Twitter: @TEDTalks (followed by 52 science writers)
2018 to present
Average episode: 12 minutes
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Categories: Talk/Seminar Series
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|2023-Jan-19 • 12 minutes|
Where does your sense of self come from? A scientific look | Anil Ananthaswamy
Our memories and bodies give us clues about who we are, but what happens when this guidance shifts? In this mind-bending talk, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy shares how the experiences of "altered selves" -- resulting from schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, foreign limb syndrome or other conditions -- shed light on the constructed nature of identity. He breaks down where our sense of self comes from and invites us to challenge our assumptions about who we are, with the aim of building a better you and a better w...
|2023-Jan-18 • 16 minutes|
Can we feed ourselves without devouring the planet? | George Monbiot
Farming is the worst thing humanity has ever done to the planet, says journalist George Monbiot. What's more: the global food system could be heading toward collapse. Detailing the technological solutions we need to radically reshape food production -- from lab-grown, protein-rich foods to crops that don't require plowing -- Monbiot shares a future-focused vision of how humanity could feed itself without destroying the planet.
|2023-Jan-06 • 12 minutes|
How to harness the ancient partnership between forests and fungi | Colin Averill
If we want to better understand the environment and combat climate change, we need to look deep underground, where diverse microscopic fungal networks mingle with tree roots to form symbiotic partnerships, says microbiologist Colin Averill. As we learn more about which of these fungi are most beneficial to forest health, we can reintroduce them into the soil -- potentially enhancing the growth and resilience of carbon-trapping trees and plants. Hear more about the emerging science aiming to supercharge fore...
|2022-Nov-14 • 11 minutes|
The wheat field that could change the world | Guntur V. Subbarao
Crop physiologist Guntur V. Subbarao and his team have developed an antibiotic-infused strain of wheat that naturally combats harmful, fertilizer-eating bacteria -- a "monster" contributor to climate change. Learn more about how this breakthrough could once again revolutionize agriculture, increasing crop yields and protecting our planet at the same time.
|2022-Oct-28 • 11 minutes|
A virus-resistant organism -- and what it could mean for the future | Jason W. Chin
What if we could use the power of DNA to create a sustainable, circular economy? In a talk about breakthrough science, synthetic biologist Jason W. Chin describes his team's work rewriting the genetic blueprint of cells to create a virus-resistant organism -- the largest synthetic genome ever made and a first step towards reimagining what life can become. Learn more about how this advancement could lay the groundwork for the sustainable factories of the future, capable of producing plastics, antibiotics and...
|2022-Sep-08 • 9 minutes|
How green hydrogen could end the fossil fuel era | Vaitea Cowan
As climate change accelerates, finding clean alternatives to fossil fuels is more urgent than ever. Social entrepreneur Vaitea Cowan believes green hydrogen is the answer. Watch as she shares her team's work mass producing electrolyzers -- devices that separate water into its molecular components: hydrogen and oxygen -- and shows how they could help make green, carbon-free fuel affordable and accessible for everyone. "This is how we end the fossil fuel era," Cowan says.
|2022-Sep-06 • 15 minutes|
A giant Jurassic sea dragon, unearthed | Dean R. Lomax
Among the dinosaurs, giant sea dragons roamed the ancient ocean. Millions of years later, paleontologist Dean R. Lomax and his team freed the remains of one of these colossal creatures from the Earth. Settle in to learn about the once-in-a-lifetime discovery of the 10-meter-long Rutland ichthyosaur: the largest and most complete ichthyosaur ever unearthed in Britain and one of the greatest finds in the country's paleontological history.
|2022-Aug-24 • 13 minutes|
How we're reverse engineering the human brain in the lab | Sergiu P. Pasca
Neuroscientist Sergiu P. Pasca has made it his life's work to understand how the human brain builds itself -- and what makes it susceptible to disease. In a mind-blowing talk laden with breakthrough science, he shows how his team figured out how to grow "organoids" and what they call brain "assembloids" -- self-organizing clumps of neural tissue derived from stem cells that have shown the ability to form circuits -- and explains how these miniature parts of the nervous system are bringing us closer to demy...
|2022-Jul-25 • 11 minutes|
The future of fashion -- made from mushrooms | Dan Widmaier
Your closet is likely full of all kinds of materials -- leather, cotton, nylon and polyester, to name a few -- that contribute to fashion's sustainability crisis. Biomaterials investigator Dan Widmaier explains how we could look to nature for sustainable replacements for these much-used materials and introduces a leather alternative made from mushrooms that looks great and doesn't harm the environment. "We can make fashion sustainable, and we're going to do it with science," Widmaier says.
|2022-Jul-11 • 15 minutes|
The search for the invisible matter that shapes the universe | Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
The universe that we know, with its luminous stars and orbiting planets, is largely made up of elements we can't actually see -- like dark energy and dark matter -- and therefore don't fully understand. Theoretical physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein takes us inside the search for this cosmos-shaping invisible matter and explains how, with the help of a new generation of telescopes, we could be closer to demystifying it than ever before. "The universe is more queer and fantastical than it looks to the naked ...
|2022-May-23 • 7 minutes|
Humanity's search for cosmic truth and poetic beauty | Maria Popova
Linking together the histories of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Edwin Hubble and Tracy K. Smith, poet and thinker Maria Popova crafts an astonishing story of how humanity came to see the edge of the observable universe. (Followed by an animated excerpt of "My God, It's Full of Stars," by Tracy K. Smith)
|2022-Apr-27 • 18 minutes|
How mRNA medicine will change the world | Melissa J. Moore
The secret behind medicine that uses messenger RNA (or mRNA) is that it "teaches" our bodies how to fight diseases on our own, leading to groundbreaking treatments for COVID-19 and, potentially one day, cancer, the flu and other ailments that have haunted humanity for millennia. RNA researcher Melissa J. Moore -- Moderna's chief scientific officer and one of the many people responsible for the rapid creation and deployment of their COVID-19 vaccine -- takes us down to the molecular level, unraveling how mRN...
|2022-Apr-22 • 15 minutes|
We can make COVID-19 the last pandemic | Bill Gates
Building a pandemic-free future won't be easy, but Bill Gates believes that we have the tools and strategies to make it possible -- now we just have to fund them. In this forward-looking talk, he proposes a multi-specialty Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization (GERM) team that would detect potential outbreaks and stop them from becoming pandemics. By investing in disease monitoring, research and development as well as improved health systems, Gates believes we can "create a world where everyone has a ch...
|2022-Apr-06 • 11 minutes|
5 promising factors propelling climate action | Gabriel Kra
Given the scale of the challenge, the conversation around climate change is often tinged with doom and gloom. But climate tech investor Gabriel Kra thinks we need to reframe the crisis as a source of tremendous opportunity. He offers five big reasons to be optimistic about climate -- starting with the fact that many of the world's best minds are focused and working on building a clean future for all.
|2022-Mar-03 • 9 minutes|
What seaweed and cow burps have to do with climate change | Ermias Kebreab
Scientists have long known that cows are a huge source of the greenhouse gas methane, contributing up to four percent of emissions globally. But could there be a way to make cattle less -- ahem -- gassy? Animal scientist Ermias Kebreab talks through an ingenious solution to reduce methane-rich cow burps by feeding cattle something growing below the surface of the ocean: seaweed.
