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The Sciences

14 billion years in 7 minutes

Cosmic VarianceBy Risa WechslerMarch 5, 2011 4:12 AM


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You've already heard about TEDx from Sean here and here. The main TED conference for 2011 has been going on this week, in Long Beach, and rumors have it that it's been great. Physicist Janna Levin gave a talk, which is not yet posted. A few of the talks are, though -- check out this inspiringly optimistic view of the current situation in the Arab world from Wadah Khanfar. More TED talks here, the ones from this week are starting to appear. In any case, one of the first very large TEDx Events was organized as a part of Universal Children's Day in November, with a whole bunch of simultaneous organized events called TEDxYouth. I had the opportunity to give a talk at one of the events TEDxYouth Castellija, to about 400 middle and high school students, about how the Universe works. Because of the younger audience, they cut the standard ted talk time of 18 minutes to 6 minutes, which made it even harder -- at least for those of us used to having a whole hour to say something! Anyways, I managed to try to explain dark matter, galaxies, and the last 14 billion years in this short time. You can take a look here: [embed] [/embed] The rest of the speaker lineup was really great, and very diverse, including a graffiti artist, the founder of guitar hero, the google chef, and a super compelling biochemist. My favorite talk was by Garang Akau, one of the lost boys of Sudan, who has subsequently graduated from Stanford and started his own NGO called New Scholars, focused on incubating youth-led enterprise in Africa. His fearlessness and optimism in the face of incredible hardship was seriously inspiring. Check it out: [embed][embed] The best part of the whole thing was meeting and talking with some of the kids, who were truly engaged and curious. Lots more awesome talks are available from TEDxYouth Castelleja and from the rest of the TEDxYouth events. Looks like the day was a smashing success all around, and will be happening again next November.

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