Jenny Kubo  /  National Geographic Ultimate Exp
National Geographic Explorer's Lisa Ling goes behind the scenes of a magazine photo shoot.
updated 7/6/2004 1:18:51 PM ET 2004-07-06T17:18:51

National Geographic Ultimate Explorer host Lisa Ling takes viewers on a journey into the human mind, seeking out why we consider some things “cool” and others not. From the classroom to the boardroom, “coolness” shapes the way we perceive the world — and the way the world perceives us. While trends may vary from culture to culture, the concepts that drive popularity are nearly universal.

Ling soon discovers that “cool” springs from a mixture of art, skill, science and commerce. To begin to understand this concept, she joins two kinds of people — those who seem to have it and those who are chasing it. From trend-setting celebrities like Russell Simmons and hip-hop stylist Misa Hylton-Brim to a professional video gamer and guerrilla marketers trying to cash in on “cool,” Ling meets the people who dictate the latest trends and fashion. She also joins the innovators racing to come up with the next big thing, such as a device that allows people to program their own dreams.

To get a better look at how our minds process “cool,” Ling allows researchers at Cal Tech to peek inside her head. Using an MRI scanner, scientists monitor reactions in her brain while she peruses a variety of images. While “cool” may be difficult to invent, Ling learns that determining whether something has achieved “coolness” may only be a brain scan away.

Join Ultimate Explorer as Ling examines the influences that help create who we are, what we buy and why we do the things we do.

National Geographic Ultimate Explorer host Lisa Ling takes viewers on a journey into the human mind, seeking out why we consider some things “cool” and others not. From the classroom to the boardroom, “coolness” shapes the way we perceive the world — and the way the world perceives us. While trends may vary from culture to culture, the concepts that drive popularity are nearly universal.

Ling soon discovers that “cool” springs from a mixture of art, skill, science and commerce. To begin to understand this concept, she joins two kinds of people — those who seem to have it and those who are chasing it. From trend-setting celebrities like Russell Simmons and hip-hop stylist Misa Hilton-Brim to skilled athletes, talented gamers and marketers trying to cash in on “cool,” Ling meets the people who dictate the latest trends and fashion. She also joins the innovators racing to come up with the next big thing, such as a device that allows people to program their own dreams.

To get a better look at how our minds process “cool,” Ling allows researchers at Cal Tech to peek inside her head. Using an MRI scanner, scientists monitor reactions in her brain while she peruses a variety of images. While “cool” may be difficult to invent, Ling learns that determining whether something has achieved “coolness” may only be a brain scan away.

Join Ultimate Explorer as Ling examines the influences that help create who we are, what we buy and why we do the things we do.

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