Inspired by Nature
Monterey, California
February 2005

Surrounded by imperfect manmade technology, medicine, and production, we are more frequently turning to the world of nature for answers to our ailments. How can nature better serve our pursuit of knowledge? How are our aesthetics shaped by nature? How can we begin to work with nature instead of against?

Dear TEDizens,

The more you look at her, the more Mother Nature delights, shocks, intrigues and amazes.

It's not just the power of a tsunami ...
... or the beauty of a desert ...
... or the ingenuity of a virus ...
... or the riches of a rainforest ...
... or the mystery of space ...
... or the magic of a developing foetus ...

... it's the realization that we have barely begun to scratch the surface of knowledge. That everywhere you look there are a thousand new extraordinary tales to be told.

It's a generalization, but you could argue that one of the big stories of the last century is that mankind grew arrogant and claimed a mastery over nature it had never earned. We thought we could create architecture and music and art and machines and cultures purely through our own brilliance, and no longer needed to pay so much attention to the world that spawned us.

And then:
• our ingenious, brave art came to seem a little too absurd
• our clever, efficiently built buildings came to seem drab, lifeless
• our money-over-community culture made some of us depressed
• our one-size-fits-all medicines made some of us sick
• our all-powerful machines turned out to have deeply unpleasant consequences, threatening to destroy our planet

Perhaps the biggest questions this century poses is: will we listen to Nature once again? Will she help us rediscover the roots of our aesthetic values? Will she share with us some of the extraordinary designs she has spent three billion years working on? Will she help us heal? (And will we let her heal??) Might she even restore to us that magical sense of wonder our busy, cynical lives are prone to bury?

This week in Monterey we get to pull back from out normal bustle and engage in such questions in the company of remarkable people. You are one of them, and I thank you so much for being art of this.

Let the magic begin!

Chris Anderson
TED Curator