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How to spot a liar
On any given day we're lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lie can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and "hotspots" used by those trained to recognize deception -- and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.
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Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation
Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories -- and maybe, a way forward.
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10 things you didn't know about orgasm
"Bonk" author Mary Roach delves into obscure scientific research, some of it centuries old, to make 10 surprising claims about sexual climax, ranging from the bizarre to the hilarious. (This talk is aimed at adults. Viewer discretion advised.)
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Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe
In keeping with the theme of TED2008, professor Stephen Hawking asks some Big Questions about our universe -- How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? -- and discusses how we might go about answering them.
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Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one. An astonishing story.
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Conception to birth -- visualized
Image-maker Alexander Tsiaras shares a powerful medical visualization, showing human development from conception to birth and beyond. (Some graphic images.)
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The surprising science of happiness
Dan Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness," challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.
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The happy secret to better work
We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.
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6 ways mushrooms can save the world
Mycologist Paul Stamets lists 6 ways the mycelium fungus can help save the universe: cleaning polluted soil, making insecticides, treating smallpox and even flu ... Read more.
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Why do we sleep?
Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages -- and hints at some
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Making sense of string theory
Physicist Brian Greene explains superstring theory, the idea that minscule strands of energy vibrating in 11 dimensions create every particle and force in the universe.
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Richard Dawkins urges all atheists to openly state their position -- and to fight the incursion of the church into politics and science. A fiery, funny, powerful talk.
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Why people believe weird things
Why do people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in "Stairway to Heaven"? Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer shows how we convince ourselves to believe -- and overlook the facts.
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Where good ideas come from
People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.
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Why the universe seems so strange
Biologist Richard Dawkins makes a case for "thinking the improbable" by looking at how the human frame of reference limits our understanding of the universe.
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What we didn’t know about penis anatomy
We’re not done with anatomy. We know a tremendous amount about genomics, proteomics and cell biology, but as Diane Kelly makes clear at TEDMED, there are basic facts about the human body we’re still learning. Case in point: How does the mammalian erection work?
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David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and a Times Square's worth of neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean.
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Optical illusions show how we see
Beau Lotto's color games puzzle your vision, but they also spotlight what you can't normally see: how your brain works. This fun, first-hand look at your own versatile sense of sight reveals how evolution tints your perception of what's really out there.
The brain in love
Why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it? To learn more about our very real, very physical need for romantic love, Helen Fisher and her research team took MRIs of people in love -- and people who had just been dumped.
Is our universe the only universe?
Is there more than one universe? In this visually rich, action-packed talk, Brian Greene shows how the unanswered questions of physics (starting with a big one: What caused the Big Bang?) have led to the theory that our own universe is just one of many in the "multiverse."
Moral behavior in animals
Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity -- caring about the well-being of others seems like a very human trait. But Frans de Waal shares some surprising videos of behavioral tests, on primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share.
The hidden power of smiling
Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you'll live -- and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.
Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our own decisions?
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we're not as rational as we think when we make decisions.
Feats of memory anyone can do
There are people who can quickly memorize lists of thousands of numbers, the order of all the cards in a deck (or ten!), and much more. Science writer Joshua Foer describes the technique -- called the memory palace -- and shows off its most remarkable feature: anyone can learn how to use it, including him.
The game that can give you 10 extra years of life
When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience -- and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.
The fiction of memory
Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn't happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It's more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics, and raises some important ethical questions we should all
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A roadmap to end aging
Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey argues that aging is merely a disease -- and a curable one at that. Humans age in seven basic ways, he says, all of which can be averted.
Yup, I built a nuclear fusion reactor
Taylor Wilson believes nuclear fusion is a solution to our future energy needs, and that kids can change the world. And he knows something about both of those: When he was 14, he built a working fusion reactor in his parents' garage. Now 17, he takes the TED stage at short notice to tell (the short version of) his story.
Are we born to run?
Christopher McDougall explores the mysteries of the human desire to run. How did running help early humans survive -- and what urges from our ancient ancestors spur us on today? At TEDxPennQuarter, McDougall tells the story of the marathoner with a heart of gold, the unlikely ultra-runner, and the hidden tribe in Mexico that runs to live.
The riddle of experience vs. memory
Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness.
Can we eat to starve cancer?
William Li presents a new way to think about treating cancer and other diseases: anti-angiogenesis, preventing the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor. The crucial first (and best) step: Eating cancer-fighting foods that cut off the supply lines and beat cancer at its own game.
Boaz Almog “levitates” a superconductor
How can a super-thin 3-inch disk levitate something 70,000 times its own weight? In a riveting demonstration, Boaz Almog shows how a phenomenon known as quantum locking allows a superconductor disk to float over a magnetic rail -- completely frictionlessly and with zero energy loss. Experiment: Prof. Guy Deutscher, Mishael Azoulay, Boaz Almog, of the High Tc
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Animations of unseeable biology
We have no ways to directly observe molecules and what they do -- Drew Berry wants to change that. At TEDxSydney he shows his scientifically accurate (and entertaining!) animations that help researchers see unseeable processes within our own cells.
Battling bad science
Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they're right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry.
Why our universe might exist on a knife-edge
The biggest surprise of discovering the Higgs boson? That there were no surprises. Gian Giudice talks us through a problem in theoretical physics: what if the Higgs field exists in an ultra-dense state that could mean the collapse of all atomic matter? With wit and charm, Giudice outlines a grim fate -- and why we shouldn't start worrying just yet. (Filmed at
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How we read each other's minds
Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples' thoughts -- and judges their actions.
Building a dinosaur from a chicken
Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails,
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George Smoot on the design of the universe
At Serious Play 2008, astrophysicist George Smoot shows stunning new images from deep-space surveys, and prods us to ponder how the cosmos -- with its giant webs of dark matter and mysterious gaping voids -- got built this way.
Computing a theory of everything
Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, talks about his quest to make all knowledge computational -- able to be searched, processed and manipulated. His new search engine, Wolfram Alpha, has no lesser goal than to model and explain the physics underlying the universe.
The optimism bias
Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side -- and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.
The danger of science denial
Vaccine-autism claims, "Frankenfood" bans, the herbal cure craze: All point to the public's growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason, says Michael Specter. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress.
Comics that ask "what if?"
Web cartoonist Randall Munroe answers simple what-if questions ("what if you hit a baseball moving at the speed of light?") using math, physics, logic and deadpan humor. In this charming talk, a reader’s question about Google's data warehouse leads Munroe down a circuitous path to a hilariously over-detailed answer — in which, shhh, you might actually learn something.
Is this our final century?
Speaking as both an astronomer and "a concerned member of the human race," Sir Martin Rees examines our planet and its future from a cosmic perspective. He urges action to prevent dark consequences from our scientific and technological development.
The electric rise and fall of Nikola Tesla
Combining projection mapping and a pop-up book, Marco Tempest tells the visually arresting story of Nikola Tesla -- called “the greatest geek who ever lived” -- from his triumphant invention of alternating current to his penniless last days.
A promising test for pancreatic cancer ... from a teenager
Over 85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than two percent chance of survival. How could this be? Jack Andraka talks about how he developed a promising early detection test for pancreatic cancer that’s super cheap, effective and non-invasive -- all before his 16th birthday.
A theory of everything
Physicist and surfer Garrett Lisi presents a controversial new model of the universe that -- just maybe -- answers all the big questions. If nothing else, it's the most beautiful 8-dimensional model of elementary particles and forces you've ever seen.
My radical plan for small nuclear fission reactors
Taylor Wilson was 14 when he built a nuclear fusion reactor in his parents' garage. Now 19, he returns to the TED stage to present a new take on an old topic: fission. Wilson, who has won backing to create a company to realize his vision, explains why he's so excited about his innovative design for small modular fission reactors -- and why it could be the next
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What our language habits reveal
In an exclusive preview of his book The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker looks at language and how it expresses what goes on in our minds -- and how the words we choose communicate much more than we realize.
The quest to understand consciousness
Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness -- that is a marvelous fact -- but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self.
Why we need the explorers
In tough economic times, our exploratory science programs -- from space probes to the LHC -- are first to suffer budget cuts. Brian Cox explains how curiosity-driven science pays for itself, powering innovation and a profound appreciation of our existence.
We can now edit our DNA. But let's do it wisely
Geneticist Jennifer Doudna co-invented a groundbreaking new technology for editing genes, called CRISPR-Cas9. The tool allows scientists to make precise edits to DNA strands, which could lead to treatments for genetic diseases … but could also be used to create so-called "designer babies." Doudna reviews how CRISPR-Cas9 works — and asks the scientific community to
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The linguistic genius of babies
At TEDxRainier, Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another -- by listening to the humans around them and "taking statistics" on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.
How your "working memory" makes sense of the world
"Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it." In this funny, enlightening talk, educational psychologist Peter Doolittle details the importance -- and limitations -- of your "working memory," that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what's happening right now.
Anthony Atala on growing new organs
Anthony Atala's state-of-the-art lab grows human organs -- from muscles to blood vessels to bladders, and more. At TEDMED, he shows footage of his bio-engineers working with some of its sci-fi gizmos, including an oven-like bioreactor (preheat to 98.6 F) and a machine that "prints" human tissue.
The Earth is full
Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that's equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.
The accelerating power of technology
Inventor, entrepreneur and visionary Ray Kurzweil explains in abundant, grounded detail why, by the 2020s, we will have reverse-engineered the human brain and nanobots will be operating your consciousness.
The pursuit of ignorance
What does real scientific work look like? As neuroscientist Stuart Firestein jokes: It looks a lot less like the scientific method and a lot more like "farting around … in the dark." In this witty talk, Firestein gets to the heart of science as it is really practiced and suggests that we should value what we don’t know -- or “high-quality ignorance” -- just as
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Turning trash into toys for learning
At the INK Conference, Arvind Gupta shares simple yet stunning plans for turning trash into seriously entertaining, well-designed toys that kids can build themselves -- while learning basic principles of science and design.
How bacteria "talk"
Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria "talk" to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry -- and our understanding of ourselves.
The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain
Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.
Kamal Meattle on how to grow fresh air
Researcher Kamal Meattle shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air.
Exploring the mind of a killer
Psychopathic killers are the basis for some must-watch TV, but what really makes them tick? Neuroscientist Jim Fallon talks about brain scans and genetic analysis that may uncover the rotten wiring in the nature (and nurture) of murderers. In a too-strange-for-fiction twist, he shares a fascinating family history that makes his work chillingly personal.
What happens when you have a disease doctors can't diagnose
Five years ago, TED Fellow Jennifer Brea became progressively ill with myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating illness that severely impairs normal activities and on bad days makes even the rustling of bed sheets unbearable. In this poignant talk, Brea describes the obstacles she's encountered in seeking treatment for her
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A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts. No, really.
