat ears are easily found on Ebay too.  (Retails for about $200 dollars)

5. Augmenting the body vs Au Naturale might create a new class of society

As technologies continue to develop over time, there is a very real possibility that there might create a divide in society.

It is occurring already, an urban segregation where half the population is armed with smartphones and have a 24 connection to the internet while the other half lives in dismal ignorance without ever knowing what a Nyan cat is.

(I’m just kidding of course, everyone knows who Nyan Cat is.  I’m not even going to bother listing a link)

The real question is whether this divide will be based off of entertainment value, amount of extra disposable income or actual needs of the individual involved.  The guy with robot eyes gets a free internet connection but is it worth poking your own eyes out for?

There is an amazing student film exactly about this topic, but for the love of Google I can’t find it. 

So here’s Nyan cat instead:

Be generous and share,


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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized




Melissa Marshall: Talk nerdy to me

Curses!  My hope to attend Tedx Toronto have been dashed.

My application to attend this year’s local Tedx event was rejected.  (Not my words I’m afraid, but that’s what comes up when I click the link) 

And I’m not that surprised, I stood on this blog as my primary reason why I wanted to attend.  And this blog is still relatively in its infant stages.  It’s still growing and like any blog, will change over time, which brings in tonight’s topic for EdTalksTed.


Date Filmed: October 2012

Length: 4 minutes, 34 seconds

Total Views so far: 45,100

One Sentence Summary: “KISS, Keep it simple Smarty-pants”

When I first started this blog (about 9 months ago), I had the intention of utilizing this blog as my own mental juggling of what the TED Talks meant to me.  There’s a great deal of complexities that can be communicated during the 5 to 50 minutes and this medium let me formulate what I understood, what I walked away with.  It could well be that other people had the same questions come to mind that I had, or a curiosity that required further investigation and I would do the ground work for it.

Most of all, I’m no expert, and so I consider my responses to be on par with the same level of skepticism that might be more in common with the common populace.

I’ve got a great day job with a great company, a myriad of hobbies and interests, I’ll go juggling in Bellevue Square, perform with a local theater group or just work on a webcomic. 

Note: Ever since I started working on that last piece, I’ve started writing this blog even later in the evening.   It’s the midnight to 4am shift, which is also my primary blame for having spelling / grammatical errors.  (I also raise a glass to the power of disassociation with guilt.)

Note2: is the comic.  It’s about the conversations that come up during times of dead space, while waiting in line or your next download to finish.  It’s like a terrible Frankenstein mash-up of ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber’ set in a convention setting.

Nonetheless my commitment to this blog surprisingly, still has chief precedence each week as TED Talks are generally on my mind. 

And this is where THIS Talk, really opened my eyes.  When Marshall goes deep into the tank of re-explaining that traveculae can be better recognized in the structure of the Eiffel Tower, I saw the big mistake that I was making.

I’m pointing this blog at myself.  The crazed non structured jargon that I pass on as natural local vernacular is actually naval gazing nomenclature of the thought process.

 AHEM.  I might think in vague words, but does is a good idea clouded by obscurity relevant to share?

And the answer is a fry pan hitting me in the face.  NO! 

Sharing ideas should be based upon the notion of simplistic articulation. 

FUCK, sharing ideas should be shared in a way that everyone can enjoy it.

Are you a computer programmer?  I’m not, but I do coding at various levels (SQL primarily) to support the business at work.  There’s actually a ‘trap’ that coders can fall into and that’s adding to structure where gutting and re-simplifying would be better.

It is best explained via this Jonathon Coulton video, Code Monkey:

Quick summary, Code must be both functional and elegant.  (PS> Mountain Dew is pretty good too)

The only workplace example I will ever use. (I seriously believe work and blogging don’t mix)

I had to summarize a year’s worth of data in several charts for a VP to utilize.  Historically, I might have left in the process of how the numbers got there.  This would have included formulas, a couple dozen charts of JUST numbers, plenty of math for the user to play with. 

Cause I think math is fun. 

insert Frying Pan.

However, knowing what the end result that was wanted, I sought elegance instead of proof.  (Keeping the backup somewhere else)

As Marshall describes it best, it was seeking simplicity. 

The image of a circle is actually an incredibly complex phenomenon when broken down into base parts.  What is pi?  How many digits of pi should be used for the formula’s values to be sound?  Sometimes you only need 3.14, and sometimes you need a value that will help design the Large Hadron Collider.

