03 Aug 2011

TEDxSMU Announces a Salon Event

Events No Comments

New Event! TEDxSMU Salon
China: Artists Behind the Wall – 9.21.11, 7PM

In partnership with the Nasher Sculpture Center

Nasher Sculpture Center Director Jeremy Strick and Melissa Chiu, Director, Asia Society and Museum, discuss the current state of affairs in China as it relates to artistic freedom and expression, including the latest on the high-profile detainment and release of artist Ai Weiwei. TEDxSMU presents mind-stretching programs that connect thought leaders, solution seekers and the merely curious to “why not?” challenges.

Tickets are $12. To purchase tickets click here or call the Nasher at 888.695.0888*.    *Ticketing service charge applies.

01 Aug 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 7.26.11

Events, Ideas No Comments

Author Elizabeth Gilbert

On Creativity:

Malcolm Gladwell says genius isn’t a singular trait in his TEDTalk.

Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity in his TEDTalk.

19 Jul 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 7.19.11

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

Paul Root Wolpe, Emory Center for Ethics

Genetically Engineered Animals

Beefalo are a fertile hybrid offspring of domestic cattle, Bos taurus, and the American bison, Bison bison (generally called buffalo in the US). The breed was created to combine the characteristics of both animals with a view towards beef production.

A sheep–goat chimera is a chimera produced by combining the embryos of a goat and a sheep; the resulting animal has cells of both sheep and goat origin. A sheep-goat chimera should not be confused with a sheep-goat hybrid, which can result when a goat mates with a sheep.

A cama is a hybrid between a male dromedary camel and a female llama, produced via artificial insemination at the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai. The first cama was born on January 14, 1998. The aim was to create an animal with the size and strength of the camel, but the more cooperative temperament and the higher wool production of the llama.

The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion (Panthera leo) and a tigress (Panthera tigris). Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species. It is distinct from the similar hybrid tiglon. It is the largest of all known cats and extant felines.

A zebroid (also zedonk, zebra mule, and zebrule) is the offspring of any cross between a zebra and any other equine: essentially, a zebra hybrid. In most cases, the sire is a zebra stallion. Offspring of a donkey sire and zebra dam, called a zebra hinny, or donkra, do exist but are rare. Zebroids have been bred since the 19th century. The extinct quagga was also crossed with horses and donkeys. Charles Darwin noted several zebra hybrids in his works.

A remotely-guided rat, popularly called a ratbot or robo-rat, is a rat with electrodes implanted in the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) and sensorimotor cortex of its brain.


Genetic Engineering News

Disgraced Korean Cloning Scientist Indicted, The New York Times, May 12, 2006

“…Dr. Hwang was hailed as a global stem cell pioneer and treated as a national hero until investigations late last year showed that he had fabricated key data in two papers published in the journal Science. He was later fired from his post as a professor at Seoul National University, where he did his research.”

F.D.A. Approves Drug From Gene-Altered Goats, The New York Times, February 6, 2009

Opening the barn door to a new era in farming and pharmaceuticals, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the first drug produced by livestock that have been given a human gene.

Cloning Endangered Species and Undermining Conservation, American Anti-Vivisection Society

Animal cloning is cruel, experimental, and unnecessary. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

Monkey’s Thoughts Make Robot Walk from Across the Globe, Duke Medicine News and Communications, January 2008

In a first-of-its-kind experiment, the brain activity of a monkey has been used to control the real-time walking patterns of a robot halfway around the world, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. The Duke team is working with the Computational Brain Project of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) on technology they hope will one day help those with paralysis regain the ability to walk.

Is That a Pilot in Your Pocket? Wired Magazine, October 23, 2004

Somewhere in Florida, 25,000 disembodied rat neurons are thinking about flying an F-22. These neurons are growing on top of a multi-electrode array and form a living “brain” that’s hooked up to a flight simulator on a desktop computer.

Smart Food for Robots, Discover Magazine, February 2001

Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University Medical Center, has created a robot with the brains of a fish. Not impressed? Consider how he did it: He wired a two-wheeled robot directly into a lamprey’s brain stem.

