x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Feynman's Vision: The Next 50 Years

This event occurred on
January 14, 2011
10:00am - 6:00pm (UTC -8hrs)
Pasadena, CA
United States

TEDxCaltech was an unprecedented event for Caltech bringing together innovators, explorers, teachers and learners for an exhilarating day of collaboration, conversation and celebration. Inspired by Caltech’s own Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate, iconoclast, visionary, and all-around “curious character,” and with the theme “Feynman’s Vision: The Next 50 Years,” TEDxCaltech introduced attendees to two of Feynman’s core philosophies: making science accessible and the resultant pleasure of finding things out. TEDxCaltech had 27 speakers, plus 5 student speakers, one 11-time Grammy winning musician, a poet, two skits, a surprise appearance by Stephen Hawking, 100+ volunteers, and a Tuvan throat singer. It was an exciting and entertaining intellectual adventure! The talks and performances have been posted here:

Beckman Auditorium
California Institute of Technology
332 S. Michigan Avenue
Pasadena, CA, 91125
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.


Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck is the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. He received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, in 1982 and 1985, respectively and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1989. Shuki’s research focuses on information theory and systems and the theory of computation in biological networks. His extensive industrial experience includes working for IBM Research as well as cofounding and serving as chairman of Rainfinity (acquired in 2005 by EMC) and XtremIO. Dr. Bruck is a Fellow of the IEEE, a recipient of the Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the IEEE Schelkunoff Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, an IBM Outstanding Innovation Award and an IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award.


Dennis Callahan is a 3rd year graduate student in Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. His thesis is focused on exploring design limits for novel types of solar cells to achieve maximum efficiency with minimum cost and use of raw materials. He has created many types of scientific art, and his images have twice consecutively won 1st place at Caltech’s “Art of Science” competition. In his spare time Dennis is an amateur photographer and singer-songwriter. He also experiments with generative art, which is an art form at the intersection of abstract drawing and computer programming in which artistic works are created with a computer through the use of human designed algorithms. One of his major interests and passions is the merging of science and art to help foster a greater widespread understanding of the purpose and importance of each of these typically distinct and underappreciated topics.


Adam Cochran is an attorney who joined the profession after a somewhat tortuous path. After graduating from Hanover College (major in Chemistry and Business Administration, minor in Physics and Math), he spent twelve years touring as a musician before completing his MS at Purdue University and obtaining a Juris Doctor degree at Loyola University in Chicago. He was in private practice as a patent attorney, and then entered corporate practice to become General Counsel of Vestar, Inc., where the world’s first commercial ‘nanotechnology’ product was developed and approved for sale in 1988 (AmBisome, a 60nm liposomal amphotericin B preparation for the treatment of systemic fungal infections). Following the acquisition of Vestar, Inc., he came to Caltech and was instrumental in negotiating rights to publish The Feynman Lectures on Physics, New Millennium Edition in a corrected print and new electronic format, which is the subject of his presentation at TEDxCaltech.


S. George Djorgovski is a Professor of Astronomy at Caltech, Co-Director of Caltech’s Center for Advanced Computing Research. George is also the Director of the Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics, the first professional scientific organization based in virtual worlds. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1985, was a Harvard Junior Fellow, the joined the Caltech faculty in 1987. Among his honors, he was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, a Presidential Young Investigator and, having authored or coauthored several hundred scientific publications, is among the Institute for Scientific Information’s 1000 most cited physicists. George is a founder of the Virtual Observatory framework and the emerging field of AstroInformatics, and chaired the U.S. National Virtual Observatory Scientific Definition Team. Among his many current interests are development of methodologies for a computationally enabled, data-intensive science for the 21st century, and exploration of observable parameter spaces with digital sky surveys.


Eric Heller was born in Washington D.C. in 1946. He received his BS from the University of Minnesota in 1968, and his PhD in Chemical Physics in 1973 from Harvard University. After a postdoc at the University of Chicago, Rick joined the chemistry faculty at UCLA in 1975, becoming a Professor in 1981. In 1981 he took a sabbatical at Los Alamos National Laboratory, ultimately joining LANL as a staff scientist until 1984 when he accepted a faculty position in chemistry at the University of Washington. In 1993, he returned to Harvard as Professor of Physics, and assumed his present position of Professor of Physics and Chemistry in 1998. In 2009, Heller was appointed the Abbot and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at Harvard.


