The world of tiny things

Zoom in — way, way in — to look at the world from speck's-eye view. Learn about very tiny insects, the world at the nanoscale, and sculptures so small it's best to hold your breath while viewing.

  1. 12:06
    Gary Greenberg The beautiful nano details of our world

    When photographed under a 3D microscope, grains of sand appear like colorful pieces of candy and the stamens in a flower become like fantastical spires at an amusement park. Gary Greenberg reveals the thrilling details of the micro world.

  2. 14:09
    Deborah Gordon What ants teach us about the brain, cancer and the Internet

    Ecologist Deborah Gordon studies ants wherever she can find them — in the desert, in the tropics, in her kitchen ... In this fascinating talk, she explains her obsession with insects most of us would happily swat away without a second thought. She argues that ant life provides a useful model for learning about many other topics, including disease, technology and the human brain.

  3. 19:43
    Willard Wigan Hold your breath for micro-sculpture

    Willard Wigan tells the story of how a difficult and lonely childhood drove him to discover his unique ability — to create art so tiny that it can't be seen with the naked eye. His slideshow of figures, as seen through a microscope, can only be described as mind-boggling.

  4. 18:14
    Bonnie Bassler 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.

  5. 22:35
    E.O. Wilson My wish: Build the Encyclopedia of Life

    As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of all creatures that we learn more about our biosphere — and build a networked encyclopedia of all the world's knowledge about life.

  6. 5:31
    Mark Shaw One very dry demo

    Mark Shaw demos Ultra-Ever Dry, a liquid-repellent coating that acts as an astonishingly powerful shield against water and water-based materials. At the nano level, the spray covers a surface with an umbrella of air so that water bounces right off. Watch for an exciting two-minute kicker.

  7. 10:42
    Paula Hammond 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 Hammond's quest to fight a disease that affects us all.

  8. 9:08
    Drew Berry Animations of unseeable biology

    We have no ways to directly observe molecules and what they do — but Drew Berry wants to change that. He demos his scientifically accurate (and entertaining!) animations that help researchers see unseeable processes within our own cells.

  9. 19:06
    Brian Greene 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.

  10. 9:45
    David Bolinsky 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.

  11. 13:23
    Geraldine Hamilton Body parts on a chip

    It's relatively easy to imagine a new medicine — the hard part is testing it, and that can delay promising new cures for years. In this well-explained talk, Geraldine Hamilton shows how her lab creates organs and body parts on a chip, simple structures with all the pieces essential to testing new medications — perhaps even custom cures made for one specific person.

  12. 16:24
    Paul Rothemund DNA folding, in detail

    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.