Can we use our brains to directly control machines -- without requiring a body as the middleman? Miguel Nicolelis talks through an astonishing experiment, in which a clever monkey in the US learns to control a monkey avatar, and then a robot arm in Japan, purely with its thoughts. The research has big implications for quadraplegic people -- and maybe for all of
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The hidden influence of social networks
We're all embedded in vast social networks of friends, family, co-workers and more. Nicholas Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits -- from happiness to obesity -- can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know.
Why I must speak out about climate change
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.
Image recognition that triggers augmented reality
Matt Mills and Tamara Roukaerts demonstrate Aurasma, a new augmented reality tool that can seamlessly animate the world as seen through a smartphone. Going beyond previous augmented reality, their "auras" can do everything from making a painting talk to overlaying live news onto a printed newspaper.
How we discovered DNA
Nobel laureate James Watson opens TED2005 with the frank and funny story of how he and his research partner, Francis Crick, discovered the structure of DNA.
Trust, morality -- and oxytocin
What drives our desire to behave morally? Neuroeconomist Paul Zak shows why he believes oxytocin (he calls it "the moral molecule") is responsible for trust, empathy and other feelings that help build a stable society.
Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales
We humans set a premium on our own free will and independence ... and yet there's a shadowy influence we might not be considering. As science writer Ed Yong explains in this fascinating, hilarious and disturbing talk, parasites have perfected the art of manipulation to an incredible degree. So are they influencing us? It's more than likely.
Craig Venter unveils "synthetic life"
Craig Venter and team make a historic announcement: they've created the first fully functioning, reproducing cell controlled by synthetic DNA. He explains how they did it and why the achievement marks the beginning of a new era for science.
Human nature and the blank slate
Steven Pinker's book The Blank Slate argues that all humans are born with some innate traits. Here, Pinker talks about his thesis, and why some people found it incredibly upsetting.
Murray Gell-Mann on beauty and truth in physics
Armed with a sense of humor and laypeople's terms, Nobel winner Murray Gell-Mann drops some knowledge on TEDsters about particle physics, asking questions like, Are elegant equations more likely to be right than inelegant ones?
Aliens, love -- where are they?
Humorist John Hodgman rambles through a new story about aliens, physics, time, space and the way all of these somehow contribute to a sweet, perfect memory of falling in love.
What went wrong at the LHC
In this short talk from TED U 2009, Brian Cox shares what's new with the CERN supercollider. He covers the repairs now underway and what the future holds for the largest science experiment ever attempted.
A plant's-eye view
What if human consciousness isn't the end-all and be-all of Darwinism? What if we are all just pawns in corn's clever strategy game to rule the Earth? Author Michael Pollan asks us to see the world from a plant's-eye view.
Where are the baby dinosaurs? In a spellbinding talk from TEDxVancouver paleontologist Jack Horner describes how slicing open fossil skulls revealed a shocking secret about some of our most beloved dinosaurs.
My friend Richard Feynman
What's it like to be pals with a genius? Onstage at TEDxCaltech, physicist Leonard Susskind spins a few stories about his friendship with the legendary Richard Feynman, discussing his unconventional approach to problems both serious and ... less so.
How brain science will change computing
Treo creator Jeff Hawkins urges us to take a new look at the brain -- to see it not as a fast processor, but as a memory system that stores and plays back experiences to help us predict, intelligently, what will happen next.
Teach teachers how to create magic
What do rap shows, barbershop banter and Sunday services have in common? As Christopher Emdin says, they all hold the secret magic to enthrall and teach at the same time — and it’s a skill we often don't teach to educators. The science advocate (and cofounder of Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. with the GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan) offers a vision to make the classroom come
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The real reason for brains
Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert starts from a surprising premise: the brain evolved, not to think or feel, but to control movement. In this entertaining, data-rich talk he gives us a glimpse into how the brain creates the grace and agility of human motion.
A new equation for intelligence
Is there an equation for intelligence? Yes. It’s F = T ∇ Sτ. In a fascinating and informative talk, physicist and computer scientist Alex Wissner-Gross explains what in the world that means. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)
Could we cure HIV with lasers?
Swallowing pills to get medication is a quick, painless and often not entirely effective way of treating disease. A potentially better way? Lasers. In this passionate talk, TED Fellow Patience Mthunzi explains her idea to use lasers to deliver drugs directly to cells infected with HIV. It's early days yet, but could a cure be on the horizon?
A doctor's touch
Modern medicine is in danger of losing a powerful, old-fashioned tool: human touch. Physician and writer Abraham Verghese describes our strange new world where patients are merely data points, and calls for a return to the traditional one-on-one physical exam.
Sylvia Earle's TED Prize wish to protect our oceans
Legendary ocean researcher Sylvia Earle shares astonishing images of the ocean -- and shocking stats about its rapid decline -- as she makes her TED Prize wish: that we will join her in protecting the vital blue heart of the planet.
Help the body heal itself
Dean Ornish talks about simple, low-tech and low-cost ways to take advantage of the body's natural desire to heal itself.
Welcome to the genomic revolution
In this accessible talk from TEDxBoston, Richard Resnick shows how cheap and fast genome sequencing is about to turn health care (and insurance, and politics) upside down.
Visualizing the wonder of a living cell
Medical animator David Bolinsky presents 3 minutes of stunning animation that show the bustling life inside a cell.
This gel can make you stop bleeding instantly
Forget stitches — there's a better way to close wounds. In this talk, TED Fellow Joe Landolina talks about his invention — a medical gel that can instantly stop traumatic bleeding without the need to apply pressure. (Contains medical images.)
How stats fool juries
Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly reveals the common mistakes humans make in interpreting statistics -- and the devastating impact these errors can have on the outcome of criminal trials.
What we can learn from galaxies far, far away
In a fun, exciting talk, teenager Henry Lin looks at something unexpected in the sky: distant galaxy clusters. By studying the properties of the universe's largest pieces, says the Intel Science Fair award winner, we can learn quite a lot about scientific mysteries in our own world and galaxy.
Cracking Stuxnet, a 21st-century cyber weapon
When first discovered in 2010, the Stuxnet computer worm posed a baffling puzzle. Beyond its sophistication loomed a more troubling mystery: its purpose. Ralph Langner and team helped crack the code that revealed this digital warhead's final target. In a fascinating look inside cyber-forensics, he explains how -- and makes a bold (and, it turns out, correct) guess at
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Making sound visible through cymatics
Evan Grant demonstrates the science and art of cymatics, a process for making soundwaves visible. Useful for analyzing complex sounds (like dolphin calls), it also makes complex and beautiful designs.
Emily Levine's theory of everything
Philosopher-comedian Emily Levine talks (hilariously) about science, math, society and the way everything connects. She's a brilliant trickster, poking holes in our fixed ideas and bringing hidden truths to light. Settle in and let her ping your brain.
How a fly flies
An insect's ability to fly is perhaps one of the greatest feats of evolution. Michael Dickinson looks at how a fruit fly takes flight with such delicate wings, thanks to a clever flapping motion and flight muscles that are both powerful and nimble. But the secret ingredient: the incredible fly brain. (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.)
What separates us from chimpanzees?
Jane Goodall hasn't found the missing link, but she's come closer than nearly anyone else. The primatologist says the only real difference between humans and chimps is our sophisticated language. She urges us to start using it to change the world.
Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic
Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he's drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.
Freeing energy from the grid
What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? In this moving talk, entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping shows the materials that could make that possible, and how questioning our notion of 'normal' can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs.
From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone
"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" asks Regina Dugan, then director of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In this breathtaking talk she describes some of the extraordinary projects -- a robotic hummingbird, a prosthetic arm controlled by thought, and, well, the internet -- that her agency has created by not worrying that
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Nina Jablonski breaks the illusion of skin color
Nina Jablonski says that differing skin colors are simply our bodies' adaptation to varied climates and levels of UV exposure. Charles Darwin disagreed with this theory, but she explains, that's because he did not have access to NASA.
Swiss artist and photographer Fabian Oefner is on a mission to make eye-catching art from everyday science. In this charming talk, he shows off some recent psychedelic images, including photographs of crystals as they interact with soundwaves. And, in a live demo, he shows what really happens when you mix paint with magnetic liquid--or when you set fire to
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Eythor Bender demos human exoskeletons
Eythor Bender of Berkeley Bionics brings onstage two amazing exoskeletons, HULC and eLEGS -- robotic add-ons that could one day allow a human to carry 200 pounds without tiring, or allow a wheelchair user to stand and walk. It's a powerful onstage demo, with implications for human potential of all kinds.
3 rules to spark learning
It took a life-threatening condition to jolt chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam out of ten years of “pseudo-teaching” to understand the true role of the educator: to cultivate curiosity. In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works.
Will our kids be a different species?
Throughout human evolution, multiple versions of humans co-existed. Could we be mid-upgrade now? At TEDxSummit, Juan Enriquez sweeps across time and space to bring us to the present moment -- and shows how technology is revealing evidence that suggests rapid evolution may be under way.
Averting the climate crisis
With the same humor and humanity he exuded in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore spells out 15 ways that individuals can address climate change immediately, from buying a hybrid to inventing a new, hotter "brand name" for global warming.
Distant time and the hint of a multiverse
At TEDxCaltech, cosmologist Sean Carroll attacks -- in an entertaining and thought-provoking tour through the nature of time and the universe -- a deceptively simple question: Why does time exist at all? The potential answers point to a surprising view of the nature of the universe, and our place in it.
Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss
Photographer James Balog shares new image sequences from the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate, some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change.
The magic of the placebo
Sugar pills, injections of nothing -- studies show that, more often than you'd expect, placebos really work. At TEDMED, magician Eric Mead does a trick to prove that, even when you know something's not real, you can still react as powerfully as if it is. (Warning: This talk is not suitable for viewers who are disturbed by needles or blood.)
Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it's OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we're predictably irrational -- and can be influenced in ways we can't grasp.
Can we build AI without losing control over it?
Scared of superintelligent AI? You should be, says neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris — and not just in some theoretical way. We're going to build superhuman machines, says Harris, but we haven't yet grappled with the problems associated with creating something that may treat us the way we treat ants.
How language transformed humanity
Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of "social technology" that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.
What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime
Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.
A prosthetic arm that "feels"
Physiatrist and engineer Todd Kuiken is building a prosthetic arm that connects with the human nervous system -- improving motion, control and even feeling. Onstage, patient Amanda Kitts helps demonstrate this next-gen robotic arm.
What we learn before we're born
Pop quiz: When does learning begin? Answer: Before we are born. Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks through new research that shows how much we learn in the womb -- from the lilt of our native language to our soon-to-be-favorite foods.
Jill Tarter's call to join the SETI search
The SETI Institute's Jill Tarter makes her TED Prize wish: to accelerate our search for cosmic company. Using a growing array of radio telescopes, she and her team listen for patterns that may be a sign of intelligence elsewhere in the universe.
How to defend Earth from asteroids
What's six miles wide and can end civilization in an instant? An asteroid -- and there are lots of them out there. With humor and great visuals, Phil Plait enthralls the TEDxBoulder audience with all the ways asteroids can kill, and what we must do to avoid them.
