Banana plastic and vegetable music at TEDxVienna UNLIMITED

Vegetables are great. They are healthy, they are tasty. They are grown and sold everywhere. They come in all shapes and colours, and they make perfect musical instruments. Yes, you read right – music played on instruments made of fresh vegetables, that’s the concept of the first and only Vegetable Orchestra in the world.

Celery Guitars and Carrot Flutes: The amazing Vegetable Orchestra

The group was founded in Vienna in 1998, has released three CDs so far – the latest carries the appealing name “Onionoise” – and has played more than 200 live concerts all over the world.

The instruments – such as Celeriac Bongos, Cucumberphones and Leek Violins – need to be manufactured before each concert or studio recording. After concerts, the remainders of the instruments – in case they have not been smashed on stage in Jimi-Hendrix-style – are converted into a vegetable soup and served to the audience.

But what kind of music can come out of Celery Guitars or Carrot Flutes? The diverse artistic backgrounds of all musicians come together in a very unique style. Influences from Electronic plays an important role – their second CD, “Automate”, contains several Kraftwerk-covers – but so does Concrete Music, Free Jazz and Pop. In addition, the vegtruments can produce a big number of sounds that can hardly be achieved with “traditional” instruments. And since music cannot be described, only experienced: Don’t miss your chance to listen to the Vegetable Orchestra at TEDxVienna UNLIMITED. Just make sure you don’t ask them if they are vegetarians. They hate that question (and for the record: They’re not.)

Elif Bilgin’s revolutionary idea for plastic production

An unconventional use of fruit forms the bases the research of one of our conference speakers: “My project is about using banana peels in the production of bio-plastic as a replacement of the traditional petroleum based plastic.” Those lines inaugurate Elif Bilgin’s entry at the Google Science Fair 2013. And just as astounding as the idea itself is the age of the contestant: Elif is 16 years old and a high school student from Istanbul.

Based on the simple idea that some fruits that are rich in starch are already in use in the bio-plastic idustry, Elif startet experimenting with bananas two years ago to develop a method to synthetise their peels along with several chemicals into plastic. After ten failed experiments, she finally found a way to produce a stable material that wouldn’t decay after a short period of time.

The impact of Elif’s research is obvious: Banana peels are cheap, not scarce (in Indonesia alone, 200 tons of peels are thrown away every day), and the new method is 100 % ecological. The young scientist explains that the chemicals she uses are not even particularly dangerous to use and the method is simple enough that practically everybody could do it at home. In her project paper, Elif mentions Marie Curie as one of her main inspirations – a woman who challenged gender norms along the way of an exceptional career in science.

TEDxVienna Unlimited – November 2nd 2013

Elif Bilgin and the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra, among many other inspiring speakers, will both be present at the upcoming TEDxVienna conference in November – to feed our souls, minds and stomachs with music, ideas… and vegetable soup. Make sure to book your ticket today!

Header Image(s) from Pixabay & Gratisography

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