playlist

The most popular science talks

Spellbinding, stimulating, seductive … science? Here, the 10 most-watched science talks on TED.com. See why.

  1. 18:19
    Jill Bolte Taylor My 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.

  2. 16:43
    Mary Roach 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.)

  3. 5:27
    David Gallo Underwater astonishments

    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. This short talk celebrates the pioneering work of ocean explorers like Edith Widder and Roger Hanlon.

  4. 21:16
    Dan Gilbert 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.

  5. 10:12
    Stephen Hawking Questioning 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.

  6. 9:37
    Alexander Tsiaras 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.)

  7. 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.

  8. 10:49
    Jack Andraka 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.

  9. 16:30
    Beau Lotto 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.

  10. 20:02
    William Li 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. NOTE: This talk was given in 2010, and this field of science has developed quickly since then. Enjoy it as a piece of science history but not as the last word on this topic. Read "Criticisms & updates" below for more details.