playlist

Fascinating history

Be transported through the centuries with these talks for your inner (and outer) history buff.

  1. 17:40
    David Christian The history of our world in 18 minutes

    Backed by stunning illustrations, David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is "Big History": an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline.

  2. 12:05
    Genevieve von Petzinger Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?

    Written language, the hallmark of human civilization, didn't just suddenly appear one day. Thousands of years before the first fully developed writing systems, our ancestors scrawled geometric signs across the walls of the caves they sheltered in. Paleoanthropologist, rock art researcher and TED Senior Fellow Genevieve von Petzinger has studied and codified these ancient markings in caves across Europe. The uniformity of her findings suggest that graphic communication, and the ability to preserve and transmit messages beyond a single moment in time, may be much older than we think.

  3. 13:51
    Latif Nasser The amazing story of the man who gave us modern pain relief

    For the longest time, doctors basically ignored the most basic and frustrating part of being sick — pain. In this lyrical, informative talk, Latif Nasser tells the extraordinary story of wrestler and doctor John J. Bonica, who persuaded the medical profession to take pain seriously — and transformed the lives of millions.

  4. 13:48
    Steve Silberman The forgotten history of autism

    Decades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, 1 in 5,000 kids was estimated to have it. Today, 1 in 68 is on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise? Steve Silberman points to “a perfect storm of autism awareness” — a pair of psychologists with an accepting view, an unexpected pop culture moment and a new clinical test. But to really understand, we have to go back further to an Austrian doctor by the name of Hans Asperger, who published a pioneering paper in 1944. Because it was buried in time, autism has been shrouded in misunderstanding ever since. (This talk was part of a TED2015 session curated by Pop-Up Magazine: popupmagazine.com or @popupmag on Twitter.)

  5. 16:38
    Jennifer 8. Lee The hunt for General Tso

    Reporter Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her hunt for the origins of familiar Chinese-American dishes — exploring the hidden spots where these two cultures have (so tastily) combined to form a new cuisine.

  6. 17:01
    Rajesh Rao A Rosetta Stone for a lost language

    Rajesh Rao is fascinated by "the mother of all crossword puzzles": how to decipher the 4000-year-old Indus script. He's enlisting modern computation to try to read this lost language, the key to understanding this ancient civilization.

  7. 12:14
    John Graham-Cumming The greatest machine that never was

    Computer science began in the '30s ... the 1830s. John Graham-Cumming tells the story of Charles Babbage's mechanical, steam-powered "analytical engine" and how Ada Lovelace, mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron, saw beyond its simple computational abilities to imagine the future of computers.

  8. 15:57
    Frances Larson Why public beheadings get millions of views

    In a disturbing — but fascinating — walk through history, Frances Larson examines humanity's strange relationship with public executions … and specifically beheadings. As she shows us, they have always drawn a crowd, first in the public square and now on YouTube. What makes them horrific and compelling in equal measure?

  9. 20:11
    James Watson How we discovered DNA

    Nobel laureate James Watson opens TED2005 with the frank and funny story of how he and his research partner, Francis Crick, discovered the structure of DNA.

  10. 3:50
    David Hoffman Sputnik mania

    Filmmaker David Hoffman shares footage from his feature-length documentary Sputnik Mania, which shows how the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to both the space race and the arms race — and jump-started science and math education around the world.

  11. 19:37
    Neil MacGregor 2600 years of history in one object

    A clay cylinder covered in Akkadian cuneiform script, damaged and broken, the Cyrus Cylinder is a powerful symbol of religious tolerance and multi-culturalism. In this enthralling talk Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object.

  12. 10:58
    Raghava KK What's your 200-year plan?

    You might have a 5-year plan, but what about a 200-year plan? Artist Raghava KK has set his eyes on an ultra-long-term horizon; at TEDxSummit, he shows how it helps guide today's choices and tomorrow's goals — and encourages you to make your own 200-year plan too.