May 9th, 2014
About this event
As always, TEDxTallinn 2014 was high-class and inspiring — we welcomed over a dozen outstanding speakers. You were introduced to wind-powered land rovers, disappearing languages, mathematics, photographers changing the world, ocean-sailing robots which clean oil spills, and even to the Estonian national epic “Kalevipoeg”. Add to that interactive urban planning, the pros and cons of nano-particles, and several other intriguing topics.
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Anne Kahru is one of the most cited scientists worldwide in the fields of environment and ecology. She is on the frontier of ecotoxicological research in Estonia, founder and chair of the board of the Estonian Society of Toxicology. Since 2005 she has been the head of the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology at the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics in Tallinn. Several decades ago, Anne started one of the first working groups in the world for ecotoxicological researching of nano-sized metal oxide. Anne was also the first Estonian scientist interviewed by Thomson Reuters’ ScienceWatch regarding the article by her working group in the magazine ‘Chemosphere’ about the ecotoxical effect of nano particles. She is the author of more than 80 research papers and has supervised six PhD theses. In 2011, she received Estonia’s National Science Award for her research on “Ecotoxicology and mechanisms of toxicity of synthetic nanoparticles”.
Cesar Harada is a French-Japanese inventor, environmentalist and entrepreneur. He has developed Protei – a revolutionary, shape-shifting, oil spill cleaning, sailing robot. At the moment, he is introducing “a very strange robot for land” to the world. It drives. Is wind-powered. Ultra-light. Ultra-low energy consumption. It demonstrates that certain renewable, energy-powered machines can be scaled in size, volume and mass without increasing the energy required to control them. Cesar is a graduate of the Royal College of Arts London, Design Interactions Department, which combines product design in relation to how it affects the environment. In addition, he has studied industrial design and animation. He has worked as an MIT Project Leader (in Boston, Massachusetts) and at Southampton University. At the moment, he is focusing on enhancing technologies that improve the health of our planet and oceans. He has done research on oil contamination in New Orleans and radioactivity in Japan. In 2012, at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Cesar introduced Protei – the unmanned sailing robot that quickly eliminates oil contamination in oceans. In 2013, Cesar was sailing around the world with his initiative – Unreasonable at Sea – in order to introduce Protei to different communities struggling with environmental problems. Cesar has lectured on the concurrence of design and environment at Goldsmiths University London, the Netherlands Architecture Institute and elsewhere. He has done public speaking all over the world and has frequently spoken at TEDx events. He is also member of the TED Fellows program.
Daniel Giovannini is completing his PhD in physics at the University of Glasgow. Aside from his research in quantum photonics, Daniel is devoted to popularising science and explaining complicated issues in an uncomplicated way for a variety of publications. He is also one of the organisers of the first Glasgow edition of the Pint of Science festival. Daniel’s reviews and creative writing have appeared for years in several well-known Italian webzines. Daniel is also a member of the international group Spatial Intelligence Unit (SPIN). Formed as an academic research unit, SPIN is now focusing on finding new solutions in urban planning. Combining art and science, they look for ways to redesign the tangible and intangible networks that encompass our cities, in order to foster not only the development of beautiful urban spaces but also social processes.
Eerik Heldna is an Estonian policeman who is not afraid to work. Even though he is young, he has a awe-awakening collection of experience which he has gained working for Tallinn’s Drug Police, as the head of the Central Criminal Police and as a higher official for the Estonian Security Police. Eerik graduated from the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, majoring in pre-trial investigation, and has a Master’s degree in public administration from the Tallinn University of Technology. He started his spectacular career with Tallinn’s Drug Police where he was catching big drug dealers and dealing with drug prevention in schools. His good work led him to become the head of North Tallinn prefecture’s criminal department. In 2004, he completed a full course in the United States at the FBI Academy. In 2008, Eerik was appointed as the head of the Central Criminal Police and a year later accepted the position of deputy to the director general of the Security Police. He is responsible for activities against corruption and terrorism and assignments related to criminal procedures.
