Walking through clouds: TEDxHamburg speaker creates a walkable cube of clouds 

If you were to have visited the Sunken Garden at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo last year, you would have seen something quite surprising: a transparent cube filled with clouds. This cube is the design of environmental architecture firm Transsolar and Japanese architecture firm Tetsuo Kondo Architects, and is meant to immerse visitors in man-made clouds to show the importance of humanity’s connection to nature. 

The installation, entitled Cloudscapes, allowed visitors to climb a staircase through and beyond a layer of floating clouds. “When you climb [the stairs inside the clouds’ container] to reach the top,” says the designers at ArchDaily, “the museum, 
the surrounding buildings, and the sky stretch out above the clouds. The edges of the clouds are sharp, yet soft, and always in motion. Their color, density and brightness are constantly changing in tune with the weather and time of day.”

At TEDxHamburg, Thomas Auer, one of Transsolar’s environmental engineers, spoke about the firm’s installations, and their connection to his work with green design. From his talk:

[When it comes to climate change], the question is not so much, ‘Are we going to have global warming?’ The question is, ‘What can we do to minimize it?’ … What we do at Transsolar, we call climate engineering, and the idea [behind this] is, ‘How can we bring together the quality of the built environment and [its] energy performance?’

[In 2010] we at Transsolar, we got asked to do an installation at the Architecture Biennale in Venice, and we thought about, ‘What can we do? What can we show at Architecture Biennale?’ So we came up with the idea that we should do a cloud, because we thought a cloud is the only thing where we can make climate engineering visible.

…The question [was], 'How can we do a floating cloud?' … The cloud happens in a layer where we have 100% humidity — it’s what we call saturated air — in which we can spray water and it stays.

Watch Thomas’s whole talk below for more information about man-made clouds, green design, and climate engineering:

(Photos: Tetsuo Kondo Architects, Ken’ichi Suzuki, Yasuhiro Takagi)

This fall, the Pacific Northwest town of Bellingham, WA is holding their first TEDx event: TEDxBellingham. To prepare for the event, the team has launched a challenge — asking locals to submit a 30-second video explaining what makes their city special, based on the event’s theme: “Here By Choice.”

Said organizer David Wiggs, “The video contest is a cool way to let people express their views on our theme, or their love of Bellingham.” The three videos with the most “likes” on YouTube or Vimeo will be shown at the event, becoming part of the official TEDxBellingham program.

Above, check out the first submission to the TEDxBellingham challenge — a video by YouTuber Manny Raid that shows off the beautiful scenery of the bayside town.

TEDxBellingham’s contest runs through September 14th. For any Washingtonians looking to add a video to the pool, more information can be found at the TEDxBellingham website.

Can we fake the sense of touch? A TEDx Talk looks into engineering touch

TEDxStanford speaker Allison Okamu experiments with a haptic-enhanced medical device (Photo: MedicineWorld.org)

We all know the sense of touch is important. So what do we do when it’s gone?
When soldiers use mine-deactivating robots, when doctors operate surgical robots, their sense of touch is lost to these devices. How do you tie a suture tight, but not so tight that it breaks when you can’t feel the give and take of the thread? How do you know how much pressure to apply to a material when you cannot feel the material’s reaction?

You go by sight. But sight only gives you so much, says Stanford University researcher Allison Okamura. In her talk at TEDxStanford, Okamura explains how she and her team at the CHARM (Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine) Lab are working to create devices that can not just register touch from a user, but also can simulate touch in return.

"We try to come up with [clever] techniques to fool the user into feeling something that isn’t really there," she says in her talk. This becomes particularly useful when dealing with the medical world, where human-controlled robots are often used to make surgical procedures less invasive and more accurate. “They [surgical robots] are not autonomous robots,” Allison says. “It is important because of the dangerousness and complexity of these tasks that there be a human in the loop. But the human can do a better job if they get the sense of touch feedback.”

So, Allison and her team at CHARM stay hard at work developing devices that do just that. Watch her talk below to learn more about CHARM’s work and see some of these robots in action:

For Julia Child’s birthday, 3 TEDx Talks to chew on

Julia faces off with a swordfish (via pbs-food)

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and, above all, have fun!”
― Julia Child, My Life in France

It’s hard to deny Julia Child’s vast contributions the world of gastronomy. The charismatic, colorful Californian-turned-Francophone-turned-chef-turned-PBS-host introduced a world of readers and TV viewers to classical French cooking, inspired an infamous Saturday Night Live sketch, wrote a memoir and scores of cookbooks, all while seemingly having a whole lot of fun. To honor what would have been The French Chef's 101st birthday, we bring you 3 very appetizing TEDx Talks from food lovers of all kinds.

Writing with Julia: Alex Prud’homme at TEDxMiddlebury
Alex Prud’homme is the great nephew of Julia Child, and the person who persuaded her into (and helped with) writing her famed memoir, My Life in France, the base material for half of the recent film, Julie and Julia. Enjoy this wonderful tribute to the French Chef from Prud’homme, whose affectionate impressions of her famous voice and tales of telling her story are sure to please.

The reach of a restaurant: Thomas Keller at TEDxEast
Thomas Keller, another Gallophile chef, gave this passionate talk at TEDxEast on the beauty of culinary arts. Like Julia, he speaks ardently of the experience of cooking and eating — something that he feels leave impressions in chefs’ and diners’ lives forever. Look for him the next time you watch the Pixar filmRatatouille, in which he can be seen dining in Paris.

Creativity in cooking can solve our biggest problems: José Andrés at TEDxMidAtlantic
José Andrés is a chef who believes in the power of creativity. In this rousing talk at TEDxMidAtlantic, he discusses how stepping out of your comfort zone can be the first step in landing onto a new creation and discovering solutions to problems you didn’t know you could solve. Don’t watch this talk hungry, because the video of José’s team making liquid-nitrogen-almond-ice-cream-bowls topped with blue cheese mousse might drive you crazy.