TEDxUofToledo, in collaboration with Campus Activities and Programming, hosted a TED talk Saturday, Oct. 8 in the Student Union. The theme of this event was “Caveman to Cosmonaut,” highlighting the evolution of the human species. The event consisted of four speakers, questions and answer sessions following each talk, as well as two TED videos.
“TEDx is an independently organized version of TED, which is meant to have people around the community share ideas they might have but cannot find a platform to share it on,” said David Smith, Lead Organizer of TEDxUofToledo. “In TEDxUofToledo’s case, it allows members of the university to share things that they have been working on or ideas that they have.”
The first speaker was Therese M. Griebel, Associate Director for Strategy at NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC). She spoke of the next great human mission: the journey to Mars. Griebel spoke of the technological and logistical obstacles currently faced by NASA and the tools that are required to accomplish this mission. The 255-day journey, the 15-month stay and the return journey must all be taken into consideration as part of this historic expedition.
“I think that human exploration into the solar system is something that NASA has always been about,” Griebel said. “Personally, I am responsible for ensuring that at GRC, we are contributing to the priorities of NASA by doing what we are the best at, which includes power systems, propulsion systems, advanced communication architectures and technologies and the advanced materials to maximize them.”
The second speaker was the Associate Chair of the University of Toledo’s Department of Art, Barbara Miner. Miner spoke about the prevalence of art since the origin of modern humans and how it played a critical role in the development of our species. She encouraged the transformation of the educational curriculum S.T.E.M. to S.T.E.A.M. to include arts with the other disciplines. Furthermore, Miner said that both science and art require creativity and ingenuity for moving their respective fields forward.
“Actually, ‘Caveman to Cosmonaut’ is not specifically about our evolution to space. It’s about evolution as a whole through all topics including technology, psychology, arts,” said Smith.
The third speaker was Sans Basnet, a third-year particle physics student at the University of Toledo and a researcher at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Basnet spoke of the standard model of physics and the subatomic particles that make up our world. Basnet spoke of the experiments currently being conducted at Fermi Lab, and how neutrinos may hold the answers to change our understanding of the universe.
The final speaker was Timothy Walker, a senior Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Toledo and has recently accepted a position as an engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Walker spoke about his involvement in a project developing algae removing drones. Walker further spoke of his ambition to change the world and solve real-life problems.
“It was great. It gives you a lot to think about. You walk away feeling smarter, and I feel like it is definitely one of those things we need to support and keep having,” said Zach Wantz, fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student who attended the event.
Wantz said he attended similar events in the past and wanted to attend because he was interested in the conversation the event had to offer.
The event capped off with refreshments for the guests, along with jazz music by a student band, Mission Spectrum. TEDxUofToledo hopes that this endeavor will become an annual event.