Everyone knows about the TED talks — the great, and mercifully short, presentations whose videos are among the most-shared on the web. Even clicking on a completely random talk, you’re likely to be rewarded with something interesting. Part of that is the extraordinary level of quality control — not only in choosing speakers, but in working with speakers ahead of time to fine-tune their presentations. And holding them to a time limit.
Besides the big TED conferences, there are also independently-organized events known as TEDx. Caltech is going to host such an event for the first time, TEDxCaltech, on January 14. The theme is “Feynman’s Vision: The Next 50 Years.” In practice that means three groups of talks: Conceptualization and Visualization in Science, Frontiers of Physics, and Nanoscience and Future Biology. Check out the list of speakers. If it weren’t for the fact that I am on it myself, I’d emphasize what a great program this is — any event that includes both Scott Aaronson and Lyle Mays shows quite a bit of promise. Throw in Leonard Susskind and Craig Venter, and it might be worth a special trip.
All are welcome to come! The flip side of the fact that so much work goes into making the talks successful is that a corresponding level of commitment is asked of the audience — so you don’t simply buy a ticket, you apply, and it does cost money. But who can put a price on inspiration?