Winnipeg TED Talks 2012

*Everyone tells at least two lies a day.

*Improving your brain’s health is easier than you think.

*Being environmentally friendly and financially prosperous are not mutually exclusive.

*Polar bears have been tracked swimming distances of a 100km.

*Novelty, challenge and focus are the keys to learning new behaviors.

*Listening is an art form.

*North Americans are overweight and under nourished.

*Space tourism may become popular and affordable sooner than we think.

Those are just a few interesting things I learned when I attended the Winnipeg TED talks on September 13.

 TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. They were the trio of topics assigned to speakers when an American non- profit organization staged a conference in 1984. Presenters had only 18 minutes to share their ground- breaking ideas. Since then TED talks have gained international popularity.

 Now three thousand events are held annually. Their theme ‘ideas worth sharing’ has grown to encompass many more topics than the original three. TED talks can be found online, in dozens of languages and have been viewed by more than 500 million people. A one million dollar prize is awarded annually to the speaker who presents the boldest most creative idea, one that can garner world- wide support. Famous people including Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have given TED talks, but so have hundreds of ordinary men and women with cutting edge ideas they believe can change the world. 

 The Winnipeg event called The Next Big Thing featured eight speakers talking about everything from why polar bears serve as an early warning system for our planet to how we value shelf life over taste and nutrition in our food.

 Two of the talks addressed human interactions. Jeff Hancock said the Internet makes us more honest. His research shows that because a written record is kept of what we communicate online we are much more likely to tell the truth than when we are communicating face to face or over the phone.  Karyn Gagnon, a Winnipeg middle school teacher gave a moving address about the revolutionary changes that could happen in society if only we would listen to one another with patience and respect.

 Two of the speakers looked at the environment.

John Gunter is a Churchill nature guide passionate about polar bears. He has introduced the bears to tourists from all over the world. Ironically these international visitors are much more concerned about saving the polar bears from the dangers of global warming than Manitobans. John challenged us to change our attitude.

Monique Haakensen is passionate about microbes. The earth is full of them and they hold the potential to repair much of the environmental damage we’ve done to our planet. The company Ms. Haakensen founded is flourishing financially. She helps industries use what she’s learned about microbes to do business in a way that is friendly to the environment.

 Another duet of speakers talked about our brains. Dr. Zahra Moussavi has discovered new techniques for early detection of dementia and has created a series of memory exercises that significantly slow its debilitating effects. Dr. Karen Pape has come up with new ways to help young children who have suffered brain damage recover their mobility.

We also heard about the possibility of colonizing space from Araya Shahsavar and listened to Dr. Jarrett Chambers.

He told us the earth produces enough food to feed everyone and if we think innovatively enough we could make sure every global citizen ate nutritiously.

 The Winnipeg TED talks were inspiring and thought provoking. Everyone has ‘ideas that are worth sharing’ and TED talk events bring those ideas to a wider audience. 

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