Anthony Hey is corporate vice president in Microsoft Research, and responsible for its multidisciplinary eScience Research Group and research collaborations between Microsoft and university researchers worldwide. Previously, he directed the U.K.'s e-Science Initiative, helping to build a new scientific infrastructure for collaborative, multidisciplinary, data-intensive research. Before that he was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, and Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Southampton, and led a group researching parallel computing. Tony is a fellow of the U.K.'s Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Computer Society, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded a CBE for his services to science in 2005. Tony is passionate about conveying the excitement of science and technology to young people. He has co-authored "popular" books on quantum mechanics and relativity, and written technical books on particle physics and computing.


Sanjoy Mahajan obtained his PhD in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1998, after an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Oxford and in physics from Stanford. Due to his wonderful teachers, he became interested in improving science teaching, an interest he has followed at the University of Cambridge, as a faculty member in the physics department; at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, as one of the founding faculty and the first curriculum director; at MIT, as Associate Director of the Teaching and Learning Laboratory; and at Olin College of Engineering, where he is Visiting Associate Professor of Applied Science and Engineering. In March 2010, MIT Press published his textbook Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving, available in print and online under a Creative Commons Noncommercial ShareAlike license.


Christopher Sykes is a TV documentary producer based in London. He was born in 1945, and was educated at the Atlantic College and Merton College, Oxford where he read English. In 1970 he joined the BBC as a television researcher. He has made about seventy documentaries for BBC TV and Channel 4, some of which have been shown on PBS/Nova - notably the programs he made with and about Richard Feynman ('The Pleasure of Finding Things Out', 'Last Journey of a Genius' and 'The Best Mind Since Einstein'). He is also a consultant to Web of Stories (, an online video collection of in-depth interviews with many of the great minds of our time.


Alexander Szalay is the Alumni Centennial Professor of Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University. He is also Professor in the Department of Computer Science. Alex is a cosmologist, working on the statistical measures of the spatial distribution of galaxies and galaxy formation. He was born and educated in Hungary and is now a Corresponding Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has written over 450 papers in various scientific journals, covering areas from theoretical cosmology to observational astronomy, spatial statistics and computer science. In 2004 he received an Alexander Von Humboldt Award in Physical Sciences, in 2008 a Microsoft Award for Technical Computing.


Curtis Wong is a Principal Researcher in the eScience group at Microsoft Research. He joined Microsoft starting the Next Media Research group focusing on interaction, media, and visualization technologies. Curtis is the co-creator of, a free interactive storytelling and learning environment providing the highest resolution astronomical imagery. His recent work: Project Tuva, features the lectures of Richard Feynman within a unique interactive, media-rich player. His work with WGBH won a British Academy Award for Online Learning. Previously Curtis was director of the Content group at Intel Corporation, General Manager at Corbis Productions, and producer for the Voyager Company where he managed Multimedia Beethoven, the first multimedia CD-ROM for Windows. Curtis serves on the boards of the Seattle Art Museum, PBS Kids in Washington D.C., and is advisor to the Barnes Foundation, and the J. Paul Getty Foundation. He has served on boards for the Rhode Island School of Design and Ovation – The Arts Network.


Scott Aaronson is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. He received his PhD in computer science from University of California, Berkeley and did postdocs at the Institute for Advanced Study and the University of Waterloo. Scott's research interests center around fundamental limits on what can efficiently be computed in the physical world. This has entailed studying quantum computing, the most powerful model of computation we have based on known physical theory. Scott's work on this subject has included limitations of quantum algorithms in the black-box model; algorithms for quantum spatial search and for simulating restricted classes of quantum circuits; the learnability of quantum states; quantum versus classical proofs and advice; and quantum computing with linear optics. He also writes a popular blog (, and is the creator of the Complexity Zoo (, an online encyclopedia of computational complexity theory.


Zvi Bern is currently Professor of Physics at UCLA. He received undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics from MIT and a PhD in theoretical particle physics from UC Berkeley. He is widely known in theoretical physics for research into improved ways of calculating Feynman diagrams without using Feynman diagrams, offering new insights into quantum gravity and into experiments to be carried out at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He has won a Sloan Foundation Award and an Outstanding Junior Investigator Award from The US epartment of Energy.


Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 from Harvard University, and has previously worked at MIT, the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Chicago. His research ranges over a number of topics in theoretical physics, focusing on cosmology, particle physics, and general relativity, with special emphasis on dark matter, dark energy, and the origin of the universe. He is the author of From Eternity to Here, a popular book on cosmology and the arrow of time; Spacetime and Geometry, a textbook on general relativity; has produced a set of introductory lectures for The Teaching Company entitled Dark Matter and Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe; and is a co-founder of the popular science blog Cosmic Variance ( <>).


(pre-recorded video)


Jeffrey Marlow is a graduate student in Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology where he studies exotic microbial metabolisms in an attempt to understand the limits of life on Earth and beyond. He has followed extreme life forms to acidic rivers, ice caves, deserts, the high Andes, and the deep ocean, and has worked on NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers and Phoenix Mars Lander. As a Marshall Scholar at Imperial College London, Jeff worked on a life detection instrument for an upcoming Mars mission and perfected his croquet swing. At Caltech, he works with Professor Victoria Orphan on the microbial communities of oceanic methane vents, which play a critical role in greenhouse gas cycling. Jeff has also worked for Google's marketing team, and reported on science, the environment, and international development for The New York Times.


Lyle Mays has been an integral part of the Pat Metheny Group since its inception in 1977, and has co-written much of the consistently engaging music for the multi-Grammy-winning group's albums. Lyle's sense of melody, crystal clear virtuosity and almost cinematic scope of orchestration has clearly distinguished the group's sound. Born into a musical family in Wausaukee, Wisconsin in 1953, he was always encouraged to explore new forms of expression. As a teenager, Lyle attended jazz summer camps and studied with such talents as Rich Matteson and Marian McPartland. He then studied composition and arrangement at North Texas State University before touring with Woody Herman's Thundering Herd. While appearing at the 1975 Wichita Jazz Festival, Lyle met twenty-year-old guitarist, Pat Metheny, and the two formed a musical alliance that has proven to be among the most artistically successful of the past three plus decades.


John Preskill is the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and Director of the Institute for Quantum Information at Caltech. Preskill received his A.B. in physics in 1975 from Princeton, and his Ph.D. in physics in 1980 from Harvard. He was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows and Associate Professor of Physics at Harvard before joining the Caltech faculty in 1983; he became the John D. MacArthur Professor in 2002, and the Richard P. Feynman Professor in 2010. Until the mid-1990s, Preskill’s research focused on elementary particles, cosmology, and gravitation. Since then his research has focused primarily on quantum computation and quantum information theory. Preskill is a two-time recipient of the Associated Students of Caltech Teaching Award, and he has mentored more than 40 Ph.D. students at Caltech, many of whom are now leaders in their research areas.


Leonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Physics at Stanford University. Lenny has been a Professor of Physics at Stanford University since 1979; his research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics, and quantum cosmology. He received the Pregel Award from the New York Academy of Science (1975), and the J. J. Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society (1998) “for his pioneering contributions to hadronic string models, lattice gauge theories, quantum chromodynamics, and dynamical symmetry breaking.” He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, since 2009, is serving as Director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. He is a recent recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Science and Technology for “The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics.”


Kip Thorne is a theoretical physicist best known for his prolific contributions in gravitation physics and astrophysics and for having trained a generation of prominent scientists. A longtime friend and colleague of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, he was the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech, and one of the world’s leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Since becoming emeritus in 2009, Kip has continued his relativity research and is working on a Hollywood movie based on it. He earned a B.S. from Caltech (1962) and his Ph.D. from Princeton (1965). Thereafter, he returned to Caltech as a professor and has remained since. Kip’s research focuses on theoretical gravitational physics and astrophysics, with emphasis on black holes and gravitational waves. In 1992, he co-founded the laser interferometer gravitational-wave observatory (LIGO). He has received many national and international awards in science, and has been honored several times for his writing.


Stephen Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity. He many awards include being made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 the honor of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years, and retired in October 2009. He is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes. He has also achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; these include the runaway best seller A Brief History of Time, which stayed on the British Sunday Times bestsellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.