|2022-Feb-02 • 7 minutes|
The incredible cancer-detecting potential of photoacoustic imaging | Lei Li
Could we use the energy from light and sound to detect disease? TED Fellow Lei Li shares the exciting promise of photoacoustic imaging: an affordable, painless and accurate method of converting light into sound in order to create high-resolution images of what's going on inside our bodies. From early detection of breast cancer to steering medicine-delivering micro-robots, learn how this cutting-edge technology could open up a new world of possibility when it comes to seeing, tracking and diagnosing disease....
|2022-Jan-24 • 13 minutes|
Could we treat Alzheimer's with light and sound? | Li-Huei Tsai
What if we could use brain waves to treat Alzheimer's? Professor and neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai details a promising new approach to artificially stimulate gamma brain waves using light and sound therapy, to increase connectivity and synchrony and delay the onset of this deadly disease. This non-invasive therapy has already been shown to work in mice -- now it's on to human clinical trials, with the potential to usher in a brighter future for everyone. (Followed by a Q&A with head of TED Chris Anderson)
|2022-Jan-10 • 11 minutes|
How biochar removes CO2 from the air -- and helps farmers thrive | Axel Reinaud
Biochar is a kind of charcoal that removes CO2 from the atmosphere, helping yield healthy crops and even producing abundant renewable energy in the form of electricity as it's made. This exciting climate change fighter is ready for scaling now. Entrepreneur Axel Reinaud outlines three ways to make this material more accessible to farmers -- so that our food system, energy grid and the climate can all reap the benefits.
|2021-Dec-17 • 6 minutes|
A king cobra bite -- and a scientific discovery | Gowri Shankar
A king cobra has enough venom to kill 10 people in a single bite. Recounting his near-death experience after being bitten by one of these majestic yet deadly snakes, conservationist and TED Fellow Gowri Shankar shares the epiphany he had when the antivenom failed: there's more than one unique species of king cobra.
|2021-Nov-23 • 6 minutes|
The science of extreme weather — and how to reduce the harm | Al Roker, Al Gore, David Biello and Latif Nasser
Floods, droughts, heat waves and cold blasts -- why is the weather becoming more extreme? Environmentalist and "America's weatherman" Al Roker discusses the link between climate change and disruptions to weather patterns worldwide, followed by a conversation between Nobel laureate Al Gore and TED science curator David Biello about the science of extreme weather and emerging solutions to reduce the risk of these events. (This segment, introduced by radio researcher Latif Nasser, was part of TED's Countdown G...
|2021-Nov-03 • 6 minutes|
The problem of vaccine spoilage -- and a smart sensor to help | Nithya Ramanathan
Refrigerators do much more than store your groceries -- they're also vital to preserving and distributing vaccines. Illustrating the realities of (and threats to) global vaccine supply chains, technologist and TED Fellow Nithya Ramanathan describes how smart sensors placed in fridges that store medical supplies can provide crucial, real-time data and ensure people get the life-saving care they need.
|2021-Oct-19 • 13 minutes|
How we could eat real meat without harming animals | Isha Datar
What if you could eat chicken nuggets without harming a chicken? It's possible through "cellular agriculture," says Isha Datar. In a talk about cutting-edge science, she explains how this new means of food production makes it possible to eat meat without the negative consequences of industrial farming -- and how it could fundamentally change our food systems for the better. "It's our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a second chance at agriculture," she says.
|2021-Oct-06 • 10 minutes|
The brain science of obesity | Mads Tang-Christensen
Your belly and your brain speak to each other, says obesity researcher Mads Tang-Christensen. Offering scientific proof that obesity is a disease influenced by genetics and the environment, he introduces a molecule discovered in both the brain and gut that helps control appetite -- and which could be engineered to promote healthy weight loss for those living with obesity.
|2021-Sep-20 • 10 minutes|
Planet City -- a sci-fi vision of an astonishing regenerative future | Liam Young
Get transported on a stunningly rendered, sci-fi safari through Planet City: an imaginary metropolis of 10 billion people, from the brain of director and architect Liam Young. Explore the potential outcomes of an urban space designed to house the entire population of the earth -- and imagine answers to what is possible, and what is sustainable, for the planet.
|2021-Sep-08 • 8 minutes|
A sci-fi vision of life in 2041 | Chen Qiufan
Sci-fi writer Chen Qiufan doesn't fear a dystopian future. Instead, he believes developments in artificial intelligence will make all of our lives better, healthier and safer. He takes us on a tour of the next 20 years of AI and shares some astonishing predictions for the advancements in science and technology that could await us. "For every future we wish to create, we must first learn to imagine it," he says.
|2021-Aug-03 • 25 minutes|
Meet the scientist couple driving an mRNA vaccine revolution | Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci
As COVID-19 spread, BioNTech cofounders Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci had one goal: to make a safe, effective vaccine faster than ever before. In this illuminating conversation with head of TED Chris Anderson, the immunologists (and married couple) share the fascinating story of how their decades of mRNA research powered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine -- and forecast what this breakthrough science could mean for the future of vaccines and other immunotherapy treatments.
|2021-Jul-14 • 13 minutes|
The missing 96 percent of the universe | Claire Malone
We've misplaced the building blocks of the cosmos -- and particle physicists like Claire Malone are on a mission to find them. Despite scientists hitting a "major snag" in uncovering what exactly makes up dark matter and dark energy, she explains how questioning our fundamental understanding of nature itself invites a different, more meaningful perspective universally.
|2021-May-24 • 6 minutes|
The death of the universe -- and what it means for life | Katie Mack
The universe started with a bang -- but how will it end? With astonishing visuals, cosmologist and TED Fellow Katie Mack takes us to the theoretical end of everything, some trillions of years in the future, in a profound meditation on existence, wonder and the legacy of humanity within the immensity of time and space.
|2021-May-24 • 6 minutes|
The search for microscopic aliens | Sarah Rugheimer
Astrophysicist and TED Fellow Sarah Rugheimer searches for aliens -- but not the cartoony green kind. She's looking for extraterrestrial microbes by studying how these single-celled organisms emit gases, which could reveal evidence of them throughout the cosmos. Wondering if we're really alone in the universe, Rugheimer identifies two big hurdles to confirming life on another world and offers insight into what finding it might mean for us.
|2021-May-10 • 15 minutes|
How COVID-19 transformed the future of medicine | Daniel Kraft
The pandemic forced the world to work together like never before and, with unprecedented speed, bore a new age of health and medical innovation. Physician-scientist Daniel Kraft explains how breakthroughs and advancements like AI-infused antiviral discoveries and laboratory-level diagnostic tools accessible via smartphones are paving the way for a more democratized, connected and data-driven future of medicine and personalized care.
|2021-Apr-21 • 22 minutes|
How your memory works -- and why forgetting is totally OK | Lisa Genova
Have you ever misplaced something you were just holding? Completely blanked on a famous actor's name? Walked into a room and immediately forgot why? Neuroscientist Lisa Genova digs into two types of memory failures we regularly experience -- and reassures us that forgetting is totally normal. Stay tuned for a conversation with TED science curator David Biello, where Genova describes the difference between common moments of forgetting and possible signs of Alzheimer's, debunks a widespread myth about brain c...
