Printers that can “print” human organs in less than 24 hours. Artistic sculptures that are as tall as skyscrapers but as soft and pliable as lace. Solving brain disorders like depression and epilepsy with light. Modular energy packets that reduce households’ energy usage at peak times. Using strands of silk to make everything from biodegradable cups to fiber optics.
Do such wild and fascinating things exist in our world?
Yes, or they will soon thanks to the brilliantly creative and dedicated minds of Fiorenzo Omenetto, Daniel Tammet, Janet Echelman, Ed Boyden, Christina Lampe-Onnerud, Steve Gullans and Anthony Atala—the featured speakers of the TED “Threads of Discovery” session I had the pleasure of listening to yesterday afternoon.
The overarching theme was so simple. What already exists, and may even be considered old, that you can reinvent to do something new? From strands of silk or handmade fishing nets from India, to the concept of a LEGO or our own organ cells, these TED speakers questioned conventional perceptions of items we are already aware of and discovered or invented something entirely new, and in some cases lifesaving.
Parts of the session were well over my head. I never excelled in math, so neuroscience hypotheses are lost on me. Yet TED brings it back to the practical, the understandable, and probably most important, the wondrous.
What is “old” in your life, or your profession, that you can challenge and make new tomorrow?