How a conference managed to get over 250 attendees make Chewbacca sounds at once (plus a Chewbacca cognition poll)

Let me explain…

First take a peek at this:

I actually posted this earlier, but basically, what you’re seeing here is the promotional video for a student conference, called TEDx Terry talks. This, we just finished up the other day (it was amazing and you can see the synopsis here).

Anyway, we actually launched the video way back in early September – the first day of school to be exact. We even had a booth and stuff where the video was playing, and had quite a few spritely 1st year university students walk by, look at it curiously, watch it, chuckle at it, etc. You’ll note that Chewbacca makes a brief appearance in the video.

What was amazing to me was that during that day, not just one, but indeed, two, separate groups of 1st year students uttered something to the effect of:

“What is a Chewbacca?”


Is it possible that there are people in the world who do not “nod knowingly” when they see a picture of this iconic figure?


Apparently, yes.

Anyway, I happened to use this anecdote during introductions of the actual TEDxTt conference (I was the MC), and even had a short audio clip of one of Chewbacca’s roars to make my point. And partly because I couldn’t let it go (“What do they teach in highschool these days?”), as well as the fact that the conference had a “let’s make a YouTube video” element to it (you can see last year’s here), we ended up receiving a YouTube video pitch with Chewbacca potential from some student attendees suggesting something called an “Open Source Orchestra.”

Specifically this:


Of course, with the “vocal” element, it sooned became two renditions: an “Open Source Orchestra sans Chewbacca Sounds” and an “Open Source Orchestra with Chewbacca Sounds” (or as one tweet called it: a Chewbacca-estra). We haven’t made the video yet, but you’ll be sure to hear about it here when we do finally release it. I’m hoping the footage does it justice, but I guess we’ll just have to see.

Still, it’s not everyday that you hear 250 people make wookie sounds.

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As a side note, during the day, I did managed to informally query the audience about whether they knew who this Chewbacca was. And out of an audience of about 250 to 300, we had maybe a dozen or so hands go up, meaning that we’re talking about a 5% lack of Chewbacca cognition value.

Which leads me to just generally throw out this query – how many people have not heard of Chewbacca? And to gain some insight at this, maybe I can get you to fill out this (with irony) incredibly scientific poll. Let’s even call it the Chewbacca Cognition Index. Please answer under the pretense that you didn’t read the above post.

(Yes I realized this is a flawed poll, since finding it here predisposes for folks who already know who Chewbacca is, but maybe you can get as many as your friends to weigh in as well)

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Oh, and I can’t help but end with this video. People who answered 7 and up will understand…

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates. In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at