|2021-Mar-31 • 20 minutes|
The electrical blueprints that orchestrate life | Michael Levin
DNA isn't the only builder in the biological world -- there's also a mysterious bioelectric layer directing cells to work together to grow organs, systems and bodies, says biologist Michael Levin. Sharing unforgettable and groundbreaking footage of two-headed worms, he introduces us to xenobots -- the world's first living robots, created in his lab by cracking the electrical code of cells -- and discusses what this discovery may mean for the future of medicine, the environment and even life itself. (This co...
|2021-Feb-12 • 11 minutes|
The hidden history found in your teeth | Carolyn Freiwald
Your teeth carry secrets: centuries of history about your ancestors, from where they lived to what they ate and where they traveled. Bioarchaeologist Carolyn Freiwald traces the story of human migration across the Americas -- from Mayan royalty and Belizean buccaneers to rural Appalachian farmers -- to illustrate what ancient teeth can reveal about you.
|2021-Feb-09 • 12 minutes|
The promise of quantum computers | Matt Langione
What if tiny microparticles could help us solve the world's biggest problems in a matter of minutes? That's the promise -- and magic -- of quantum computers, says Matt Langione. Speaking next to an actual IBM quantum computer, he explains how these machines solve complex challenges like developing vaccines and calculating financial risk in an entirely new way that's exponentially faster than the best supercomputers -- and shares why industries should prepare now for this new leap in computing.
|2020-Dec-04 • 15 minutes|
A stellar history of modern astronomy | Emily Levesque
Astronomers once gazed upon the night sky and counted every star in the galaxy by hand. The process has evolved since then, but the thirst for celestial knowledge remains the same. Join astrophysicist Emily Levesque for an anecdote-rich jaunt through the technological history of photographing the cosmos and learn about the one constant that makes it all work: human curiosity.
|2020-Nov-20 • 7 minutes|
How COVID-19 human challenge trials work -- and why I volunteered | Sophie Rose
In April 2020, epidemiologist-in-training Sophie Rose volunteered to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. As a young, healthy adult, she's offering to take part in a human challenge trial, a study where participants are intentionally exposed to SARS-CoV-2 to test vaccines and gather critical data. Explaining how challenge trials could speed up the development of effective vaccines, Rose shares why volunteering was the right decision for her.
|2020-Nov-20 • 7 minutes|
Could we treat spinal cord injuries with asparagus? | Andrew Pelling
Take a mind-blowing trip to the lab as TED Senior Fellow Andrew Pelling shares his research on how we could use fruits, vegetables and plants to regenerate damaged human tissues -- and develop a potentially groundbreaking way to repair complex spinal cord injuries with asparagus.
|2020-Oct-29 • 9 minutes|
The power of venom -- and how it could one day save your life | Mandë Holford
Venom can kill ... or it can cure. In this fascinating talk, marine chemical biologist Mandë Holford shares her research into animal venom, from killer sea snails to platypuses and slow lorises -- and explores its potential to one day treat human diseases like cancer. The mechanism behind this powerful substance is still mysterious, Holford says, but: "Someday, snail venom might just save your life."
|2020-Oct-10 • 4 minutes|
A concrete idea to reduce carbon emissions | Karen Scrivener
Concrete is the second most-used substance on Earth (behind water), and it's responsible for eight percent of the world's carbon footprint. Cement researcher Karen Scrivener shares the research behind a pioneering new kind of cement known as LC3, which could slash carbon emissions from this crucial building material by 40 percent, if adopted at scale.
|2020-Aug-24 • 12 minutes|
How animals and plants are evolving in cities | Menno Schilthuizen
In cities, evolution occurs constantly, as countless plants, animals and insects adapt to human-made habitats in spectacular ways. Evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen calls on peculiar beings such as fast food-loving mice and self-cooling snails to illustrate the ever-transforming wonders of urban wildlife -- and explains how you can observe this phenomenon in real-time, thanks to a global network of enthusiastic citizen scientists.
|2020-Jul-24 • 30 minutes|
Can light stop the coronavirus? | David Brenner
Far-UVC light is a type of ultraviolet light that kills microbes and viruses and, crucially, seems to be safe to use around humans. Radiation scientist David Brenner describes how we could use this light to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, in hospitals, nursing homes, trains and other public indoor spaces -- paving the way for a potentially game-changing tool in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. (This virtual conversation, hosted by TED science curator David Biell...
|2020-Jun-25 • 19 minutes|
The case to infect volunteers with COVID-19 to accelerate vaccine testing | Nir Eyal
Conventional vaccine testing is a slow, years-long process. As thousands of people continue to die each day from COVID-19, bioethicist Nir Eyal proposes a radical idea that could dramatically accelerate the vaccine development timeline: "human challenge trials," in which scientists would deliberately expose volunteers to the virus to more quickly determine a vaccine's efficacy. (This virtual conversation, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson, was recorded June 15, 2020.)
|2020-Jun-18 • 12 minutes|
The new science of personalized vaccines | Ofer Levy
At the intersection of precision medicine and vaccinology lies a revolutionary scientific pursuit: personalized vaccines. Infectious disease specialist Ofer Levy introduces this promising medical approach, in which tailored inoculations will enable effective immunization of the most vulnerable among us, including the young and elderly, and shares how we're now venturing into a new era of sustaining and supporting human life. (This talk contains graphic medical imagery.)
|2020-May-26 • 16 minutes|
Let's make the world wild again | Kristine Tompkins
Earth, humanity and nature are inextricably interconnected. To restore us all back to health, we need to "rewild" the world, says environmental activist Kristine Tompkins. Tracing her life from Patagonia CEO to passionate conservationist, she shares how she has helped to establish national parks across millions of acres of land (and sea) in South America -- and discusses the critical role we all have to play to heal the planet. "We have a common destiny," she says. "We can flourish or we can suffer, but we'...
|2020-May-13 • 12 minutes|
An ER doctor on triaging your "crazy busy" life | Darria Long
How do doctors in the emergency room stay calm and focused amidst the chaos? Drawing on years of experience, ER doctor Darria Long shares a straightforward framework to help you take back control and feel less overwhelmed when life starts to get "crazy busy."
|2020-Apr-13 • 6 minutes|
The wonders of the molecular world, animated | Janet Iwasa
Some biological structures are so small that scientists can't see them with even the most powerful microscopes. That's where molecular animator and TED Fellow Janet Iwasa gets creative. Explore vast, unseen molecular worlds as she shares mesmerizing animations that imagine how they might work.
|2020-Apr-10 • 14 minutes|
The galactic recipe for a living planet | Karin Öberg
Did you know that one of the most notorious poisons is also a key ingredient for life as we know it? Join space chemist Karin Öberg and learn how she scans the universe in search of this paradoxical chemical using ALMA, the world's largest radio telescope, to detect hotbeds of molecular activity and the formation of life-sustaining planets.
