Robogals, TEDx and changing the world?


I am a little bit excited because I have finally finished all of my mid-terms and my coursework, so now all I have to do is focus on getting a job when I graduate 🙂 Which is probably harder than my mid-terms and coursework but yeah…

So my goal of posting every day (or thereabouts) is not working that well as I’ve just been too busy/lazy to write anything. I do write down the day’s thoughts on this new App I found called Momento. With that and Wunderlist, I feel like my life is becoming slightly more productive.

On Saturday 2nd November, I was helping out at the Manchester science festival, and my friend was running an activity/stall thing. I went last year and volunteered too, it’s actually for the same cause that I went to Deershed with (Robogals). Although the room this year was bigger and much warmer so that was a plus, but we had to fit sooo much stuff in the car. There were three people in the back + 8 laptops in the boot and about 10 robots and extra stuff. I didn’t go over 25mph for fear of something falling over but I’m impressed that we managed to fit everything in as it’s not a big car (a VW Polo to be precise). It was really fun though, and I love explaining how the robots work to the kids, and they get so excited when they make it go in a circle or go backwards and nearly hit their parents/siblings. They always love the puppies and the snake too, and the dog sled is oddly popular…I don’t know why they get so excited over a dog (or horse as one kid said…) moving forward…The parents were all really enthusiastic too, the feedback we got was great and the organisers told us how a lot of parents had mentioned us to them and that they hoped to see us next year! Success!

Last Sunday, I went to TEDx Salford but only for the morning session as I still have uni work to do and job applications but it was really, really, inspiring. Okay, there were maybe 2 talks that I wasn’t that interested in/didn’t really inspire me but the rest were amazing. They were so…cool? No, wrong word. Inspiring I suppose is the best word I can come up with.

Here’s a picture of the stage before the conference started:


The first guy was Dave Erasmus and he was talking about his new business called Givey which is like a social platform for giving to charity and how giving £1 can turn into £2.25 and then £4.50 if you get another person into it too. The main message of his talk was that we (the people) can make the difference for giving to charity as opposed to governments and if enough people support a cause then it will work. I’m not sure if I believe that :/ 

Then came Rachel Elnaugh (any Brits might remember her from Dragons’ Den) who was fine. Then she started talking about quantum physics and the ‘fourth dimension’ but mentioned words like ‘love, soul etc’ which didn’t impress many people (I assume they’re physicists/scientists) and there were quite a lot of harsh tweets about her talk. Her main message was that it was time to stop living ‘her dream’ and live ‘God’s dream’ and just take it as it comes as her first business (Red Letter Days) went out of business and the day before it did, she said ‘I give up, you do what you want’ and she claims it was a major turning point for her.

We then had a video shown which was made by soulpancakes and had their ‘kid president’ giving us a pep talk. He was really, really cute and pretty inspiring too. I have now subscribed to them on YouTube, their videos are awesome.

Next came George Smoot, who got lots of applause when his bio was being read out, but got the most for appearing on the Big Bang Theory, even though he’s won a Nobel Prize too! His talk was about how everything we’re doing is a simulation and life isn’t real. He went through it pretty quickly and glossed over a few details but it was so strange. He said that if physics makes sense and agrees with itself then it’s real life, but when we get inconsistencies then it’s a simulation…and look at physics today. Mind blowing!

The next guy, Nitin Sawhney, gave a talk about when Einstein and Tagore met. He asked ‘what was the first thing they said?’ and it turned out Tagore had said a really long sentence about something science-related. He then went into detail about how they were both vastly different and how this affected their music/musical styles. He also had Nicki Wells who sang and she was amazing! She sang the Indian National Anthem and my friend (who’s Indian) said only a couple of words were mispronounced but her voice was awesome!  It was really interesting to see the differences between Indian music and western music and how this is represented through Tagore and Einstein respectively.

We then had a half an hour break where people went to the toilet (or attempted to…) and bought coffee/snacks etc but I just stayed in the theatre and read the bios for the upcoming speakers and made some quick notes about the ones who had already been on. Oh, and I read the twitterwall too, it was projected onto screen and all of the bad ones got axed almost as soon as they were posted!

