TED talks arguably are the most inspiring pieces of procrastination ever created by man, and TEDxUniversityofGlasgow was no different. With essay deadlines breathing down my neck, presentations slowly drowning me, and exams eerily around the corner I had the choice of a hard laboured Saturday of work, or roughly 8 hours of stimulating, thought-provoking and motivational talks, that have very little to do with my studies. It was a difficult decision.
For myself the highlight of the conference was Lindy Irving, with her powerful talk titled “Superheroes vs. Stigma”. She explained her battle against depression, even the suicidal thoughts that once passed through her mind, and her subsequent battle against employers who recoiled at the slight whisper of ‘Mental Health Issues’. Irving’s speech, which included the exhilarating reveal of a batman top, had the audience and myself thinking about the stigma of mental health and I believe the whole audience will have taken something away from it.
On the other end of the spectrum was Peter McGinty’s talk about the problems of space debris and Adrian Buzatu, from the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Colider at CERN, who explained what keeps the universe together. Even from a point of view outside the sciences, both talks were fascinating. McGinty explained how a fleck of paint could potentially lead to the death of space travel unless we work out a way of dealing with space debris, yet projects from Glasgow itself could be working slowly towards a solution. Buzatu explained his experience at the Large Hadron Colider, and the incredible discovery of the Higgs Boson.
The conference also had talks from Chris Moore, an entrepreneur brimming with ingenuity who built his company, Trick Creative, from absolutely nothing to Glasgow’s leading web and digital marketing company despite facing multiple issues from breakups to cancer; Julie Williamson, who managed to stop the Boyd Orr being ugly (for a short while alas) and Debora Kayembe who came to the UK as refugee and the huge struggle she faced since.
However, what separates TEDxGU from any other TEDx conferences are the highly talented University of Glasgow students that spoke. Cameron Mackay is a Glasgow University student who travels the world using art and communication to tackle climate change, he spoke about his travels to Greenland and the Himalayas and how visible of an effective Climate Change has had on these areas. James Schimdt, in his talk about “The Value of Self-Reflection” gave a very moving and personal talk about putting your stamp on the future. Miriam Wilson, who was president of Climate Action Society at the height of the divestment from fossil fuels movement, explains that historic crusade that led to Glasgow University being the first university to divest from fossil fuels.
Of course, the conference entailed multiple other speakers and videos, including a video exhibition from Sense Scotland, all of which was captivating and thought-provoking. TEDxGU2015 successfully incorporated global issues and Glasgow into a smoothly run and professional conference, worthy of wearing the TED name.