|2020-Apr-07 • 13 minutes|
A history of Indigenous languages -- and how to revitalize them | Lindsay Morcom
Indigenous languages across North America are under threat of extinction due to the colonial legacy of cultural erasure, says linguist Lindsay Morcom. Highlighting grassroots strategies developed by the Anishinaabe people of Canada to revive their language and community, Morcom makes a passionate case for enacting policies that could protect Indigenous heritage for generations to come.
|2020-Apr-01 • 12 minutes|
How you can help save the monarch butterfly -- and the planet | Mary Ellen Hannibal
Monarch butterflies are dying at an alarming rate around the world -- a looming extinction that could also put human life at risk. But we have just the thing to help save these insects, says author Mary Ellen Hannibal: citizen scientists. Learn how these grassroots volunteers are playing a crucial role in measuring and rescuing the monarch's dwindling population -- and how you could join their ranks to help protect nature. (You'll be in good company: Charles Darwin was a citizen scientist!)
|2020-Mar-27 • 13 minutes|
Indigenous knowledge meets science to take on climate change | Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim
To tackle a problem as large as climate change, we need both science and Indigenous wisdom, says environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim. In this engaging talk, she shares how her nomadic community in Chad is working closely with scientists to restore endangered ecosystems -- and offers lessons on how to create more resilient communities.
|2020-Mar-23 • 14 minutes|
The weird history of the "sex chromosomes" | Molly Webster
The common thinking on biological sex goes like this: females have two X chromosomes in their cells, while males have one X and one Y. In this myth-busting talk, science writer and podcaster Molly Webster shows why the so-called "sex chromosomes" are more complicated than this simple definition -- and reveals why we should think about them differently.
|2020-Mar-13 • 11 minutes|
How we could change the planet's climate future | David Wallace-Wells
The climate crisis is too vast and complicated to solve with a silver bullet, says author David Wallace-Wells. What we need is a shift in how we live. Follow along as he lays out some of the dramatic actions we could take to build a livable, prosperous world in the age of global warming.
|2020-Mar-11 • 13 minutes|
The dangers of a noisy ocean -- and how we can quiet it down | Nicola Jones
The ocean is a naturally noisy place full of singing whales, grunting fish, snapping shrimp, cracking ice, wind and rain. But human-made sounds -- from ship engines to oil drilling -- have become an acute threat to marine life, says science journalist Nicola Jones. Watch (and listen) as she discusses the strange things that happen to underwater creatures in the face of ocean noise pollution -- and shares straightforward ways we can dial down the sound to see almost immediate impacts.
|2020-Mar-05 • 11 minutes|
How a miniaturized atomic clock could revolutionize space exploration | Jill Seubert
Ask any deep space navigator like Jill Seubert what makes steering a spacecraft difficult, and they'll tell you it's all about the timing; a split-second can decide a mission's success or failure. So what do you do when a spacecraft is bad at telling time? You get it a clock -- an atomic clock, to be precise. Let Seubert whisk you away with the revolutionary potential of a future where you could receive stellar, GPS-like directions -- no matter where you are in the universe.
|2020-Feb-12 • 14 minutes|
What a nun can teach a scientist about ecology | Victoria Gill
To save the achoque -- an exotic (and adorable) salamander found in a lake in northern Mexico -- scientists teamed up with an unexpected research partner: a group of nuns called the Sisters of the Immaculate Health. In this delightful talk, science journalist Victoria Gill shares the story of how this unusual collaboration saved the achoque from extinction -- and demonstrates how local and indigenous people could hold the secret to saving our planet's weird, wonderful and most threatened species.
|2020-Feb-05 • 12 minutes|
The science of friction -- and its surprising impact on our lives | Jennifer Vail
Tribology: it's a funny-sounding word you might not have heard before, but it could change how you see and interact with the physical world, says mechanical engineer Jennifer Vail. Offering lessons from tribology -- the study of friction and wear -- Vail describes the surprisingly varied ways it impacts everyday life and how it could help us make a better world.
|2020-Jan-28 • 5 minutes|
A new type of medicine, custom-made with tiny proteins | Christopher Bahl
Some common life-saving medicines, such as insulin, are made of proteins so large and fragile that they need to be injected instead of ingested as pills. But a new generation of medicine -- made from smaller, more durable proteins known as peptides -- is on its way. In a quick, informative talk, molecular engineer and TED Fellow Christopher Bahl explains how he's using computational design to create powerful peptides that could one day neutralize the flu, protect against botulism poisoning and even stop can...
|2020-Jan-24 • 13 minutes|
What ocean microbes reveal about the changing climate | Angelicque White
When the ocean changes, the planet changes -- and it all starts with microbes, says biological oceanographer Angelicque White. Backed by decades of data, White shares how scientists use these ancient microorganisms as a crucial barometer of ocean health -- and how we might rejuvenate them as marine temperatures steadily rise.
|2020-Jan-21 • 10 minutes|
Are indoor vertical farms the future of agriculture? | Stuart Oda
By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion. How are we going to feed everyone? Investment-banker-turned-farmer Stuart Oda points to indoor vertical farming: growing food on tiered racks in a controlled, climate-proof environment. In a forward-looking talk, he explains how this method can maintain better safety standards, save money, use less water and help us provide for future generations.
|2020-Jan-21 • 13 minutes|
How designing brand-new enzymes could change the world | Adam Garske
"If DNA is the blueprint of life, enzymes are the laborers that carry out its instructions," says chemical biologist Adam Garske. In this fun talk and demo, he shows how scientists can now edit and design enzymes for specific functions -- to help treat diseases like diabetes, create energy-efficient laundry detergent and even capture greenhouse gases -- and performs his own enzyme experiment onstage.
|2020-Jan-16 • 13 minutes|
Why are drug prices so high? Investigating the outdated US patent system | Priti Krishtel
Between 2006 and 2016, the number of drug patents granted in the United States doubled -- but not because there was an explosion in invention or innovation. Drug companies have learned how to game the system, accumulating patents not for new medicines but for small changes to existing ones, which allows them to build monopolies, block competition and drive prices up. Health justice lawyer Priti Krishtel sheds light on how we've lost sight of the patent system's original intent -- and offers five reforms for...
|2020-Jan-07 • 11 minutes|
The urgent case for antibiotic-free animals | Leon Marchal
The UN predicts that antimicrobial resistance will be our biggest killer by 2050. "That should really scare the hell out of all of us," says bioprocess engineer Leon Marchal. He's working on an urgently needed solution: transforming the massive, global animal feed industry. Learn why the overuse of antibiotics in animal products, from livestock feed to everyday pet treats, has skyrocketed worldwide -- and how we can take common-sense measures to stave off a potential epidemic.
|2020-Jan-06 • 16 minutes|
The search for dark matter -- and what we've found so far | Risa Wechsler
Roughly 85 percent of mass in the universe is "dark matter" -- mysterious material that can't be directly observed but has an immense influence on the cosmos. What exactly is this strange stuff, and what does it have to do with our existence? Astrophysicist Risa Wechsler explores why dark matter may be the key to understanding how the universe formed -- and shares how physicists in labs around the world are coming up with creative ways to study it.
|2019-Dec-17 • 16 minutes|
Your body was forged in the spectacular death of stars | Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
We are all connected by the spectacular birth, death and rebirth of stars, says astrophysicist Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz. Journey through the cosmic history of the universe as Ramirez-Ruiz explains how supernovas forged the elements of life to create everything from the air you breathe to the very atoms that make you.