The origins of pleasure
Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are essentialists -- that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is.
The weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence
In the deep, dark ocean, many sea creatures make their own light for hunting, mating and self-defense. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder was one of the first to film this glimmering world. At TED2011, she brings some of her glowing friends onstage, and shows more astonishing footage of glowing undersea life.
Spencer Wells builds a family tree for humanity
All humans share some common bits of DNA, passed down to us from our African ancestors. Geneticist Spencer Wells talks about how his Genographic Project will use this shared DNA to figure out how we are -- in all our diversity -- truly connected.
Peter Ward on Earth's mass extinctions
Asteroid strikes get all the coverage, but "Medea Hypothesis" author Peter Ward argues that most of Earth's mass extinctions were caused by lowly bacteria. The culprit, a poison called hydrogen sulfide, may have an interesting application in medicine.
A monkey economy as irrational as ours
Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.
A "self-healing" asphalt
Paved roads are nice to look at, but they’re easily damaged and costly to repair. Erik Schlangen demos a new type of porous asphalt made of simple materials with an astonishing feature: When cracked, it can be “healed” by induction heating. (Filmed at TEDxDelft.)
The brain in your gut
Did you know you have functioning neurons in your intestines -- about a hundred million of them? Food scientist Heribert Watzke tells us about the "hidden brain" in our gut and the surprising things it makes us feel.
I am my connectome
Sebastian Seung is mapping a massively ambitious new model of the brain that focuses on the connections between each neuron. He calls it our "connectome," and it's as individual as our genome -- and understanding it could open a new way to understand our brains and our minds.
This computer will grow your food in the future
What if we could grow delicious, nutrient-dense food, indoors anywhere in the world? Caleb Harper, director of the Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, wants to change the food system by connecting growers with technology. Get to know Harper's "food computers" and catch a glimpse of what the future of farming might look like.
Steven Strogatz on sync
Mathematician Steven Strogatz shows how flocks of creatures (like birds, fireflies and fish) manage to synchronize and act as a unit -- when no one's giving orders. The powerful tendency extends into the realm of objects, too.
How trees talk to each other
"A forest is much more than what you see," says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.
My seven species of robot
Dennis Hong introduces seven award-winnning, all-terrain robots -- like the humanoid, soccer-playing DARwIn and the cliff-gripping CLIMBeR -- all built by his team at RoMeLa, Virginia Tech. Watch to the end to hear the five creative secrets to his lab's incredible technical success. (Filmed at TEDxNASA.)
Two young scientists break down plastics with bacteria
Once it's created, plastic (almost) never dies. While in 12th grade Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao went in search of a new bacteria to biodegrade plastic -- specifically by breaking down phthalates, a harmful plasticizer. They found an answer surprisingly close to home.
Peter Reinhart on bread
Batch to batch, crust to crust ... In tribute to the beloved staple food, baking master Peter Reinhart reflects on the cordial couplings (wheat and yeast, starch and heat) that give us our daily bread. Try not to eat a slice.
A map of the brain
How can we begin to understand the way the brain works? The same way we begin to understand a city: by making a map. In this visually stunning talk, Allan Jones shows how his team is mapping which genes are turned on in each tiny region, and how it all connects up.
Sheila Patek clocks the fastest animals
Biologist Sheila Patek talks about her work measuring the feeding strike of the mantis shrimp, one of the fastest movements in the animal world, using video cameras recording at 20,000 frames per second.
How electroshock therapy changed me
Surgeon and author Sherwin Nuland discusses the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression -- including his own. It’s a moving and heartfelt talk about relief, redemption and second chances.
A science award that makes you laugh, then think
As founder of the Ig Nobel awards, Marc Abrahams explores the world’s most improbable research. In this thought-provoking (and occasionally side-splitting) talk, he tells stories of truly weird science — and makes the case that silliness is critical to boosting public interest in science.
Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic apes
Elaine Morgan is a tenacious proponent of the aquatic ape hypothesis: the idea that humans evolved from primate ancestors who dwelt in watery habitats. Hear her spirited defense of the idea -- and her theory on why mainstream science doesn't take it seriously.
Science is for everyone, kids included
What do science and play have in common? Neuroscientist Beau Lotto thinks all people (kids included) should participate in science and, through the process of discovery, change perceptions. He's seconded by 12-year-old Amy O'Toole, who, along with 25 of her classmates, published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren, about the Blackawton bees project. It
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The case for optimism on climate change
Why is Al Gore optimistic about climate change? In this spirited talk, Gore asks three powerful questions about the man-made forces threatening to destroy our planet — and the solutions we're designing to combat them. (Featuring Q&A with TED Curator Chris Anderson)
The four fish we're overeating — and what to eat instead
The way we fish for popular seafood such as salmon, tuna and shrimp is threatening to ruin our oceans. Paul Greenberg explores the sheer size and irrationality of the seafood economy, and suggests a few specific ways we can change it, to benefit both the natural world and the people who depend on fishing for their livelihoods.
The surprising math of cities and corporations
Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities -- that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.
Lewis Pugh's mind-shifting Everest swim
After he swam the North Pole, Lewis Pugh vowed never to take another cold-water dip. Then he heard of Lake Imja in the Himalayas, created by recent glacial melting, and Lake Pumori, a body of water at an altitude of 5300 m on Everest -- and so began a journey that would teach him a radical new way to approach swimming and think about climate change.
Chemical scum that dream of distant quasars
Legendary scientist David Deutsch puts theoretical physics on the back burner to discuss a more urgent matter: the survival of our species. The first step toward solving global warming, he says, is to admit that we have a problem.
Could tissue engineering mean personalized medicine?
Each of our bodies is utterly unique, which is a lovely thought until it comes to treating an illness -- when every body reacts differently, often unpredictably, to standard treatment. Tissue engineer Nina Tandon talks about a possible solution: Using pluripotent stem cells to make personalized models of organs on which to test new drugs and treatments, and storing
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Brian Skerry reveals ocean's glory -- and horror
Photographer Brian Skerry shoots life above and below the waves -- as he puts it, both the horror and the magic of the ocean. Sharing amazing, intimate shots of undersea creatures, he shows how powerful images can help make change.
Why some people are more altruistic than others
Why do some people do selfless things, helping other people even at risk to their own well-being? Psychology researcher Abigail Marsh studies the motivations of people who do extremely altruistic acts, like donating a kidney to a complete stranger. Are their brains just different?
Could we speak the language of dolphins?
For 28 years, Denise Herzing has spent five months each summer living with a pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins, following three generations of family relationships and behaviors. It's clear they are communicating with one another -- but is it language? Could humans use it too? She shares a fascinating new experiment to test this idea.
How to restore a rainforest
By piecing together a complex ecological puzzle, biologist Willie Smits has found a way to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, saving local orangutans -- and creating a thrilling blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems.
A new way to explain explanation
For tens of thousands of years our ancestors understood the world through myths, and the pace of change was glacial. The rise of scientific understanding transformed the world within a few centuries. Why? Physicist David Deutsch proposes a subtle answer.
A temporary tattoo that brings hospital care to the home
What if doctors could monitor patients at home with the same degree of accuracy they'd get during a stay at the hospital? Bioelectronics innovator Todd Coleman shares his quest to develop wearable, flexible electronic health monitoring patches that promise to revolutionize healthcare and make medicine less invasive.
Ultrasound surgery -- healing without cuts
Imagine having a surgery with no knives involved. At TEDMED, Yoav Medan shares a technique that uses MRI to find trouble spots and focused ultrasound to treat such issues as brain lesions, uterine fibroids and several kinds of cancerous growths.
Advice to young scientists
“The world needs you, badly,” begins celebrated biologist E.O. Wilson in his letter to a young scientist. Previewing his upcoming book, he gives advice collected from a lifetime of experience -- reminding us that wonder and creativity are the center of the scientific life. (Filmed at TEDMED.)
Why eyewitnesses get it wrong
Scott Fraser studies how humans remember crimes -- and bear witness to them. In this powerful talk, which focuses on a deadly shooting at sunset, he suggests that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create "memories" they could not have seen. Why? Because the brain abhors a vacuum.
The line between life and not-life
In his lab, Martin Hanczyc makes "protocells," experimental blobs of chemicals that behave like living cells. His work demonstrates how life might have first occurred on Earth ... and perhaps elsewhere too.
Making sense of a visible quantum object
Physicists are used to the idea that subatomic particles behave according to the bizarre rules of quantum mechanics, completely different to human-scale objects. In a breakthrough experiment, Aaron O'Connell has blurred that distinction by creating an object that is visible to the unaided eye, but provably in two places at the same time. In this talk he suggests an
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Biohacking -- you can do it, too
We have personal computing, why not personal biotech? That’s the question biologist Ellen Jorgensen and her colleagues asked themselves before opening Genspace, a nonprofit DIYbio lab in Brooklyn devoted to citizen science, where amateurs can go and tinker with biotechnology. Far from being a sinister Frankenstein's lab (as some imagined it), Genspace offers a long
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Roy Gould and Curtis Wong preview the WorldWide Telescope
Educator Roy Gould and researcher Curtis Wong show a sneak preview of Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope, which compiles images from telescopes and satellites to build a comprehensive, interactive view of our universe.
The sound the universe makes
We think of space as a silent place. But physicist Janna Levin says the universe has a soundtrack -- a sonic composition that records some of the most dramatic events in outer space. (Black holes, for instance, bang on spacetime like a drum.) An accessible and mind-expanding soundwalk through the universe.
The Philosophical Breakfast Club
In 1812, four men at Cambridge University met for breakfast. What began as an impassioned meal grew into a new scientific revolution, in which these men -- who called themselves “natural philosophers” until they later coined “scientist” -- introduced four major principles into scientific inquiry. Historian and philosopher Laura Snyder tells their intriguing
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A Rosetta Stone for the Indus script
Rajesh Rao is fascinated by "the mother of all crossword puzzles": How to decipher the 4000 year old Indus script. At TED 2011 he tells how he is enlisting modern computational techniques to read the Indus language, the key piece to understanding this ancient civilization.
David Gallo on life in the deep oceans
With vibrant video clips captured by submarines, David Gallo takes us to some of Earth's darkest, most violent, toxic and beautiful habitats, the valleys and volcanic ridges of the oceans' depths, where life is bizarre, resilient and shockingly abundant.
Surgeons are taught from textbooks which conveniently color-code the types of tissues, but that's not what it looks like in real life -- until now. At TEDMED Quyen Nguyen demonstrates how a molecular marker can make tumors light up in neon green, showing surgeons exactly where to cut.
This virtual lab will revolutionize science class
Virtual reality is no longer part of some distant future, and it's not just for gaming and entertainment anymore. Michael Bodekaer wants to use it to make quality education more accessible. In this refreshing talk, he demos an idea that could revolutionize the way we teach science in schools.
