playlist

The most popular science talks

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

  1. 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.)

  2. 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.

  3. 18:36
    Dan Pink The puzzle of motivation

    Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

  4. 18:50
    Pamela Meyer How to spot a liar

    On any given day we're lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lies can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and "hotspots" used by those trained to recognize deception — and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.

  5. 12:20
    Shawn Achor The happy secret to better work

    We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 40:50
    Elon Musk The future we're building — and boring

    Elon Musk discusses his new project digging tunnels under LA, the latest from Tesla and SpaceX and his motivation for building a future on Mars in conversation with TED's Head Curator, Chris Anderson.

  9. 9:24
    Judson Brewer A simple way to break a bad habit

    Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they're bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.

  10. 23:27
    Helen Fisher Why we love, why we cheat

    Anthropologist Helen Fisher takes on a tricky topic – love – and explains its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its social importance. She closes with a warning about the potential disaster inherent in antidepressant abuse.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 17:01
    Anil Seth Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality

    Right now, billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience — and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it. How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we're all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it "reality." Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.

  14. 14:53
    David Epstein Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?

    When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way. Yet as David Epstein points out in this delightfully counter-intuitive talk, we might want to lay off the self-congratulation. Many factors are at play in shattering athletic records, and the development of our natural talents is just one of them.

  15. 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.