|2019-Nov-22 • 14 minutes|
The search for our solar system's ninth planet | Mike Brown
Could the strange orbits of small, distant objects in our solar system lead us to a big discovery? Planetary astronomer Mike Brown proposes the existence of a new, giant planet lurking in the far reaches of our solar system -- and shows us how traces of its presence might already be staring us in the face.
|2019-Nov-13 • 6 minutes|
What it's like to live on the International Space Station | Cady Coleman
In this quick, fun talk, astronaut Cady Coleman welcomes us aboard the International Space Station, where she spent nearly six months doing experiments that expanded the frontiers of science. Hear what it's like to fly to work, sleep without gravity and live life hurtling at 17,500 miles per hour around the Earth. "The space station is the place where mission and magic come together," Coleman says.
|2019-Nov-12 • 12 minutes|
Small rockets are the next space revolution | Peter Beck
We're in the dawn of a new space revolution, says engineer Peter Beck: the revolution of the small. In a talk packed with insights into the state of the space industry, Beck shares his work building rockets capable of delivering small payloads to space rapidly and reliably -- helping us search for extraterrestrial life, learn more about the solar system and create a global internet network.
|2019-Nov-01 • 15 minutes|
The next software revolution: programming biological cells | Sara-Jane Dunn
The cells in your body are like computer software: they're "programmed" to carry out specific functions at specific times. If we can better understand this process, we could unlock the ability to reprogram cells ourselves, says computational biologist Sara-Jane Dunn. In a talk from the cutting-edge of science, she explains how her team is studying embryonic stem cells to gain a new understanding of the biological programs that power life -- and develop "living software" that could transform medicine, agricu...
|2019-Oct-24 • 6 minutes|
The link between fishing cats and mangrove forest conservation | Ashwin Naidu
Mangrove forests are crucial to the health of the planet, gobbling up CO2 from the atmosphere and providing a home for a diverse array of species. But these rich habitats are under continual threat from deforestation and industry. In an empowering talk, conservationist and TED Fellow Ashwin Naidu shares how community-driven efforts in South and Southeast Asia are working to protect mangroves -- all with a little help from the mysterious and endangered fishing cat.
|2019-Oct-18 • 7 minutes|
A coral reef love story | Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Over the course of hundreds of scuba dives, marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson fell in love -- with a fish. In this ode to parrotfish, she shares five reasons why these creatures are simply amazing (from their ability to poop white sand to make colorful "wardrobe changes") and shows what's at stake -- for us and them -- as climate change threatens the future of coral reefs.
|2019-Oct-17 • 12 minutes|
How a handful of fishing villages sparked a marine conservation revolution | Alasdair Harris
We need a radically new approach to ocean conservation, says marine biologist and TED Fellow Alasdair Harris. In a visionary talk, he lays out a surprising solution to the problem of overfishing that could both revive marine life and rebuild local fisheries -- all by taking less from the ocean. "When we design it right, marine conservation reaps dividends that go far beyond protecting nature," he says.
|2019-Oct-03 • 14 minutes|
What happens in your brain when you taste food | Camilla Arndal Andersen
With fascinating research and hilarious anecdotes, neuroscientist Camilla Arndal Andersen takes us into the lab where she studies people's sense of taste via brain scans. She reveals surprising insights about the way our brains subconsciously experience food -- and shows how this data could help us eat healthier without sacrificing taste.
|2019-Oct-01 • 5 minutes|
How community-led conservation can save wildlife | Moreangels Mbizah
Conservationist and TED Fellow Moreangels Mbizah studied the famous Cecil the lion until he was shot by a trophy hunter in 2015. She wonders how things could've gone differently, asking: "What if the community that lived next to Cecil was involved in protecting him?" In a quick talk, Mbizah shares the state of conservation in her home of Zimbabwe -- and why she thinks that communities living with wildlife are the ones best positioned to help them.
|2019-Sep-27 • 11 minutes|
How one tree grows 40 different kinds of fruit | Sam Van Aken
Artist Sam Van Aken shares the breathtaking work behind the "Tree of 40 Fruit," an ongoing series of hybridized fruit trees that grow 40 different varieties of peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and cherries -- all on the same tree. What began as an art project to showcase beautiful, multi-hued blossoms has become a living archive of rare heirloom specimens and their histories, a hands-on (and delicious!) way to teach people about cultivation and a vivid symbol of the need for biodiversity to ensure food ...
|2019-Sep-23 • 14 minutes|
Can seaweed help curb global warming? | Tim Flannery
It's time for planetary-scale interventions to combat climate change -- and environmentalist Tim Flannery thinks seaweed can help. In a bold talk, he shares the epic carbon-capturing potential of seaweed, explaining how oceangoing seaweed farms created on a massive scale could trap all the carbon we emit into the atmosphere. Learn more about this potentially planet-saving solution -- and the work that's still needed to get there.
|2019-Sep-20 • 13 minutes|
We need to track the world's water like we track the weather | Sonaar Luthra
We need a global weather service for water, says entrepreneur and TED Fellow Sonaar Luthra. In a talk about environmental accountability, Luthra shows how we could forecast water shortages and risks with a global data collection effort -- just like we monitor the movement of storms -- and better listen to what the earth is telling us.
|2019-Sep-16 • 11 minutes|
How climate change could make our food less nutritious | Kristie Ebi
Rising carbon levels in the atmosphere can make plants grow faster, but there's another hidden consequence: they rob plants of the nutrients and vitamins we need to survive. In a talk about global food security, epidemiologist Kristie Ebi explores the potentially massive health consequences of this growing nutrition crisis -- and explores the steps we can take to ensure all people have access to safe, healthy food.
|2019-Sep-03 • 14 minutes|
A climate change solution that's right under our feet | Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
There's two times more carbon in the earth's soil than in all of its vegetation and the atmosphere -- combined. Biogeochemist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe dives into the science of soil and shares how we could use its awesome carbon-trapping power to offset climate change. "[Soil] represents the difference between life and lifelessness in the earth system, and it can also help us combat climate change -- if we can only stop treating it like dirt," she says.
|2019-Aug-28 • 15 minutes|
Emergency medicine for our climate fever | Kelly Wanser
As we recklessly warm the planet by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, some industrial emissions also produce particles that reflect sunshine back into space, putting a check on global warming that we're only starting to understand. Climate activist Kelly Wanser asks: Can we engineer ways to harness this effect and further reduce warming? Learn more about the promises and risks of "cloud brightening" -- and how it could help restore our climate to health.
|2019-Aug-27 • 8 minutes|
How climate change affects your mental health | Britt Wray
"For all that's ever been said about climate change, we haven't heard nearly enough about the psychological impacts of living in a warming world," says science writer Britt Wray. In this quick talk, she explores how climate change is threatening our well-being -- mental, social and spiritual -- and offers a starting point for what we can do about it.
