TED Conversations

Matthew Wieder

Student, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


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Can we "engineer" our own interests through repeated exposure?

This week in my Bioelectricity class we learned about muscle contraction and how individual muscle twitches build on each other until tetanus (complete contraction of the muscle) is reached. Muscles are made up of small individual contractile units called sarcomeres which when they contract by themselves change the length of the muscle and produce a force that is negligible. However, when the sarcomeres contract in unison, the tension force produced is great enough to allow us to perform all of our normal day to day activities.

We also had a discussion in class about science education and how to get more young people excited about science -- often times in class there was a certain interaction with a role model who provided key influence either in a positive or negative direction.

This led me to think about the idea of life changing experiences. Is it ever a single experience, a specific interaction with a teacher or other role model that leads us to the career choices we make or, are we more influenced by the small events and sets of circumstances that "sum up" and provide this life altering influence?


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  • Mar 29 2012: I took it by the title, to relate to the psychological field, for example reciting a mantra to change behaviors, which are a result of perhaps negative events in a persons life, the most significant event is being born, where and when, and all of them have their implications for the future. When you start following a vocation, that would be a mix of chances, your past experiences, and the choices that you make. Teachers are important for guidance - as equally is the pupils temperament, everyone is different, some with a chip on their shoulder some seem to glide through life without a problem. I would say to your question, the big events ARE more important than the small, but the fable says the tortoise beats the hare.
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      Apr 4 2012: Amy, I liked very much your explanation. Would you please, tell me more about your experiences? Have you done this often? How? Thank you.

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