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[Live Blog] TEDxPSU: Yesterday’s Frontiers, Tomorrow’s Horizons

The third annual TEDxPSU conference will bring together leading thinkers and innovators in the community for a one day speaker series starting at 10 a.m. today. We’ll be blogging throughout the day from Schwab Auditorium, so check back for updates.

You can view our photo album here and the live stream below.

6:00 p.m. Another great TEDxPSU is in the books! What an incredible event. We’re counting down the days until next year already!

5:46 p.m. TEDxPSU 2013 will close with the band The Wondershop Showdown. Remember them from THON?

5:39 p.m. Pilato invited TEDxPSU curator Sean Meadows to add his handprint to the mural on stage to conclude his speech in a way only Michael Pilato could. He received the only standing ovation of TEDxPSU 2013.

5:34 p.m.  Pilato is stealing the show by telling dozens of incredible stories about the power of art, on his murals in State College, Williamsport, and beyond, particularly about his decisions to alter the mural surrounding the Jerry Sandusky story.

“I thought I was going to be able to remove Jerry Sandusky very quickly…but hundreds of people had surrounded the mural…”

“I wanted people to see that we have only a short time here on earth when I painted the halo on top of Joe Paterno’s head…the controversy was unbelievable, but I realize that as a public artist, that is our job.”

“The first phone call I got after my son died was Hillary Clinton. The second was Joe Paterno,” said Pilato of Lt. Michael Murphy’s family.

5:24 p.m. Pilato’s stories have incited applause, including a specific one about the scene at Iwo Jima being painted in the eye of a whale on the mural. His mural in Williamsport, Pa., about an hour away, is the largest outdoor mural in the world. Williamsport is also the home of William Schreyer of the Schreyer Honors College namesake.

5:21 p.m. Pilato is going over some of the many stories associated with his work on the Inspiration Mural on Heister Street.

“A lot of things that I didn’t know could happened, happened…I felt the power of art, and I felt the art in healing.”

5:18 p.m. Local artist Michael Pilato is next up — the muralist who painted the famous Heister Street mural.

“My whole life I’ve been painting murals.”

5:07 p.m. Comedian Reggie Watts’ TED talk, being played now in Schwab Auditorium, is exactly how you’d expect.

5:04 p.m. De Reus calls the Congo the “worst place to be a woman.” She cites the fact that many American imported electronics come from the Congo.

“There’s a heavy stigma associated with rape. Where a woman who has been sexually assaulted is considered damaged goods”

4:56 p.m. Lee Ann De Reus, an Associate Professor of Human Development & Family Studies and Women Studies at Penn State Altoona is the next speaker. She will be speaking about the rape culture in the Congo and her foundation, Panzi Foundation USA (@panziusa).

“My goal today is to inspire you to take action by sharing with you the incredible strength and courage of girls that I’ve met.”

4:48 p.m. Reininger took the audience through a self-reflective trip through a “river” using the water as a metaphor for self-reflectiveness and soothing awareness.

“If we could just deepen our awareness, we can see that we are all connected…we are all one.”

4:35 p.m. TED organizer Herbert Reininger and Penn State Creative Director (@Herbert68) is up next.

“It’s not always easy to stay connected with everything around us. Things can break down…and sometimes they break down really hard.”

4:22 p.m. The next TED video comes from musician Amanda Palmer, called “The art of asking” about her free music initiative based solely on fundraising.

4:19 p.m. Kariv asks the audience, “What will your journey look like?”

“Stop watching TV, stop watching the news, stop listening to all the people who say you can’t do it, and ask yourself what you want to create with your life.”

4:14 p.m. Next up is Dan Kariv from He is talking about “taking the journey,” specifically in his many career paths. Kariv is only 27 years old and has already seen 60 countries.

“I learned what love was. I learned what it was like to make an impact,” Kariv said, after visiting his dying grandfather in Israel.

“There’s more to life than your own selfish pursuits…the only difference between any of us are the choices and experiences we chose to have.”

4:08 p.m. Charles is a proponent of “lying” to pollsters. In order for a presidential candidate to be able to participate in the national presidential debate, they need to poll 15 percent in a national poll. Charles says that if people just told pollsters they were going to vote for a third party candidate, even if they didn’t intend to, it would create a fairer election.

“When they ask you who you’re going to vote for, what they’re really asking you is who you want to see in the debates.”

4:02 p.m. We’re back from lunch where Eric Charles (@EPCharles) is kicking things off with a discussion about third party politics in America.

“It makes sense that people wouldn’t vote for a third party because no one knows who they are…a huge answer to that question is the presidential debates. Maybe, I thought, we could get a third party candidate on the debate stage…To get on the presidential debate stage you need to poll at 15 percent in the national polls. What they’ve said that if you want to have your voice heard then you already need to have had your voice heard.”

2:58 p.m. The second session has concluded. We’ll be back for the third and final session in an hour.

2:48 p.m. Next up — RAM Squad.

Photo by Dave Cole

2:42 p.m. Cesar Kuriyama’s TED talk is playing here at Schwab Auditorium. He shoots one second of his life every day and puts them together in a video. It’s an awesome project you can learn about here.

2:39 p.m. Gresh claims that you “cannot hook up without commitment,” citing neurological symptoms. She says friends with benefits is impossible. “Your body makes a promise.”

Gresh also says that it’s a myth that you can have great sex without being in love.

“Maybe, just maybe, we don’t really understand that communication and commitment are some of the greatest agents of sex.”

2:32 p.m. Gresh says that there are “more virgins than ever on college campuses.” Says 8,360 could exist at Penn State.

“The average male will leave with 9.7 sexual partners by the time he graduates from college and the average female will leave with 7.1.”