|2019-Aug-02 • 8 minutes|
What's at the bottom of the ocean -- and how we're getting there | Victor Vescovo
Victor Vescovo is leading the first-ever manned expedition to the deepest point of each of the world's five oceans. In conversation with TED science curator David Biello, Vescovo discusses the technology that's powering the explorations -- a titanium submersible designed to withstand extraordinary conditions -- and shows footage of a never-before-seen creature taken during his journey to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
|2019-Jul-15 • 16 minutes|
The fascinating (and dangerous) places scientists aren't exploring | Ella Al-Shamahi
We're not doing frontline exploratory science in a huge portion of the world -- the places governments deem too hostile or disputed. What might we be missing because we're not looking? In this fearless, unexpectedly funny talk, paleoanthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi takes us on an expedition to the Yemeni island of Socotra -- one of the most biodiverse places on earth -- and makes the case for scientists to explore the unstable regions that could be home to incredible discoveries.
|2019-Jul-08 • 15 minutes|
Grief and love in the animal kingdom | Barbara J. King
From mourning orcas to distressed elephants, biological anthropologist Barbara J. King has witnessed grief and love across the animal kingdom. In this eye-opening talk, she explains the evidence behind her belief that many animals experience complex emotions, and suggests ways all of us can treat them more ethically -- including every time we eat. "Animals don't grieve exactly like we do, but this doesn't mean that their grief isn't real," she says. "It is real, and it's searing, and we can see it if we cho...
|2019-Jun-17 • 10 minutes|
5 challenges we could solve by designing new proteins | David Baker
Proteins are remarkable molecular machines: they digest your food, fire your neurons, power your immune system and so much more. What if we could design new ones, with functions never before seen in nature? In this remarkable glimpse of the future, David Baker shares how his team at the Institute for Protein Design is creating entirely new proteins from scratch -- and shows how they could help us tackle five massive challenges facing humanity. (This ambitious plan is a part of the Audacious Project, TED's i...
|2019-Jun-10 • 14 minutes|
The mysterious microbes living deep inside the earth -- and how they could help humanity | Karen Lloyd
The ground beneath your feet is home to a massive, mysterious world of microbes -- some of which have been in the earth's crust for hundreds of thousands of years. What's it like down there? Take a trip to the volcanoes and hot springs of Costa Rica as microbiologist Karen Lloyd shines a light on these subterranean organisms and shows how they could have a profound impact on life up here.
|2019-May-31 • 14 minutes|
The amazing brains and morphing skin of octopuses and other cephalopods | Roger Hanlon
Octopus, squid and cuttlefish -- collectively known as cephalopods -- have strange, massive, distributed brains. What do they do with all that neural power? Dive into the ocean with marine biologist Roger Hanlon, who shares astonishing footage of the camouflaging abilities of cephalopods, which can change their skin color and texture in a flash. Learn how their smart skin, and their ability to deploy it in sophisticated ways, could be evidence of an alternative form of intelligence -- and how it could lead ...
|2019-May-28 • 9 minutes|
These bacteria eat plastic | Morgan Vague
Humans produce 300 million tons of new plastic each year -- yet, despite our best efforts, less than 10 percent of it ends up being recycled. Is there a better way to deal with all this waste? Morgan Vague describes her research with microbiologist Jay Mellies on bacteria that have evolved the unexpected ability to eat plastic -- and how they could help us solve our growing pollution problem.
|2019-May-21 • 14 minutes|
Sloths! The strange life of the world's slowest mammal | Lucy Cooke
Sloths have been on this planet for more than 40 million years. What's the secret to their success? In a hilarious talk, zoologist Lucy Cooke takes us inside the strange life of the world's slowest mammal and shows what we can learn from their ingenious adaptations.
|2019-May-02 • 14 minutes|
How supercharged plants could slow climate change | Joanne Chory
Plants are amazing machines -- for millions of years, they've taken carbon dioxide out of the air and stored it underground, keeping a crucial check on the global climate. Plant geneticist Joanne Chory is working to amplify this special ability: with her colleagues at the Salk Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, she's creating plants that can store more carbon, deeper underground, for hundreds of years. Learn more about how these supercharged plants could help slow climate change. (This ambitio...
|2019-Apr-22 • 6 minutes|
A personal air-quality tracker that lets you know what you're breathing | Romain Lacombe
How often do you think about the air you're breathing? Probably not enough, says entrepreneur and TED Fellow Romain Lacombe. He introduces Flow: a personal air-quality tracker that fits in your hand and monitors pollution levels in real time. See how this device could help you track and understand pollution street by street, hour by hour -- and empower you to take action to improve your health.
|2019-Apr-18 • 11 minutes|
Inside the black hole image that made history | Sheperd Doeleman
At the center of a galaxy more than 55 million light-years away, there's a supermassive black hole with the mass of several billion suns. And now, for the first time ever, we can see it. Astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman, head of the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, speaks with TED's Chris Anderson about the iconic, first-ever image of a black hole -- and the epic, worldwide effort involved in capturing it.
|2019-Mar-29 • 15 minutes|
Can we regenerate heart muscle with stem cells? | Chuck Murry
The heart is one of the least regenerative organs in the human body -- a big factor in making heart failure the number one killer worldwide. What if we could help heart muscle regenerate after injury? Physician and scientist Chuck Murry shares his groundbreaking research into using stem cells to grow new heart cells -- an exciting step towards realizing the awesome promise of stem cells as medicine.
|2019-Mar-27 • 12 minutes|
To detect diseases earlier, let's speak bacteria's secret language | Fatima AlZahra'a Alatraktchi
Bacteria "talk" to each other, sending chemical information to coordinate attacks. What if we could listen to what they were saying? Nanophysicist Fatima AlZahra'a Alatraktchi invented a tool to spy on bacterial chatter and translate their secret communication into human language. Her work could pave the way for early diagnosis of disease -- before we even get sick.
|2019-Mar-20 • 13 minutes|
How you can help save the bees, one hive at a time | Noah Wilson-Rich
Bees are dying off in record numbers, but ecologist Noah Wilson-Rich is interested in something else: Where are bees healthy and thriving? To find out, he recruited citizen scientists across the US to set up beehives in their backyards, gardens and rooftops. Learn how these little data factories are changing what we know about the habitats bees need to thrive -- and keep our future food systems stable.
|2019-Mar-18 • 11 minutes|
The secret to scientific discoveries? Making mistakes | Phil Plait
Phil Plait was on a Hubble Space Telescope team of astronomers who thought they may have captured the first direct photo of an exoplanet ever taken. But did the evidence actually support that? Follow along as Plait shows how science progresses -- through a robust amount of making and correcting errors. "The price of doing science is admitting when you're wrong, but the payoff is the best there is: knowledge and understanding," he says.
|2019-Mar-13 • 11 minutes|
Where did the Moon come from? A new theory | Sarah T. Stewart
The Earth and Moon are like identical twins, made up of the exact same materials -- which is really strange, since no other celestial bodies we know of share this kind of chemical relationship. What's responsible for this special connection? Looking for an answer, planetary scientist and MacArthur "Genius" Sarah T. Stewart discovered a new kind of astronomical object -- a synestia -- and a new way to solve the mystery of the Moon's origin.
|2019-Mar-01 • 11 minutes|
How a new species of ancestors is changing our theory of human evolution | Juliet Brophy
In 2013, a treasure trove of unusual fossils were uncovered in a cave in South Africa, and researchers soon realized: these were the remains of a new species of ancient humans. Paleoanthropologist Juliet Brophy takes us inside the discovery of Homo naledi, explaining how this mysterious ancestor is forcing us to rethink where we come from -- and what it means to be human.
