Cornell Tech and Roosevelt Island. Brains and Beauty.
I recently attended a most fascinating conference--fascinating for two reasons: one, its content, and two, its location.
First, the content. The conference was about blockchain. Each of the speakers was young, and brilliant. I can't say I understood everything, but their ability to simplify was remarkable. Blockchain is like a bulletin board with sequenced messages that can be seen by everyone. At least by those who wish to look. Some of those who look and verify are called miners.
Why do I need to know about blockchain? Because I want to keep up. Blockchain is the future of a lot of things. For one, funds transfers. I spent a good deal of time in my past life thinking about the very cool rules that developed over time to ensure that funds transfers are safe, fast, cheap and reliable. And not too accommodating to criminals and terrorists. Blockchainis a whole new way of thinking that will likely disrupt these rules entirely. Also, as one person at the conference pointed out, the only other noun not preceded by an article is "God." What more can one say?
Second, the setting. Enchanting. The conference was held at the blindingly new Cornell Tech center on Roosevelt Island. Somehow, I had never been to Roosevelt Island, even though I have always wanted to ride the tram, and I looked forward to checking it out. Well, I was blown away. Cornell Tech is a beautiful little campus where the brainpower is palpable--even in the design of the buildings. And what a glorious place in which to think big thoughts. You can have lunch on a balcony and see the rushing East River on both sides. All kinds of watercraft sail by. Seaplanes fly very low overhead to a nearby landing area. You can see large trees growing through the windows of a former smallpox hospital, now a most aristocratic ruin. Overhead, the 59th Street Bridge spans across the whole island. The Four Freedoms Park at the southern tip is the prow of this elegant ship.
And of course the city's skyscrapers, also on both sides, frame everything. Close enough to touch, but in a different world.
I will be back as soon as I can, to see the rest of the island and finally to ride the tram. Why did it take me so long to get here? And I hope to be a regular at Cornell Tech. All that brainpower is very enticing.