Auma Obama at the TEDx Vienna


By Pollybert

Every Saturday morning I have a coffee with my friend from Vienna1971. Last Thursday he called me to cancel our breakfast. The reason was his attendance of the TEDx conference here in Vienna. And while I have heard about it before, I never really looked into it. So I just told him ‘Wow, that’s cool.’ To which he replied ‘Do you want to come? I still got tickets’. So of course I wanted to go and see for myself what’s it all about.

Later about halfway through the program I could literally bite myself in the a** for not coming there on time. I wasted my morning at home, getting up late and missing all the ‘life’ part.

20131102-152020.jpgI also heard from my friend from Deli Bluem that Ian Usher (the guy put basically his life on eBay and started to travel) would have appealed to me. Now I definitely have to check him out on YouTube and see what he has to say about life and so on. How much am I missing out on when I am not prepared!

In a way I was right on time after all because I happened to arrive just for lunch. Plus by coincidence I met my before mentioned friend from Deli Bluem there. She had actually asked me a couple of weeks ago if I wanted to come with here to the event and I had declined. So now when I met her it was kind of funny while my friend from Vienna1971 kept missing each other.

Right after lunch the ‘Science’ part started which was a revelation for me. There are so many things out there of which I have no clue. And just following the theme of ‘Let’s explore the limits of’ shows the way, there are very interesting things in science as well (sorry if I offend anyone but science was never my kind of thing). Already the first lecture by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell blew my mind. The ‘We are all made of star stuff’ speech showed in an easy way where we all come from (watch here something similar from her)! What made it all the more amazing was that the lecture was interesting but also funny. Plus she spoke in such ways that everyone could follow her without being an astrophysicist.
What an interesting contrast to the last speaker of the ‘Science’ part Neil Ibata a 16 year old ‘Wunderkind‘ who definitely knows his stuff but who hasn’t figured out how to keep the attention of his audience. After a couple of sentences he had lost me. What a shame, I am sure it would have been great if I could have actually followed him ‘Upon dark canvas: the ordered motions of Andromeda’s satellite galaxies’.

After a short break the third part started, a couple of lectures on the topic of ‘Society’. What instantly grabbed my attention was the first talk on ‘Opportunities unlimited – Poverty is no excuse’ from Auma Obama who is not only the sister of the current US president but the founder of Sauti Kuu – powerful voices for a powerful youth in her own rights. She really had an electrifying way and asked the right questions. In the field of development aid the times of “Let’s give you fish” or ” Let’s teach you how to fish” should be over, one should clearly ask “Are you even eating fish?” What a great approach!

And again the last speaker caught my attention. This time in a very positive way. Carl Djerassi (if you want to know more about him, click here), the ‘father’ of the birth control pill, gave a lecture on the topic of “Sex as always – but reproduction under the microscope”. Basically what he said is that we are all waiting to long to get pregnant nowadays because we want to have a career and some fun before we want to take on the responsibility of a child. And then the child-bearing days are almost over and we need medical help. And he was not talking only about us women, it’s the same for men. Very interesting and even more remarkable was that he just celebrated his 90th birthday!

The fourth and last part was about ‘Inventions’ and started with Manel Torres, a Spanish designer who invented some kind spray-on fabric that creates instant clothing. See here how it works. While the use of this fabric as a fashion statement is interesting, it is the possible help in cleaning up oil spills that made it special! Definitely has potential!
Also a lot of potential has the last speaker of the day, 16 year old Elif Belgian, who produced plastic from banana peel. The main beneficiary would be the environment but it would also save the EU long discussions about how many plastic bags we are allowed to carry home.

The day ended with an astonishing concert from the vegetable orchestra. All instruments are made from fresh vegetables and if you don’t believe me then just take a look.

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