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POWERSURGE / The Energy Revolution

PUSH 2007: SuperPower, Session 2

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There’s a lot of talk and a lot of movement around the fact that fossil fuels, so inextricably related to economic growth and environmental emergencies, are facing critical limitations in access and production. What energy source will step up to take their place? How will new—and old—sources of energy re-shuffle our economic and environmental landscapes? And as oil white-knuckles its hold on the market, who will get caught in the cross fire?


James Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota, is known within the scientific community for his studies of amorphous semiconductors (seeking to improve their materials properties for solar cell applications), granular materials, and 1/f noise. To the general public, however, Kakalios is known as the author of the book The Physics of Superheroes, which considers comic book superheroes from the standpoint of fundamental physics.

Kakalios, who earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1985, resumed his comic book collection as a graduate student as a way to relieve stress while working on his dissertation. He later integrated these two disciplines when he taught a Freshman Seminar, “Everything I Need to Know about Physics I Learned from Comic Books.”

Dr. Kakalios will use the talent for making complex ideas fun and understandable that landed him on the pages of People magazine and other popular press, to explain the thorny issues regarding our energy future.


In the fall of 2004, photojournalist Linda Cullen traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan to cover the historic presidential elections. She spent most of her time in the foothills surrounding the city, meeting Kabul's poorest residents, its widows. It didn't take long to see how their poverty and lack of electricity left them at a major disadvantage.

She returned from that trip with a vision to bring solar technologies to communities torn by poverty, war and disaster. Within weeks she’d founded Fifty Lanterns International, which has since evolved into a global nonprofit organization.

Linda Cullen has a personal and professional commitment to improving the living standards of the world's most marginalized and forgotten people, and to sharing their stories through her photography. As common threads in all of Fifty Lanterns' projects, Linda has pledged to support the education, health and safety needs of vulnerable women and girls, and to give preference to sustainable technology and solar energy.


Peter O'Gorman is a composer, drummer/percussionist, author and teacher. He creates pieces that are emotional, physical, visceral, cerebral, and kinetic. His compositions have been performed by Steven Schick and the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Amy Knoles of the California Ear Unit, New York percussion quartet Ethos, and numerous other performers throughout the U.S. and abroad. Peter has performed nationally and internationally both as a soloist and with a number of very diverse ensembles. He has worked with such luminary composers as: Henry Brant, Irwin Bazalon, William Kraft, Libby Larsen, Frederic Rzewski, John Zorn, and many others. Currently, Peter is resident composer and percussionist with Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum, and is also a featured performer in Mary Ellen Childs' percussion troupe, CRASH.  In addition to his compositions, Peter's publications include a variety of articles on drumming and the critically acclaimed drumset method book series, Drum Sessions.


Doug Cameron is the Chief Scientific Officer of Khosla Ventures, a venture firm that supports breakthrough scientific work in clean technology areas such as bio-refineries for energy and bioplastics, solar, battery and other environmentally friendly technologies.  In addition to his duties at KV, Dr. Cameron is acting CEO of LS9, Inc., “The Renewable Petroleum Company,TM ” where his expertise in metabolic engineering and fermentation technology guides the company in the development of petroleum-like biofuels. These revolutionary “alternative biofuels” are designed to be renewable, clean, domestically produced and cost competitive, and also to replace petroluem products in industrial applications.

He is a fellow of the Society for Industrial Microbiology (SIM) and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He is on the board of the Society for Biological Engineering (SBE), the Biobusiness Alliance of Minnesota, and the Iowa Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. Dr. Cameron is on the editorial board of the journal, Metabolic Engineering, and is a consulting professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. He received his B.S.E. from Duke University and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Matthew Sanford is a visionary, philosopher, yoga teacher, speaker, author of WAKING and expert of mind-body integration. Sanford’s life’s work began at age thirteen when he survived a car accident that took the lives of his father and sister and left him paralyzed from the chest down. For the last twenty-eight years, he has been on a practical exploration of the mind-body relationship.

Matthew graduated with a BA in philosophy from the University of Minnesota Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, and received a Master of Arts from the University of Santa Barbara in philosophy, then shifted his primary focus to explore how the principles of Iyengar yoga travel through a paralyzed body. After years of trying to overcome his paralysis, he instead began to embrace it by re-establishing connection with his dramatically altered body. He believes that lack of mind-body integration is one of the critical problems facing our long-term survival. Sanford is committed to helping individuals and our society at large, realize the practical notion that minds and bodies work better together.