A 40-year plan for energy
In this intimate talk filmed at TED's offices, energy innovator Amory Lovins shows how to get the US off oil and coal by 2050, $5 trillion cheaper, with no Act of Congress, led by business for profit. The key is integrating all four energy-using sectors—and four kinds of innovation.
Tierney Thys swims with the giant sunfish
Marine biologist Tierney Thys asks us to step into the water to visit the world of the Mola mola, or giant ocean sunfish. Basking, eating jellyfish and getting massages, this behemoth offers clues to life in the open sea.
Why we should trust scientists
Many of the world's biggest problems require asking questions of scientists — but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry — and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science.
Robert Ballard on exploring the oceans
Ocean explorer Robert Ballard takes us on a mindbending trip to hidden worlds underwater, where he and other researchers are finding unexpected life, resources, even new mountains. He makes a case for serious exploration and mapping. Google Ocean, anyone?
How a dead duck changed my life
One afternoon, Kees Moeliker got a research opportunity few ornithologists would wish for: A flying duck slammed into his glass office building, died, and then … what happened next would change his life. [Note: Contains graphic images and descriptions of sexual behavior in animals.]
Shh! Sound health in 8 steps
Julian Treasure says our increasingly noisy world is gnawing away at our mental health -- even costing lives. He lays out an 8-step plan to soften this sonic assault (starting with those cheap earbuds) and restore our relationship with sound.
Suspended animation is within our grasp
Mark Roth studies suspended animation: the art of shutting down life processes and then starting them up again. It's wild stuff, but it's not science fiction. Induced by careful use of an otherwise toxic gas, suspended animation can potentially help trauma and heart attack victims survive long enough to be treated.
What time is it on Mars?
Nagin Cox is a first-generation Martian. As a spacecraft engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cox works on the team that manages the United States' rovers on Mars. But working a 9-to-5 on another planet — whose day is 40 minutes longer than Earth's — has particular, often comical challenges.
A light switch for neurons
Ed Boyden shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins into brain cells, he can selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants. With this unprecedented level of control, he's managed to cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness. On the horizon: neural prosthetics. Session host Juan Enriquez leads a brief
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The magnificence of spider silk
Cheryl Hayashi studies spider silk, one of nature's most high-performance materials. Each species of spider can make up to 7 very different kinds of silk. How do they do it? Hayashi explains at the DNA level -- then shows us how this super-strong, super-flexible material can inspire.
Kwabena Boahen on a computer that works like the brain
Researcher Kwabena Boahen is looking for ways to mimic the brain's supercomputing powers in silicon -- because the messy, redundant processes inside our heads actually make for a small, light, superfast computer.
How your brain tells you where you are
How do you remember where you parked your car? How do you know if you're moving in the right direction? Neuroscientist Neil Burgess studies the neural mechanisms that map the space around us, and how they link to memory and imagination.
Eric Giler demos wireless electricity
Eric Giler wants to untangle our wired lives with cable-free electric power. Here, he covers what this sci-fi tech offers, and demos MIT's breakthrough version, WiTricity -- a near-to-market invention that may soon recharge your cell phone, car, pacemaker.
A prosthetic eye to treat blindness
At TEDMED, Sheila Nirenberg shows a bold way to create sight in people with certain kinds of blindness: by hooking into the optic nerve and sending signals from a camera direct to the brain.
It's time to question bio-engineering
At TEDxPeachtree, bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe describes an astonishing series of recent bio-engineering experiments, from glowing dogs to mice that grow human ears. He asks: Isn't it time to set some ground rules?
Synthetic voices, as unique as fingerprints
Many of those with severe speech disorders use a computerized device to communicate. Yet they choose between only a few voice options. That's why Stephen Hawking has an American accent, and why many people end up with the same voice, often to incongruous effect. Speech scientist Rupal Patel wanted to do something about this, and in this wonderful talk she shares her
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Peter Diamandis on Stephen Hawking in zero g
X Prize founder Peter Diamandis talks about how he helped Stephen Hawking fulfill his dream of going to space -- by flying together into the upper atmosphere and experiencing weightlessness at zero g.
Machine intelligence makes human morals more important
Machine intelligence is here, and we're already using it to make subjective decisions. But the complex way AI grows and improves makes it hard to understand and even harder to control. In this cautionary talk, techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci explains how intelligent machines can fail in ways that don't fit human error patterns — and in ways we won't expect or be
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George Dyson at the birth of the computer
Historian George Dyson tells stories from the birth of the modern computer -- from its 17th-century origins to the hilarious notebooks of some early computer engineers.
Beware conflicts of interest
In this short talk, psychologist Dan Ariely tells two personal stories that explore scientific conflict of interest: How the pursuit of knowledge and insight can be affected, consciously or not, by shortsighted personal goals. When we're thinking about the big questions, he reminds us, let's be aware of our all-too-human brains.
How I repaired my own heart
Tal Golesworthy is a boiler engineer -- he knows piping and plumbing. When he needed surgery to repair a life-threatening problem with his aorta, he mixed his engineering skills with his doctors' medical knowledge to design a better repair job.
The mathematics of history
What can mathematics say about history? According to TED Fellow Jean-Baptiste Michel, quite a lot. From changes to language to the deadliness of wars, he shows how digitized history is just starting to reveal deep underlying patterns.
The life-code that will reshape the future
Scientific discoveries, futurist Juan Enriquez notes, demand a shift in code, and our ability to thrive depends on our mastery of that code. Here, he applies this notion to the field of genomics.
Science versus wonder?
Does science ruin the magic of life? In this grumpy but charming monologue, Robin Ince makes the argument against. The more we learn about the astonishing behavior of the universe -- the more we stand in awe.
The beautiful math of coral
Margaret Wertheim leads a project to re-create the creatures of the coral reefs using a crochet technique invented by a mathematician -- celebrating the amazements of the reef, and deep-diving into the hyperbolic geometry underlying coral creation.
The world's killer diet
Stop wringing your hands over AIDS, cancer and the avian flu. Cardiovascular disease kills more people than everything else combined -- and it’s mostly preventable. Dr. Dean Ornish explains how changing our eating habits will save lives.
Hands-on science with squishy circuits
In a zippy demo at TED U, AnnMarie Thomas shows how two different kinds of homemade play dough can be used to demonstrate electrical properties -- by lighting up LEDs, spinning motors, and turning little kids into circuit designers.
This new telescope might show us the beginning of the universe
When and how did the universe begin? A global group of astronomers wants to answer that question by peering as far back in time as a large new telescope will let us see. Wendy Freedman headed the creation of the Giant Magellan Telescope, under construction in South America; at TEDGlobal in Rio, she shares a bold vision of the discoveries about our universe that the
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This scientist makes ears out of apples
TED Fellow Andrew Pelling is a biohacker, and nature is his hardware. His favorite materials are the simplest ones (and oftentimes he finds them in the garbage). Building on the cellulose structure that gives an apple its shape, he "grows" lifelike human ears, pioneering a process that might someday be used to repair body parts safely and cheaply. And he has some even
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Let's look for life in the outer solar system
Physicist Freeman Dyson suggests that we start looking for life on the moons of Jupiter and out past Neptune, in the Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud. He talks about what such life would be like -- and how we might find it.
How Mr. Condom made Thailand a better place
At TEDxChange, Thailand's "Mr. Condom," Mechai Viravaidya, walks us through the country's bold plan to raise its standard of living, starting in the 1970s. First step: population control. And that means a lot of frank, funny -- and very effective -- talk about condoms.
Building the musical muscle
Charles Limb performs cochlear implantation, a surgery that treats hearing loss and can restore the ability to hear speech. But as a musician too, Limb thinks about what the implants lack: They don't let you fully experience music yet. (There's a hair-raising example.) At TEDMED, Limb reviews the state of the art and the way forward.
George Dyson on Project Orion
Author George Dyson spins the story of Project Orion, a massive, nuclear-powered spacecraft that could have taken us to Saturn in five years. His insider’s perspective and a secret cache of documents bring an Atomic Age dream to life.
How I'm preparing to get Alzheimer's
When faced with a parent suffering from Alzheimer's, most of us respond with denial ("It won't happen to me") or extreme efforts at prevention. But global health expert and TED Fellow Alanna Shaikh sees it differently. She's taking three concrete steps to prepare for the moment -- should it arrive -- when she herself gets Alzheimer's disease.
How to go to space, without having to go to space
"We will start inhabiting outer space," says Angelo Vermeulen, crew commander of a NASA-funded Mars simulation. "It might take 50 years or it might take 500 years, but it’s going to happen." In this charming talk, the TED Senior Fellow describes some of his official work to make sure humans are prepared for life in deep space ... and shares a fascinating art project
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Burt Rutan sees the future of space
In this passionate talk, legendary spacecraft designer Burt Rutan lambasts the US government-funded space program for stagnating and asks entrepreneurs to pick up where NASA has left off.
Glowing life in an underwater world
Some 80 to 90 percent of undersea creatures make light -- and we know very little about how or why. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder explores this glowing, sparkling, luminous world, sharing glorious images and insight into the unseen depths (and brights) of the ocean.
Dean Kamen previews a new prosthetic arm
Inventor Dean Kamen previews the prosthetic arm he’s developing at the request of the US Department of Defense. His quiet commitment to using technology to solve problems -- while honoring the human spirit -- has never been more clear.
Climate change is happening. Here's how we adapt
Imagine the hottest day you've ever experienced. Now imagine it's six, 10 or 12 degrees hotter. According to climate researcher Alice Bows-Larkin, that's the type of future in store for us if we don't significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions now. She suggests that it's time we do things differently—a whole system change, in fact—and seriously consider trading
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What we learn from insects’ kinky sex lives
Marlene Zuk delightedly, determinedly studies insects. In this enlightening, funny talk, she shares just some of the ways that they are truly astonishing — not least for the creative ways they have sex.
Award-winning teen-age science in action
In 2011 three young women swept the top prizes of the first Google Science Fair. At TEDxWomen Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose and Naomi Shah described their extraordinary projects-- and their route to a passion for science.
Are we ready for neo-evolution?
Medical ethicist Harvey Fineberg shows us three paths forward for the ever-evolving human species: to stop evolving completely, to evolve naturally -- or to control the next steps of human evolution, using genetic modification, to make ourselves smarter, faster, better. Neo-evolution is within our grasp. What will we do with it?
Back to the future (of 1994)
From deep in the TED archive, Danny Hillis outlines an intriguing theory of how and why technological change seems to be accelerating, by linking it to the very evolution of life itself. The presentation techniques he uses may look dated, but the ideas are as relevant as ever.
Evolution's gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans
With never-before-seen video, primatologist Isabel Behncke Izquierdo (a TED Fellow) shows how bonobo ape society learns from constantly playing -- solo, with friends, even as a prelude to sex. Indeed, play appears to be the bonobos' key to problem-solving and avoiding conflict. If it works for our close cousins, why not for us?
