playlist

Math talks to blow your mind

Numbers, patterns and equations are at the core of these talks, which will teach you how to fold better origami and how to quantify history.

  1. 15:14
    Arthur Benjamin A performance of "Mathemagic"

    In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? He’ll tell you.

  2. 17:17
    Adam Spencer Why I fell in love with monster prime numbers

    They're millions of digits long, and it takes an army of mathematicians and machines to hunt them down — what's not to love about monster primes? Adam Spencer, comedian and lifelong math geek, shares his passion for these odd numbers, and for the mysterious magic of math.

  3. 9:41
    Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón Math is forever

    With humor and charm, mathematician Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón answers a question that's wracked the brains of bored students the world over: What is math for? He shows the beauty of math as the backbone of science — and shows that theorems, not diamonds, are forever. In Spanish, with English subtitles.

  4. 18:19
    Marcus du Sautoy Symmetry, reality's riddle

    The world turns on symmetry — from the spin of subatomic particles to the dizzying beauty of an arabesque. But there's more to it than meets the eye. Here, Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy offers a glimpse of the invisible numbers that marry all symmetrical objects.

  5. 5:57
    Clayton Cameron A-rhythm-etic. The math behind the beats

    Ready to dance in your seat? Drummer Clayton Cameron breaks down different genres of music—from R&B to Latin to pop—by their beats. A talk that proves hip hop and jazz aren't cooler than math—they simply rely on it.

  6. 15:53
    Robert Lang The math and magic of origami

    Robert Lang is a pioneer of the newest kind of origami — using math and engineering principles to fold mind-blowingly intricate designs that are beautiful and, sometimes, very useful.

  7. 17:33
    Geoffrey West The surprising math of cities and corporations

    Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.

  8. 16:57
    Ron Eglash The fractals at the heart of African designs

    'I am a mathematician, and I would like to stand on your roof.' That is how Ron Eglash greeted many African families he met while researching the fractal patterns he'd noticed in villages across the continent.

  9. 17:09
    Benoit Mandelbrot Fractals and the art of roughness

    At TED2010, mathematics legend Benoit Mandelbrot develops a theme he first discussed at TED in 1984 — the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated.

  10. 4:26
    Jean-Baptiste Michel The mathematics of history

    What can mathematics say about history? According to TED Fellow Jean-Baptiste Michel, quite a lot. From changes to language to the deadliness of wars, he shows how digitized history is just starting to reveal deep underlying patterns.

  11. 9:29
    Randall Munroe Comics that ask "what if?"

    Web cartoonist Randall Munroe answers simple what-if questions ("what if you hit a baseball moving at the speed of light?") using math, physics, logic and deadpan humor. In this charming talk, a reader's question about Google's data warehouse leads Munroe down a circuitous path to a hilariously over-detailed answer — in which, shhh, you might actually learn something.