Surprisingly viral TED Talks

How did some of our quirkiest talks pull in millions of views? Watch these fun, fascinating hits and see for yourself.

  1. 12:32
    Hamish Jolly A shark-deterrent wetsuit (and it's not what you think)

    Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.

  2. 19:30
    Jane McGonigal 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.

  3. 6:24
    Arthur Benjamin The magic of Fibonacci numbers

    Math is logical, functional and just ... awesome. Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series. (And reminds you that mathematics can be inspiring, too!)

  4. 8:38
    Edith Widder How we found the giant squid

    Humankind has been looking for the giant squid (Architeuthis) since we first started taking pictures underwater. But the elusive deep-sea predator could never be caught on film. Oceanographer and inventor Edith Widder shares the key insight — and the teamwork — that helped to capture the squid on film for the first time.

  5. 21:46
    Russell Foster 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 bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health.

  6. 9:12
    Rives The 4 a.m. mystery

    Poet Rives does 8 minutes of lyrical origami, folding history into a series of coincidences surrounding that most surreal of hours, 4 o'clock in the morning.

  7. 17:44
    Paul Stamets 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 viruses.

  8. 3:49
    Improv Everywhere A TED speaker's worst nightmare

    Colin Robertson had 3 minutes on the TED stage to tell the world about his solar-powered crowdsourced health care solution. And then...

  9. 7:04
    Alexa Meade Your body is my canvas

    Alexa Meade takes an innovative approach to art. Not for her a life of sketching and stretching canvases. Instead, she selects a topic and then paints it—literally. She covers everything in a scene—people, chairs, food, you name it—in a mask of paint that mimics what's below it. In this eye-opening talk Meade shows off photographs of some of the more outlandish results, and shares a new project involving people, paint and milk.

  10. 10:28
    BLACK My journey to yo-yo mastery

    Remember the days you struggled just to make a yo-yo spin, and if you were really fancy, to “walk the dog”? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Japanese yo-yo world champion BLACK tells the inspiring story of finding his life's passion, and gives an awesome performance that will make you want to pull your yo-yo back out of the closet.