Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Epicenter of Optimism

I am most fortunate to live in the Silicon Valley.  The climate is close to perfect except for the potential for an earthquake.  The United States Geologic Survey is located in the middle of the Valley and tracks seismic activity from all over the world.  (See real time earthquake map)  At some point, this area will have another big one.  Right now, however, hundreds of little quakes are occurring all over the bay area and they don't involve the shifting of tectonic plates.

Silicon Valley

People with indomitable self-confidence in a rainbow of colors populate the valley.  We are united by a goal of "changing the world".  It is not simply a cliche but truly a mantra.  Apple, Google, Twitter, and Intel are just a few of the transformative technology companies that were founded here.  It is important to note that other industries also contribute to the culture.  Genentech, the world's first biotechnology company was founded here over thirty-five years ago by a couple of dreamers that envisioned a world of genetically engineered medicines for challenging diseases such as diabetes.  That was science fiction back then and is reality now.   A new generation of visionaries seek to solve insanely difficult problems such as brain cancer.   (See story about how an eight year old's death continues to inspire Stanford researchers)  Other valley entrepreneurs seek to solve our energy problems via novel approaches to renewable sources or via electric cars such as Tesla.  Many more quixotic ideas will erupt from this fertile ground and inspire other ideas in near and distant lands.

Despite the recent economic difficulties, young, middle age and older people in this valley continue to search for and even demand dramatically better solutions to the most challenging problems of our time.  They embrace Les Brown's suggestion:  "Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars".  The valley is about 25 miles long and only three miles wide but truly is the epicenter of optimism.

Allan Mishra

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