Jonathan Drori on what we think we know
Starting with four basic questions (that you may be surprised to find you can't answer), Jonathan Drori looks at the gaps in our knowledge -- and specifically, what we don't about science that we might think we do.
Experiments that point to a new understanding of cancer
For decades, researcher Mina Bissell pursued a revolutionary idea -- that a cancer cell doesn't automatically become a tumor, but rather, depends on surrounding cells (its microenvironment) for cues on how to develop. She shares the two key experiments that proved the prevailing wisdom about cancer growth was wrong.
Engineering and evolution
Insects and animals have evolved some amazing skills -- but, as Robert Full notes, many animals are actually over-engineered. The trick is to copy only what's necessary. He shows how human engineers can learn from animals' tricks.
Shedding light on dark matter
Physicist Patricia Burchat sheds light on two basic ingredients of our universe: dark matter and dark energy. Comprising 96% of the universe between them, they can't be directly measured, but their influence is immense.
Could future devices read images from our brains?
As an expert on cutting-edge digital displays, Mary Lou Jepsen studies how to show our most creative ideas on screens. And as a brain surgery patient herself, she is driven to know more about the neural activity that underlies invention, creativity, thought. She meshes these two passions in a rather mind-blowing talk on two cutting-edge brain studies that might point
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Medical miracle on Everest
When the worst disaster in the history of Mount Everest climbs occurred, Ken Kamler was the only doctor on the mountain. At TEDMED, he shares the incredible story of the climbers' battle against extreme conditions and uses brain imaging technology to map the medical miracle of one man who survived roughly 36 hours buried in the snow.
The painter and the pendulum
TED visits Tom Shannon in his Manhattan studio for an intimate look at his science-inspired art. An eye-opening, personal conversation with John Hockenberry reveals how nature's forces -- and the onset of Parkinson's tremors -- interact in his life and craft.
Why we need to go back to Mars
In this talk, planetary scientist Joel Levine shows some intriguing -- and puzzling -- new discoveries about Mars: craters full of ice, traces of ancient oceans, and compelling hints at the presence, sometime in the past, of life. He makes the case for going back to Mars to find out more. (Filmed at TEDxNASA.)
Print your own medicine
Chemist Lee Cronin is working on a 3D printer that, instead of objects, is able to print molecules. An exciting potential long-term application: printing your own medicine using chemical inks.
New thinking on the climate crisis
In this brand-new slideshow (premiering on TED.com), Al Gore presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists recently predicted. He challenges us to act.
Your brain on improv
Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation -- so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.
Could the sun be good for your heart?
Our bodies get Vitamin D from the sun, but as dermatologist Richard Weller suggests, sunlight may confer another surprising benefit too. New research by his team shows that nitric oxide, a chemical transmitter stored in huge reserves in the skin, can be released by UV light, to great benefit for blood pressure and the cardiovascular system. What does it mean? Well, it
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How social networks predict epidemics
After mapping humans' intricate social networks, Nicholas Christakis and colleague James Fowler began investigating how this information could better our lives. Now, he reveals his hot-off-the-press findings: These networks can be used to detect epidemics earlier than ever, from the spread of innovative ideas to risky behaviors to viruses (like H1N1).
Experiments that hint of longer lives
What controls aging? Biochemist Cynthia Kenyon has found a simple genetic mutation that can double the lifespan of a simple worm, C. elegans. The lessons from that discovery, and others, are pointing to how we might one day significantly extend youthful human life.
Saving the ocean one island at a time
Aboard Mission Blue, scientist Greg Stone tells the story of how he helped the Republic of Kiribati create an enormous protected area in the middle of the Pacific -- protecting fish, sealife and the island nation itself.
Neil Gershenfeld on Fab Labs
MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld talks about his Fab Lab -- a low-cost lab that lets people build things they need using digital and analog tools. It's a simple idea with powerful results.
The promise of research with stem cells
Calling them "our bodies' own repair kits," Susan Solomon advocates research using lab-grown stem cells. By growing individual pluripotent stem cell lines, her team creates testbeds that could accelerate research into curing diseases -- and perhaps lead to individualized treatment, targeted not just to a particular disease but a particular person.
Singing after a double lung transplant
You'll never sing again, said her doctor. But in a story from the very edge of medical possibility, operatic soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick tells a double story of survival -- of her body, from a double lung transplant, and of her spirit, fueled by an unwavering will to sing. A powerful story from TEDMED 2010.
The paralyzed rat that walked
A spinal cord injury can sever the communication between your brain and your body, leading to paralysis. Fresh from his lab, Grégoire Courtine shows a new method -- combining drugs, electrical stimulation and a robot -- that could re-awaken the neural pathways and help the body learn again to move on its own. See how it works, as a paralyzed rat becomes able to
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4 pillars of college success in science
At age 12, Freeman Hrabowski marched with Martin Luther King. Now he's president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where he works to create an environment that helps under-represented students -- specifically African-American, Latino and low-income learners -- get degrees in math and science. He shares the four pillars of UMBC's approach.
Why genetic research must be more diverse
Ninety-six percent of genome studies are based on people of European descent. The rest of the world is virtually unrepresented — and this is dangerous, says geneticist and TED Fellow Keolu Fox, because we react to drugs differently based on our genetic makeup. Fox is working to democratize genome sequencing, specifically by advocating for indigenous populations to get
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Steven Johnson tours the Ghost Map
Author Steven Johnson takes us on a 10-minute tour of The Ghost Map, his book about a cholera outbreak in 1854 London and the impact it had on science, cities and modern society.
Archeology from space
In this short talk, TED Fellow Sarah Parcak introduces the field of "space archeology" -- using satellite images to search for clues to the lost sites of past civilizations.
John Lloyd inventories the invisible
Nature's mysteries meet tack-sharp wit in this hilarious, 10-minute mix of quips and fun lessons, as comedian, writer and TV man John Lloyd plucks at the substance of several things not seen.
How to live to be 100+
To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and team study the world's "Blue Zones," communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. At TEDxTC, he shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.
Architecture that repairs itself?
Venice is sinking. To save it, Rachel Armstrong says we need to outgrow architecture made of inert materials and, well, make architecture that grows itself. She proposes a not-quite-alive material that does its own repairs and sequesters carbon, too.
Neil Turok makes his TED Prize wish
Accepting his 2008 TED Prize, physicist Neil Turok speaks out for talented young Africans starved of opportunity: by unlocking and nurturing the continent's creative potential, we can create a change in Africa's future.
How to look inside the brain
There have been remarkable advances in understanding the brain, but how do you actually study the neurons inside it? Using gorgeous imagery, neuroscientist and TED Fellow Carl Schoonover shows the tools that let us see inside our brains.
Paul Rothemund details DNA folding
In 2007, Paul Rothemund gave TED a short summary of his specialty, DNA folding. Now he lays out in clear, abundant detail the immense promise of this field -- to create tiny machines that assemble themselves.
A tool that finds 3x more breast tumors, and why it's not available to you
Working with a team of physicists, Dr. Deborah Rhodes developed a new tool for tumor detection that's 3 times as effective as traditional mammograms for women with dense breast tissue. The life-saving implications are stunning. So why haven't we heard of it? Rhodes shares the story behind the tool's creation, and the web of politics and economics that keep it from
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A forgotten Space Age technology could change how we grow food
We're heading for a world population of 10 billion people — but what will we all eat? Lisa Dyson rediscovered an idea developed by NASA in the 1960s for deep-space travel, and it could be a key to reinventing how we grow food.
Making matter come alive
Before life existed on Earth, there was just matter, inorganic dead "stuff." How improbable is it that life arose? And -- could it use a different type of chemistry? Using an elegant definition of life (anything that can evolve), chemist Lee Cronin is exploring this question by attempting to create a fully inorganic cell using a "Lego kit" of inorganic molecules -- no
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How technology evolves
Tech enthusiast Kevin Kelly asks "What does technology want?" and discovers that its movement toward ubiquity and complexity is much like the evolution of life.
Using biology to rethink the energy challenge
Juan Enriquez challenges our definition of bioenergy. Oil, coal, gas and other hydrocarbons are not chemical but biological products, based on plant matter -- and thus, growable. Our whole approach to fuel, he argues, needs to change.
Amory Lovins on winning the oil endgame
In this energizing talk, Amory Lovins lays out his simple plan for weaning the US off oil and revitalizing the economy.
A second opinion on learning disorders
Developmental disorders in children are typically diagnosed by observing behavior, but Aditi Shankardass knew that we should be looking directly at their brains. She explains how a remarkable EEG device has revealed mistaken diagnoses and transformed children's lives.
A test for Parkinson’s with a phone call
Parkinson’s disease affects 6.3 million people worldwide, causing weakness and tremors, but there's no objective way to detect it early on. Yet. Applied mathematician and TED Fellow Max Little is testing a simple, cheap tool that in trials is able to detect Parkinson's with 99 percent accuracy -- in a 30-second phone call.
David Keith's unusual climate change idea
Environmental scientist David Keith proposes a cheap, effective, shocking means to address climate change: What if we injected a huge cloud of ash into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight and heat?
Exposing the invisible
Nick Veasey shows outsized X-ray images that reveal the otherworldly inner workings of familiar objects -- from the geometry of a wildflower to the anatomy of a Boeing 747. Producing these photos is dangerous and painstaking, but the reward is a superpower: looking at what the human eye can't see.
Stunning data visualization in the AlloSphere
JoAnn Kuchera-Morin demos the AlloSphere, a new way to see, hear and interpret scientific data. Dive into the brain, feel electron spin, hear the music of the elements ... and detect previously unseen patterns that could lead to new discoveries.
Open-source cancer research
How does cancer know it's cancer? At Jay Bradner's lab, they found a molecule that might hold the answer, JQ1 -- and instead of patenting JQ1, they published their findings and mailed samples to 40 other labs to work on. An inspiring look at the open-source future of medical research.
Medicine's future? There's an app for that
At TEDxMaastricht, Daniel Kraft offers a fast-paced look at the next few years of innovations in medicine, powered by new tools, tests and apps that bring diagnostic information right to the patient's bedside.
Craig Venter on DNA and the sea
Genomics pioneer Craig Venter takes a break from his epic round-the-world expedition to talk about the millions of genes his team has discovered so far in its quest to map the ocean’s biodiversity.
What is genomics? How will it affect our lives? In this intriguing primer on the genomics revolution, entrepreneur Barry Schuler says we can at least expect healthier, tastier food. He suggests we start with the pinot noir grape, to build better wines.
We need better drugs -- now
Today we know the molecular cause of 4,000 diseases, but treatments are available for only 250 of them. So what’s taking so long? Geneticist and physician Francis Collins explains why systematic drug discovery is imperative, even for rare and complex diseases, and offers a few solutions -- like teaching old drugs new tricks.
