Ben Doerr performs at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz on Friday during the TedX Radical Collaboration. Doerr’s music is based on his grandfather’s experience fighting for the Free French Forces. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
By Kara Guzman, Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ >> Charles Gonzalez was one of hundreds in the sold-out Rio Theatre crowd at Friday’s TEDxSantaCruz talks titled “Radical Collaboration.”
The Santa Cruz resident is working to bring technology to Bangladesh schools, a challenge requiring cultural sensitivity, he said.
“How do you work with these people? Radical collaboration, what does that mean? How do you do that?” Gonzalez said.
Locally organized by volunteers, TEDx is associated with the nonprofit TED, which produces viral videos of thought-provoking talks.
All 24 presenters spoke on revolutionary partnerships, and received standing ovations.
More than half had connections to UC Santa Cruz, which hosted with TEDx as part of its alumni weekend.
UCSC scientist David Haussler spoke on leading a team that built the first draft of the human genome in 2000.
Members worked frantically through the night, racing against a private company. To make sense of the 3 billion DNA building blocks, then-graduate student Jim Kent wrote code so furiously he had to ice his wrists, said Haussler.
The team posted the draft online, free to the public — something the private company would never have done, Haussler said.
“I had a deep feeling of stepping through a porthole, of us stepping through a porthole,” he said. “We just became the first species to read its own genetic recipe. We’re still understanding the implications of that.”
Since then, Haussler has led efforts to share human genomic data online. Privacy and security issues, as well as competition between medical centers makes collaboration difficult. But understanding the genomic structure of diseases such as cancer can make therapies more precise, he said.
Helen Mayer, right, and Newton Harrison speak at the TedX Santa Cruz Radical Collaboration conference at the Rio Theatre on Friday afternoon. The couple are co-directors of the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure at UC Santa Cruz and are leaders in the eco-art movement. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
“We’re creating an open-source platform that will allow DNA sequences to be shared, at light speed, from point to point on the Internet so patients who have such little time can get the information they need,” Haussler said.
On a giant screen, sex educator Bez Maxwell flashed line graphs comparing male and female orgasms.
The male line traced a familiar upward slope, of slow and steady buildup toward climax. At its peak, the line dived off a cliff, suddenly back to zero.
“Then you go eat a sandwich,” said Maxwell.
She examined the female line, which zigzagged and looped like a treacherous roller coaster.
“This range is limitless,” said Maxwell, who leads Santa Cruz “orgasmic meditation” classes. “In female orgasm, you don’t make it happen. It makes you happen.”
With its twists and turns, the female orgasm mimics the road of life. It’s more compelling when it doesn’t follow a script, she said.
“Life never goes like it’s supposed to anyway,” she said. “We meet at the radical edge. There’s a beautiful life that wants to live you.”
Performances included jazz singer Ed Reed, 86, who spoke of lessons from his 40-year heroin addiction, and indie folk band “St. Paul de Vence.”
UCSC professor Dan Costa spoke on his Antarctic research using sensors on elephant seals to understand changes in the ocean.
Flora Lu, also a UCSC professor, spoke on her work in the Ecuadorian Amazon with Waorani natives who have the ability to detect and identify animals by the odor of urine dripping from the rain forest canopy, she said.
Collaboration between conservationists and the Waorani is necessary to save the world’s most biodiverse forest, she said.
Videos of the presentations will be online at TEDxSantaCruz.com in the next few weeks.
What: Short talks and performances by local scientists, educators, artists and others on radical collaboration
Details: Visit tedxsantacruz.org.
Link to original article: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20150424/tedxsantacruz-speakers-present-radical-ideas