The hallowed halls of Oxford University have been echoing with even more good ideas than usual lately. Last week the venerable institution hosted the 2009 TED Global Conference. A sort of variety show for the mind, the conference featured talks by innovators, thinkers, musicians, artists, architects, scientists, and even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (warning before you click: his talk is about pretty tough stuff, and includes photos from war zones in the first few minutes.)
If you haven't heard of TED, go right to the website. There you can find videos of talks by anyone from famed primatologist Jane Goodall to engaging string theorist Brian Greene, and former UN director Louise Fresco to aspiring millennium man Ray Kurzweil. The brainchild of WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It's like a mini-YouTube for the most daring, unusual, thought-provoking ideas (and thinkers) out there. Think of it like the Harvard classics, except fast paced—each talk lasts less than twenty minutes—and in living color, often with props and not-your-average PowerPoints.
The theremin-player moves his hands near two antennas. The proximity of the right hand to the vertical antenna changes the electromagnetic field thus changing the pitch of the sound over a six-octave range. Left hand controls the volume.