David Awschalom is a professor of physics, electrical, and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Peter J. Clarke Director of the California NanoSystems Institute. He is a pioneer in the field of semiconductor spintronics, exploring the quantum mechanical behavior of charges and spins in nanostructures and the foundations of solid-state quantum information processing. David is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards, including the Outstanding Investigator Prize and David Turnbull Award (Materials Research Society), the International Magnetism Prize and Néel Medal (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics), the Oliver E. Buckley Prize (APS), the Europhysics Prize from the European Physical Society, and the Newcomb Cleveland Prize (AAAS).


Angela Belcher is the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, Materials Science & Engineering, and Biological Engineering at MIT. A materials chemist, her primary research focus is evolving new materials for energy, electronics and the environment. She received her B.S. Ph.D., and did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Thereafter she became assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Texas, Austin, until joining the MIT faculty in 2002. In the past decade she has founded two start-ups, and has received numerous national awards including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and a Four Star General Recognition Award from the US Army. Among notable recognition in the popular press, Scientific American named Angela “Research Leader of the Year” in 2006, Time Magazine named her a “Hero” in 2007 for her research on Climate Change and, in 2009, Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of “100 People Who are Changing The World.”


Nadine Dabby is a graduate student in Computation and Neural Systems at the California Institute of Technology, where she works on DNA nanotechnology and molecular programming in the Winfree Lab. Prior to attending Caltech, she completed a double major in Molecular and Cell Biology and English Literature at UC Berkeley. Nadine is also an adjunct lecturer at the Art Center College of Design where she teaches a course on Biomimicry to art and design undergraduates.


Mark E. Davis is the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the Experimental Therapeutics Program of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the City of Hope. He has over 350 scientific publications, two textbooks, and over 50 patents. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and was the first engineer to win the NSF Alan T. Waterman Award. He was elected in the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. Mark’s research efforts involve materials synthesis in two general areas; namely, solids that can be used for molecular recognition and catalysis, and polymers for the delivery of a broad range of therapeutics. He is the founder of two biotech companies. Professor Davis has achieved All American Status for Masters Track and Field in both the 400 Meter and 200 Meter Dashes.


Don Eigler, an IBM Fellow, is a physicist at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, where he has been a leader of the Low-Temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Project. His research is aimed at understanding the physics of nanometer-scale structures and exploring their applications to computation. He is most widely known for his demonstration of the ability to manipulate individual atoms. Don received his bachelors and doctoral degrees from the University of California, San Diego, and was named its Outstanding Alumnus of the year in 1999. He has been recognized for his accomplishments with the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience, the Davisson-Germer Prize, the Dannie Heineman Prize, the Newcomb-Cleveland Prize, the Grand Award for Science and Technology, the Nanoscience Prize, and numerous honorary lectureships. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a member of the Max Planck Society.


Charles M. Marcus is Professor of Physics at Harvard. He was an undergraduate at Stanford, earned his Ph.D. at Harvard, and continued there as an IBM postdoc. In 1992 he joined the physics faculty at Stanford University, but returned to Harvard in 2000 to assume his current appointment. From 2004-2009, he was Director of Harvard’s Center for Nanoscale Systems. Charlie’s research focuses on fabrication of submicron electronic structures – semiconductor quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, and graphene-based microstructures – and measurement of their electron transport properties at low temperatures. His scientific interests include mesoscopic quantum phenomena, at the interface between micro and macro scales – where quantum properties coexist with disorder and decoherence. Charlie’s current research includes investigations of spin-based qubits for quantum information processing, and schemes for topological quantum computing based on the fractional quantum Hall effect. He is also exploring the use of quantum dots in medical imaging, focusing primarily on novel materials as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging.


Stephen Quake studied physics (BS ‘91) and mathematics (MS ‘91) at Stanford University before earning his doctorate in physics from Oxford University as a Marshall scholar (‘94). Thereafter, as a postdoc in Nobel Laureate Steven Chu's group at Stanford, he developed techniques to manipulate single DNA molecules with optical tweezers. In 1996 Steve joined the faculty of Caltech, where he was ultimately appointed Thomas and Doris Everhart Professor of Applied Physics and Physics. In 2004 he returned to Stanford to help launch a new department of Bioengineering, where he is the Lee Otterson Professor and co-Chair. Steve has received “Career” and “First” awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health (NIH), was a Packard Fellow, was awarded an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a founder and scientific advisory board chair of Fluidigm, Inc. and Helicos Biosciences, Inc.