‘Designer Genes’: Stem Cells Used to Make Replacement Organs, Huffington Post, October 19, 2010

The human species is about to undergo an incredible transformation. Not only will we be able to use adult’s own stem cells to create replacement organs, but in the future it will likely be routine for parents to eliminate the genes that cause disease for their children and perhaps help choose the genes that will determine traits such as intelligence, appearance, and athletic abilities.

Related TED Talks

Anthony Atala: Printing a human kidney, TED2011

Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala’s young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage.

Craig Venter is on the verge of creating synthetic life, TED 2008

“Can we create new life out of our digital universe?” Craig Venter asks. His answer is “yes” — and pretty soon. He walks through his latest research and promises that we’ll soon be able to build and boot up a synthetic chromosome.

Alice Dreger: Is anatomy destiny? TEDxNorthwesternU

Alice Dreger works with people at the edge of anatomy, such as conjoined twins and intersexed people. In her observation, it’s often a fuzzy line between male and female, among other anatomical distinctions. Which brings up a huge question: Why do we let our anatomy determine our fate?

Edith Widder: The weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence, TED 2011

In the deep, dark ocean, many sea creatures make their own light for hunting, mating and self-defense. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder was one of the first to film this glimmering world. At TED2011, she brings some of her glowing friends onstage, and shows more astonishing footage of glowing undersea life.

Gero Miesenboeck reengineers a brain, TEDGlobal 2010

In the quest to map the brain, many scientists have attempted the incredibly daunting task of recording the activity of each neuron. Gero Miesenboeck works backward — manipulating specific neurons to figure out exactly what they do, through a series of stunning experiments that reengineer the way fruit flies percieve light.

Ray Kurzweil: A university for the coming singularity, TED2009

Ray Kurzweil’s latest graphs show that technology’s breakneck advances will only accelerate — recession or not. He unveils his new project, Singularity University, to study oncoming tech and guide it to benefit humanity.

Aubrey de Grey says we can avoid aging, TEDGlobal 2005

Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey argues that aging is merely a disease — and a curable one at that. Humans age in seven basic ways, he says, all of which can be averted.

Juan Enriquez shares mindboggling science, TED 2009

Even as mega-banks topple, Juan Enriquez says the big reboot is yet to come. But don’t look for it on your ballot — or in the stock exchange. It’ll come from science labs, and it promises keener bodies and minds. Our kids are going to be … different.

05 Jul 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 7.5.11

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

Rajesh Rao


Indus Valley Civilization (aka Harappan Civilization, the Indus-Sarasvati or Hakra Civilization)

Indus Valley Civilization, Wikipedia

“The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) that was located in the northwestern region] of the Indian Subcontinent…Geographically, the civilization was spread over an area of some 1,260,000 km, making it the largest ancient civilization in the world.”

“The ancient Indus systems of sewerage and drainage that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus region were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East and even more efficient than those in many areas of Pakistan and India today. The advanced architecture of the Harappans is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls.”

The Indus Valley and the Genesis Of South Asian Civilization, International World History Project

“Between about 1500 and 1000 B.C., as the great cities of the Indus region crumbled into ruins, nomadic Aryan invaders from central Asia moved into the fertile Indus plains and pushed into the Ganges River valleys to the east. It took these unruly, warlike peoples many centuries to build a civilization that rivaled that of the Harappans.”

New Developments in Study of Ancient Civilizations

Beyond Mesopotamia: A New View Of The Dawn Of Civilization, ScienceDaily, August 3, 2007

“For decades, school children have learned that human civilization emerged about 5000 years ago along the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, along the Nile, and along the Indus River. But archaeologists working in a broad arc from the Russian steppes through Iran and onto the Arabian Peninsula are finding evidence that a complex network of cities may have thrived across the region in roughly the same era, suggesting a dramatic new view of the emergence of human civilization.”

Scientists Explore Hidden World of Ancient Maritime Maya, ScienceDaily, May 23, 2011

NOAA-sponsored explorers are searching a wild, largely unexplored and forgotten coastline for evidence and artifacts of one of the greatest seafaring traditions of the ancient New World, where Maya traders once paddled massive dugout canoes filled with trade goods from across Mexico and Central America. One exploration goal is to discover the remains of a Maya trading canoe, described in A.D. 1502 by Christopher Columbus’ son Ferdinand, as holding 25 paddlers plus cargo and passengers.

