playlist

Talks to inspire smart conversation

From string theory to geopolitics, neuroscience to tissue engineering, watch these talks that make complex topics more understandable.

  1. 13:31
    Suzana Herculano-Houzel What is so special about the human brain?

    The human brain is puzzling — it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective's cap and leads us through this mystery. By making "brain soup," she arrives at a startling conclusion.

  2. 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.

  3. 15:50
    Erin McKean The joy of lexicography

    Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction? In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways today's print dictionary is poised for transformation.

  4. 20:34
    David Eagleman Can we create new senses for humans?

    As humans, we can perceive less than a ten-trillionth of all light waves. "Our experience of reality," says neuroscientist David Eagleman, "is constrained by our biology." He wants to change that. His research into our brain processes has led him to create new interfaces — such as a sensory vest — to take in previously unseen information about the world around us.

  5. 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.

  6. 13:45
    Nicolas Perony Puppies! Now that I’ve got your attention, complexity theory

    Animal behavior isn't complicated, but it is complex. Nicolas Perony studies how individual animals — be they Scottish Terriers, bats or meerkats — follow simple rules that, collectively, create larger patterns of behavior. And how this complexity born of simplicity can help them adapt to new circumstances, as they arise.

  7. 4:13
    Nina Tandon Caring for engineered tissue

    Tissue engineer and TED Fellow Nina Tandon is growing artificial hearts and bones. To do that, she needs new ways of caring for artificially grown cells — techniques she's developed by the simple but powerful method of copying their natural environments.

  8. 14:55
    Ben Ambridge 9 myths about psychology, debunked

    How much of what you think about psychology is actually wrong? In this whistle-stop tour of disproved ideas, Ben Ambridge shares nine popular ideas about psychology that have been proven wrong — and uncovers a few surprising truths about how our brains really work.

  9. 18:49
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The danger of a single story

    Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

  10. 19:05
    Hans and Ola Rosling How not to be ignorant about the world

    How much do you know about the world? Hans Rosling, with his famous charts of global population, health and income data (and an extra-extra-long pointer), demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know. Play along with his audience quiz — then, from Hans’ son Ola, learn 4 ways to quickly get less ignorant.

  11. 18:40
    James Flynn Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents'

    It's called the "Flynn effect" — the fact that each generation scores higher on an IQ test than the generation before it. Are we actually getting smarter, or just thinking differently? In this fast-paced spin through the cognitive history of the 20th century, moral philosopher James Flynn suggests that changes in the way we think have had surprising (and not always positive) consequences.

  12. 16:23
    Dambisa Moyo Is China the new idol for emerging economies?

    The developed world holds up the ideals of capitalism, democracy and political rights for all. Those in emerging markets often don't have that luxury. In this powerful talk, economist Dambisa Moyo makes the case that the west can't afford to rest on its laurels and imagine others will blindly follow. Instead, a different model, embodied by China, is increasingly appealing. A call for open-minded political and economic cooperation in the name of transforming the world.