Reinventing the encyclopedia game
Prompted by the Encyclopaedia Britannica ending its print publication, performance poet Rives resurrects a game from his childhood. Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Rives takes us on a charming tour through random (and less random) bits of human knowledge: from Chimborazo, the farthest point from the center of the Earth, to Ham the Astrochimp, the first chimpanzee
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Know thyself, with a brain scanner
Imagine playing a video game controlled by your mind. Now imagine that game also teaches you about your own patterns of stress, relaxation and focus. At TEDxToronto Ariel Garten shows how looking at our own brain activity gives new meaning to the ancient dictum "know thyself."
The beautiful tricks of flowers
In this visually dazzling talk, Jonathan Drori shows the extraordinary ways flowering plants -- over a quarter million species -- have evolved to attract insects to spread their pollen: growing 'landing-strips' to guide the insects in, shining in ultraviolet, building elaborate traps, and even mimicking other insects in heat.
Nellie McKay sings "Clonie"
Singer-songwriter Nellie McKay performs the semi-serious song "Clonie" -- about creating the ultimate companion.
Discovering ancient climates in oceans and ice
Rob Dunbar hunts for data on our climate from 12,000 years ago, finding clues inside ancient seabeds and corals and inside ice sheets. His work is vital in setting baselines for fixing our current climate -- and in tracking the rise of deadly ocean acidification.
Good news in the fight against pancreatic cancer
Anyone who has lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer knows the devastating speed with which it can affect an otherwise healthy person. TED Fellow and biomedical entrepreneur Laura Indolfi is developing a revolutionary way to treat this complex and lethal disease: a drug delivery device that acts as a cage at the site of a tumor, preventing it from spreading and
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Charles Elachi on the Mars Rovers
At Serious Play 2008, Charles Elachi shares stories from NASA's legendary Jet Propulsion Lab -- including tales and video from the Mars Rover project.
It's time to redesign medical data
Your medical chart: it's hard to access, impossible to read -- and full of information that could make you healthier if you just knew how to use it. At TEDMED, Thomas Goetz looks at medical data, making a bold call to redesign it and get more insight from it.
Hooked by an octopus
Underwater filmmaker Mike deGruy has spent decades looking intimately at the ocean. A consummate storyteller, he takes the stage at Mission Blue to share his awe and excitement -- and his fears -- about the blue heart of our planet.
Mining minerals from seawater
The world needs clean water, and more and more, we're pulling it from the oceans, desalinating it, and drinking it. But what to do with the salty brine left behind? In this intriguing short talk, TED Fellow Damian Palin proposes an idea: Mine it for other minerals we need, with the help of some collaborative metal-munching bacteria.
Louise Leakey digs for humanity's origins
Louise Leakey asks, "Who are we?" The question takes her to the Rift Valley in Eastern Africa, where she digs for the evolutionary origins of humankind -- and suggests a stunning new vision of our competing ancestors.
Planning for the end of oil
As the world's attention focuses on the perils of oil exploration, we present Richard Sears' talk from early February 2010. Sears, an expert in developing new energy resources, talks about our inevitable and necessary move away from oil. Toward ... what?
Mae Jemison on teaching arts and sciences together
Mae Jemison is an astronaut, a doctor, an art collector, a dancer ... Telling stories from her own education and from her time in space, she calls on educators to teach both the arts and sciences, both intuition and logic, as one -- to create bold thinkers.
Richard Pyle dives the reef's Twilight Zone
In this illuminating talk, Richard Pyle shows us thriving life on the cliffs of coral reefs and groundbreaking diving technologies he has pioneered to explore it. He and his team risk everything to reveal the secrets of undiscovered species.
Peter Diamandis on our next giant leap
Peter Diamandis says it's our moral imperative to keep exploring space -- and he talks about how, with the X Prize and other incentives, we're going to do just that.
Zeresenay Alemseged looks for humanity's roots
Paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged looks for the roots of humanity in Ethiopia's badlands. Here he talks about finding the oldest skeleton of a humanoid child -- and how Africa holds the clues to our humanity.
The hunt for a supermassive black hole
With new data from the Keck telescopes, Andrea Ghez shows how state-of-the-art adaptive optics are helping astronomers understand our universe's most mysterious objects: black holes. She shares evidence that a supermassive black hole may be lurking at the center of the Milky Way.
Al Gore warns on latest climate trends
At TED2009, Al Gore presents updated slides from around the globe to make the case that worrying climate trends are even worse than scientists predicted, and to make clear his stance on "clean coal."
Hopeful lessons from the battle to save rainforests
"Save the rainforest” is an environmental slogan as old as time — but Tasso Azevedo catches us up on how the fight is actually going these days. Spurred by the jaw-dropping losses of the 1990s, new laws (and transparent data) are helping slow the rate of deforestation in Brazil. Is it enough? Not yet. He has five ideas about what we should do next. And he asks if the
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Kary Mullis celebrates the experiment
Biochemist Kary Mullis talks about the basis of modern science: the experiment. Sharing tales from the 17th century and from his own backyard-rocketry days, Mullis celebrates the curiosity, inspiration and rigor of good science in all its forms.
Marvin Minsky on health and the human mind
Listen closely -- Marvin Minsky's arch, eclectic, charmingly offhand talk on health, overpopulation and the human mind is packed with subtlety: wit, wisdom and just an ounce of wily, is-he-joking? advice.
We can start winning the war against cancer
Learn about the latest advances in the war against cancer from Stanford researcher Adam de la Zerda, who's working on some cutting-edge techniques of his own. Using a remarkable imaging technology that illuminates cancer-seeking gold particles injected into the body, de la Zerda's lab hopes to light the way for surgeons to remove even the tiniest trace of deadly
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Older people are happier
In the 20th century we added an unprecedented number of years to our lifespans, but is the quality of life as good? Surprisingly, yes! At TEDxWomen psychologist Laura Carstensen shows research that demonstrates that as people get older they become happier, more content, and have a more positive outlook on the world.
How spectroscopy could reveal alien life
Garik Israelian is a spectroscopist, studying the spectrum emitted by a star to figure out what it's made of and how it might behave. It's a rare and accessible look at this discipline, which may be coming close to finding a planet friendly to life.
Luca Turin on the science of scent
What's the science behind a sublime perfume? With charm and precision, biophysicist Luca Turin explains the molecular makeup -- and the art -- of a scent.
The emergent genius of ant colonies
With a dusty backhoe, a handful of Japanese paint markers and a few students in tow, Deborah Gordon digs up ant colonies in the Arizona desert to understand their complex social system.
A young inventor's plan to recycle Styrofoam
From packing peanuts to disposable coffee cups, each year the US alone produces some two billion pounds of Styrofoam — none of which can be recycled. Frustrated by this waste of resources and landfill space, Ashton Cofer and his science fair teammates developed a heating treatment to break down used Styrofoam into something useful. Check out their original design,
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Finding planets around other stars
How do we find planets -- even habitable planets -- around other stars? By looking for tiny dimming as a planet passes in front of its sun, TED Fellow Lucianne Walkowicz and the Kepler mission have found some 1,200 potential new planetary systems. With new techniques, they may even find ones with the right conditions for life.
Fighting a contagious cancer
What is killing the Tasmanian devil? A virulent cancer is infecting them by the thousands -- and unlike most cancers, it's contagious. Researcher Elizabeth Murchison tells us how she's fighting to save the Taz, and what she's learning about all cancers from this unusual strain. Contains disturbing images of facial cancer.
Kary Mullis' next-gen cure for killer infections
Drug-resistant bacteria kills, even in top hospitals. But now tough infections like staph and anthrax may be in for a surprise. Nobel-winning chemist Kary Mullis, who watched a friend die when powerful antibiotics failed, unveils a radical new cure that shows extraordinary promise.
Finding life we can't imagine
How do we search for alien life if it's nothing like the life that we know? At TEDxUIUC Christoph Adami shows how he uses his research into artificial life -- self-replicating computer programs -- to find a signature, a 'biomarker,' that is free of our preconceptions of what life is.
To upgrade is human
In this prophetic 2003 talk -- just days before Dolly the sheep was stuffed -- biotech ethicist Gregory Stock looked forward to new, more meaningful (and controversial) technologies, like customizable babies, whose adoption might drive human evolution.
Could a Saturn moon harbor life?
Carolyn Porco shares exciting new findings from the Cassini spacecraft's recent sweep of one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus. Samples gathered from the moon's icy geysers hint that an ocean under its surface could harbor life.
Why I love vultures
As natural garbage collectors, vultures are vital to our ecosystem -- so why all the bad press? Why are so many in danger of extinction? Raptor biologist Munir Virani says we need to pay more attention to these unique and misunderstood creatures, to change our perception and save the vultures.
What happened when I open-sourced my brain cancer
When artist Salvatore Iaconesi was diagnosed with brain cancer, he refused to be a passive patient — which, he points out, means "one who waits." So he hacked his brain scans, posted them online, and invited a global community to pitch in on a "cure." This sometimes meant medical advice, and it sometimes meant art, music, emotional support — from more than half a
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What's left to explore?
We've been to the moon, we've mapped the continents, we've even been to the deepest point in the ocean -- twice. What's left for the next generation to explore? Biologist and explorer Nathan Wolfe suggests this answer: Almost everything. And we can start, he says, with the world of the unseeably small.
Why we're storing billions of seeds
In this brief talk from TED U 2009, Jonathan Drori encourages us to save biodiversity -- one seed at a time. Reminding us that plants support human life, he shares the vision of the Millennium Seed Bank, which has stored over 3 billion seeds to date from dwindling yet essential plant species.
We're covered in germs. Let's design for that.
Our bodies and homes are covered in microbes -- some good for us, some bad for us. As we learn more about the germs and microbes who share our living spaces, TED Fellow Jessica Green asks: Can we design buildings that encourage happy, healthy microbial environments?
How to air-condition outdoor spaces
During the hot summer months, watching an outdoor sports match or concert can be tantamount to baking uncomfortably in the sun -- but it doesn’t have to be. At the TEDxSummit in Doha, physicist Wolfgang Kessling reveals sustainable design innovations that cool us from above and below, and even collects solar energy for later use.
Visualizing the medical data explosion
Today medical scans produce thousands of images and terabytes of data for a single patient in mere seconds, but how do doctors parse this information and determine what's useful? At TEDxGöteborg, scientific visualization expert Anders Ynnerman shows us sophisticated new tools -- like virtual autopsies -- for analyzing this myriad data, and a glimpse at some sci-fi-
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How do you save a shark you know nothing about?
They're the second largest fish in the world, they're almost extinct, and we know almost nothing about them. At TEDxDublin, Simon Berrow describes the fascinating basking shark ("Great Fish of the Sun" in Irish), and the exceptional -- and wonderfully low-tech -- ways he's learning enough to save them.
The single biggest health threat women face
Surprising, but true: More women now die of heart disease than men, yet cardiovascular research has long focused on men. Pioneering doctor C. Noel Bairey Merz shares what we know and don't know about women's heart health -- including the remarkably different symptoms women present during a heart attack (and why they're often missed).
