Tori Murden McClure - "I'm not sure I'm going to make it through this"

The first woman to row the Atlantic, Tori Murden McClure will reflect on her amazing experiences as the first woman to complete a solo rowboat crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and first woman and American to ski to the South Pole.

Early Bird all-access passes to see and hear her tale of survival and courage are now on sale!


Robert Sapolsky: A vaccine for stress?

Having been implicated in a host of chronic conditions, stress is the repeated sweep of the horizon, the bug in our code, the shallow breath of our pell-mell lives.

Mindful? Most days, I'd settle for remembering where I left my keys. 

Describing this thoroughly modern state of affairs as "the luxury of slowly falling apart," 2006 IdeaFestival presenter Robert Sapolsky (my signed copy of "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" is on a bookshelf nearby as I write), knows something about what has often been viewed as an "unpleasant mental state with few long-term consequences."

Jonah Lehrer (incidentally, another former IdeaFestival presenter) writes that Sapolsky, based on decades of field work with primates in Kenya and neurological studies at home, has reveled stress' ancient roots in a the "fight" or "flight" impulse, identified a chemistry that reinforces existing stresses and more incredibly still, watched this conditioned response span the parent-child gap.

And he's working on a novel solution - a vaccine. Key Wired graphs:

The emergence of stress as a major risk factor is largely a testament to scientific progress: The deadliest diseases of the 21st century are those in which damage accumulates steadily over time. (Sapolsky refers to this as the "luxury of slowly falling apart.') Unfortunately, this is precisely the sort of damage that’s exacerbated by emotional stress. While modern medicine has made astonishing progress in treating the fleshy machine of the body, it is only beginning to grapple with those misfortunes of the mind that undo our treatments.

... Stress is a chemistry problem. When people feel stressed, a tiny circuit in the base of their brain triggers the release of glucocorticoids, a family of stress hormones that puts the body in a heightened state of alert. The molecules are named after their ability to rapidly increase levels of glucose in the blood, thus providing muscles with a burst of energy. They also shut down all nonessential bodily processes, such as digestion and the immune response. 'This is just the body being efficient,' Sapolsky says. 'When you’re being chased by a lion, you don’t want to waste resources on the small intestine. You’ll ovulate some other time. You need every ounce of energy just to get away.'


Image: USACE Europe District

Colbert on Elon Musk: "Where do you find time for your secret identity as Batman?"

In this PG-13 clip, Elon Musk, made an appearance on Colbert last week.

As head of the private company SpaceX, he has successfully delivered small satellites to space, and more recently, following an abort with one second to spare, demonstrated a nervy same-day turnaround for his heavy lift rocket, Falcon-9, reaching orbit later that afternoon.

The space entrepreneur will be ferrying cargo and, if all goes according to plan, astronauts, to the space station in the not too distant future as the private sector increasingly handles trips to and from low Earth orbit, freeing NASA for more ambitious missions.

But as Colbert deadpans, the return will be extra.  

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Elon Musk
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Daniel Tammet on "making himself heard"

In an wide ranging interview with Scott Barry Kaufman for his Beautiful Minds blog in Psychology Today, IdeaFestival 2010 speaker Daniel Tammet comments at length on his talents, work and, in the final installment of a six part interview, on some lessons he's drawn from life.

Speaking on personal transformation, Daniel says he has gained a measure of self confidence traveling to support two well-received books, beginning with "Born on a Blue Day."

It's very difficult if the opportunities are not there and if they find it harder to interact, to relate to people, to knock on doors, to make themselves heard. That was certainly my story as well for a long time. I think the success of that first book and the success of Embracing the Wide Sky as well, critically and commercially, it's just very, very empowering.

Daniel answered five questions from the IdeaFestival here.


The Future of Sin: "Filtering out temptation"

Sure, augmented reality might become the next marketing frontier as businesses figure out how to exploit the new virtual space, spoiling the view, for example, by serving up those wickedly-timed Little Debbie ads right next to the fresh produce you went out to buy.

But as Bradley Kreit at The Institute for the Future's The Future Now Blog points out, that technology works both ways. Armed with with your new glasses, you could just filter out the temptation.

"The future of sin?" Thanks Nat!


Image credit: Photobunny

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