I was expecting yesterday’s TEDx event at CERN to be good, but it was way beyond that.
The overall theme of the event was “Forward: Charting the Future with Science.” It comprised 17 separate sessions grouped into 3 sections – Adapt, Change & Create – with Brian Cox as host.
The event was planned and executed very well: even when the occasional minor glitch occurred it only ended up adding fun to the proceedings.
The agenda was structured nicely, with a good progression of themes between sessions. I really liked the inclusion of 3 TED-Ed sessions on climate change, matter & anti-matter and cosmic rays, which apparently met the usual requirement for TEDx events also to show material from TED.com.
To give you a sense of the quality of the event, here’s a single sentence on each of the 17 live sessions.
Robert Crease talked about the challenges around using science to influence public policy and how best to succeed.
Tamsin Edwards talked about embracing and effectively communicating uncertainty around climate science.
Marcia Barbosa described the complexity of that most essential of resources – water – and how nano-tubes and materials inspired by African beetles can help make clean water more widely available.
Nina Federoff talked about the role of GMOs in feeding a future global population of 10 billion.
One of my favourite musician’s, Nitin Sawhney, talked about the connection between music and mathematics (he even used vedic mathematics to solve the cube root of 132,651 live on stage… awesome!) and performed with the very talented Nicki Wells.
Julia Greer talked about her team’s research into lightweight 3D nanostructures, and how materials at the nanoscale can have surprising properties.
Sonia Trigueros talked about how nanomedecine holds the promise to fight cancer in a much more targeted way than existing therapies.
Srikumar Bannerjee described how modern reactors and spent fuel reprocessing make nuclear energy the best choice for clean, abundant energy.
John Mighton talked about the difficulties he had learning mathematics as a child and how that inspired him to launch JUMP Math.
Andrew Nemr closed the second session with a tap dance accompanied by an explanation of why he dislikes labels.
Hayat Sindi started the second session by describing the importance of marrying science with social innovation.
Arthur Zang, a 26-year-old entrepreneur, presented a device he developed to help Cameroun’s cardiologists diagnose patients remotely.
Topher White talked about an innovative approach to alerting rangers in the rainforest to illegal logging activity – repurposing old mobile phones, powered by recycled solar panels, to detect humanly inaudible chainsaws.
Danielle Fong presented a technology her company has developed using compressed air to store energy harvested from intermittent, renewable sources.
Julien Lesgourges discussed how spectral analysis can be applied to pretty much anything – sound, images and even the universe – resulting in cosmologists having a better understanding of its composition.
Jamie Edwards, a 14-year-old schoolboy from Lancashire, talked entertainingly about how he convinced his school to allow – and even fund – his creation of a small nuclear reactor in its science lab.
Tim Exile remixed sounds from CERN and TEDxCERN itself as part of his live performance closing this fantastic event.
Oh yes, here’s a quick aerial shot showing where I was glued to my seat for the ~5 hours of presentations…
At the following social event I had a nice time chatting with Matteo Mazzeri, one of the organisers of TEDxGeneva. I'm looking forward to attending that event in April. And it seems I just missed TEDxBern, unfortunately... maybe it's time to think about helping organise a TEDxNeuchatel? :-).
All images © 2014 CERN