Inspiring Ideas from TED

I was surfing through the TED site and thought to myself how wonderful it is that we live a time where anyone with access to the internet and little time can hear [and see] inspiring people. We can learn from the greatest minds - it's just a click away. Think about that for just a second -- a little as 30 years ago, you would have to be at Harvard or Yale or Stanford to listen to some of these people - see their presentations, to experience their passion. Now, it's right there, just a click away - so why not inspire yourself today and learn something new. Enjoy.

This week on, John Hodgman goes in search of lost time, while Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi helps us find our flow. Kristen Ashburn shares powerful, humbling images of AIDS in Zimbabwe, while Paul MacCready offers a soaring talk on his work to save the planet.

And this week we celebrate the 2009 TED Prize winners: oceanographer Sylvia Earle, SETI's Jill Tarter and maestro Jose Antonio Abreu. Read more about all 3 winners on, and catch up with winners from 2005-2008 on

John Hodgman: A brief digression on matters of lost time
Humorist John Hodgman rambles through a new story about aliens, physics, time, space and the way all of these somehow contribute to a sweet, perfect memory of falling in love.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity, fulfillment and flow
Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi asks, "What makes a life worth living?" Money cannot make us happy, he says -- instead, he looks to people who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow."

Kristen Ashburn: Heartrending pictures of AIDS
In this moving talk, documentary photographer Kristen Ashburn shares unforgettable images of the human impact of AIDS in Africa.

Paul MacCready: Nature vs. humans, and what we can do about it
In 1998, aircraft designer Paul MacCready looks at a planet on which humans have utterly dominated nature, and talks about what we all can do to preserve nature's balance. His contribution: solar planes, superefficient gliders and the electric car. Listen for MacCready's rule to live by: "I spend about 15 percent of my time trying to save the world."

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We're discussing Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on flow:

Anthony Samules writes:
As a working musician I completely concur with this presentation -- the easy, bread-and-butter gigs that employ fewer skills to face fewer challenges become a source of boredom and apathy. But if you stick with it, you start to figure out how to get more of the gigs which do employ your skills, and in which you embrace the challenges with more of your awareness. And at those times you do enter the state of flow, and I experience this exactly as described.

Evan Bonifacio writes:
So very true.
I am an animator, and have had jobs at TV cartoon companies where the general consensus about our work is, "it's good enough for TV." And we all collect our paycheck at the end of the week. In my spare time I do more quality work, spending hours and hours in that state of "flow." Perfecting the animation right down to the subtle eye movements of a character. I don't receive a paycheck for this, but it leaves me with more satisfaction than any amount of money could ever provide.

Steve Gottschalk writes:
The quote from the composer about the feeling he experiences while composing music sounds very much like Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke. It's as though the composer is experiencing that right-brained connection to the universe that Dr. Taylor described in her TEDTalk and is channeling it. That raises interesting questions about the nature and value of music.

And a great comment on Aubrey de Grey's talk "Why we age, and how we can avoid it":

Alex Lamb writes:
Youth is fetishised. Let's celebrate aging. Some beautiful words from Naomi Wolf:
"She reacts and speaks and shows emotion, and grows into her face. Lines trace her thought and radiate from the corners of her eyes after decades of laughter, closing together like fans as she smiles ... The darkening under her eyes, the weight of her lids, their minute cross-hatching, reveal that what she has been part of has left her its complexity and its richness. She is darker, stronger, looser, tougher, sexier."

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