Weird facts about the human body

The workings of the human body? An absolute marvel. And yet, kind of bizarre. The facts in these talks point to both conclusions.

  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. 17:24
    Rob Knight How our microbes make us who we are

    Rob Knight is a pioneer in studying human microbes, the community of tiny single-cell organisms living inside our bodies that have a huge — and largely unexplored — role in our health. “The three pounds of microbes that you carry around with you might be more important than every single gene you carry around in your genome,” he says. Find out why.

  3. 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.)

  4. 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.)

  5. 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.

  6. 14:42
    Paula Johnson His and hers … healthcare

    Every cell in the human body has a sex, which means that men and women are different right down to the cellular level. Yet too often, research and medicine ignore this insight — and the often startlingly different ways in which the two sexes respond to disease or treatment. As pioneering doctor Paula Johnson describes in this thought-provoking talk, lumping everyone in together means we essentially leave women's health to chance. It's time to rethink.

  7. 5:52
    Greg Gage How to control someone else's arm with your brain

    Greg Gage is on a mission to make brain science accessible to all. In this fun, kind of creepy demo, the neuroscientist and TED Senior Fellow uses a simple, inexpensive DIY kit to take away the free will of an audience member. It's not a parlor trick; it actually works. You have to see it to believe it.

  8. 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.

  9. 14:52
    Molly Stevens A new way to grow bone

    What does it take to regrow bone in mass quantities? Typical bone regeneration — wherein bone is taken from a patient’s hip and grafted onto damaged bone elsewhere in the body — is limited and can cause great pain just a few years after operation. In an informative talk, Molly Stevens introduces a new stem cell application that harnesses bone’s innate ability to regenerate and produces vast quantities of bone tissue painlessly.

  10. 23:34
    VS Ramachandran 3 clues to understanding your brain

    Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.

  11. 17:52
    Anthony Atala Growing new organs

    Anthony Atala's state-of-the-art lab grows human organs — from muscles to blood vessels to bladders, and more. At TEDMED, he shows footage of his bio-engineers working with some of its sci-fi gizmos, including an oven-like bioreactor (preheat to 98.6 F) and a machine that "prints" human tissue.

  12. 12:59
    Richard Weller Could the sun be good for your heart?

    Our bodies get Vitamin D from the sun, but as dermatologist Richard Weller suggests, sunlight may confer another surprising benefit too. New research by his team shows that nitric oxide, a chemical transmitter stored in huge reserves in the skin, can be released by UV light, to great benefit for blood pressure and the cardiovascular system. What does it mean? Well, it might begin to explain why Scots get sick more than Australians ...

  13. 11:20
    Diane Kelly What we didn't know about penis anatomy

    We're not done with anatomy. We know a tremendous amount about genomics, proteomics and cell biology, but as Diane Kelly makes clear at TEDMED, there are basic facts about the human body we're still learning. Case in point: How does the mammalian erection work?