Michael Roukes, TEDxCaltech co-organizer, is Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering at Caltech. He was founding Director of Caltech’s Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI), and currently serves as its co-Director. Michael is a founder and co-Director of the Alliance for Nanosystems VLSI (very-large-scale integration), a vital collaboration between KNI researchers and counterparts at CEA/LETI in Grenoble, France – the site of a $B-scale semiconductor research foundry. He holds a Chaire d’Excellence in Nanoscience from the RTRA, a multi-university/institution Grenoble consortium. Michael’s scientific interests range from quantum measurement to applied biotechnology – with a unifying theme of nanosystems VLSI and applications. In the early ‘90s he founded the field of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), and has since published broadly on nanoscience, lectured at most major research centers worldwide, and is active on many national and international committees promoting these fields. In 2010, Michael received a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, reflecting the evolution of his research toward the life sciences.


Peter Trautman is a graduate student in Control and Dynamical Systems at the California Institute of Technology. Prior to coming to Caltech, Pete was a Captain in the United States Air Force, assigned first to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and later to the Air Force Research Laboratories, both at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Applied Math and Physics in 2000 from Baylor University. He grew up in Alamogordo, New Mexico, near Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated.


J. Craig Venter is an American biologist and entrepreneur, most famous for his contributions, in 2001, of being one of the first to sequence the human genome and, in 2010, for creating the first cell with a synthetic genome. He is a founder of Celera Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research, Synthetic Genomics, Human Genome Sciences, Diversa Corporation, Celera Genomics, and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). His present work at JVCI focuses on creating synthetic biological organisms and documenting genetic diversity in the world's oceans. In both 2007 and 2008, Venter was listed by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman ranked him 14th among "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures." Among his many honorary degrees, scientific awards, and academy memberships, is the 2008 National Medal of Science. He is the author of A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life (Viking, 2007).


John Rives, moderator for TEDxCaltech, is a poet by trade and a paper engineer by training. He has appeared on multiple seasons of HBO's "Def Poetry Jam" and he was the host of Bravo TV's "Ironic Iconic America," which required him to drive around the United States with a supermodel in a red '67 Cadillac El Dorado. He realizes he gets some ridiculously sweet gigs. Rives is the co-host of the annual TEDActive conference and his passions include wordplay, rooftops and designing pop-up books.


Biologist-animator, Drew Berry, creates scientifically accurate and aesthetically rich visualizations that elucidate cellular and molecular processes for a wide range of audiences. Trained as a cell biologist and microscopist, Drew brings a rigorous scientific approach to each project, immersing himself in relevant research to ensure current data are represented. His three- and four-dimensional renderings of key concepts such as cell death, tumor growth, and DNA packaging, capture molecular shape, scale, behavior, and spatiotemporal dynamics. His groundbreaking animations of DNA replication, translation, and transcription enlighten both scientists and the scientifically curious. Drew received B.Sc. (1993) and M.Sc. (1995) degrees from the University of Melbourne. Since 1995, he has been a biomedical animator at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. His animations have appeared in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Royal Institute of Great Britain, and the University of Geneva. In 2010 he was named a MacArthur Fellow.


Pamela Björkman is the Max Delbrück Professor of Biology at Caltech, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is well known for her pioneering work in structural studies of biological macromolecules.Her research focuses upon the structure and function of proteins of the immune system, especially interactions involved in immune recognition, using techniques such as X-ray crystallography and confocal and electron microscopy. Pamela earned a B.A. in Chemistry at the University of Oregon, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Harvard University, and pursued postdoctoral research at both Harvard and Stanford University before joining the Biology faculty at the Caltech in 1989. Among Pamela's many awards is election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001, the L'Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science North American Laureate “for her discovery of how the immune system recognizes targets” in 2006, and a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award in 2010.


