Did You Know? Some of the Things You Learn at TED

A week of TEDGlobal Talks leaves you with many lasting impressions and some very interesting things to mull over – especially after hearing almost 100 hand-picked speakers in under 5 days. Here are some of the fun facts that just won’t leave me alone…

  1. Some resources for the future may not come from earth – one 500 meter asteroid is worth $330billion dollars due to the concentration of platinum group metals (let’s get it from space – it currently takes 1 ton of rock mined on earth for one pea size bit of platinum), according to Eric Anderson.
  2. There is a new insurance only sold online for Finnish students first leaving home called “Undo” (as in if something bad happens they can Control Z – the site has YouTube videos of the kinds of things that can befall young people with skateboards, cupboards and the like), as told by Jeffrey Mann.
  3. We eat 500g of insects per year, as all processed food is allowed to include x number of insect parts, and campari and surimi “crab” sticks are coloured with natural dyes from insects (which cost the same per ounce as gold). This good news from Marcel Dicke.
  4. One pig becomes 185 products, from ammunition to bread, from train brakes to a heart valve. The pig is all around us. A catalogue of Dutch pig number 05049 was produced by Christien Meinderstma.
  5. Math teaching is all wrong, according to Conrad Wolfram. Calculations are only one part of math, perhaps the least interesting part, and certainly the only part that computers can do well. So why is that the only aspect of maths we are being taught in school, and especially why are we doing it by hand?
  6. According to Economist Tim Jackson, we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to make impressions that don’t last on people we don’t care about.
  7. We should be calling ourselves Coctivores instead of omnivores because we are animals that live almost entirely on cooked food (just look at our teeth – we did, all 700 of us in the audience at TED). Heribert Watzke told us that we have developed such big brains because cooked food gives us more energy. (He also told us we have two brains, the second is a small one in our stomach.)
  8. Dimitar Sasselov, working on Harvard’s Origins of Life Project, gave us some news from the Kepler telescope – apparently the Milky Way is rich in small earth-like planets, a first batch of 60 are ready for further study to see if they are habitable.

That’s TED. It’s still swimming around in my head as I try to process it all.

Well, we can just take our two brains, computers, a few pigs and some delicious insects to another planet, and send back asteroids to pay for our UNDO insurance, just in case it doesn’t work out…and we just won’t care what other people think.

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