Tech PRose

January 28, 2011

TEDx Caltech Rocked!

Filed under: Lawren Markle,Technology Industry — techimage @ 10:34 am

I had the pleasure of attending TEDx at Caltech on January 14th to hear thirty science and technology presentations — on the big stage at Beckman Auditorium on Caltech’s campus here in Pasadena.  Some of the talks were pretty heavy science, and I don’t have any quantum physics under my belt, but I was able to come away with an understanding of the concepts anyway.

I registered with the hope that I’d hear things to lead me in new directions and explore new technologies, and the presentations didn’t disappoint.  Some of the most interesting talks were about engineering DNA codes — to treat cancer (Mark Davis), create bacteria that make carbon nanotube batteries (Angela Belcher), or even create new life forms (Craig Venter).  It appears we are at the edge of a wave of breakthroughs now that we’ve cracked the genome.  People are starting to apply that knowledge to new treatments and new solutions.  Craig Venter’s talk was very interesting – especially at the 16:00 mark onward, where he describes applications for synthetic genomics – from targeted treatments for HIV, to creating new algae that will eat carbon dioxide and create fuels we can use at the pump.  It’s a little scary, but wow.

The talk about The Worldwide Telescope was pretty cool if you haven’t seen it.  It’s a 3D interactive tour of the universe.  I think 3D interfaces are going to proliferate.  Pamela Bjorkman talked about visualizing and engineering new anti-HIV agents.  Overall, it was a pretty cool event, and Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau pulled off a triumph hosting this at the school.  The theme was remembering Richard Feynman, a physicist and professor who was able to make physics entertaining and approachable.  Microsoft has put Feynman’s lectures online recently.

I think all of the talks will be posted at www.caltech.edu in a few months.  I hope these scientists have good funding and good PR because they are poised to change everything.

-By Lawren Markle

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