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Summary of the lecture:

To create for the ages, let’s combine art and engineering

URL: https://www.ted.com/talks/

Speaker: Bran Ferren

During his childhood, Bran Ferren had a nutritive environment in which he developed an increasing
love for art and science. Both of his parents were artists but his grandfather was an engineer. His
interest on science started during those weekends spent with his grandfather, when he bought all
sorts of artifacts or spare parts that he would later use to repair or ensemble different machines.

Despite of that, his parents wouldn’t give up and so they took him on several trips to visit the ruins
of ancient civilizations of the Middle East and museums where he could get in touch with the art,
history and design of the cultures of the past. But Ferren would still have only one interest: science
and he would rather wander, sometimes even by himself, in a museum like the London Science
Museum.

Then something occurred, an experience that changed his life: his family visited the Pantheon in
Rome, a temple for all the gods that has survived gravity, looters, barbarians, ravages of time and
developers. When he saw the dome, Ferren discovered that the people from 2000 years ago were
smart. According to Ferren there were some miracles that the Romans had to accomplish, in order
to build the only unreinforced concrete dome that has ever been built in the world: invention of a
very strong concrete, variation of the density of the aggregated, “manipulation” of the light, thermal
cooling through natural convection and the Venturi Effect.

From that moment on, Ferren knew that art and design weren’t incompatible with science and
engineering and he always tried to be in both worlds. For Ferren, this is the kind of attitude that
people from our time needs for new Pantheons, people with fresh thinking and a willingness to
experiment, but also they should be resilient to universal criticizing and rejection. Only then, we are
going to be able to take giant leaps.

The autonomous vehicle is for Ferren the next giant leap but why? He said that much of the world
has been designed around roads and transportation and if we change the way we understand a
vehicle we could also save tens of thousands of lives in the U.S.A. (perhaps hundreds of thousands
in the world), reduce drastically road congestions and air pollution, get faster anywhere, recover
vast amounts of lost productivity and finally, change how we understand the cities of today.

He described the necessary technologies for this achievement:

• We need to know where we are and what time it is. We already have the global position
system or GPS.
• We need to know what and where the roads are and where we want to be. For this, we
have in-car navigation systems.
• We need near continuum high performance computing networks. We have wireless
technologies designed for smartphones and mobile devices that with some minor
modifications could be used.
• We need to restrict roads. We have as an antecedent the HOV lanes.
• We need to recognize people and objects. For this, we could add sensors to weight
passengers.

So we need to encourage the new generations, to tell them that failure is a necessary ingredient
just like perseverance and to make them realize that art and design are not luxuries. Only then, the
rare visionaries will appear more frequently. Ferren described these people like being able to
provide enough of the miracles, to obtain the remaining miracles and to convert unsurmountable
obstacles into features. In a few words, these are people that think the impossible can be done.
Summary of the lecture:

A new way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere

URL: https://www.ted.com/talks/

Speaker: Jennifer Wilcox

What is the meaning of 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere? It implies that for every 400 molecules
of CO2 there are 1 million of molecules of O2/N2. The capture of the CO2 is something that we
should have begun to do. There are some natural processes in which sea water, soils, plants and
rocks remove CO2 from the air, but these have become insufficient.

Nowadays, we count with some artificial processes that use chemicals. This is what Wilcox calls
synthetic forest. There are two different types of process, one that uses CO2 grabbing chemicals
dissolved in water and another one that uses CO2 grabbing solid materials. The one that Wilcox
described more was the former. This process uses an air contactor, a machine that with a length of
200 m (providing a high surface area), a relatively thin thickness and the help of pumps, fans and
packing material to distribute liquids, uses a CO2 binding solution.

The result is a solution of concentrated CO2 which is easier to liquefy, to transport through pipelines
or trucks or to use as a fuel or chemical. The difficulty occurs during the recycling of material and
the subsequent enormous amount of heat generated. So the heat required dictates the energy and
the cost associated. But what sort of technology could use an air contactor? The answer is a certain
power plant. The reason is that the process has to be feasible. For example let’s examine the case
of a coal power plant, which costs, in the energy intensive form, are $1000/ton CO2 and the possible
benefit are $50/gallon CO2.

Wilcox mentioned that currently there are three company that fulfill the requirements:

• Carbon Engineering: it uses a liquid approach and cheap, clean natural gas to cut costs
down. It also co-captures the CO2 produced during the burning of the fuel and the CO2 from
the air.
• Clime Works: it uses a solid material approach and takes advantage of geothermal energy,
located nearby.
• Global Thermostat: it uses a really fast rate of distribution of liquid through the materials to
counteract the heat generated and the power plant has a more compact design.

According to Wilcox, the design of a synthetic forest is advantageous because it presents no


competition with farmlands or food. The possible marketable products are fuels, plastic or synthetic
grave. Besides, with every new plant built of this type, scientists and engineers learn more and can
progressively cut costs down. But we need to invest as a society as whole, by means of new
regulations, taxes, subsidies, investment in research and development.
Summary of the lecture:

Four billion years of evolution in six minutes

URL: https://www.ted.com/talks/

Speaker: Prosanta Chakraharty

In a few words, the Darwinian natural selection says that the less fit slowly die off and the best fit
to the environment survive. This is an oversimplification that produces a really bad understanding
of the theory of evolution. In general evolution is thought to have a linearized form in which the
simplest forms of life are the origin of the most complex ones. But evolution doesn’t occur in a line
and we don’t have to feel as if we were the gold of evolution. Understanding evolution the right
way allow us to understand better other things, like where we are from. This also makes possible to
treat each other with more comprehension, in terms of races and gender.

According to Chakraharty we are more like fishes and that we and the monkeys have a common
ancestor. He mentioned that approximately three billions years ago, the single cells life gave origin
to multicellular life and this originated the fishes. Fishes gave origin to reptiles and mammals. Later
the birds originated from the reptiles and that the monkeys appeared in the group of the mammals.

He said that we could think life as a book and that we as a specie have been around what could be
considered a few pages. We should consider this when we underestimate other forms of life.
Summary of the lecture:

The art of first impressions – in design and in life

URL: https://www.ted.com/talks/

Speaker: Chip Kidd

Kidd mentioned that there were two elements he was absolutely fascinated with: clarity and
mystery. He presented as an example of clarity and mystery four scribbles and it couldn’t be
understood, but later he added three more scribbles and Charlie Brown’s face appeared, a beloved
character of the work of Charlie and Shultz.

Visual vernacular, in words of Kidd, relates to the way we are used to see things applied to other
things in order to look at these latter things in a different way. Combined with the appropriate
quantity of mystery and clarity, visual vernacular is a concept that Kidd uses with successful results
at his work.