The first speaker after the break was Quinton Fortune and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to listening to him…boy was I wrong! He was so funny! And really chilled out, down to Earth and he had some great stories. He used to play for Manchester United and told us about his journey there, how he had come from Cape Town and his mother didn’t want him to get into drugs or a gang and wanted him to do something positive with his life so let him go to England to pursue being a footballer. Even though his talk didn’t really have anything too educational or academic, hearing his stories and how he got to where he is was really uplifting. And it broke up the day and let my brain relax a little.

Next was The Scary Guy. His name says it all. He did look a little scary actually, covered in tattoos and red hair! But then he said that little kids think he’s sponsored by Crayola and it made me think about how what he does, and how the world probably needs that. He tries to eradicate hate and prejudice and he said that he can have an entire pavement to himself in New York as people don’t want to walk near him. He goes around asking ‘do you think you’ll see world peace in your lifetime?’ and most little kids (around 5 or 6 years old) say yes and as he goes up to high school they say ‘maybe, no, I’m not sure’ and he realised it was because little kids define their ‘world’ as being about them whereas the older kids define the world as a global world. His message was to make our world peace, and then go from there.

John Robb was next and he was…eccentric. He’s in a punk band, after all and he spoke about how music and the universe are connected. I was surprised the physicists from before didn’t comment about him talking about science, but he didn’t try to act like he knew it all. He was talking about how he spoke to some scientists and how they can explain some really complicated ideas to them, and how he related a lot of it to punk music or music in general. Fun fact, apparently when the Big Bang happened, it made a sound between a B and B flat, which I only just found out. He thought that was cool, and so do I and he spoke about the scientists’ views on what happens as you get to the end of the universe and how they made great song titles! The talk got better towards the end, and I did enjoy it.

I think the next video came here, it was about…toilets, or more specifically s***. The video was hilarious though, even if it’s for a good cause it had everyone laughing because he mentioned s*** so many times!

Next was Aubrey de Grey and had the longest beard I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like hair…someone even tweeted about him taking Movember to ‘new heights’. He spoke about how aging is a disease and many things like cancer and parkinsons and alzheimer’s are related to people aging. Then he said how his model of ‘maintenance’ was to maintain the body like maintaining a car so that it can live virtually forever. He quickly went through the 7 types of problems and how they can be cured, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. In some ways he’s right, but I wonder about the people who get cancer when they’re young?

We had a ‘mystery speaker’ who was revealed on the day and he was from NASA! He was Clayton Anderson and he’d just retired in January and told us about ‘gravity’ and his story of being an astronaut. He showed us the trailer for the new movie Gravity and how it’s relatively accurate but he was lucky that nothing like that happened. He also had some amazing pictures of Earth and told us some funny stories. It took him sixteen applications before he finally got chosen, and he told us to never give up on our dreams. He had wanted to be an astronaut since he was eight!

The final speak of the day was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford and he spoke briefly about cities and their stories. He quickly ran through Salford itself and how it has changed in the past 100 years, moving on to why people go to cities and their culture and art which some more modern cities don’t have, and he thinks is a shame. But he also mentioned the problems about cities, that they are contradictions and spoke about the riots of August 2011.

I thought the day was good, one of my friends didn’t quite feel the same but I’m feeling more inspired to get some stuff on my ridiculously long to-do list crossed off and maybe change the world if I have some spare time 🙂

The week itself has been busy, as per usual with a catchup with some of my friends from college on Wednesday. They’re both going to be doctors whilst I am not sure what I am going to be, but we had fun and had massive burgers for lunch. We’re also well into November now which means interview time! The Year 13s come to uni on Wednesday and Thursday and our department get students to help out (and we get paid, bonus) and I help out on Thursdays because I don’t have lectures and they always need students so it’s a pretty steady source of income. It’s also above minimum wage and because I help out early, I get lunch too! I also started tutoring again, which wasn’t too bad but I forgot my calculator! That was awkward but fortunately the topics that the students needed help with didn’t require a calculator so the tutoring was fine. I also found the school by myself (my parents thought I’d get lost or something) as it was on the other side of town but I made it there in good time. Next time I might get the bus though so I don’t have to worry too much about motorways and getting off at the wrong junction :/

Final note, at this time of year Costa has their festive drinks and I love the honeycomb hot chocolate. It’s like drinking melted crunchie!


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