|2019-Feb-15 • 18 minutes|
The age of genetic wonder | Juan Enriquez
Gene-editing tools like CRISPR enable us to program life at its most fundamental level. But this raises some pressing questions: If we can generate new species from scratch, what should we build? Should we redesign humanity as we know it? Juan Enriquez forecasts the possible futures of genetic editing, exploring the immense uncertainty and opportunity of this next frontier.
|2019-Jan-29 • 10 minutes|
Can we solve global warming? Lessons from how we protected the ozone layer | Sean Davis
The Montreal Protocol proved that the world could come together and take action on climate change. Thirty years after the world's most successful environmental treaty was signed, atmospheric scientist Sean Davis examines the world we avoided when we banned chlorofluorocarbons -- and shares lessons we can carry forward to address the climate crisis in our time.
|2019-Jan-24 • 14 minutes|
What sticky sea creatures can teach us about making glue | Jonathan Wilker
What if we could harness the sticking powers of sea creatures like mussels, oysters and barnacles, which refuse to budge even on wet, stormy coastlines? Dive into the wonderful world of animals that make their own glue and cement with scientist Jonathan Wilker -- and preview some of the amazing things we can learn from how they do it.
|2019-Jan-10 • 13 minutes|
The biology of gender, from DNA to the brain | Karissa Sanbonmatsu
How exactly does gender work? It's not just about our chromosomes, says biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu. In a visionary talk, she shares new discoveries from epigenetics, the emerging study of how DNA activity can permanently change based on social factors like trauma or diet. Learn how life experiences shape the way genes are expressed -- and what that means for our understanding of gender.
|2018-Dec-17 • 14 minutes|
The fascinating science of bubbles, from soap to champagne | Li Wei Tan
In this whimsical talk and live demo, scientist Li Wei Tan shares the secrets of bubbles -- from their relentless pursuit of geometric perfection to their applications in medicine and shipping, where designers are creating more efficient vessels by mimicking the bubbles created by swimming penguins. Learn more about these mathematical marvels and tap into the magic hidden in the everyday world.
|2018-Dec-14 • 17 minutes|
The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it | Katharine Hayhoe
How do you talk to someone who doesn't believe in climate change? Not by rehashing the same data and facts we've been discussing for years, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. In this inspiring, pragmatic talk, Hayhoe shows how the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family, community and religion -- and to prompt people to realize that they already care about a changing climate. "We can't give in to despair," she says. "We have to go out and look for the hope we need ...
|2018-Dec-11 • 12 minutes|
3 kinds of bias that shape your worldview | J. Marshall Shepherd
What shapes our perceptions (and misperceptions) about science? In an eye-opening talk, meteorologist J. Marshall Shepherd explains how confirmation bias, the Dunning-Kruger effect and cognitive dissonance impact what we think we know -- and shares ideas for how we can replace them with something much more powerful: knowledge.
|2018-Nov-28 • 17 minutes|
100 solutions to reverse global warming | Chad Frischmann
What if we took out more greenhouse gases than we put into the atmosphere? This hypothetical scenario, known as "drawdown," is our only hope of averting climate disaster, says strategist Chad Frischmann. In a forward-thinking talk, he shares solutions to climate change that exist today -- conventional tactics like the use of renewable energy and better land management as well as some lesser-known approaches, like changes to food production, better family planning and the education of girls. Learn more about...
|2018-Nov-26 • 14 minutes|
The radical possibilities of man-made DNA | Floyd E. Romesberg
Every cell that's ever lived has been the result of the four-letter genetic alphabet: A, T, C and G -- the basic units of DNA. But now that's changed. In a visionary talk, synthetic biologist Floyd E. Romesberg introduces us to the first living organisms created with six-letter DNA -- the four natural letters plus two new man-made ones, X and Y -- and explores how this breakthrough could challenge our basic understanding of nature's design.
|2018-Oct-18 • 12 minutes|
The pharmacy of the future? Personalized pills, 3D printed at home | Daniel Kraft
We need to change how we prescribe drugs, says physician Daniel Kraft: too often, medications are dosed incorrectly, cause toxic side effects or just don't work. In a talk and concept demo, Kraft shares his vision for a future of personalized medication, unveiling a prototype 3D printer that could design pills that adapt to our individual needs.
|2018-Oct-17 • 12 minutes|
5 transformational policies for a prosperous and sustainable world | Johan Rockström
In a talk about how we can build a robust future without wrecking the planet, sustainability expert Johan Rockström debuts the Earth3 model -- a new methodology that combines the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth's vital systems could become unstable. Learn more about five transformational policies that could help us achieve inclusive and prosperous world development while keeping the earth stable and resilient.
|2018-Oct-16 • 7 minutes|
The key to a better malaria vaccine | Faith Osier
The malaria vaccine was invented more than a century ago -- yet each year, hundreds of thousands of people still die from the disease. How can we improve this vital vaccine? In this informative talk, immunologist and TED Fellow Faith Osier shows how she's combining cutting-edge technology with century-old insights in the hopes of creating a new vaccine that eradicates malaria once and for all.
|2018-Sep-21 • 6 minutes|
How I became part sea urchin | Catherine Mohr
As a young scientist, Catherine Mohr was on her dream scuba trip -- when she put her hand right down on a spiny sea urchin. While a school of sharks circled above. What happened next? More than you can possibly imagine. Settle in for this fabulous story with a dash of science.
|2018-Aug-29 • 12 minutes|
How China is (and isn't) fighting pollution and climate change | Angel Hsu
China is the world's biggest polluter -- and now one of its largest producers of clean energy. Which way will China go in the future, and how will it affect the global environment? Data scientist Angel Hsu describes how the most populous country on earth is creating a future based on alternative energy -- and facing up to the environmental catastrophe it created as it rapidly industrialized.
|2018-Aug-28 • 5 minutes|
A rare galaxy that's challenging our understanding of the universe | Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil
What's it like to discover a galaxy -- and have it named after you? Astrophysicist and TED Fellow Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil lets us know in this quick talk about her team's surprising discovery of a mysterious new galaxy type.
|2018-Jul-19 • 13 minutes|
Where are all the aliens? | Stephen Webb
The universe is incredibly old, astoundingly vast and populated by trillions of planets -- so where are all the aliens? Astronomer Stephen Webb has an explanation: we're alone in the universe. In a mind-expanding talk, he spells out the remarkable barriers a planet would need to clear in order to host an extraterrestrial civilization -- and makes a case for the beauty of our potential cosmic loneliness. "The silence of the universe is shouting, 'We're the creatures who got lucky,'" Webb says.
|2018-Jul-12 • 13 minutes|
A new way to monitor vital signs (that can see through walls) | Dina Katabi
At MIT, Dina Katabi and her team are working on a bold new way to monitor patients' vital signs in a hospital (or even at home), without wearables or bulky, beeping devices. Bonus: it can see through walls. In a mind-blowing talk and demo, Katabi previews a system that captures the reflections of signals like Wi-Fi as they bounce off people, creating a reliable record of vitals for healthcare workers and patients. And in a brief Q&A with TED curator Helen Walters, Katabi discusses safeguards being put in pl...
