TEDxNTU 2015: Life – What’s the Point?

This event occurred on
October 17, 2015
10:00am – 4:30pm SGT
(UTC +8hrs)


This TEDxNTU event featured practical/realistic ideas and arguments on existence, reality and meaning of life; speakers from diverse domains including Biology, Physics, Psychology, Philosophy, etc. and also anecdotal down-to-earth approaches. Speakers explored and discussed that profound and yet simple question we all have, “Life – What’s the point?”.

Through, a blend of deep scientific/philosophical ideas along with simple down-to-earth approaches and arguments about the “Purpose of Life”, We enlightened the audience with new and deep perspectives about “life”.

We also rationally challenged popular notions on the question “How to live a more meaningful life?” in a practically viable manner, while concluding the event with insightful and personally relevant conclusion(s) to the eternal question, ‘Life – What’s the point?’


Akhileswaran Ramaswamy

Palliative care specialist + Radiation Oncologist
Dr Akhilesh – the Medical Director of HCA Hospice Care, Singapore’s largest home hospice service. He has close encounters with the unpredictability of life and death on a daily basis – he has been practising palliative medical care for the dying, for the last 14 years.

Andres Carlos Luco

Andres Luco is Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). His areas of research specialization are in ethics and political philosophy. He has published articles on the question of why we ought to be moral, on what motivates people to act morally, and on how objective moral values fit into the natural world.

Avin Tan

Social advocate + a Person living with HIV
Avin Tan is one of Singapore’s most prominent HIV advocate, and is only the second person to come out as a person living with HIV in Singapore. He stands for the equal rights and support for people living with HIV, as well as better access to care and treatment.

Barry Yeow

An artist + ex-convict
Barry spent most of his early years in and out of prison. His first brush with the law was at the age of 11. Barry was later addicted to drugs and he was last sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in the year 2008. It was then that he encountered arts.Today, Barry is a full time artist and his artwork continues to allow him to share his life’s story in various places.

Ben Alvin Shedd

Oscar Award winner + Film-maker
Professor Ben Shedd has directed and produced 33 films and videos, including 4 IMAX movies. He has a 1978 Oscar Award for for the best documentary and a Peabody Award for the Public Broadcasting System NOVA science series. Prof Ben is now a Professor of Digital Filmmaking at the School of Art, Design and Media, at Nanyang Technological University and his films have received 40 international awards. His company Shedd Productions, Inc. goes by the mantra “Films To Set The Mind Soaring!”

Elizabeth Nair

Psychologist + Counselor
Elizabeth Nair describes herself as an accidental psychologist. She is the CEO and Principal Psychologist of Work and Health Psychologists, Singapore. She has served on international boards of psychological science (International Union of Psychological Science) and applied psychology (International Association of Applied Psychology). She was also the first female Chief Psychologist, the Singapore’s Ministry of Defence.

Kian-Woon Kwok

Kwok Kian-Woon is a sociologist based at the Nanyang Technological University. His teaching, research and writing covers areas such as the following: Social Memory; Mental Health, and Singapore Studies.

Kristen Sadler

Trained in life sciences, with a specialisation in biochemistry and immunology, her research areas have included vaccine and immunocontraceptive development and working with a diverse range of species, from viruses to parasitic worms to vertebrates.

Oberdan Marianetti

Organisational Psychologist
Based in Singapore, Oberdan Marianetti is a Coach, Public Speaker Leadership Adviser and Clinical Sexologist.Over the last 20 years, he has worked in senior management roles with multinationals like HSBC and Standard Chartered, as a business owner, and as a consultant, with people from all walks of life, from students to corporate executives, both as a coach and a mentor.

Peter Sloot

Physicist + Chemist + Complexity Scientist
Trained as a Physicist (MSc 1983) and Chemist (MSc 1983) with a PhD in Informatics (1988), working on early detection of tumor cells, epidemics and immunity, he became a full professor of Computational Science at the University of Amsterdam and in 2014 a full professor of Complex System Simulation and director of the complexity Institute at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. In 2010 he was awarded the ‘Leading Scientist Award’ by the president of the Russian Federation, as of today the largest monetary award in science. As an editor in chief of two Elsevier Science journals he is trying to defy the second law of thermodynamics by acting as a demon gatekeeper and only allow the ‘hot’ papers to go for a review.

Rajen Makhijani

Strategy and Leadership Consultant
Mr Rajen Makhijani is a Coach, Consultant, Screenwriter & Social Activist – He describes himself as a ‘soul-in-search’, and a student of life. His clients were from diverse economic backgrounds, from fortune 500 companies to Non Governmental Organisation. A Sir Dorab Tata Scholar, Citibank Leadership Awardee and winner of ‘Wings of Excellence Award’ by the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland.

Russell Gruen

Trauma surgeon
Dr Russel Gruen, as a trauma care surgeon lives a slightly different life, as he is constantly racing against time to save a person’s life. Having walked alongside people who have crossed the thin line flanked by life and death, He specially cared for the seriously injured in road accidents, falls, sports and other activities. Dr. Russel Gruen is currently the Professor of Surgery at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. From traumatised patients to inevitable deaths, he has witnessed it all in his career.

Organizing Team

Vivek Manoharan
Jurong West, Singapore
Roderick Chia
Singapore, Singapore
Aaron Tan
ProductionGowtham Durai
Partnerships/SponsorshipHongjiao Zhu
ProductionJohn Nathan Fernandez
ProductionKee Jin Lee

Mahesh Kumar Chobey
Team member

Muhammad Zubair
Team member

Raj Shekhar Chipurapalli
Team member

Ray Han

Roomi S
Team member

Solange E. Astorga
Team member

Suneel Kumar Cheekati
Team member

Utkarsh Shah
Team member

Zishan Ali

Dinesh Kumar Chobey
Marketing/CommunicationsHendri Zhang
ProductionJhilik Dutta
ProductionKalpesh Chaudhari
Team memberKristen Sadler
Team member

Md Shafquat Ullah Khan
Team member

Pui Mun Lee

Rajagopalan Badrinarayanan

Rohan Sood

saurabh singh

Sumanta Bose

Sushant Shendre

Yemineni Sivasankara Rao
Team member