TED.comThanks to StumbleUpon, the most enjoyable social media/bookmarking site thus far (and the official choice of ADHD users everywhere), I was introduced to TED.com last month. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED began in 1984, bringing together the best and brightest from those three industries and thought groups. Since the '80s, TED has evolved into an annual invitation only conference where the most influential and/or innovative thinkers present the talk of their lives (limited to 18 minutes). TED.com makes the best of these talks available for free online.  

Once a year, 50 speakers share with more than 1,000 visitors in Monterey, California. Topics cover business, science, the arts, music, and global issues. The best TEDTalks are provided online via streaming video at TED.com.

Granted, the majority of speakers appear to be atheistic proponents of evolution. This is somewhat disappointing, though not entirely surprising. Past speakers have included the likes of Billy Graham, so it's fair to say that the organization is open to most ideas as long as they are presented in the proper fashion.

The recorded TEDTalks are worth watching. Some are more mentally stimulating than others (check out the talks on memes and, surprisingly, Tony Robbins). 137 presentations are currently available online. Additional talks will be released on an ongoing basis. 

TEDGlobal is a conference held every other year at various locations worldwide. The basic format is the same, but these conferences tend to focus more on development.

The TEDPrize is an annual prize awarded to three individuals who receive $100K and the granting of "One Wish to Change the World". The winners unveil their wishes at the annual conference, and the TED community comes together, pooling their resources, to grant each wish. Visit TED.com to learn more about past wishes granted. 

For those of you accustomed to the collegiate Pew / Paideia society or other philosophical and sociological communities, these talks will resonate along the lines of cultural examination of what is, what has been, and what could be.  

The only question remaining is, how does one get invited to TED? Send me an invitation. I'm in. 

The Independent reports that Sunita Williams, the woman who will soon hold the record for NASA astronaut for the longest time spent in space, is slated to run the Boston Marathon next week as she orbits the planet Earth. She qualified by running in last year’s Houston Marathon, and she will attempt to make the 26K mile run tethered to a treadmill.

You know that the only reason the picky Boston Marathon approved Commander Williams is because of the unbelievable publicity it would generate. It’s not like she can win when facing completely different terrain than the 24,000 other runners.

We all love a good space story. Whether it’s the woman running in space or water discovered on another planet, we just seem to eat up anything extraterrestrial.

Some people might say that’s pathetic. I consider it a sign of our continued childhood sense of awe and wonder at the universe.

According to a recent article in The Independent, the ideal female body shape can be best represented by Naomi Campbell. Some researchers from Poland studied the body types of beauty contestants and compared them with other women to discern what body part sizes are considered most attractive. They looked at bust to height, thigh to height, and waist to hip ratios to help determine what the ideal attractive person would look like.

A little surprising that they chose Naomi Campbell, since she hasn’t been the most popular fashion model in the last few years. I didn’t know that models were really so different that she would be singled out. Bale’s an obvious choice, though. As long as you can keep images of American Psycho out of your mind, you should be able to see why he’s tops (sorry Brad).

If you thought that the uses of technology couldn’t get any creepier, you would be wrong. With a “donut shaped” MRI machine, German scientists are scanning people’s brains during the process of decision making. The subjects are given a choice between two options: to add or subtract, or to push this button or that. The MRI shows the scientists what is going on in the brain as the people go through the process of making a decision. Scientists are hoping to be able to predict the outcome of an individual’s decision with greater accuracy.

These experiments are phase one. Let’s be real. Whatever is made will be abused. Imagine the implications. Accurately predicting a person’s decisions before they are made or before the outcomes have been announced could shape world events.

But scientists are making enough progress to make ethicists nervous, since the research has already progressed from identifying the regions of the brain where certain thoughts occur to identifying the very content of those thoughts.

“These technologies, for the first time, give us a real possibility of going straight to the source to see what somebody is thinking or feeling, without them having any ability to stop us,” said Dr. Hank Greely, director of Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.

“The concept of keeping your thoughts private could be profoundly altered in the future,” he said.

Security is the excuse for most major poor ethical decisions these days. Sad as I am to say it, George W. Bush has participated in paving the way for the future of legal privacy invasion. I cannot fathom what would be his or any other president’s ulterior motive for the advancement of privacy invading technologies, but that doesn’t mean the motives don’t exist or even abound.

It’s interesting how we’ve allowed ethics committees to exist, yet we rarely pay them more than lip service. As a species, humans do not stop to consider the consequences of industrial and technological development. We appear to be driven to pursue the furthest reaches of possibility regardless of the consequences.

When do we ever stop? When will enough be enough?