What caught me off guard  (Last time I’m using this as a header!)

It’s so short!   It almost feels too short, although that might be because I enjoyed it so much.

(It also supports the idea that keeping the presentation simple for better understanding.)

I love short Ted Talks.  I openly acknowledge that I rewatch them while typing these things.  Do you know what the side effect of watching a 24 minute video five times in a row?  It turns into hyper over analysis of facial expressions, and that this blog has been guilty of way too many times.

Short Ted Talks on the other hand, they are so easy to reminisce about.  Heck, I can spend the entire night talking about other things (see above) and the user still keeps the original video context in mind.


Did Einstein really say “make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler.”?  Is there a way to confirm this?  Couldn’t he have said Occam’s Razor?

Holy shit there’s an entire website dedicated to investigating quotes, and this one is on it.

(Hey, they also mentioned Occam’s razor)  Although Einstein is singularly attributed to the quote, there’s no proof. 

Marshall’s bio, as listed on the TED site (no point listing the link), reveals that she specializes in teaching speaking skills to engineering students.  This is an interesting dilemma, although the idea of teaching communication skills to explain complex to simple structures is great for presenting globally, I wonder if it is lost due to the insular nature of engineering. 

Meh, it’s a lot better than not teaching them.

So what to do?  (Last time I’m using this header too)

For one, I need to minimize or sideline the 1,000 word EdTalkTed entries.  Only the speed readers and most ardent personality types actually reach this sentence. 

For two, I think Marshall is really cute. 

For three, here’s to simplicity and the future!


– Please support my goal to someday attend a TedTalk, share this blog!

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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized




Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy?

Earlier this week started the presidential debates in America, and if you ask me, this stuff makes fantastic television.

What could be more interesting than watching two people compete for the most powerful (or even possibly, most famous) position in the world?

In case you missed it, you can find it here on Youtube:

So I checked TED to see what we had in debate technology.  Did we have master debaters or were all these talks solo entertainment?

Behold!  TED had a debate on it, about nuclear power.


Date Filmed: June 2010

 Length: 23 minutes

Total Views so far:520, 438

One Sentence Summary: “A debate on whether we need nuclear energy or can we use something else?”

This is the first debate on TED, and from what I can tell, it is the last.  Why is this?  Is it because it’s incredibly boring?

Y’know what?  YES, it is incredibly boring.  At least in comparison to the warm hearted stories, the enlightening of new technologies and all that stuff TED that just makes you go “wooooahhhh”.

On the other hand, this is only completely true if you ignore one factor, that you hate debates.

There’s some other interesting aspects that this TED talk covers, it actually takes a quick poll of the audience beforehand.  This is the first time I’ve seen a polling of the audience like that, and it would be an interesting experiment if they this kind of polling was taken before every TED talk to see how much the audience knew of the subject manner. 

Brand begins with a rather good start that includes both humor and solid presentation. 

Jacobson then swings back and begins a solid attack of what nuclear energy provides versus alternative solutions and he demystifies some of the ‘setbacks’ that are commonly associated with renewable wind/solar energy.

Much like presidential debates, where there is a tipping point where the bouncing back and forth between sides and a slight loss of focus, it quickly becomes fuddled on who was talking about what.

This happened to me the moment it went to the audience, and even though it’s clearly identified if they were for or against, some of their responses just don’t seem to be directly in line.

On the other hand, why is there so many people who are so into nuclear power at a TED Talk?  The people who spoke up, not only were thoroughly educated on the subject but they were a step away from getting out of their seats and joining the people on stage.

I think there were plants in the audience!  And not the green type of plants either!

In a manner that is not surprising however, was a slight shift in votes at the end where it was a 65/35 in favor of needing nuclear energy.

Although it was a small shift, it shows that debate actually makes an impact on it’s viewers. 

Brand definitely seemed more comfortable presenting than Jacobson but it could be that Jacobson isn’t the kind of guy that makes jokes in debates.

Today, I wonder if the argument against nuclear energy would include the tsunami disaster in March 2011.  Likewise, every year people appear to become more disassociated with environmental activism so would appealing to that factor be less impacting?

Today more than ever, the need for energy is more recognized than how it’s attained.  Both presidential candidates argued for more energy earlier this week, and when there’s an identified need, the answer of ‘all of the above’ makes sense.