Eiko Ojala is an Estonian illustrator and graphic designer who uses the possibilities of digital art to bring life to a physical sheet of paper. His tri-dimensional digital illustrations are based on paper cutting techniques and his extremely precise observation of light and shadow. In his work, it’s almost impossible to differentiate real space from the illusory. Eiko’s witty craftsmanship has won hearts all over the world and has made its way to several book covers. Among others, he has cooperated with the New York Times, Wired, Harvard Business Review and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Eva Koff is an Estonian writer and translator who in addition to creative work has also been a French teacher for many years. The majority of her work has been addressed to the youngest readers. Eva studied French Language and History at the University of Tartu. Her first play, “Meie isa” (“Our father”) – which received the First Prize in the Playwriting Contests of the Estonian Theatre Agency in 2001 – is based on the tragic, true story of Jean-Claude Romand. Eva’s following plays were written for children and youth. There are many children who have grown up with Eva’s stories through the popular radio show “Mina lood” and the ETV children’s show “Lastetuba”. In addition to children’s shows, she is the author of three books: “Kust tulevad vastused?” (“Where do answers come from?”), “Mirr” and “Keerutädi” (“Spin lady”). Eva has grown to understand the fantasy world of children and how children think, both through teaching and raising her four children.
Indrek Park is an anthropologist and linguist whose heart belongs to the dying languages of the small Native American tribes in North America. Distant countries and languages have interested Indrek for many years. In high school, one of his first fieldworks led him to reindeer farms in Siberia. After history studies at the University of Tartu, Indrek began studying Chinese and Tibetan in China and after that continued his PhD studies at Indiana University Bloomington, initially majoring in Tibetan Studies. There he also discovered the dying languages of the small Native American tribes. For his PhD, he ended up living for two years with a little tribe called the Hidatsa to map their language. As a result of his in-depth research, Indrek was adopted by the tribe as their brother and he produced the Hidatsa language dictionary. The outcome of Indrek’s research is not only important to linguists but also for the tribes. For example, Indrek helped develop a language-learning system for the Lakota language, which is used in their school.
Inna Lai is an Estonian performer and conductor in whose hands music literally starts to ring. Her instruments are English handbells, the exquisite sound of which has charmed Inna’s listeners in Estonia, Germany, Scandinavia and Russia. Inna is also the conductor of the Campanelli Handbell Ensemble, Nõmme’s Youth Studio KellaRing and youth and adult handbell ensembles in Kiili. All this results in hundreds of concerts in Estonia and abroad, as well as recorded albums. Aside from musical heights, Inna also likes to challenge herself as an alpinist. On the stage of TEDxTallinn, Inna will be accompanied on the piano by Karolina Sepp. Karolina also plays the handbells in the Campanelli Handbell Ensemble and instructs the handbell players of the International School of Estonia.
Jaan Aru is a young Estonian brain scientist who will appear on the stage of TEDxTallinn for the second time. Jaan studied psychology and defended his Master’s thesis in consciousness at the Humboldt University of Berlin. At the moment, he is waiting for a date to defend his PhD dissertation at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and working on some science problems for the University of Tartu’s Institute of Computer Science and in Tallinn in the laboratory of Talis Bachmann. With Talis, Jaan has also written a book called “Attention and Consciousness”. When the book was published, Jaan was just 22. Jaan’s articles about consciousness and the brain can be found on his blog “Teadvuse suure probleemi lahendamine” (“Solving the problem of consciousness”). While on stage at TEDxTallinn, he will tackle another big mystery of science.
Juhan Aru is a young Estonian mathematician who is one of the authors of the surprise blockbuster “Matemaatika õhtuõpik” (“Evening studybook for mathematics”). The book gained great support via the crowdfunding platform Hooandja, and the first printing sold out almost immediately. Even though Juhan graduated from Hugo Treffner Gymnasium, his search for higher education lead him to study in Germany, the United Kingdom and France. Juhan received his Master’s degree in mathematics from the reputable Trinity College in Cambridge, and from there he continued his Master’s studies in Paris majoring in advanced life sciences. Now he is working on his PhD in mathematics at the University of Lyon. The popularising of mathematics and connecting it to “real” life has been a natural way for Juhan to share his interests. He has prepared students for mathematical Olympiad Competitions at Hugo Treffner Gymnasium and at the School of Exact Sciences at the University of Tartu, translated articles regarding mathematics for Akadeemia and received the title Best Speaker of Mathematics at the Estonian Mathematics Days.
