"You write down the problem. You think very hard.
Then you write the answer."- Richard Feynman
  Many of us have watched TED Talks on www.ted.com or viewed their podcasts of
exciting presentations focusing on Technology, Entertainment and Design.
Attendance at these events are expensive and hard to book, leaving them beyond the
reach of most mortals.

  This is why I was surprised to learn that the local town of Phoenixville, Pa. had
scheduled a local 'TEDx' event at the wonderful
Colonial Theater.

  Given that the ticket was a mere $20 instead of $2500, I  did not expect much beyond
a few filmed discussions and a couple interesting locals. Instead, we were treated to
a 10 am - 3 pm series of highly interesting and entertaining talks. Eight were live, and
they were interspersed with filmed presentations of dance groups and a talk by
Graham Hill of Treegugger.com on becoming a 'weekday vegetarian'.

  The live presentations included discussions about mountaineering (from someone
living in my home town), running (which I unexpectedly found fascinating), and an
amazing performance of flute pieces by 10 year old prodigy Emma Resmini.

  One of my favorite talks was by high school teacher Simon Hauger on how his West
Philadelphia students bested MIT and others in developing hybrid automobile

  The West Chester 'Laptop Arts Ensemble' performed compositions on their
MacBooks (quite interesting). One of the hosts named Rives (pictured) performed a
halarious routine with an iPad depicting his 'talking hand' talking and singing with him
in a modern version of Windsor MacKay's '
Gertie the Dinosaur'.

  Given the energy and breadth of ideas, I would have to say that this TEDx event
represented the best twenty bucks I can remember spending. All the more so given
the very small, very local venue.

  Check to see if one is appearing in your area - if you are half as lucky as I was, you
will not regret it.
     Before 1492, North America had no earthworms. Really. According to a fascinating
article in the WSJ, it was the voyage of Columbus that spurred the accidental migration of
these creatures, and with it, massive changes in our ecosystem.

     Thailand, not very long ago, had no chili peppers, Ireland no potatoes, and Europe knew
no corn. Until the 1500s, Italy had never seen a tomato - they came from South American
voyages. First described by Cortez, only yellow varieties were known for decades.

     While the article emphasizes the positive and negative results of this kind of accidental
'globalization', t made me think, also, of creativity.

     Ireland was able to feed thousands more cheaply with potatoes than with grain.
(globalization also killed millions by importing potato blight with lightning speed). Methods
of cultivation, spicy Thai dishes, and tomato sauce were all developed by minds who were
curious about these imports.

     Newness creates mental sparks, and that drives innovation, pizza included.