I hope TED talks include more debates in the future but the side effect of debate is to marginalize opposing views, and that isn’t what the TED Talks is about. 

The first and foremost concept of TED is to share ideas, to put knowledge into the hands of those who are willing to share it. 


-Updated every Friday

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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Uncategorized




Jonathan Trent: Energy from floating algae pods

(Hey, this is the very first time I’ve written an EDTalksTed entry during the day.)

On Wednesday night I was driving around the city and was thinking about solar panels.  This isn’t something I think about on a routine basis mind you, it just sort of slipped into my head.

It started when I saw these mini solar panels on my friend’s walkway, they were attached to these small walkway bulbs that would light up a path to the door at night.  It made me wonder a great deal about alternative energy.

And that leads it to today’s Ted Talk:


Date Filmed: September 2012

 Length: 14 minutes, 46 seconds

Total Views so far: 172,059

One Sentence Summary: “An explanation of how floating algae pods can be cultivated beside population centers to create biofuel and that the homework to prove them positive has been done.”

This is not a Ted talk for everyone I find.  It isn’t particularly flashy, it’s based upon a complex idea that isn’t easily absorbed and it takes some personal interest in its ideas in order to watch it in its entirety. 

On the other hand, this TedTalk speaks towards an ingenuity that could become a real alternative energy source. 

This Ted Talk just screams ‘GO GREEN’ and so it isn’t surprising near the end that Trent shows how this algae pod is environmentally safe and comfortably fit into societal integration.

That last part is reminded me of where I had gone with my thoughts on these solar panels.  I had heard a long time ago that some student was able to prove that solar panels distributed across a network to mimic leaves on a tree provided better results than a traditional setup. 

Now for an experimental environment, this probably was just a very small tree.  Real trees are huge, and that made me wonder if there was some way to create a solar panel-ed monstrosity that would double as a fake tree.  Some 40 or 50 foot tall tree, that actually wasn’t a tree, but was actually a complex network of solar panels.  Thinking about it made me think that this would probably be the most fragile solar panel ‘doohickey’ in the universe and one good season of bad weather would be enough to destroy it.

With floating algae pods, it makes me ask the question how these might survive up in Toronto when part of the lake freezes over.  Unfortunately, at this point in time I couldn’t confirm.

To learn more about the algae pods, the Omega website can be found here:

The initial articles on the site are all complimentary to Trent’s TED Talk, and there’s a great deal more information about Trent himself.  (It’s interesting that biofuel is a byproduct of nanotechological research.)

As I continued to drive around the city, I started wondering that if weren’t able to make fake trees, what if there was something we could put ‘on’ the tree to cooperatively pull in energy.  There’s Christmas lights everywhere in this city, and they seem to be up 365 days a year.  Could there be some replaceable solar panel equivalent that we could string up and at night they glowed like little lights?  I dismissed this idea as simply not possible and continued on.

So if not on trees, why aren’t there solar panels on top of every street lamp to assist in powering it?  Is it because the technology hasn’t reached a natural developed integration that people forget the possibility?  Or is because the costs associated are too heavy?  Maybe it’d be a pain to maintain?

This could very well be thoughts and concepts on why the Omega project is a published and not private idea set.  That in order for it to be even utilized, requires such a drastic series of steps that is outside the common set of norms that trying to package and sell it isn’t reasonable.  After all, why bother trying to add a solar panel into a street lamp when the current models are already at the cheapest they can be?

What caught me off guard

Why does it need to branch out to multiple options at the end of the talk? 

Trent explains it in his talk with one sentence at around the ten minute mark.  The economics of the system is difficult to make it work.  So to make it ultimately competitive, it suddenly adds a series of additional things like solar panel, wave power, growing oysters and alternative mulch options. 

This sounds crazy in its sudden complexity.  Couldn’t there be some easier solution?  If I think like a pessimist, couldn’t they (they being the ambiguous faceless entity that has infinite money) hire lobbyists to force cities to utilize a percentage of their waste water as a biofuel source?  

I guess that really isn’t an option, just like fake solar panel trees on people’s lawns isn’t an option. 

So what can we do?

This is one of those tough questions, that we generally know the answer to already.  Unfortunately, it does seem what we can do, for algae pods, is ‘very little’. 

So Algae pod energy cells won’t be happening just yet, but maybe someday.


-Updated every Friday


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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Uncategorized