“Poet with a camera” is one of the heartwarming compliments Kaupo Kikkas has received and accurately characterises his sensitive way of expression as a photographer. Kaupo has received recognition for his beautiful nature photographs and expressive portraits. During Kaupo’s school years, he was engaged already in the world of images when he was charmed by a basic digital camera. Later on he went to study photography in Finland, and finetuned his skills while working as a commercial photographer. Currently Kaupo devotes a large amount of his time to fine art and portraits. He travels a lot and takes illustrative series of photos of his trips — one series can be admired in a book called Amazon. Elu ainus foto (Amazon. Life’s only photo). One of Kaupo’s favourite genres in portrait photography are musicians. Arvo Pärt, Kristjan Randalu and Dianne Reeves are just some of the people he has photographed. It could be that the success behind his portraits of musicians lies in his own education in music. Lately, Kaupo has also worked as the curator of the Photo Museum in Tallinn.
A filmmaker, artist and human rights activist, Mary Jordan grew up in Canada and in the US, but love brought her to Estonia. She has cooperated with several organisations standing for human rights to create documentaries. She is a spokesperson to the West regarding the global water crisis and is dedicated to developing public art space. Mary has studied art, and social anthropology. Her sensitive, observing nature has led her to locations all over the world. She has made several movies regarding human rights in India, Burma, Indonesia and African countries. Those films have appeared at festivals in London, Rotterdam and Los Angeles. However, her first long and award- winning documentary – “Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis” (in 2006) – portrays the controversial life of a revolutionary artist. On her journey in Africa, Mary came across a problem — accessibility to clean drinking water. In 2010, Mary founded an international art organisation called Word Above the Streets, aiming to draw attention to the water problem that impacts millions of people every day. During the Water Tank Project, water tanks on the roofs of New York will be wrapped with artwork created by dozens of artists to portray the water crisis. You can read about Mary’s observations about bottlenecks in Estonian society from the Estonian daily, Eesti Päevaleht. As the hostess of Kõue manor, she is in the process of transforming the manor into a centre of modern art.
Jaan Tätte, Jr. (aka meisterjaan) is a young Estonian musician who recently introduced his debut album “Algelised katsetused” (“Elementary Experiments”). On the record, you can hear experimental pieces with jew’s harp and analog synthesisers recorded in a home studio. As he himself says, the title of the album reflects the fact that the best pieces are born during the most fun experiments. He started recording music in his teenage years and has taken part in the Eesti Laul competition twice. Playing the jew’s harp is one of the most important ways of expressing himself at the moment. And there is nothing surprising in that considering what amazing sounds he can make with it. Sounds which most probably you have never heard before.
Merle Maigre is an expert on defence and foreign affairs and the Estonian President’s adviser on security issues. She has been involved with the cooperation with NATO and the defence and security issues of the Ukrainian government. Merle studied history at the University of Tartu and international relations at Middlebury College (in Vermont, USA). She continued her studies in France and Italy, and in 2005 defended her Master’s thesis in war studies at King’s College London. Merle worked in the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the NATO Department of the Estonian Ministry of Defence when Estonia was preparing to join NATO. From 2005–2007, she was as the deputy head of the NATO Liaison Office in Kyiv as the representative of NATO in Ukraine, coordinating the Ukrainian defence reform. While working as a researcher at the International Centre for Defence Studies, Merle mainly focused on Ukraine’s defence and security policies. Before taking on the role of security policy adviser to the President of Estonia, Merle worked as a policy adviser at the Policy Planning Unit in the Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO on behalf of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Taking all of this into account, it’s not surprising that Merle has received a scholarship from the reputable Marshall Fund which is given out to the most remarkable young experts in foreign affairs. The general public can read her analyses on foreign affairs and security policy in the pages of Diplomaatia.
Valdur Mikita is a writer and a semiotician who has gained attention with his unconventional views of Estonians. In his last book, “Lingvistiline mets” (“Linguistic Forest”), he shares unconventional thoughts about Estonian language, nature and culture, focusing on what a magical place Estonia is with its smoke saunas, mushroom picking and potato hooks (a special tool for picking potatoes). In 2013, the book received the annual literary prize from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia. “Difficult to classify research and creative activity” is a sentence describing Valdur in the Estonian Science Portal. And that’s how it is: strictly taken, his books are not scientific research. However, Valdur, as a semiotician, has approached creativity in culture and thinking by blurring the line between creative and scientific handlings of the world.
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