Paul Dana

Founder, Plastic Games
East Lyme, CT, United States

About Paul


I am a software developer and musician; a father, a husband, a brother, and a son. I specialize in interactive computer graphics ranging from scientific visualization to game development. I work with scientists and artists and I love that. The decision for every job I have taken has been "Is this job cool? Will I find it interesting?". I am very lucky to have lived in a time and place that allowed that philosophy to put food on my table and a roof over my head.

For my work related experience find me on Linked In.

I was born in 1965. I am an amateur musician. My wife and three children and I adore all forms of music, dance, and drama. I am always reading. My standard plan was to read one fiction and one non fiction book at any one time. That plan lasted for decades until I got a Kindle and an iPad. Now I read too many books at one time. I also love games. I love board games and card games and computer games. What I love most of all is talking with interesting people.



Areas of Expertise

Software Developer, 3D computer modeling and visualization, Math., Virtual reality technologies - practical applications, Game Development, User Inteface, Motion Capture, Interacitve Design, Amusement Parks

An idea worth spreading

Many studies have shown that in industrialized societies the average IQ continually rises. The effect seems real. Yet we know that evolution cannot explain the effect. The opposite conclusion must be accepted: somehow each generation actually *learns better*. Not as an intrinsic part of who they are, but that our collective learning/teaching methods are getting better.

This implies much hope. This implies that we have not yet tapped out our human potential. This implies that, should we collectively all find ways to help the worlds kids educate themselves better- the rewards will be entirely worth the effort.

It seems to me that we simply need to knock down the obstacles that stand in their path. I think this is an idea worth spreading.

I'm passionate about

The hopeful vision that TED fosters. Speakers who are talking clearly about the world's problems and many speakers who explain and embody the creative solutions we need to save this planet.

Talk to me about

origins, technology, computation, physics, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, comparative anatomy, music, dance, theater, acting, games, humor, problems, solutions, design, love, Indian food.

People don't know I'm good at

clown skills: juggling, balloon animals, face painting, prat falls

My TED story

I have been a (somewhat pedantic) one man TED conference my entire life. These are my people.

Hey folks, I'm home!

Comments & conversations

Paul Dana
Posted about 2 years ago
Two questions: 1) What's your favorite book? 2) If it's different from your favorite, what one book would you recommend to others?
Favorite book: either The Fabric of Reality or The Beginning of Infinity both by David Deutsch. Recommended: The Engines of Creation - K. Eric Drexler All of the above are non fiction. I recommend the engines of creation because its is the first popular science book to talk about molecular nanotechnology and the coming molecular manufacturing revolution. Nanotechnology has become popularized and also many current technologies go by that name, but I find that the core concepts are wildly misunderstood.
Paul Dana
Posted over 2 years ago
David Anderson: Your brain is more than a bag of chemicals
I am impressed with the COMMENTS in response to this video. There are some interesting and nuanced comments here. Too often on TED I just see people with a chip on their shoulder trolling for an argument. Well done TED community. More comments like these please!
Paul Dana
Posted about 3 years ago
Joshua Foer: Feats of memory anyone can do
One common technique is called a "PAO" or "Person, Object, Action" system. You must learn to associate a chunk of binary digits with a Person doing an Action to an Object. Often you translate the binary digits into a decimal number that you have associated with that person/action/object. For example: the digits 1011 are the binary digits for eleven. In my PAO, eleven is Jack the Pumpkin king pulling the wet insides out of a pumpkin. (Jack / Pulling Out / Pumpkin). When I memorize digits I break them into three places like 27 11 40. In that example the 11 appears in the middle place and so stands for "pulling out". In 33 86 11 it appears in the last place and so would stand for "pumpkin". Using this system you can convert a string of numbers (or binary digits) into a crazy story that is much easier to memorize. Of course this all takes some up front work as you memorize a Person/Action/Object for each of a set of numbers (usually 100 numbers giving you 00 - 99). It also assumes that you can convert binary digits into numbers.
Paul Dana
Posted over 3 years ago
Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to hummingbird drone
Damian refers to the speculative technology known as Molecular Nanotechnology. This technology does not exist today. The idea is to attain a high degree of control of the construction of material objects by creating a molecular machine that is able to replicate itself and can be programmed to create macro scale objects. This machine is termed a universal programmable assembler. Such a machine could not make every conceivable type of object, but it could make an incredibly wide range of objects, including nearly all durable objects sold today (yes computer, couch, car, airplane, rocket ship - no hotdog, no kitten). This idea was first championed by K. Eric Drexler, in the book The Engines of Creation. In popular science fiction it is often referenced as "nanorobots" or "nanites".
Paul Dana
Posted over 4 years ago
Tony Porter: A call to men
Good Question Pawel. I can not think of any clear answer either. Women bear children and men do not. Perhaps we could use some traditions to help cut women some slack when they are pregnant and nursing? Traditionally women have taken care of other women during this time. Perhaps men can step up to the plate there? Also I don't think we know all that much about the sexual division of labor during our evolution to modern humanity. I wouldn't want to make a claim about what men vs women did during the millions of years we were evolving. I take that to still be an open question...
Paul Dana
Posted over 4 years ago
Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain
I am a game developer and could not agree with you more. To some extent it is already happening - after all the average IQ continues to rise and that cannot be explained by genetics - it must be something different in the way children are raised - what they do. Games might be a factor there - I am not sure there is any data to tease out what is going on there. Also there are games like the new Rock Band which teaches you not just real rhythm but real guitar fingerings (and keyboard...) and no doubt will be way fun along the way. I think the future you yearn for is already arriving (maybe a bit slowly...)
Paul Dana
Posted almost 5 years ago
Chris Anderson: TED's nonprofit transition
Has anyone made a website centered around popular science books? I am 45 years old. One of my passions is reading about science and I have read and re-read this shelf full of books of mine. I love to talk about the topics discussed in those books, especially if there was a community of people who are likewise interested who are curating it.