On June 30th, 2010, the X Prize Foundation (http://www.xprize.org) announced its most recent project, “…a multi-million dollar prize [aimed] at cleanup efforts in the Gulf as a way to incentivize immediately privately-funded innovation and action.” Francis Beland (VP of X Prize) and Dave Gallo (Oceanographer) made the announcement during the TEDxOilSpill Conference in Washington, D.C. This is the 5th X Prize to be offered and “will be focused on the development of rapidly-deployable methods to clean up crude oil among coastlines and seas/oceans.”
News of this prize was met with enthusiasm and excitement, but what gave it the extra “wow factor” was its debut at the TEDxOilSpill Conference. If you have not yet heard of TED, I urge you to check out their website. TED.com is a non-profit organization (started in 1984) dedicated to “Ideas worth spreading.” Started as a conference to bring together leaders in their respective fields (beginning with technology, entertainment and design), TED has expanded to encompass experts in all fields and move well-beyond the conference setting.
For those individuals who are not selected to attend one of TED’s 3+ annual events (the application process is highly selective and pricey), TED offers a website chock full videos from their conferences (+700 and counting) from years past to present-day. Their website reads: “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.”
A quick perusal brings up well-known names in science such as: UW’s own John Delaney, talking about “Wiring the Ocean”; Clay Skirky, “HowCognitive Surplus Will Change the World”; Carter Emmart, “A 3D Atlas of the Universe”, to name a few. There are also featured videos by pioneers in economies, politics, policy, art, music, and world health. The archives are staggering. And of course, if you aspire to one-day give a TED talk, you’ll have to keep it short. Talks run about 18-minutes in length and are Powerpoint “lite”.
I urge you to peruse their website, and to listen to talks in areas outside of your realm of expertise. It is inspiring to see how well the featured speakers use interdisciplinary approaches to communicate to their audiences and to the general public. And for those of you interested in the progress of the oil spill and the 5th X Prize, be sure to visit: