Listening to stories widens the imagination; telling them lets us leap over cultural walls, embrace different experiences, feel what others feel. Elif Shafak builds on this simple idea to argue that fiction can overcome identity politics.
Sure, the web connects the globe, but most of us end up hearing mainly from people just like ourselves. Blogger and technologist Ethan Zuckerman wants to help share the stories of the whole wide world. He talks about clever strategies to open up your Twitter world and read the news in languages you don't even know.
At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
Carl Safina: The oil spill's unseen culprits, victims
June 28, 2010
The Gulf oil spill dwarfs comprehension, but we know this much: it's bad. Carl Safina scrapes out the facts in this blood-boiling cross-examination, arguing that the consequences will stretch far beyond the Gulf -- and many so-called solutions are making the situation worse.
(Filmed at TEDxOilSpill.)
Hans Rosling: Global population growth, box by box
June 21, 2010
The world's population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years -- and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth. This is the paradoxical answer that Hans Rosling unveils at TED@Cannes using colorful new data display technology (you'll see).
Nalini Nadkarni challenges our perspective on trees and prisons -- she says both can be more dynamic than we think. Through a partnership with the state of Washington, she brings science classes and conservation programs to inmates, with unexpected results.
Ellen Gustafson: Obesity + hunger = 1 global food issue
May 7, 2010
Co-creator of the philanthropic FEED bags, Ellen Gustafson says hunger and obesity are two sides of the same coin. In her talk, she launches The 30 Project -- a way to change how we farm and eat in the next 30 years, and solve the global food inequalities behind both epidemics.
Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals and the art of roughness
February 12, 2010
At TED2010, mathematics legend Benoit Mandelbrot develops a theme he first discussed at TED in 1984 -- the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated.
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.
Stephen Palumbi: The hidden toxins in the fish we eat -- and how to stop them
April 10, 2010
There's a tight 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.
Ellen Dunham-Jones fires the starting shot for the next 50 years' big sustainable design project: retrofitting suburbia. To come: Dying malls rehabilitated, dead "big box" stores re-inhabited, parking lots transformed into thriving wetlands.
(Filmed at TEDxAtlanta.)
Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world
June 22, 2010
Clay Shirky looks at "cognitive surplus" -- the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we're busy editing Wikipedia, posting to Ushahidi (and yes, making LOLcats), we're building a better, more cooperative world.
Lego blocks: playtime mainstay for industrious kids, obsession for many (ahem!) mature adults. Hillel Cooperman takes us on a trip through the beloved bricks' colorful, sometimes oddball grownup subculture, featuring CAD, open-source robotics and a little adult behavior.
Aditi Shankardass: A second opinion on developmental disorders
November 11, 2009
Developmental disorders in children are typically diagnosed by observing behavior, but Aditi Shankardass suggests we should be looking directly at brains. She explains how one EEG technique has revealed mistaken diagnoses and transformed children's lives.
Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums
April 25, 2010
Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education -- and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become.
In graphic design, Marian Bantjes says, throwing your individuality into a project is heresy. She explains how she built her career doing just that, bringing her signature delicate illustrations to storefronts, valentines and even genetic diagrams.
When the dotcom bubble burst, hotelier Chip Conley went in search of a business model based on happiness. In an old friendship with an employee and in the wisdom of a Buddhist king, he learned that success comes from what you count.
Renowned classical Indian dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. She tells her personal story of not only facing the disease but dancing through it, and gives a performance revealing the metaphor of strength that helped her do it.
Cameron Herold: Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs
March 13, 2010
Bored in school, failing classes, at odds with peers: This child might be an entrepreneur, says Cameron Herold. In his talk, he makes the case for parenting and education that helps would-be entrepreneurs flourish -- as kids and as adults.
Peter Tyack: The intriguing sound of marine mammals
April 15, 2010
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.
Margaret Gould Stewart: How YouTube thinks about copyright
February 10, 2010
Margaret Gould Stewart, YouTube's head of user experience, talks about how the ubiquitous video site works with copyright holders and creators to foster (at the best of times) a creative ecosystem where everybody wins.
Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception
February 10, 2010
Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things -- from alien abductions to dowsing rods -- boils down to two of the brain's most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.
As his career grew, David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. He asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to Wagnerian operas to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.
Stewart Brand + Mark Z. Jacobson: Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy?
February 12, 2010
Nuclear power: the energy crisis has even die-hard environmentalists reconsidering it. In this first-ever TED debate, Stewart Brand and Mark Z. Jacobson square off over the pros and cons. A discussion that'll make you think -- and might even change your mind.
It may seem that big problems require big solutions, but ad man Rory Sutherland says many flashy, expensive fixes are just obscuring better, simpler answers. To illustrate, he uses behavioral economics and hilarious examples.
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.
Democracy thrives on civil debate, Michael Sandel says -- but we're shamefully out of practice. He leads a fun refresher, with TEDsters sparring over a recent Supreme Court case (PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin) whose outcome reveals the critical ingredient in justice.
Adam Sadowsky: How to engineer a viral music video
April 13, 2010
The band OK Go dreamed up the idea of a massive Rube Goldberg machine for their next music video -- and Adam Sadowsky's team was charged with building it. He tells the story of the effort and engineering behind their labyrinthine creation that quickly became the YouTube sensation "This Too Shall Pass."
(Filmed at TEDxUSC.)
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.