In a home-grown version of a TED talk – famous for presenting “Ideas Worth Spreading” in exactly 18 minutes – SLAC’s Uwe Bergmann took an audience at Palo Alto’s Gunn High School on a wild ride through the Linac Coherent Light Source.
His talk, "Seeing the Invisible," was part of TEDxGunnHighSchool, a day-long program of discussions that followed the model of talks put on by TED, a well-known non-profit whose name stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Like all TEDx events, this one was independently organized but endorsed by the TED organization.
Bergmann gave the second talk in a day full of ideas spread by Gunn High students and faculty and local luminaries. According to student organizer Sonal Prasad, Gunn is one of the first TEDx high schools, and the event’s success has the school planning a repeat next year.
Bergmann, deputy director of the LCLS, laid out the history of the discovery and use of X-rays, moving beyond their role as a medical tool to stress their importance in scientific research, with the Archimedes Palimpsest as an example. Then he warned the theater of rapt students, teachers and community members to "fasten your seat belts" and used the remainder of his 18 minutes to take them on a wild ride – the same ride accelerated electrons take to produce the ultrafast, ultra-bright coherent X-ray pulses for which the LCLS is known. Those pulses have the potential to not only capture information about objects on the scale of atoms, but to record atomic processes as well.
Bergmann's TEDxGunnHighSchool talk – and several others from the same event – is available on the TEDx YouTube channel.