A pooling of far-reaching minds at TEDGlobal

21 Jul 2009

Kicking off in Oxford today, TEDGlobal will bring together leaders from three domains – technology, entertainment and design – as they share their ideas in a number of specialist areas, including neuroscience, nature, astrophysics, economics and the evolution of cities.

With its tagline ‘The Substance of Things Not Seen’, the European TEDGlobal conference, running from 21-24 July in Oxford, promises to be a stellar event, featuring 40 diverse speakers.

Each speaker will have an 18-minute window to present their intellectual insights to the audience. This year’s event will specifically explore the unseen, and how such forces are shaping our future.

From a Capuchin monk to a philosopher, artists, an internet scientist, a micro-sculptor, writers, designers, architects, and the actor Stephen Fry, the line-up is set to enthrall an eager audience of some 700 people, each of whom has paid £2,776 sterling to attend.

To give you a flavour of the type of creative innovators who will be bouncing their ideas around over the next few days in Oxford, the philosopher Alain de Botton will speak in the ‘What we Know’ session today, while extreme sports stuntman space jumper Steve Truglia will share his insight in the ‘Seeing is Believing’ session.

Truglia is currently collaborating with leading high-altitude balloon and life-support equipment experts, and is looking for sponsors to support him in his world high-altitude parachuting record attempt. He is planning to jump from 12,000 feet in a spacesuit.

Tomorrow, visitors will get some insight from an eclectic mixture of pioneering minds, ranging from Jonathan Zittrain, professor of internet law at Harvard Law School and the author of the recent book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It; Evgeny Morozov, who is currently working on a book about the internet’s role in authoritarian societies; Steph Broadbent, tech anthropologist; Aza Raskin, interface guru, who is also the head of user experience for Mozilla Labs.

Lewis Pugh, environmentalist, polar explorer and swimmer, will be one of the speakers at the Nature’s Challenge session tomorrow. By swimming across the oceans of the world, Puch is striving to draw our attention to the changes happening in our oceans and also to climate change.

On 30 August, Pugh will attempt to kayak from the island of Spitsbergen, which is off the coast of Norway, across the Arctic Ocean into the Arctic ice pack. He will be doing this kayak to draw attention to the dramatic melting of sea ice.

But back to TED, which is a not-for-profit that was formed in 1984. Its mission is to highlight ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.The annual TED conference takes place in Long Beach, California, while its European twin, TEDGlobal, occurs each year In Oxford.

Also, in November 2009, TEDIndia will be held in Mysore, India, and will explore the future of south east Asia.

The TED Blog also features extracts from some of the most influential and topical speakers at TED events.

By Carmel Doyle