Lost Civilization Under Persian Gulf? ScienceDaily, Dec. 8, 2010

A once fertile landmass now submerged beneath the Persian Gulf may have been home to some of the earliest human populations outside Africa, according to an article published in Current Anthropology.

Pre-Columbian Societies in Amazon May Have Been Much Larger and More Advanced Than Thought, ScienceDaily, Oct. 25, 2010

The pre-Columbian Indian societies that once lived in the Amazon rainforests may have been much larger and more advanced than researchers previously realized. Together with Brazilian colleagues, archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg have found the remains of approximately 90 settlements in an area South of the city of Santarém, in the Brazilian part of the Amazon.

Further Resources

The Long Now Foundation 

The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.

Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River, by Alice Albinia

One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains and flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. It has been worshipped as a god, used as a tool of imperial expansion, and today is the cement of Pakistan’s fractious union. Alice Albinia follows the river upstream, through two thousand miles of geography and back to a time five thousand years ago when a string of sophisticated cities grew on its banks.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New Edition, by Jared Diamond

The phenomenal bestseller—over 1.5 million copies sold—is now a major PBS special. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Guns, Germs, and Steel is a brilliant work answering the question of why the peoples of certain continents succeeded in invading other continents and conquering or displacing their peoples. This edition includes a new chapter on Japan and all-new illustrations drawn from the television series.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 2010

Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France, capturing the oldest known pictorial creations of humankind in their astonishing natural setting.

Related TED Talks

Wade Davis on endangered cultures, TED2003

With stunning photos and stories, National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world’s indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate.

Murray Gell-Mann on the ancestor of language, TED2007

After speaking at TED2007 on elegance in physics, the amazing Murray Gell-Mann gives a quick overview of another passionate interest: finding the common ancestry of our modern languages.

Erin McKean redefines the dictionary, TED2007

Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction? In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways today’s print dictionary is poised for transformation.

Steven Pinker on language and thought, TEDGlobal 2005

In an exclusive preview of his book The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker looks at language and how it expresses what goes on in our minds — and how the words we choose communicate much more than we realize.

30 Jun 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 6.28.11

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

Janine Benyus


Companies Using Biomimicry in Design

Calera Corporation 

Sequestering CO2 in the Built Environment

Sharklet Technologies 

Sharklet™ is the world’s first technology to inhibit bacterial growth through pattern alone. The antimicrobial Sharklet surface is comprised of millions of tiny diamonds arranged in a distinct pattern that mimics the microbe-resistant properties of shark skin. Sharklet Technologies puts the pattern into adhesive-backed films and manufactures the pattern into medical devices and consumer goods to prevent bacteria growth.

  • Learn more about our breakthrough in microorganism management.

OneSun Technologies 

One hour of total sun energy received on this planet can meet the needs of humanity for one full year. Actually, few terawatts of sun energy hits our planet everyday. We only convert a very tiny fraction of it into electric energy. The rest is all disseminated into mother nature while the humanity continues to suffer from energy crisis.


Aquaporin is dedicated to revolutionizing water purification by means of industrial biotech techniques and thinking. The use of biotechnological principles in a technological context is a novel upcoming field with large commercial perspectives.

REGEN Energy 

REGEN Energy’s EnviroGrid automated demand management, demand response and load scheduling controller can be installed onto any electrical heating, cooling or discretionary electrical load. The controllers dramatically reduce peak electrical demand by up to 30% in commercial properties and allow for effective scheduling of electrical loads, including Electric Vehicle chargers.


Building the energy future on a million years of field tests.

Academic Research

Beyond Manahatta- The Welikia Project 

After a decade of research (1999 – 2009), the Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society un-covered the original ecology of Manhattan, one of New York City’s five boroughs.  The Welikia Project (2010 – 2013) goes beyond Mannahatta to encompass the entire city, discover its original ecology and compare it what we have today.

