TEDx conference comes to Newcastle as university joins forces with Thinking Digital

Speakers to include everyone from academics working in India to a Young Musician of Year with a passion for the recorder

Professor Sugata Mitra
Professor Sugata Mitra

A conference concept that has captured the imagination of people throughout the world since being established three decades ago in California is coming to Newcastle.

Thinking Digital - which has itself built a solid reputation for annual tech-focussed events - has teamed up with Newcastle University to bring TED to Great North Museum: Hancock on Sunday, July 7.

Based on the simple premise of ‘ideas worth spreading’, the TED phenomenon is known for attracting speakers of a high profile calibre, from Bill Gates to Al Gore.

The North East event - supported by the Institute of Mathematics, Shout Digital and Maths Hub Great North - will be a so-called TEDx conference, meaning local groups will organise their own independent programme under the TED umbrella,

A line-up of 10 speakers, ranging from Oxford University academics to musicians, has been secured, with a vast range of topics set for discussion.

With education being a major theme, the application of mathematics will come under the spotlight when Prof Ehrhard Behrends from Freie Universität Berlin, looks at Mathematical Magic – that is, how maths is used by magicians in card tricks or to find a ‘secret’ number.

Oxford University’s Dr Thomas Woolley, an expert in mathematical biology, then, will focus on Enigma Code-breaker Alan Turing’s lesser-known theories, before Prof. Peter Grindrod, also of Oxford, tackles maths and the digital economy

Dr Alan Turing, mathematician and computer scientist
Dr Alan Turing, mathematician and computer scientist

From Newcastle University, the speakers include Steve Humble, who will discuss the talents of children he has met in the slums of Africa, and Prof Sugata Mitra, who won the $1m 2013 TED prize and helped to inspire the movie Slumdog Millionaire through an experiment he conducted in India that gave children free computer access.

Also from Newcastle University will be Prof James Tooley, a specialist in the role of government in education, who will talk of his work in setting up low-cost private schools in Ghana, Sierra Leone and India.

Pam Warhurst, a former head of the Forestry Commission, meanwhile, will discuss her Incredible Edible Todmorden initiative, which encourages ordinary people to take control of their communities and their surroundings through civic engagement and food.

From the business world, Joanna Montgomery will focus on her start-up Little Riot, the company behind Pillow Talk, which connects loved ones over long distances.

Dannie Lu-Carr, an acting and business performance coach will share her thoughts on the importance of creativity, and Sophie Westbrooke - a BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist who wants to popularise the recorder - will demonstrate this in practice.

Thinking Digital’s Herb Kim said: “We have put together a diverse and fascinating line-up of speakers for TEDxNewcastle, who are sure to inspire debate and fresh ideas among the audience.

“This is an event for everybody interested in science, education, culture and the environment, and how new and existing theories are being put into practice.

“It’s also a forum for fun ideas and knowledge, and I’m confident everyone who attends will come away from the event with some fascinating new insights.”

For more information and tickets, visit http://tedxnewcastle.com/ .


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