How we'll stop polio for good
Polio is almost completely eradicated. But as Bruce Aylward says: Almost isn't good enough with a disease this terrifying. Aylward lays out the plan to continue the scientific miracle that ended polio in most of the world -- and to snuff it out everywhere, forever.
My country will be underwater soon — unless we work together
For the people of Kiribati, climate change isn't something to be debated, denied or legislated against — it's an everyday reality. The low-lying Pacific island nation may soon be underwater, thanks to rising sea levels. In a personal conversation with TED Curator Chris Anderson, Kiribati President Anote Tong discusses his country's present climate catastrophe and its
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And now, the real news
How many of today's headlines will matter in 100 years? 1000? Kirk Citron's "Long News" project collects stories that not only matter today, but will resonate for decades -- even centuries -- to come. At TED2010, he highlights recent headlines with the potential to shape our future.
Hawa Abdi + Deqo Mohamed
They've been called the "saints of Somalia." Doctor Hawa Abdi and her daughter Deqo Mohamed discuss their medical clinic in Somalia, where -- in the face of civil war and open oppression of women -- they've built a hospital, a school and a community of peace.
Caring for engineered tissue
Tissue engineer and TED Fellow Nina Tandon is growing artificial hearts and bones. To do that, she needs new ways of caring for artificially grown cells -- techniques she's developed by the simple but powerful method of copying their natural environments.
Tracking ancient diseases using ... plaque
Imagine what we could learn about diseases by studying the history of human disease, from ancient hominids to the present. But how? TED Fellow Christina Warinner is an achaeological geneticist, and she's found a spectacular new tool -- the microbial DNA in fossilized dental plaque.
Are we filtering the wrong microbes?
Should we keep the outdoors out of hospitals? Ecologist and TED Fellow Jessica Green has found that mechanical ventilation does get rid of many types of microbes, but the wrong kinds: the ones left in the hospital are much more likely to be pathogens.
Silk, the ancient material of the future
Fiorenzo Omenetto shares 20+ astonishing new uses for silk, one of nature's most elegant materials -- in transmitting light, improving sustainability, adding strength and making medical leaps and bounds. On stage, he shows a few intriguing items made of the versatile stuff.
Gregory Petsko on the coming neurological epidemic
Biochemist Gregory Petsko makes a convincing argument that, in the next 50 years, we'll see an epidemic of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's, as the world population ages. His solution: more research into the brain and its functions.
Larry Brilliant wants to stop pandemics
Accepting the 2006 TED Prize, Dr. Larry Brilliant talks about how smallpox was eradicated from the planet, and calls for a new global system that can identify and contain pandemics before they spread.
Richard Preston on the giant trees
Science writer Richard Preston talks about some of the most enormous living beings on the planet, the giant trees of the US Pacific Northwest. Growing from a tiny seed, they support vast ecosystems -- and are still, largely, a mystery.
Ernest Madu on world-class health care
Dr. Ernest Madu runs the Heart Institute of the Caribbean in Kingston, Jamaica, where he proves that -- with careful design, smart technical choices, and a true desire to serve -- it's possible to offer world-class healthcare in the developing world.
Are we over-medicalized?
Reuters health editor Ivan Oransky warns that we’re suffering from an epidemic of preposterous preconditions -- pre-diabetes, pre-cancer, and many more. In this engaging talk from TEDMED he shows how health care can find a solution... by taking an important lesson from baseball.
Take health care off the mainframe
At TEDMED, Eric Dishman makes a bold argument: The US health care system is like computing circa 1959, tethered to big, unwieldy central systems: hospitals, doctors, nursing homes. As our aging population booms, it's imperative, he says, to create personal, networked, home-based health care for all.
Meet e-Patient Dave
When Dave deBronkart learned he had a rare and terminal cancer, he turned to a group of fellow patients online -- and found the medical treatment that saved his life. Now he calls on all patients to talk with one another, know their own health data, and make health care better one e-Patient at a time.
What it takes to do extreme astrophysics
All over the planet, giant telescopes and detectors are looking (and listening) for clues to the workings of the universe. At the INK Conference, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy tours us around these amazing installations, taking us to some of the most remote and silent places on Earth.
Lee Smolin on science and democracy
Physicist Lee Smolin talks about how the scientific community works: as he puts it, "we fight and argue as hard as we can," but everyone accepts that the next generation of scientists will decide who's right. And, he says, that's how democracy works, too.
Your genes are not your fate
Dean Ornish shares new research that shows how adopting healthy lifestyle habits can affect a person at a genetic level. For instance, he says, when you live healthier, eat better, exercise, and love more, your brain cells actually increase.
The ethical dilemma of designer babies
Creating genetically modified people is no longer a science fiction fantasy; it's a likely future scenario. Biologist Paul Knoepfler estimates that within fifteen years, scientists could use the gene editing technology CRISPR to make certain "upgrades" to human embryos — from altering physical appearances to eliminating the risk of auto-immune diseases. In this
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Glimpses of a pristine ocean
Enric Sala shares glorious images -- and surprising insights and data -- from some of the most pristine areas of the ocean. He shows how we can restore more of our oceans to this healthy, balanced state, and the powerful ecological and economic benefits of doing so.
Joe DeRisi solves medical mysteries
Biochemist Joe DeRisi talks about amazing new ways to diagnose viruses (and treat the illnesses they cause) using DNA. His work may help us understand malaria, SARS, avian flu -- and the 60 percent of everyday viral infections that go undiagnosed.
This is Saturn
Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco shows images from the Cassini voyage to Saturn, focusing on its largest moon, Titan, and on frozen Enceladus, which seems to shoot jets of ice.
The intriguing sound of marine mammals
Peter Tyack of Woods Hole talks about a hidden wonder of the sea: underwater sound. Onstage at Mission Blue, he explains the amazing ways whales use sound and song to communicate across hundreds of miles of ocean.
Inside an Antarctic time machine
Science columnist Lee Hotz describes a remarkable project at WAIS Divide, Antarctica, where a hardy team are drilling into ten-thousand-year-old ice to extract vital data on our changing climate.
Paul Ewald asks, Can we domesticate germs?
Evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald drags us into the sewer to discuss germs. Why are some more harmful than others? How could we make the harmful ones benign? Searching for answers, he examines a disgusting, fascinating case: diarrhea.
The great penguin rescue
A personal story, a collective triumph: Dyan deNapoli tells the story of the world's largest volunteer animal rescue, which saved more than 40,000 penguins after an oil spill off the coast of South Africa. How does a job this big get done? Penguin by penguin by penguin ...
Kristen Ashburn's photos of AIDS
In this moving talk, documentary photographer Kristen Ashburn shares unforgettable images of the human impact of AIDS in Africa.
Tagging tuna in the deep ocean
Tuna are ocean athletes -- fast, far-ranging predators whose habits we're just beginning to understand. Marine biologist Barbara Block fits tuna with tracking tags (complete with transponders) that record unprecedented amounts of data about these gorgeous, threatened fish and the ocean habitats they move through.
Pay attention to penguins
Think of penguins as ocean sentinels, says Dee Boersma -- they're on the frontlines of sea change. Sharing stories of penguin life and culture, she suggests that we start listening to what penguins are telling us.
The fight to end rare-animal trafficking in Brazil
Biologist Juliana Machado Ferreira, a TED Senior Fellow, talks about her work helping to save birds and other animals stolen from the wild in Brazil. Once these animals are seized from smugglers, she asks, then what?
The roots of plant intelligence
Plants behave in some oddly intelligent ways: fighting predators, maximizing food opportunities ... But can we think of them as actually having a form of intelligence of their own? Italian botanist Stefano Mancuso presents intriguing evidence.
The science behind a climate headline
In 4 minutes, atmospheric chemist Rachel Pike provides a glimpse of the massive scientific effort behind the bold headlines on climate change, with her team -- one of thousands who contributed -- taking a risky flight over the rainforest in pursuit of data on a key molecule.
Robert Fischell on medical inventing
Accepting his 2005 TED Prize, inventor Robert Fischell makes three wishes: redesigning a portable device that treats migraines, finding new cures for clinical depression and reforming the medical malpractice system.
Why we love, why we cheat
Anthropologist Helen Fisher takes on a tricky topic – love – and explains its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its social importance. She closes with a warning about the potential disaster inherent in antidepressant abuse.
A secret weapon against Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases
Where did Zika come from, and what can we do about it? Molecular biologist Nina Fedoroff takes us around the world to understand Zika's origins and how it spread, proposing a controversial way to stop the virus — and other deadly diseases — by preventing infected mosquitoes from multiplying.
David Hoffman shares his Sputnik mania
Filmmaker David Hoffman shares footage from his feature-length documentary Sputnik Mania, which shows how the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to both the space race and the arms race -- and jump-started science and math education around the world.
Why school should start later for teens
Teens don't get enough sleep, and it's not because of Snapchat, social lives or hormones — it's because of public policy, says Wendy Troxel. Drawing from her experience as a sleep researcher, clinician and mother of a teenager, Troxel discusses how early school start times deprive adolescents of sleep during the time of their lives when they need it most.
How to grow a forest in your backyard
Forests don't have to be far-flung nature reserves, isolated from human life. Instead, we can grow them right where we are — even in cities. Eco-entrepreneur and TED Fellow Shubhendu Sharma grows ultra-dense, biodiverse mini-forests of native species in urban areas by engineering soil, microbes and biomass to kickstart natural growth processes. Follow along as he
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The ocean's shifting baseline
The ocean has degraded within our lifetimes, as shown in the decreasing average size of fish. And yet, as Daniel Pauly shows us onstage at Mission Blue, each time the baseline drops, we call it the new "normal." At what point do we stop readjusting downward?
A simple way to break a bad habit
Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they're bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your
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Unseen footage, untamed nature
At TED2012, filmmaker Karen Bass shares some of the astonishing nature footage she's shot for the BBC and National Geographic -- including brand-new, previously unseen footage of the tube-lipped nectar bat, who feeds in a rather unusual way …
Tom Wujec demos the 13th-century astrolabe
Rather than demo another new technology, Tom Wujec reaches back to one of our earliest but most ingenious devices -- the astrolabe. With thousands of uses, from telling time to mapping the night sky, this old tech reminds us that the ancient can be as brilliant as the brand-new.
Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD?
The path to better medicine is paved with accidental yet revolutionary discoveries. In this well-told tale of how science happens, neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman shares news of a serendipitous breakthrough treatment that may prevent mental disorders like depression and PTSD from ever developing. And listen for an unexpected — and controversial — twist.
Following the mercury trail
There's a tight and surprising link between the ocean's health and ours, says marine biologist Stephen Palumbi. He shows how toxins at the bottom of the ocean food chain find their way into our bodies, with a shocking story of toxic contamination from a Japanese fish market. His work points a way forward for saving the oceans' health -- and humanity's.