A Synthetic Tree Grows at Cornell, Wired Science, September 12, 2008

Scientists have made the world’s first synthetic tree: a palm-sized duplication of the elegant process by which trees drink. Known as “transpiration,” the hydration process appears to require no biological energy. Scientists theorize that as evaporation occurs on the surface of a tree’s leaves, the resulting drop in water pressure propels water from the earth and through their bodies. The same principle pulls oil through the wick of a candle.

Researchers Design Artificial Cells That Could Power Medical Implants, Yale Bulletin, October 9, 2008

esearchers at Yale University have created a blueprint for artificial cells that are more powerful and efficient than the natural cells they mimic and could one day be used to power tiny medical implants.

Drawing inspiration from nature to build a better radio, MIT News, June 3, 2009

MIT engineers have built a fast, ultra-broadband, low-power radio chip, modeled on the human inner ear, that could enable wireless devices capable of receiving cell phone, Internet, radio and television signals.

Beetle’s Shell Offers Clues to Harvesting Water, National Geographic News, October 28, 2010

A beetle that lives in the Namib Desert, one of the hottest places on Earth, survives by using its bumpy shell to draw drinking water from periodic fog-laden winds. Scientists at the British Ministry of Defense are mimicking the shell’s architecture to design more efficient water-harvesting techniques.


Green Travel

Travelocity: Travel for Good 


TripSketch mobile apps fill green travel gap


Related TED Talks

Janine Benyus shares nature’s designs, TED2005

In this inspiring talk about recent developments in biomimicry, Janine Benyus provides heartening examples of ways in which nature is already influencing the products and systems we build.

E.O. Wilson on saving life on Earth, TED2007

As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of all creatures that we learn more about our biosphere — and build a networked encyclopedia of all the world’s knowledge about life.

Fiorenzo Omenetto: Silk, the ancient material of the future, TED2011

Fiorenzo Omenetto shares 20+ astonishing new uses for silk, one of nature’s most elegant materials — in transmitting light, improving sustainability, adding strength and making medical leaps and bounds. On stage, he shows a few intriguing items made of the versatile stuff.

Michael Pawlyn: Using nature’s genius in architecture, TEDSalon London 2010

How can architects build a new world of sustainable beauty? By learning from nature. At TEDSalon in London, Michael Pawlyn describes three habits of nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun.

Robert Full: Learning from the gecko’s tail, TED2009

Biologist Robert Full studies the amazing gecko, with its supersticky feet and tenacious climbing skill. But high-speed footage reveals that the gecko’s tail harbors perhaps the most surprising talents of all.

Jaime Lerner sings of the city

Jaime Lerner reinvented urban space in his native Curitiba, Brazil. Along the way, he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape.

22 Jun 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 6.21.11

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

Rabbi David Stern

Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century. Rabbi Heschel marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma in 1965. Heschel later wrote, “When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying.”

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival…At the time of Frankl’s death in 1997, Man’s Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life” found Man’s Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.

Viktor Frankl: Why to believe in others, Toronto Youth Corps, 1972
In this rare clip from 1972, legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl delivers a powerful message about the human search for meaning — and the most important gift we can give others.

Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, by William Powers
A crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone who’s grown dependent on digital devices is asking: “Where’s the rest of my life?”

What is an “Internet Sabbath?” CBS News
While discussing modern technology, Katie Couric asked author William Powers about his family’s ritual of unplugging on the weekends.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell
Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions.

Mutant Message Down Under, by Marlo Morgan
Mutant Message Down Under is the fictional account of an American woman’s spiritual odyssey through outback Australia. An underground bestseller in its original self-published edition, Marlo Morgan’s powerful tale of challenge and endurance has a message for us all.

Dances with Wolves, by Michael Blake
The world renowned, American epic Dances With Wolves is the eternal story of one man’s search for his place in the world.

Related TED Talks

Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work, TEDxSydney
Work-life balance, says Nigel Marsh, is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. At TEDxSydney, Marsh lays out an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time and productivity — and offers some stirring encouragement to make it happen.

His Holiness the Karmapa: The technology of the heart, TEDIndia 2009
His Holiness the Karmapa talks about how he was discovered to be the reincarnation of a revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism. In telling his story, he urges us to work on not just technology and design, but the technology and design of the heart. He is translated onstage by Tyler Dewar.

Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf: Lose your ego, find your compassion, TEDSalon 2009 Compassion
Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf combines the teachings of the Qur’an, the stories of Rumi, and the examples of Muhammad and Jesus, to demonstrate that only one obstacle stands between each of us and absolute compassion — ourselves.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati: The profound journey of compassion, Chautauqua Institution
Swami Dayananda Saraswati unravels the parallel paths of personal development and attaining true compassion. He walks us through each step of self-realization, from helpless infancy to the fearless act of caring for others.

Rabbi Jackie Tabick: The balancing act of compassion, TEDSalon 2009 Compassion
While we all agree that compassion is a great idea, Rabbi Tabick acknowledges there are challenges to its execution. She explains how a careful balance of compassion and justice allows us to do good deeds, and keep our sanity.

15 Jun 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 6.14.11

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

Are You More Than the Sum of Your Parts?

Sebastian Seung, PhD 

Professor of Computational Neuroscience

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.

Sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis is paralysis associated with sleep that may occur in healthy persons or may be associated with narcolepsy, cataplexy, and hypnagogic hallucinations. The pathophysiology of this condition is closely related to the normal hypotonia that occurs during REM sleep.

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.[2] Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. A closely related term, cognitive disequilibrium, was coined by Jean Piaget to refer to the experience of a discrepancy between something new and something already known or believed.

Collective consciousness

Collective consciousness was a term coined by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) to refer to the shared beliefs and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society.

With more and more people talking about collective consciousness, it seems natural to wonder, Is there any scientific research to back it up? The answer, increasingly, appears to be “yes.” In fact, a growing body of recent research suggests not only that a field of awareness and intelligence exists between human beings but also that through it we influence each other in powerful ways. 

Do you ever wonder if how you feel on a given day has anything to do with what millions of others are feeling or doing? Or if your mood is somehow contributing to a larger, collective mood?

The Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded in 1973 by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, is a nonprofit research, education, and membership organization whose mission is supporting individual and collective transformation through consciousness research, educational outreach, and engaging a global learning community in the realization of our human potential.

Related Books

The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives, by Frank Moss

If you’ve ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you’ve experienced firsthand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the Media Lab over the past 25 years. But that’s old hat for today’s researchers, who are creating technologies that will have a much deeper impact on the quality of people’s lives over the next quarter century. 

Proust Was a Neuroscientist, by Jonah Lehrer

In this technology-driven age, it’s tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, science has cured countless diseases and even sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer argues in this sparkling debut, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first.

The Mind’s Eye, by Oliver Sacks, 2010

In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks, 1998

Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.

The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human, by V. S. Ramachandran

V. S. Ramachandran is at the forefront of his field-so much so that Richard Dawkins dubbed him the “Marco Polo of neuroscience.” Now, in a major new work, Ramachandran sets his sights on the mystery of human uniqueness. Taking us to the frontiers of neurology, he reveals what baffling and extreme case studies can teach us about normal brain function and how it evolved. 

Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism, by Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is a gifted animal scientist who has designed one-third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism–because Temple Grandin is autistic, a woman who thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us.

Related TED Talks

Dr. William Abraham, TEDxSMU 2009- In Search of a Grand Theory of Everything

Dr. William Abraham, Salon 2011- A follow up on his research

Oliver Sacks: What hallucination reveals about our minds, TED 2009

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnet syndrome — when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations. He describes the experiences of his patients in heartwarming detail and walks us through the biology of this under-reported phenomenon.

VS Ramachandran on your mind, TED 2007

Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.

Heribert Watzke: The brain in your gut, TEDGlobal 2010

Did you know you have functioning neurons in your intestines — about a hundred million of them? Food scientist Heribert Watzke tells us about the “hidden brain” in our gut and the surprising things it makes us feel.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight, TED 2008

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

Henry Markram builds a brain in a supercomputer, TEDGlobal 2009

Henry Markram says the mysteries of the mind can be solved — soon. Mental illness, memory, perception: they’re made of neurons and electric signals, and he plans to find them with a supercomputer that models all the brain’s 100,000,000,000,000 synapses.

Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds, TED 2010

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

Susan Blackmore on memes and “temes,” TED 2008

Susan Blackmore studies memes: ideas that replicate themselves from brain to brain like a virus. She makes a bold new argument: Humanity has spawned a new kind of meme, the teme, which spreads itself via technology — and invents ways to keep itself alive.

Watch even more TED talks related to neuroscience and the mind/body connection at the TED Theme How the Mind Works.

09 Jun 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 6.7.11

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

Burt Rutan

Burt Rutan is widely regarded as one of the world’s most important industrial designers, and his prolific contributions to air- and spacecraft design have driven the industry forward for decades. His two companies, Rutan Aircraft Factory and Scaled Composites, have developed and flight-tested more new types of aircraft than the rest of the US industry combined. He has himself designed hundreds of aircraft, including the famous Voyager, which his brother piloted on a record-breaking nine-day nonstop flight around the world.

Rutan might also be the person to make low-cost space tourism a reality: He’s one of the major players promoting entrepreneurial approaches to space exploration, and his collaboration with Virgin Galactic is the most promising of these efforts. SpaceShipTwo, a collaboration between Richard Branson and Rutan completed its first “captive carry” in March of 2010, marking the beginning of the era of commercial space exploration.

Private Space Companies

X PRIZE Foundation 


NASA Missions 

NASA Science- Big Questions 

NASA has defined a set of space and Earth Science questions that can best be addressed using the Agency’s unique capabilities.  NASA works with the broader scientific community, considers national initiatives, and the results of decade-long surveys by the National Research Council in defining these questions.

Near-Earth Object Program

The purpose of the Near-Earth Object Program is to coordinate NASA-sponsored efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach the Earth. The NEO Program will focus on the goal of locating at least 90 percent of the estimated 1,000 asteroids and comets that approach the Earth and are larger than 1 kilometer (about 2/3-mile) in diameter, by the end of the next decade.

Space News

A Look Back at the Space Shuttle, The New York Times, June 9, 2011

Pogue’s Posts- The Latest in Technology from David Pogue

End of an era for shuttle, and NASA, CBS News, May 29, 2011

With retirement of orbiter vehicles, America’s space program is at a crossroads, with development of new craft to take man beyond Earth orbit.

Shrouded in Secrecy, China’s Space Program Slowly Opens Up, Time, April 30, 2011

China’s space program has long been one of the country’s most secretive undertakings. When Yang Liwei became the first Chinese astronaut to reach orbit in a vessel powered by the country’s own rockets in 2003, television images were subjected to a time delay in case anything went wrong.

Stagnation fears haunt Russian space program, Reuters, April 10, 2011

Fifty years after Yuri Gagarin blasted into orbit, descendants of the Soviet craft that carried him still generate pride and profit for Russia, but critics say the nation’s space program has slid into stagnation.

Can Obama Ban Space Weapons Successfully? Popular Mechanics, October 1, 2009

Soon after President Obama took office, a change to the White House Web site gave a hint to this administration’s plans for defense in space. The site said that the administration is “seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites.” These are high-priority goals, but the administration is likely to face some problems.

Related TED Talks

Anousheh Ansari at TEDxSMU 2009

On September 18, 2006, Anousheh captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer travelling to and staying onboard of the International Space Station for 10 days. An active proponent of world- changing technologies and social entrepreneurship, in 2004 Anousheh and her family provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million cash award for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks.

Peering into Space

To gaze upward and know we’re part of a vast system of heavenly bodies — it is simultaneously humbling and utterly thrilling. TEDTalks collects some amazing thinking on our place in the universe. Carolyn Porco takes us on a thrilling flyby of Saturn and its moons, while Burt Rutan, Bill Stone and George Dyson talk about how we could start putting more humans up into orbit and beyond.

Sir Martin Rees and David Deutsch offer thoughtful talks worth savoring, on our physical and metaphysical place in space. And Steve Jurvetson shares the sheer glee of shooting off rockets into the near cosmos.

Richard Branson’s life at 30,000 feet, TED 2007

Richard Branson talks to TED’s Chris Anderson about the ups and the downs of his career, from his multibillionaire success to his multiple near-death experiences — and reveals some of his (very surprising) motivations.

