Day 221: A Full Band Beatbox

We’ve seen Tom Thum at the Sydney TED this year; now here’s a band full of beat boxers. The R+B group, ‘Naturally 7’ beatbox the sounds of an orchestra to perform their single, ‘Fly Baby.’ Much like any ‘regular’ group, each member is in charge of a certain instrument- bass, percussion, harmonica. Unlike a standard group however, the only instrument sounds come from their mouths.

http://www.ted.com/talks/naturally_7_jams_fly_baby_with_an_orchestra_of_vocals.html

Day 220: The year 2200

By the end of this century, the worlds population is expected to top out at just less than ten billion, before entering a phase of decline. What then?
According to Pete Alcorn, this will have two beneficial economic effects. Firstly, investing in property becomes a bad bet, as much of the cost is currently wrapped up in its speculative value. Secondly, scarcity of labour drives wages. Both of these lift pressure off the poorer groups in society.
Much of our culture are obsessed with looking back in history. We often feel we’re in a downhill slide from the good old days. Research shows, however, that those who think they’re in for a good future make better decisions. When the population declined in Europe after the Black Plague, the middle class was born and the Renaissance took place. Examining the population data over the next couple of hundred years means we may romanticise the future. Hopefully then, our great great grandchildren will start building the 22nd century enlightenment

Day 219: The Modern Euphonium

The euphonium is rarely heard outside of traditional brass bands. It is also notoriously difficult to master. In this short performance, Matthew White gives a solo performance of  ‘The Warrior Comes out to Play.’ The distinctive sound of the euphonium will be recognisable to most people,  but White proves it works as a stand-alone instrument when played by a master, even one as young as himself. 
 

Day 218: The refugees of boom and bust

In 2006 young Qatari students took Cameron Sinclair to see migrant worker camps. For the first time, he realised there were over 1.1 million migrants behind the headlines on new building projects. Mainly of Indian, Sri Lankan or Pakistani descent, these people pay a middle man thousands of dollars to get to the UAE, in order to make a better life for their families back home. Instead, they find themselves in a labour camp with inadequate water, no air conditioning and their passports taken away.
During the GFC, the construction industry went bust. Thousands of these workers found themselves without documentation, passports or tickets home. This talk is from 2009, but as recently as May this year, there have been reports of ongoing strikes over work conditions.
Sinclair challenges everybody who works in the industry to make a stand. If an engineer, architect, or building contractor arrives on site weekly to see this exploitation, aren’t they complicit rather than complacent?

Day 217: Photographing the landscape of oil

Canada and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil suppliers, only have fifteen years worth of oil left. It takes 500 years to produce the equivalent of the 30 billion barrels we use each year, meaning it’s a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’ it runs out.
After seventeen years of photographing industrial lands it occurred to Edward Burtynsky that oil is underpinning the rate of industrial development. He documented the arc of oil, from the ground to everyday usage, through a series of pictures which show everything from the wellhead to a car engine.
The overuse of oil is a massive danger to our society. Burtynsky used his skills as a photographer to raise awareness of this, and he encourages us all to use our various talents to the same end. In 30 years, let’s look back and say truthfully that we did as much as we possibly could.

Day 216: Could a Saturn moon harbour life?

Carolyn Porco was leader of the imaging team on the Cassini mission to Saturn. Two years before this talk, they’d discovered towering jets erupting from the South Pole of one of Saturn’s moons. After speculating that they were geysers, this implied the possibility of an environment within the moon. In the time since, the Cassini spacecraft has flown closer, enabling the team to find more complex compounds, such as salty water and formaldehyde. The circumstances are such that there may be the conditions to sustain life there. So, imagine the day when we’ll journey to one of Saturn’s moons!

Day 215: Making maps to fight disasters

In 2009, Google’s Lalitesh Katragadda watched as parts of his country were destroyed by a cyclone. The U.N. was unable to deliver help quickly enough, as the area hadn’t yet been mapped. Indeed, Katragdda reminds us its difficult to imagine, but in 2005 less than 15% of the world was mapped to geocortical detail. 
Forty Google employees decided to change this over four days. Using a program called Mapmaker, they mapped everything from roads to rivers to create a detailed map. The result was that aid could reach the area faster. Since then, this project has been used extensively throughout the world. So, to the 70% of previously unmapped areas: welcome to the grid!