Your words may predict your future mental health
Can the way you speak and write today predict your future mental state, even the onset of psychosis? In this fascinating talk, neuroscientist Mariano Sigman reflects on ancient Greece and the origins of introspection to investigate how our words hint at our inner lives and details a word-mapping algorithm that could predict the development of schizophrenia. "We may be
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Gene editing can now change an entire species — forever
CRISPR gene drives allow scientists to change sequences of DNA and guarantee that the resulting edited genetic trait is inherited by future generations, opening up the possibility of altering entire species forever. More than anything, the technology has led to questions: How will this new power affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? Are we gods now?
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How computers are learning to be creative
We're on the edge of a new frontier in art and creativity — and it's not human. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, principal scientist at Google, works with deep neural networks for machine perception and distributed learning. In this captivating demo, he shows how neural nets trained to recognize images can be run in reverse, to generate them. The results: spectacular,
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Carter Emmart demos a 3D atlas of the universe
For the last 12 years, Carter Emmart has been coordinating the efforts of scientists, artists and programmers to build a complete 3D visualization of our known universe. He demos this stunning tour and explains how it's being shared with facilities around the world.
Dean Kamen on inventing and giving
Inventor Dean Kamen lays out his argument for the Segway and offers a peek into his next big ideas (portable energy and water purification for developing countries).
The brain may be able to repair itself — with help
Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain's inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair: Doublecortin-positive cells. Similar to stem cells, they are extremely adaptable and, when extracted from a brain, cultured and
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A new superweapon in the fight against cancer
Cancer is a very clever, adaptable disease. To defeat it, says medical researcher and educator Paula Hammond, we need a new and powerful mode of attack. With her colleagues at MIT, Hammond engineered a nanoparticle one-hundredth the size of a human hair that can treat the most aggressive, drug-resistant cancers. Learn more about this molecular superweapon and join
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How I learned to communicate my inner life with Asperger's
Alix Generous is a young woman with a million and one ideas — she's done award-winning science, helped develop new technology and tells a darn good joke (you'll see). She has Asperger's, a form of autistic spectrum disorder that can impair the basic social skills required for communication, and she's worked hard for years to learn how to share her thoughts with the
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3 moons and a planet that could have alien life
Is there life beyond Earth? Join NASA's director of planetary science James Green for a survey of the places in our solar system that are most likely to harbor alien life.
How we're growing baby corals to rebuild reefs
Kristen Marhaver studies corals, tiny creatures the size of a poppyseed that, over hundreds of slow years, create beautiful, life-sustaining ocean structures hundreds of miles long. As she admits, it's easy to get sad about the state of coral reefs; they're in the news lately because of how quickly they're bleaching, dying and turning to slime. But the good news is
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Don't fear superintelligent AI
New tech spawns new anxieties, says scientist and philosopher Grady Booch, but we don't need to be afraid an all-powerful, unfeeling AI. Booch allays our worst (sci-fi induced) fears about superintelligent computers by explaining how we'll teach, not program, them to share our human values. Rather than worry about an unlikely existential threat, he urges us to
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What will humans look like in 100 years?
We can evolve bacteria, plants and animals — futurist Juan Enriquez asks: Is it ethical to evolve the human body? In a visionary talk that ranges from medieval prosthetics to present day neuroengineering and genetics, Enriquez sorts out the ethics associated with evolving humans and imagines the ways we'll have to transform our own bodies if we hope to explore and
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What the discovery of gravitational waves means
More than a billion years ago, two black holes in a distant galaxy locked into a spiral, falling inexorably toward each other, and collided. "All that energy was pumped into the fabric of time and space itself," says theoretical physicist Allan Adams, "making the universe explode in roiling waves of gravity." About 25 years ago, a group of scientists built a giant
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Addicted to risk
Days before this talk, journalist Naomi Klein was on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, looking at the catastrophic results of BP's risky pursuit of oil. Our societies have become addicted to extreme risk in finding new energy, new financial instruments and more ... and too often, we're left to clean up a mess afterward. Klein's question: What's the backup plan?
Reconnecting with compassion
The term "compassion" -- typically reserved for the saintly or the sappy -- has fallen out of touch with reality. At a special TEDPrize@UN, journalist Krista Tippett deconstructs the meaning of compassion through several moving stories, and proposes a new, more attainable definition for the word.
What a planet needs to sustain life
"Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, and Earth is just right," says planetary scientist Dave Brain. But why? In this pleasantly humorous talk, Brain explores the fascinating science behind what it takes for a planet to host life — and why humanity may just be in the right place at the right time when it comes to the timeline of life-sustaining planets.
How young blood might help reverse aging. Yes, really
Tony Wyss-Coray studies the impact of aging on the human body and brain. In this eye-opening talk, he shares new research from his Stanford lab and other teams which shows that a solution for some of the less great aspects of old age might actually lie within us all.
What really happens when you mix medications?
If you take two different medications for two different reasons, here's a sobering thought: your doctor may not fully understand what happens when they're combined, because drug interactions are incredibly hard to study. In this fascinating and accessible talk, Russ Altman shows how doctors are studying unexpected drug interactions using a surprising resource: search
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How early life experience is written into DNA
Moshe Szyf is a pioneer in the field of epigenetics, the study of how living things reprogram their genome in response to social factors like stress and lack of food. His research suggests that biochemical signals passed from mothers to offspring tell the child what kind of world they're going to live in, changing the expression of genes. "DNA isn't just a sequence of
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The untapped genius that could change science for the better
Jedidah Isler dreamt of becoming an astrophysicist since she was a young girl, but the odds were against her: At that time, only 18 black women in the United States had ever earned a PhD in a physics-related discipline. In this personal talk, she shares the story of how she became the first black woman to earn a PhD in astrophysics from Yale — and her deep belief in
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How poachers became caretakers
In his home of Namibia, John Kasaona is working on an innovative way to protect endangered animal species: giving nearby villagers (including former poachers) responsibility for caring for the animals. And it's working.
New nanotech to detect cancer early
What if every home had an early-warning cancer detection system? Researcher Joshua Smith is developing a nanobiotechnology "cancer alarm" that scans for traces of disease in the form of special biomarkers called exosomes. In this forward-thinking talk, he shares his dream for how we might revolutionize cancer detection and, ultimately, save lives.
What you need to know about CRISPR
Should we bring back the wooly mammoth? Or edit a human embryo? Or wipe out an entire species that we consider harmful? The genome-editing technology CRISPR has made extraordinary questions like these legitimate — but how does it work? Scientist and community lab advocate Ellen Jorgensen is on a mission to explain the myths and realities of CRISPR, hype-free, to the
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How we'll fight the next deadly virus
When Ebola broke out in March 2014, Pardis Sabeti and her team got to work sequencing the virus's genome, learning how it mutated and spread. Sabeti immediately released her research online, so virus trackers and scientists from around the world could join in the urgent fight. In this talk, she shows how open cooperation was key to halting the virus ... and to
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How my son's short life made a lasting difference
After Sarah Gray's unborn son Thomas was diagnosed with anencephaly, a terminal condition, she decided to turn her family's tragedy into an extraordinary gift and donate his organs to scientific research. In this tribute to life and discovery, she shares her journey to find meaning in loss and spreads a message of hope for other grieving families.
The next step in nanotechnology
Every year the silicon computer chip shrinks in size by half and doubles in power, enabling our devices to become more mobile and accessible. But what happens when our chips can't get any smaller? George Tulevski researches the unseen and untapped world of nanomaterials. His current work: developing chemical processes to compel billions of carbon nanotubes to assemble
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Eva Vertes looks to the future of medicine
Eva Vertes -- only 19 when she gave this talk -- discusses her journey toward studying medicine and her drive to understand the roots of cancer and Alzheimer’s.
What you can do to prevent Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's doesn't have to be your brain's destiny, says neuroscientist and author of "Still Alice," Lisa Genova. She shares the latest science investigating the disease — and some promising research on what each of us can do to build an Alzheimer's-resistant brain.
Clues to prehistoric times, found in blind cavefish
TED Fellow Prosanta Chakrabarty explores hidden parts of the world in search of new species of cave-dwelling fish. These subterranean creatures have developed fascinating adaptations, and they provide biological insights into blindness as well as geological clues about how the continents broke apart million of years ago. Contemplate deep time in this short talk.
Janine Benyus shares nature's designs
In this inspiring talk about recent developments in biomimicry, Janine Benyus provides heartening examples of ways in which nature is already influencing the products and systems we build.
The troubling reason why vaccines are made too late ... if they’re made at all
It seems like we wait for a disastrous disease outbreak before we get serious about making a vaccine for it. Seth Berkley lays out the market realities and unbalanced risks behind why we aren't making vaccines for the world's biggest diseases.
All things are Moleeds
In a presentation that can only be described as epic, comedian Charles Fleischer delivers a hysterical send-up of a time-honored TED theme: the map. Geometry, numbers, charts and stamp art also factor in (somehow), as he weaves together a unique theory of everything called "Moleeds."
We need nuclear power to solve climate change
Joe Lassiter is a deep thinker and straight talker focused on developing clean, secure and carbon-neutral supplies of reliable, low-cost energy. His analysis of the world's energy realities puts a powerful lens on the stubbornly touchy issue of nuclear power, including new designs for plants that can compete economically with fossil fuels. We have the potential to
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A lab the size of a postage stamp
Traditional lab tests for disease diagnosis can be too expensive and cumbersome for the regions most in need. George Whitesides' ingenious answer, at TEDxBoston, is a foolproof tool that can be manufactured at virtually zero cost.
Why Earth may someday look like Mars
Every minute, 400 pounds of hydrogen and almost 7 pounds of helium escape from Earth's atmosphere into outer space. Astrophysicist Anjali Tripathi studies the phenomenon of atmospheric escape, and in this fascinating and accessible talk, she considers how this process might one day (a few billion years from now) turn our blue planet red.
Mathieu Lehanneur demos science-inspired design
Naming science as his chief inspiration, Mathieu Lehanneur shows a selection of his ingenious designs -- an interactive noise-neutralizing ball, an antibiotic course in one layered pill, asthma treatment that reminds kids to take it, a living air filter, a living-room fish farm and more.
Wiring an interactive ocean
Oceanographer John Delaney is leading the team that is building an underwater network of high-def cameras and sensors that will turn our ocean into a global interactive lab -- sparking an explosion of rich data about the world below.
The economic injustice of plastic
Van Jones lays out a case against plastic pollution from the perspective of social justice. Because plastic trash, he shows us, hits poor people and poor countries "first and worst," with consequences we all share no matter where we live and what we earn. At TEDxGPGP, he offers a few powerful ideas to help us reclaim our throwaway planet.
Making law on the high seas
Kristina Gjerde studies the law of the high seas -- the 64 percent of our ocean that isn't protected by any national law at all. Gorgeous photos show the hidden worlds that Gjerde and other lawyers are working to protect from trawling and trash-dumping, through smart policymaking and a healthy dose of PR.