02 Jun 2011

TEDxSMU Tuesday 5.31.11

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

Eli Pariser

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You

What the Ultra-Personalized Internet Is Hiding from You, Good, May 20, 2011

“Most of us assume that when we google a term, we all see the same results—the ones that the company’s famous PageRank algorithm suggests are the most authoritative based on other pages’ links. But since December 2009, this is no longer true.”

Eli Pariser: “The Filter Bubble,” The Diane Rehm Show, NPR


Search Engines

Exclusive: How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web, Wired Magazine, February 22, 2010

“…over the past five years, a slew of companies have challenged Google’s central premise: that a single search engine, through technological wizardry and constant refinement, can satisfy any possible query.”

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) target paid listings.

Being at the top of a search engine results page can mean the difference between business success and failure. So, what would you do to ensure a listing there? Absolutely anything? If so, you could be walking into a minefield.

Google Reportedly Recycles Amazon Algorithm for YouTube, WebProNews, February 3, 2011

An interesting post from Amazon recommendation engine creator Greg Linden has come out claiming that Google-owned YouTube is using an old Amazon recommendation algorithm for video recommendation.

The Song Decoders, New York Times, October 14, 2009

“…Pandora… is convinced that by pouring this information through a computer into an algorithm, it can guide you, the listener, to music that you like.”

Helping Children Find What They Need on the Internet, New York Times, December 25, 2009

“When considering children, search engines had long focused on filtering out explicit material from results. But now, because increasing numbers of children are using search as a starting point for homework, exploration or entertainment, more engineers are looking to children for guidance on how to improve their tools.”


Watching America reflects global opinion about the United States, helping Americans and non-Americans alike understand what the world thinks of current issues that involve the U.S.

Limiting Tracking


Related TED Talks

Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world, TEDxBoston 2010

By now, we’re used to letting Facebook and Twitter capture our social lives on the web — building a “social layer” on top of the real world. At TEDxBoston, Seth Priebatsch looks at the next layer in progress: the “game layer,” a pervasive net of behavior-steering game dynamics that will reshape education and commerce.

Evan Williams on listening to Twitter users, TED 2009

In the year leading up to this talk, the web tool Twitter exploded in size (up 10x during 2008 alone). Co-founder Evan Williams reveals that many of the ideas driving that growth came from unexpected uses invented by the users themselves.

Gel: Gotta share! Gel Conference 2011

At the onstage introduction of Twirlr, a new social-sharing platform, someone forgets to silence their cell phone. And then … this happens. (Song by Scott Brown and Anthony King; edit by Nathan Russell.)

Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web, EG 2007

At the 2007 EG conference, Kevin Kelly shares a fun stat: The World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 5,000 days old. Now, Kelly asks, how can we predict what’s coming in the next 5,000 days?

12 May 2011

TEDxKids raise money for international peers

Events, Ideas, News No Comments

TEDxKids attendees took their service learning projects international this year. In exchange for attending TEDxKids @SMU free of charge, students are required to complete a service learning project. Two of this year’s groups designed projects that will impact thousands of other kids around the world.

Communities in Schools’ GEMS (Girls Exploring Math and Science) participated in a service learning project to raise money for water-borne illnesses in Haiti. The girls raised $1,816.29 for International Action’s Water for Haiti De-Worming Project. Water-borne illnesses are especially prevalent in Haiti, but each dose of a vital de-worming drug is only $.01. Through school-wide penny drives across several campuses in the Dallas area, GEMS students collected 181,629 pennies to provide 181,629 doses of medicine for children in Haiti.

Will Watson’s talk on the nonprofit Falling Whistles inspired students at St. John’s Episcopal School to create a school-wide awareness campaign about child soldiers and the war in the Congo. They spent the spring educating their classmates and parents about the Congo and raising money through the sale of whistles. The project culminated in a whistle-blowing ceremony for peace and the presentation of a check to Falling Whistles for over $5,000. Click here to read an article on the Falling Whistles campaign at St. John’s.

Thanks to all of the TEDxKids for their work in our community and on behalf of other kids around the world!