Founder – Chief Change Optimist – Author – Host – Speaker – TV/Radio Personality – Mentor
Ariane de Bonvoisin - Founder and Chief Change Optimist

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

TED: Insights that Touched Me

Alisa Miller, who runs PRI: Public Radio International, started off day two detailing how the number of foreign news bureaus in the world has decreased by 50%, and how 14,000 stories on Google News covered the same 24 news events. This was very surprising to me—I would have expected a larger interest in global news.

I then learned that the Catholic Church helped fuel the early expansion of the printing press. In the 1440s, they needed it to mass-produce and sell “indulgences,” pieces of paper that amounted to confessions/forgiveness statements. The church made a tremendous amount of money from this, and therefore supported Gutenberg's expansion.

Craig Venter, Ph.D., who decoded the human genome, spoke on how 20 million genes have been discovered to date and these are the design components of the future. Venter is currently spending much of his time designing synthetic microorganisms that will produce alternative fuels, such as ethanol and hydrogen. This would create a major source of fuel for us. His' timing is key: He’s likely to finish in 18 months. Given that we use 100 million barrels of oil a day, this has the potential to transform the petrochemical industry.

Dean Ornish, M.D., gave a quick talk on health. The brain apparently gets bigger when we eat blueberries, small amounts of chocolate (LOVE THIS) and tea and when we lower our stress. It gets smaller when we eat sugar, saturated fats, soda and nicotine and when we are chronically stressed.  Managing our food intake, helps our skin stay young (less wrinkles) and improves sexual activity. Ornish also noted that 50% of men who smoke regularly are impotent! He ended his talk inspiring us to believe “your genes are NOT your fate”—do not take what has been handed down to you as simple truth. Living healthier and meditating can make a big difference.

Thomas Krens, a director at the Guggenheim Museum, discussed the nature of beauty and truth. He then showed us decades of artwork and put up the phrase, "Things change, be prepared to adapt." It was there just for us here at First30Days. He showed us how a museum is a symbol of social interaction and also of cultural change. Krens then posed the question: Imagine your own museum, what would you have in there?

Another important thing to note about Krens is that thanks to him there is a place called "Happiness Island"—Saadityat Island (which translates to island of happiness)—in Abu Dhabi.

Richard Saul Wurman, founder of TED, educated the group on the changes in where people live—50% of the world’s population now lives in cities. There are 19 cities in the world with 20 million people (or more) in the 21st century. (His web site is aptly called He also pointed out how much things have changed—we are not a world of countries or nations, but a world of cities, all linked together by an intricate network. Wurman’s mission is to showcase and analyze all these cities.