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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Inspirational TED talks come to Davis

A group of UC Davis students will host the first TEDx conference in Davis on April 23.

TED – technology, entertainment and design – is an annual conference held nationally and globally that brings accomplished speakers to talk about innovative ideas in their fields of expertise. TEDx Davis is an independently organized event to occur on campus.

“We loved the message that TED delivers to the public,” said Mark Bogost, director of public relations and junior biological sciences major. “A few of our teammates have seen speeches in Berkeley and they’ve been very inspired by it. They could see that [the speakers] motivate and spark so much interest in the public, and that’s what we really want – for these speakers to spark a fire in the audience.”

Speakers are being chosen to fit the theme of the event – Think Big, Think Small, Think Forward, Bogost said. The team anticipates having a nanotechnology expert for thinking small, physicists and astronomers for thinking big and motivational speakers for thinking forward. Charisma and a great stage presence to catch the public’s attention are also considered, he said.

Speakers are being chosen by a variety of factors, said Cory Warshaw, curator and junior animal biology major. They are looking for speakers that have good anecdotal reviews by professors, well-known names on campus and they are looking to get people in areas like veterinary medicine and viticulture.

Physics professor Lloyd Knox, a speaker for the event, said he enjoys TED talks and is interested in communicating with the general public through this venue.

“I’ll be talking about the universality of physical law,” Knox said. “It’s an astounding fact that the universe obeys regular laws, laws that are seen everywhere. In particular I want to talk about how we’re able to understand propagation of sound waves at the edge of the observable universe, and how we’re able to predict observable consequences from these sound waves and detect them and measure their properties to amazing precision. And how, through this extreme example, the laws of physics apply everywhere.”

Vikram Amar, associate dean and professor at the UC Davis School of Law, will also speak at the event. While he was not familiar with TED before, Amar said that the lectures seem like an unusually powerful mode of educating people on something important and in a memorable way.

“I’ll be talking about how we came to have the Electoral College and the story about how we decided how to select the president,” he said. “And I’m going to be presenting reasons why I and a lot of other people are convinced that the Electoral College doesn’t really do anything helpful anymore.”

TEDx Davis will be held in the AGR room of the Alumni and Visitor Center on campus. The event will begin with check-in at 9 a.m. and tickets will cost $20. Attendees must first apply online at tedxdavis.com/event in order to be eligible.

TED highly encourages TEDx events to curate their audience, Warshaw said. The online application is brief and asks interested attendees to talk about one of their accomplishments and why they want to attend the event.

The day is broken into three sections, with breaks and performances in between, Warshaw said. Each speech will run for a maximum of 18 minutes. So far, The Lounge Lizards, a campus a capella group, are confirmed to perform.

Bogost noted that there will also be breakout sessions, in which audience members have the opportunity to speak further with one of the speakers in another room. AggieTV will provide a live stream of the event.

If this year’s event is successful, the team hopes to continue it annually. Warshaw said that the event will be funded by ticket sales and sponsorships from businesses, and that all of the speakers are volunteers. This year’s event will cost at most $10,000, but the team hopes to expand their budget to upward of $30,000 next year, Bogost said.

“We want people to be excited about coming to see TEDx,” Bogost said. “Hopefully by this year, enough word will come out and next year we will have a bigger event.”

MARTHA GEORGIS can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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