Final day at TEDMED: Remembering how to imagine

Daydreaming, Eugene de Blaas (1843-1931)

Things have a way of coming back full circle.

As in the first day of TEDMED, the message today was about imagination. Scott Parazynski, a physician and astronaut, reminded the audience about daring to imagine. As a child, he dreamed about flying in space and climbing to the peak of Mount Everest. As an adult, he made those dreams a reality, because he just dared to image. Nathaniel Pearson, a genomicist at Knome Inc., and Greg Lucier, the CEO of Life Technologies, both asked the audience to imagine a future in which patients come to their physician’s office to have their genome mapped and receive treatments tailor-made for them based upon their genetics.

Believe or not, what the audience was asked to imagine was not science fiction but today’s reality. Commercial space flights are currently available for the transportation of people and goods into space ( among the many). Tabletop genome sequencers are in prototype and will become widely available.  These are some examples of how “ imagination services the world.”

As I left the conference, I thought about all I’d seen, heard and felt during the last four days. I suddenly noticed the spring in my steps, the grin on my face and my excitement. I could not wait to sketch out ideas, devices and concepts. Though I didn’t learn anything specific to my area of research or practice, I was able to learn how to make novel connections between seemingly unrelated things.  Simply, I was reminded how to IMAGINE.