“This is turning out to be my fantasy dinner party,” says our TEDxImperialCollege host Gareth Mitchell as he looks through the list of speakers. “These have been an exciting few weeks. Every few days, the organising committee has been adding new speakers to the line up. Just look at the disciplines covered here: engineering, computing, art, green energy, entrepreneurship, development, neurotechnology, neuroscience (yes there IS a difference and I look forward to exploring that over a cup of tea!), music, fashion, design, and support for offenders.”
As well as being a lecturer in Science Communication at Imperial College, Gareth also presents Click – the BBC World Service radio show covering engineering and technology – and regularly contributes to BBC Focus magazine. As he puts it himself, his geek tendencies go back to a childhood spent playing with electronics, and as a science communicator he’s clearly relishing the prospect of hosting such an eclectic set of talks.
“There will be no ghettos here: just amazing, unexpected conversations both within and outside the sessions,” he says. “I am familiar with some of the speakers already but there are others who I’ll get to know for the first time. It reminds me of music festivals where the joy of seeing your favourite acts is matched only by that of discovering new ones for the first time.”
And just as the experience of seeing a band at Glastonbury is made richer by the atmosphere and heritage of the place, so too with TEDxImperialCollege: “One really feels the spirit of the Great Exhibition around these parts. South Kensington exudes the feeling of a place that’s been a home to science, culture and exploration for the last century and a half.”
“As for me, on the day I’ll do my thing: usher people on, usher them off, do the intros, make sure everyone’s happy and politely pester the speakers if they run over time. But most of all, I’m going to sit back, listen and soak it all in. See you there!”
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