TEDxUSC 2011: mind-blowing stimulation with my smartest friends


Here are the highlights of the TEDxUSC experience of 2011.

Quick background, TED is a website with great videos by speakers who have “ideas worth spreading” – the slogan of TED, which itself stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. They invite speakers to talk about the most innovative and cutting-edge work they are doing.

While this seems like free advertisement, which you know I don’t like much, the benefit of telling you is that you may be inspired and empowered by watching some of these videos. So I highly recommend them (the good ones anyway).

TEDx are independent events run by other organizations by using the TED brand. So USC sponsored its own TED event with speakers, hence TEDxUSC.

Without further delay….

The whole experience today was quite fun. The event last year was better though. The speakers were much better.

But this year had an empowering message that is particular apt for our current socio-political and economic climate. Especially with the revolutions in the Middle East and natural disasters happening, the talks were a call to social citizenship and collective action.

Before I become too political let me wrap up what I liked:

  • The theme “actions speak louder” converged with music from around the world
  • Photographer Rick Nahmias: Food Forward presentation about “fruitanthropists” harvesting 1.4 million servings of fresh food from LA backyards to give to the hungry.
  • Talk by Andrew Hessel about synthetic biology and the ability not just to sequence (read) DNA but to write it. Could be used to cure cancer…could also be used for biological warfare – if we got the technology.
  • Talk by Alan Horsager about helping blind people see by inserting a virus with light sensitive cells into blind patients’ eye to replace the bipolar cells. Seems promising on lab rats.
  • The DJ Sleeper put on a nice performance with a cool video.
  • Final performance by circus artists called Troupe Vertigo.
    Highlight – when one of the performance folded herself in half, while doing a hand stand (that is, she supported herself on her hands and her feet were at her head in an extreme back bend) then served 2 of her fellow circus artists glasses of wine. Plus the amazing acrobatics with the blue ribbon cloth was awesome
  • Worth watching the movie created by some students (I won’t ruin it by telling you what it’s about): “Apple of my Eye” by Anna Elizabeth James & Michael Koerbel.
  • “How to start a movement” by Derek Sivers (regular TED talk 2010)
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2 thoughts on “TEDxUSC 2011: mind-blowing stimulation with my smartest friends

  1. Did you fact that I had not attended this year’s TEDxUSC? That has to be a reason why it wasn’t as good as last years 😛

    Anyway, I think I would have really enjoyed the synthetic life & light-sensitive virus talks (I know a thing or two about bipolar cells). You said they insert “a virus with light sensitive ‘cells.'” Viruses are not made of cells; they are made up mainly of protein and genetic material (RNA or DNA). It’s just a detail, but I find it important to distinguish this because viruses are non-living entities. Their genetic material is expressed when they enter a separate living cell and “highjack” it. I would really like to see these two talks. When you get the email(s) with the footage of these talks, can you send the youtube links my way? Thanks!

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