2:30 p.m. Dannah Gresh (@dannahgresh) is up next, a best-selling author and speaker about evangelical and sexuality issues.

“When a guy walks home in the morning, they call it a walk of fame. When a girl walks home, they call it a walk of shame. There’s a problem with that.”

2:17 p.m. Another video — this time physicist Brian Cox.

2:08 p.m. Terry Engelder continued the discussion about fracking. Engelder is a leading authority of the recent Marcellus gas shale boom, graduated from Penn State in 1968, and teaches in the Geosciences department.

“It is true that there are large water management issues with fracking…and that there are a lot of very important questions that need to be asked. However, the term toxic has become one of the most overused terms in the fracking debate.”

Photo by Steve Osborn

2:00 p.m. Lonnie Graham, a Pew Fellow at Penn State, spoke about art as a tradition in modern culture. He spoke with a collection of photos behind him to emphasize the community aspect of art.

Photo by Steve Osborn

“People begin to share and communicate with each other…THIS is the role of the arts. THIS is why we are here.”

1:34 p.m. A TED video of Mark Bezos, a volunteer firefighter, is playing in between speakers. Funny stuff here. A video from Terry Moore and Dan Ariely followed.

1:32 p.m. Paul, who works at Penn State, lauded Penn State’s research efforts in astronomy and science.

“I believe the best is yet to come. And here at Penn State, we want to be a part of that.”

“Every kid who looks up at the stars at night…they don’t think alien. They think, ‘That is home.’ And that is an idea worth sharing.”

Photo by Steve Osborn

1:26 p.m. Next up is Michael Paul, otherwise known as the leader of the Lunar Lion.

“Space is about us. Space is about you, space is about me — space is about where we came from.”

1:22 p.m. Gutgold says that 26 percent of America are upset about the though of a woman president.

“We need to callout sexist media in the press…stop subscribing to cable networks that damage women.”

1:14 p.m. Nichola Gutgold, a professor at Penn State Lehigh Valley, spoke about what it will take to elect a woman president in America.

“Why are all the President of the United States men? I believe there are two reasons…We hold very limiting stereotypes about the range of possibility for women in our country…and two, deep down, you and me, and a lot of people say that we will vote for a woman candidate if she’s qualified, but when we get into a voting booth, we can’t make that commitment. ”

1:01 p.m. We’re back from lunch to kick off the second session, which will be centered around technology. First up is None of the Above, a great a capella group here at Penn State.

None of the Above
Photo by Dave Cole

12:00 p.m. It’s time for lunch! See you in an hour.

11:53 a.m. Littlefield concluded his presentation by instructing the audience, in lieu of clapping, to turn to a neighbor and make a connection and start a conversation (And exchange a hi-five, of course).

“Taking a positive social risk is not about whether you fail or you succeed. Taking positive social risk is about stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone over your anxious bump, wherever that might be, so that over here you can begin to see people as people with depth and stories, feelings, fears, and aspirations.”

11:46 a.m. The much-anticipated speaker and Penn State senior Chad Littlefield (@ChadLittlefield) will close out the first session of TEDxPSU before lunch. Chad is the president of the Penn State clown nose club, which, aside from promoting the use of awesome red clown noses, encourages people to have positive interactions with each other.

11:37 a.m. We’ll have one more speaker before lunch break. For now, we’re watching a TED talk from Edith Widder.

11:34 a.m. Tyler says that we can’t “tame” stories like lions…we need to let stories live without censorship or revisionist history. And you don’t need to always tell a story — sometimes it’s important to just listen.

“We tell the stories because they are already alive; they are alive whether or not we tell them.”

11:22 a.m. Jo Tyler, an innovative professor from Penn State Harrisburg, is up next. She is focusing on storytelling and the concept of living stories.

“Lions aren’t the only things we put in cages. We put stories in cages too.”

11:18: a.m. Shaffer shared his experiences and vivid photography from his work with NGOs and using tectonic machines in refugee camps and the developing world.

“We could use mud to build mud cities. But how do you deliver a mud city?”

Marcus Shaffer
Photo by Dave Cole

11:02 a.m. After a short video presentation featuring Louie Schwartzberg and the beauty of nature, Marcus Shaffer got things off as the third speaker.

10:55 a.m. “For so long, for so many years I felt like I didn’t fit in but now I feel like I belong here. I feel like I belong and our little girls do too.”

10:52 a.m. Sterling told stores of her time in college in a largely male-dominated engineering field. She continually felt like she didn’t fit in and how dejected she felt when her toy prototype for GoldieBlox was continually denied.

“Engineering is the way to build anything you want that comes from your head.”

10:40 a.m. Debbie Sterling was up next who spoke about the gender differences in the engineering field.

“I don’t fit in, but I believe that our little girls will.”

10:37 a.m. Sticking with the balance theme, Thurmon brought his talk ten feet off the ground on an elevated unicycle while juggling three large knives: “I upped my stakes — so up yours!”

“Lean forward — accept the new risks and responsibilities.”

10:31 a.m. Thurmon woke up the crowd using a series of juggling and acrobatic techniques. He described what he called the five spheres of life: your work, relationships, health, spiritual growth, and personal interests, and the importance of balancing those spheres.

“Protect your time — compartmentalize your life.”

Dan Thurmon
Photo by Dave Cole

10:19 a.m. After a brief introduction for co-curator Sean Meadows, we’re underway in Schwab Auditorium with our first speaker Dan Thurmon (@DanThurmon). Thurmon is the president of Motivation Works and focused on the concept of balance.

“The most effective individuals have mastered the power of purpose to leverage results.”

Program from side
Photo by Dave Cole

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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