TED2013: The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered.

When seeking intellectual stimulation on the Internet, TED can be regarded as one of those special “signals within the noise”. The site releases one talk a day, helping to create a reputation of quality over quantity; at a time when web surfers are drowning in link-overload, this has been a great business plan. The organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading” has risen to great heights on not much more than good camera work and meticulous “curation.”


 Spending this last week at the 2013 conference has further cemented TED’s ability to curate the wide world we live in, and to discern the most essential presenters for the here and now. The theme for this year’s bash in Long Beach was “The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered”. To truly capture the undiscovered, the TED team embarked on a 14-city global talent search across six continents to bring together a diverse group of creatives, inventors, performers, and storytellers. What amounted was an experience that felt like a musical symphony of the brain. Over the course of four days, new neurons were formed, synapses connected, and regions formerly disconnected were brought together in whole new ways.

 Below are some of the highlights from individual presenters, but truly, the most under-appreciated aspect of the whole TED phenomenon is the richness of ideas that bubble to the surface through the combinatorial creativity of being exposed to such diversity and complexity. It’s a fusion of inspiration and ideation, that leaves the audience feeling not only optimistic, but motivated, that they can, in fact, play a part in this seismic shift towards abundance for all.

 So without further adue, the recap (infographics courtesy of Fever Picture):

 The Young.

  • Taylor Wilson is a nuclear scientist (seriously) who may have solved the world’s energy crisis (not joking). He is graduating High School this year and will be starting a company right after; with plans for a prototype of the technology (already been proven to work) in 2 years, and mass-distribution in 5, this could revolutionize the energy market, massively impact the developing world, and help save the environment in the process.
  • Jack Andraka’s uncle died of prostate cancer, and he decided someone had to do something about it... so he stepped up, solving the problem of early detection prostate cancer - and miraculously, his solution may have greater applications then he originally intended, serving as a mechanism for detecting potentially any cancer. P.S. his epiphany came to him while day-dreaming in High School Bio class, where Jack says is "the place innovation goes to die."
  • Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao have discovered a strain of bacteria that can break down plastics and thus help reduce the enormous waste piling up around the world.
  • The Wise.

  • Elon Musk is a busy guy. Founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, as well as Chairman of SolarCity, I kept thinking... what does this guy’s email inbox look like?
  • Joshua Prager is a storyteller. His talk about his own life story may be his best one yet.
  • Adam Spencer loves Math, he loves talking about Math, and he loves getting other people excited about Math. This talk hit on all three.
  • The Undiscovered.

  • Ron Finlay is growing food in the ghetto, and turning the community upside down in the process. This talk had several hilarious lines, most notably his invitation for anyone to meet him down in south central and "plant some shit!"
  • Ajit Narayanan builds computer programs to help autistic children learn to communicate. In the process, he may have stumbled upon a core component of communication that transcends all language.
  • Phil Hansen is an artist who developed a shake in his hand. Playing within the boundaries of this new constraint, he decided to “embrace the shake” and has been making some of the coolest art ever since.
  • For the full Program Guide, visit http://conferences.ted.com/TED2013/program/guide.php

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