In the first half, Professor at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, Anthony Brandt and neuroscientist at Stanford University, David Eagleman discussed the amazing capacity for creativity in the human brain and how pioneers and artists push the boundaries and forge new paradigms by exploiting functions of the brain that are discouraged - like bending and breaking ideas. One of the things that sets human beings apart from other mammals, Eagleman cited, is our brain's expanded prefrontal cortex, which gives us the ability to ask "what if?" and explore possible futures. This allows us to generate an ongoing mental stream of novel worlds, which underlie creativity, he added.
Yet, the brain is often trying to do things in a automatic way, Eagleman continued, so one of the challenges in thinking creatively is to come up with different options or ways to break out of the mold. While some have reported that stress can foster creativity, Brandt noted that this isn't necessarily true, as there is a great deal of variety and customization when it comes to an individual's creative impetus and output. "Most creative ideas that we generate are not terribly good ideas," Eagleman revealed, but a big part of creativity is the filtering process, and figuring which ideas are best to keep and pursue.
Author and educator Gary Collins was a former special agent for the FDA, investigating food and drug crimes and public health dangers. In the latter half, he detailed his life off-the-grid, and how practicing simplicity offers a path to optimizing health and well-being, as opposed to relying on more and more technology. Going off-the-grid, he explained, means no longer being tied to public utilities, and includes having your own well and septic system, and producing your own power. At his house, he has a solar system that provides all his power needs.
Collins also has a modern 24 ft. RV that is fully equipped with air conditioning, heating, and a kitchen, and bedroom, which he tows with his one-ton diesel truck to different locations. The RV, he suggested, is a good way to test out the off-the-grid lifestyle before trying it in a stationary home. Homesteading is another option, and while it's not living off-the-grid, it involves increased self-reliance through such things as growing food at home. Collins spoke about the great sense of freedom that comes from being off-the-grid, and while it can be hard work and require a lot of ingenuity, he believes it entails much less stress than living in a more urban environment.