A prodigy at the piano, Marc Yu wowed IdeaFestival audiences last year with his mastery of complex music. In this IdeaFestival Conversation, he says any child can be as good as he is as long as she is dedicated. But, he added, "the thing is, you have to love music."
As it turns out, everybody holds a piece to the puzzle.
Building a platform that loosely organized the successful hunt for ten hidden balloons across the United States, Riley Crane recently appeared on Colbert to describe how collective intelligence won a prize offered by DARPA. The agency - no doubt feeling sheepish about its role in bringing the Internet to life - wanted to know forty years later how the Web might be used to solve real problems.
Louisville's Keith Robbins filmed this panel featuring philosopher Sandy Goldberg, architect Emiliano Gandolfi, game designer Jane McGonigal and the artistic director for Diavolo, Jacques Heim at the 2008 IdeaFestival discussing breakthroughs, the importance of failure and their sources of creativity. In addition to some great conversation, this ten minute video features a favorite quote of mine.
Alex Soojun-Kim Pang points out an interesting thought from Black Swan author and former IF speaker Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who says that
[L]iving organisms (whether the human body or the economy) need variability and randomness. What's more, they need the Extremistan type of variability, certain extreme stressors. Otherwise they become fragile.
Taleb's description of "Extremistan" can be found in this live-blogged account (and here) of his presentation at the 2008 IdeaFestival. The suggestion that we change in tandem with our environment is of course nothing new. But I immediately thought of an important corollary when it comes to our minds: use them or lose them. The future belongs to those exposed to the "variability of ideas," who can take that information, whether it be from the arts, business or sciences, and build new things and imagine different outcomes. The future can't, of course, be predicted, but the festival is a celebration of the nimble thinking that makes the best of it.
"Otherwise we become fragile."
Information about the unbelievable line up of IdeaFestival presenters for 2010 is coming soon. Please stick around!
Working its way from idea to lab to nascent technology, Cymatics is the study of how sound lends shape.
While an unfamiliar idea to most, a very human analog might found in "Born on a Blue Day" author Daniel Tammet, who has written at length on his ability to see numbers as color and shape. He provides a rare first person narrative into how mixed media can lead to creative possibilities and life enhancing technologies alike.
Think about this. Knowing what something might have sounded like based on its physical properties might provide physicists with a 13 billion year old vantage on an event like the Big Bang, as Evan Grant suggests in this TED video. Check out the video below and others linked recently by Emerging Tech blogger Chris Jablonski.
What you see on the front face of the Institute is a transmission of particle collision as they are seen by one of the accelerator's four detectors. The signal is reproduced with a broad spectrum of tones and varied impact strength as if the accelerator was a kind of giant musical instrument. Maybe you can see the work as a kind of visual translation of the music that sounded at the birth of the Universe.
"A kind of visual translation of the music that sounded at the birth of the Universe?" I like that. For a fuller description of the sculpture and the how data is being passed to it, see this page. Hat tip: Symmetry Magazine
The purpose of Big Science projects like the Large Hadron Collider and big orbiting space observatories is in the search itself.
A truly big idea: "Quantum darwinism" might explain the mysterious transition from the quantum world, which obeys the strange laws of quantum physics, to the world we experience, which obeys classical Newtonian laws.
The Long Now Foundation runs down a list of long bets - predictions about the future - that are up for payment in 2010. Like all predictions about the future, the list makes for interesting reading.
We subconsciously tend to mimic the physical and facial expressions of the people we're talking to. But doing so makes us less able to detect lies.
Newly stationed in Earth-trailing orbit, Kepler has turned it its first batch of planetary finds, including one baffling "Nerf" planet. Kepler is looking for Earth-massed planets in orbits that would suggest the presence of liquid water.
The image above is of the doughty Mars rover, Spirit. Six years into a mission that was expected to last closer to six months, the explorer finds itself stuck in very, very fine sand and unable, so far, to extract itself. Click to enlarge. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Like many other great artists, Richard Wagner's insight seems to have transcended the subjective or entertainment value of his art. His grasp of the "Soprano problem", for example, contributed not only to the pleasure (not to mention intelligibility) of opera, but anticipated discoveries later confirmed by science about human physiology and song.
That relationship between the artful intuition and the de jure conclusions of science is one on which Wired writer and author (Proust was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide) Jonah Lehrer elaborates in this video shot just prior to his presentation at the 2008 IdeaFestival. And it's that transition from intuition to knowing that Lehrer also picks picks up in yesterday's Frontal Cortext post, comparing, though he doesn't make the explicit connection, Wagner's quest for "total art" and the movie Avatar, which manages like the best of opera - and the best of art in general - to momentarily suspend the deliberative, self-aware processes that we use to distinguish between fact and fiction, art and science and in far too many cases James Cameron would argue, between us and them. Despite some clumsy moments in the movie (so I've heard, I haven't seen it), that unselfconscious knowing, that temporary and all-too-brief stillness, is worth celebrating.
Filmed shortly before his presentation at the 2008 IdeaFestival, Jonah Lehrer describes how through a process of experimentation and intense curiosity artists have anticipated discoveries about the mind later confirmed by science. Sure, were he alive today Proust wouldn't synthesize the next miracle drug, but his investigation and subsequent art musters something more vital to the human experience - the right question asked at the right time. Have a listen.