x = independently organized TED event

Theme: FORWARD - Charting the Future with Science

This event occurred on
September 24, 2014
2:00pm - 6:00pm CEST
(UTC +2hrs)
Meyrin, GE

More than 1000 people attended the live event at CERN on 24 September with many more watching remotely. With the videos now online, the TEDxCERN team hopes to encourage people to think about how science could help to solve global problems in the future.

“The compilation of talks and performances are thought-provoking and paints a beautiful landscape of what our future could be with science. We’d like to challenge everyone to continue the discussion,” says Claudia Marcelloni, who curated the TEDxCERN event and led the event team.

This was CERN's second TEDx event. The theme ‘Forward: Charting the future with science’, gave researchers, performers and philosophers a platform to talk about such topics as how science could help make better policies, create materials that are superlight and superstrong, exploit the anomalies of water to create a new drinking water source, save rainforests with recycled technology, carry out ECG remotely with touchscreen tablets, and more.

“The future depends on science, and if we are going to make the right decisions, both at the personal level and at a global level, we need to be able to think rationally about science,” says James Gillies, CERN’s head of communications and the head of the speakers selection committee for TEDxCERN. “For a big public-facing organization like CERN, I think it is almost a moral obligation for us to do events like TEDxCERN and get the word out about other areas of research.”

The event’s programme was grouped into three sessions – Adapt, Change, and Create – in which talks focussed on reacting to what’s here and now, developing new paradigms, and finally creating simple, ingenious solutions for complex problems.

“TEDxCERN, like many other TEDx events around the world, is a key part of the TED community, fostering idea-sharing and conversations and, with its specificity, highlighting important scientific and cultural themes. Both TED and CERN are global organizations focusing on exploring knowledge and rationally pursuing the answers to essential questions. TEDxCERN makes that link tangible,” says Bruno Giussani, European director of TED.

Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN
Square Galileo Galilei
Route de Meyrin
Meyrin, GE, 1217
Event type:
Standard (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Marcia Barbosa

Just because water covers 70% of the earth’s surface and composes the majority of our bodies doesn’t mean we know everything about it. Marcia Barbosa talks about the many anomalies of water and how exploiting them with nano-tubes could help address the problem of freshwater shortages

Andrew Nemr

Why do we limit ourselves to the labels that are imposed on us? Andrew Nemr analyses the power of labels and the impact they have on us - all while tap dancing

Arthur Zang

Arthur Zang, a 26-year-old Cameroonian engineer, invented the life-saving Cardiopad. This touch screen medical tablet enables heart examinations such as ECG to be performed in remote locations. The results are transferred wirelessly to specialists so that patients living in rural areas do not have to travel to urban centres for medical examinatio

Danielle Fong

Most energy storage methods, including batteries, are expensive and difficult to scale. Danielle Fong saw the opportunity to reinvent a classic technology - compressed air - to solve hi-tech energy problems. She developed a method to improve the efficiency of compressed air as an energy storage medium that could radically reduce cost and complexity.

Hayat Sindi

Science could solve many of the existing problems of the world, but there is a gap between research and application. Scientists do not always have the resources needed to link their knowledge with society’s needs. Hayat Sindi creates opportunities for scientists to apply their innovations for social impact.

Jamie Edwards

What does it take to build a nuclear reactor? Jamie Edwards started out on his journey at age 13 to beat Taylor Wilson’s record of being the youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion. He tells of the obstacles he faced as a young schoolboy while trying to achieve his dream, such as trying to convince his headmaster to order deuterium on ebay.

John Mighton

John Mighton is a mathematician and playwright and is the founder of JUMP Math, a charity that is working to improve the teaching math. He appeared in Good Will Hunting, and contributed a monologue to the film based on the argument he makes in his book The End of Ignorance that most people never get a chance to succeed in math because they are not taught according to their true potential

Julia Greer

Imagine being able to hold all the material it took to build an airplane in the palm of your hand. Julia Greer combines different design structures at varying nano-scales to create super strong and super light materials. Her research is changing the landscape of materials available today.

Julien Lesgorgues

Julien Lesgourgues, cosmologist, explores questions like where did the universe come from, what triggered its evolution, does it contain hints of physical laws or species that we are not yet aware of?

Nina Fedoroff

The world population is estimated to reach 10 billion in the near future. How can we feed so many with our existing resources? Nina Fedoroff gives an overview of what’s needed, highlighting the important role that science has played in developing food and agriculture throughout human history and the solutions it could offer

Nitin Sawhney

Nitin Sawhney performs and talks about the connections between art and science

Robert Crease

Robert P. Crease uses laboratory history to examine key issues in philosophy of science, science studies, and ethics. A professor at Stony Brook University, he has written, translated and edited numerous books on the history and philosophy of science.

Sonia Trigueros

Sonia Trigueros designs novel nanostructures capable of delivering drugs directly to a targeted area of the human body. This revolutionary technology may be able to treat everything from antibiotic resistant bacteria to cancer.

Srikumar Banerjee

Twenty percent of the world’s population have no access to electricity. As people’s aspirations for a better quality of life increases, the demand for energy will also rise. Finding efficient resources that can sustain humanity’s needs is a challenge, especially resources that will maintain the balance in the environment and reduce the possibility of climate change. Srikumar Banerjee presents the advantages of thorium as a cleaner and more sustainable energy source

Tamsin Edwards

Tamsin Edwards is a particle physicist turned climate scientist trying to find out how uncertain we are about climate change – from the last ice age to future sea level – and how best to communicate this. She is an active blogger and uses social media to change the way people think about climate science.

Tim Exile

An inventor of electronic instruments and a DJ, Tim Exile recorded sounds from the data centres of the Large Hadron Collider and mixed them with the sound of the audience at TEDxCERN to create a unique audio track. His performance brought the audience dancing onstage.

Topher White

More than a million hectares of forest is lost to illegal logging every year in Indonesia alone. Topher White fashioned a simple device made of discarded cell phones and solar panels that detects and alerts to the sound of chainsaws in protected rainforests, allowing intervention in real time.

Organizing team


Geneva, Switzerland