|2018-Jul-11 • 15 minutes|
How to build synthetic DNA and send it across the internet | Dan Gibson
Biologist Dan Gibson edits and programs DNA, just like coders program a computer. But his "code" creates life, giving scientists the power to convert digital information into biological material like proteins and vaccines. Now he's on to a new project: "biological transportation," which holds the promise of beaming new medicines across the globe over the internet. Learn more about how this technology could change the way we respond to disease outbreaks and enable us to download personalized prescriptions in...
|2018-Jul-05 • 14 minutes|
A new way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere | Jennifer Wilcox
Our planet has a carbon problem -- if we don't start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, we'll grow hotter, faster. Chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox previews some amazing technology to scrub carbon from the air, using chemical reactions that capture and reuse CO2 in much the same way trees do ... but at a vast scale. This detailed talk reviews both the promise and the pitfalls.
|2018-Jul-03 • 9 minutes|
How we're saving one of Earth's last wild places | Steve Boyes
Navigating territorial hippos and active minefields, TED Fellow Steve Boyes and a team of scientists have been traveling through the Okavango Delta, Africa's largest remaining wetland wilderness, to explore and protect this near-pristine habitat against the rising threat of development. In this awe-inspiring talk packed with images, he shares his work doing detailed scientific surveys in the hopes of protecting this enormous, fragile wilderness.
|2018-Jul-02 • 17 minutes|
The tiny creature that secretly powers the planet | Penny Chisholm
Oceanographer Penny Chisholm introduces us to an amazing little being: Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic species on the planet. A marine microbe that has existed for millions of years, Prochlorococcus wasn't discovered until the mid-1980s -- but its ancient genetic code may hold clues to how we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
|2018-Jun-27 • 13 minutes|
The story of 'Oumuamua, the first visitor from another star system | Karen J. Meech
In October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system. The interstellar comet -- a half-mile-long object eventually named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for "scout" or "messenger" -- raised intriguing questions: Was it a chunk of rocky debris from a new star system, shredded material from a supernova explosion, evidence of alien technology or something else altogether? In this riveting talk, Meech tells the stor...
|2018-Jun-15 • 6 minutes|
Four billion years of evolution in six minutes | Prosanta Chakrabarty
Did humans evolve from monkeys or from fish? In this enlightening talk, ichthyologist and TED Fellow Prosanta Chakrabarty dispels some hardwired myths about evolution, encouraging us to remember that we're a small part of a complex, four-billion-year process -- and not the end of the line. "We're not the goal of evolution," Chakrabarty says. "Think of us all as young leaves on this ancient and gigantic tree of life -- connected by invisible branches not just to each other, but to our extinct relatives and o...
|2018-Jun-12 • 14 minutes|
The journey through loss and grief | Jason B. Rosenthal
In her brutally honest, ironically funny and widely read meditation on death, "You May Want to Marry My Husband," the late author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal gave her husband Jason very public permission to move on and find happiness. A year after her death, Jason offers candid insights on the often excruciating process of moving through and with loss -- as well as some quiet wisdom for anyone else experiencing life-changing grief.
|2018-Jun-06 • 13 minutes|
Let's turn the high seas into the world's largest nature reserve | Enric Sala
What if we could save the fishing industry and protect the ocean at the same time? Marine ecologist Enric Sala shares his bold plan to safeguard the high seas -- some of the last wild places on earth, which fall outside the jurisdiction of any single country -- by creating a giant marine reserve that covers two-thirds of the world's ocean. By protecting the high seas, Sala believes we will restore the ecological, economic and social benefits of the ocean. "When we can align economic needs with conservation,...
|2018-Jun-01 • 13 minutes|
How we can turn the cold of outer space into a renewable resource | Aaswath Raman
What if we could use the cold darkness of outer space to cool buildings on earth? In this mind-blowing talk, physicist Aaswath Raman details the technology he's developing to harness "night-sky cooling" -- a natural phenomenon where infrared light escapes earth and heads to space, carrying heat along with it -- which could dramatically reduce the energy used by our cooling systems (and the pollution they cause). Learn more about how this approach could lead us towards a future where we intelligently tap int...
|2018-May-31 • 11 minutes|
How vultures can help solve crimes | Lauren Pharr
Can a bird that symbolizes death help the living catch criminals? In this informative and accessible talk, forensic anthropologist Lauren Pharr shows us how vultures impact crime scenes -- and the assistance they can provide to detectives investigating murders. (This talk contains graphic images.)
|2018-May-16 • 14 minutes|
Scientists must be free to learn, to speak and to challenge | Kirsty Duncan
"You do not mess with something so fundamental, so precious, as science," says Kirsty Duncan, Canada's first Minister of Science. In a heartfelt, inspiring talk about pushing boundaries, she makes the case that researchers must be free to present uncomfortable truths and challenge the thinking of the day -- and that we all have a duty to speak up when we see science being stifled or suppressed.
|2018-May-15 • 7 minutes|
The doctors, nurses and aid workers rebuilding Syria | Rola Hallam
Local humanitarians are beacons of light in the darkness of war, says humanitarian aid entrepreneur and TED Fellow Rola Hallam. She's working to help responders on the ground in devastated communities like Syria, where the destruction of health care is being used as a weapon of war. One of her campaigns achieved a global first: a crowdfunded hospital. Since it opened in 2017, the aptly named Hope Hospital has treated thousands of children. "Local humanitarians have the courage to persist, to dust themselves...
|2018-Apr-18 • 12 minutes|
The "dead zone" of the Gulf of Mexico | Nancy Rabalais
Ocean expert Nancy Rabalais tracks the ominously named "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico -- where there isn't enough oxygen in the water to support life. The Gulf has the second largest dead zone in the world; on top of killing fish and crustaceans, it's also killing fisheries in these waters. Rabalais tells us about what's causing it -- and how we can reverse its harmful effects and restore one of America's natural treasures.
|2018-Apr-05 • 7 minutes|
Should we create a solar shade to cool the earth? | Danny Hillis
In this perspective-shifting talk, Danny Hillis prompts us to approach global issues like climate change with creative scientific solutions. Taking a stand for solar geoengineering, he looks at controversial solutions with open-minded curiosity.
|2018-Mar-27 • 5 minutes|
How fungi recognize (and infect) plants | Mennat El Ghalid
Each year, the world loses enough food to feed half a billion people to fungi, the most destructive pathogens of plants. Mycologist and TED Fellow Mennat El Ghalid explains how a breakthrough in our understanding of the molecular signals fungi use to attack plants could disrupt this interaction -- and save our crops.
|2018-Mar-07 • 11 minutes|
The wonderful world of life in a drop of water | Simone Bianco and Tom Zimmerman
"Hold your breath," says inventor Tom Zimmerman. "This is the world without plankton." These tiny organisms produce two-thirds of our planet's oxygen -- without them, life as we know it wouldn't exist. In this talk and tech demo, Zimmerman and cell engineer Simone Bianco hook up a 3D microscope to a drop of water and take you scuba diving with plankton. Learn more about these mesmerizing creatures and get inspired to protect them against ongoing threats from climate change.