Michelle Feynman is the daughter of Richard Feynman. A graduate of Art Center College of Design, Michelle is a freelance photographer and spends most of her days taking pictures. She is perhaps best known as the editor of "Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman," a collection of letters to and from her father.The book includes an introduction by Michelle in which she describes what it was like to grow up as the daughter of one of the world's best-known physicists. Michelle has also gathered a compilation of her father's artwork in a book entitled "The Art of Richard P. Feynman: Images by a Curious Character."


Kongar-Ol Ondar (Tuvan: Коңар-өл Ондар) is a master Tuvan throat singer and a member of the Great Khural of Tuva. Ondar was born in 1962 near the Khemchik River in western Tuva. Considered a living treasure by the Republic of Tuva, Ondar is granted a stipend and an apartment for the musical skills he possesses.Jovial and personable, Ondar is probably the best-known face of Хөөмей (khoomei) throat singing to Westerners, appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman and in interviews for CNN and other networks. In the Central Asian tradition of self-fulfilling child naming, Kongar-ol literally translates to "Loud Boy". Ondar is also known for inviting American blues musician Paul Peña to Tuva. Peña was the subject of the documentary Genghis Blues in which Ondar was also featured. Ondar also appears on the Béla Fleck and the Flecktones albums Outbound, album/DVD Live at the Quick and "Jingle All the Way".


Jordan Theriot is a third-year undergraduate majoring in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. Jordan is working in the lab of Professor Robert Grubbs designing and synthesizing new metathesis catalysts, which are important for the formation of new carbon-carbon bonds.Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, she left her native New Orleans to attend the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. Since then, she has gone to some unusual measures to immerse herself in the academic world, not the least of which is attending Caltech. Her interests include French literature and making the most of the educational experience.


Simon Fölling studies quantum many-body systems, such as the ones found in magnetic and semiconducting materials, by using ultracold atomic gases. He started to work in the field when graduating from the University of Heidelberg, and subsequently during his PhD in Mainz, Germany and a postdoc at Harvard University. He is still so fascinated by this field that he now started a new project in the field at the University of Munich.


Danny Hillis is an inventor, scientist, author and engineer, and is chairman and co-founder of Applied Minds. Previously, he was Vice President and Disney Fellow at Walt Disney Imagineering and was a co-founder of Thinking Machines Corp. Danny pioneered the concept of parallel computers that is now the basis for most supercomputers, and RAID disk array technology used to store large databases while completing his PhD at MIT.; He holds over 150 U.S. patents, and is the designer of a 10,000-year mechanical clock. Danny is also the Judge Widney professor of engineering and research medicine at the University of Southern California, and serves as co-chairman of The Long Now Foundation, and is on the board of the Hertz Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Leadership Forum, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Organizing team


Pasadena, CA, United States


Pasadena, CA, United States
  • Don Eigler
    Steering Committee
  • Ralph Leighton
    Steering Committee
  • Carver Mead
    Steering Committee
  • John Preskill
    Steering Committee
  • Jean-Lou Chameau
  • Michael Cross
  • Marionne Epalle
  • Peter Hero
  • Ares Rosakis
  • Tom Soifer
  • Kip Thorne
  • Kristen Brown
    Advisor / Marketing & Production
  • Leslie Maxfield
    Advisor / Lead, Production & Technology
  • Val Otten
    Development / Production
  • Bill Heim
    Production & Technology
  • Peter Hung
    Production & Technology
  • John Kastanas
    Production & Technology
  • Cynthia Kiser
    Production & Technology
  • Jodie Lee
    Production & Technology
  • Chris Malek
    Production & Technology
  • Beth Harnick-Shapiro
    Production & Technology
  • Randy Rose
    Production & Technology
  • Jenny Somerville
    Production & Technology
  • Dan Tabata
    Production & Technology
  • Eric Wood
    Production & Technology
  • Monique Carroll
    Production & Technology
  • Glen Bach
    Production & Technology
  • Ram Basu
    Production & Technology
  • Joseph Lima
    Production & Technology
  • Nancy Chulay
    Production & Technology
  • Allison Benter
    Production & Technology
  • Stuart Fabel
    Production & Technology
  • Erick Ferguson
    Production & Technology
  • Dwayne Miles
    Production & Technology