playlist

How scientists learn

From a scientist’s perspective, life is one big experiment. These talks demonstrate that science doesn’t just happen — it takes determination, unwavering curiosity and a big leap into the unknown.

  1. 18:33
    Stuart Firestein The pursuit of ignorance

    What does real scientific work look like? As neuroscientist Stuart Firestein jokes: It looks a lot less like the scientific method and a lot more like "farting around ... in the dark." In this witty talk, Firestein gets to the heart of science as it is really practiced and suggests that we should value what we don't know — or "high-quality ignorance" — just as much as what we know.

  2. 19:14
    Naomi Oreskes Why we should trust scientists

    Many of the world's biggest problems require asking questions of scientists — but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry — and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science.

  3. 15:52
    Uri Alon Why science demands a leap into the unknown

    While studying for his PhD in physics, Uri Alon thought he was a failure because all his research paths led to dead ends. But, with the help of improv theater, he came to realize that there could be joy in getting lost. A call for scientists to stop thinking of research as a direct line from question to answer, but as something more creative. It's a message that will resonate, no matter what your field.

  4. 11:22
    Vanessa Ruiz The spellbinding art of human anatomy

    Vanessa Ruiz takes us on an illustrated journey of human anatomical art over the centuries, sharing captivating images that bring this visual science — and the contemporary artists inspired by it — to life. "Anatomical art has the power to reach far beyond the pages of a medical textbook," she says, "connecting our innermost selves with our bodies through art."

  5. 7:05
    Andrew Pelling This scientist makes ears out of apples

    TED Fellow Andrew Pelling is a biohacker, and nature is his hardware. His favorite materials are the simplest ones (and oftentimes he finds them in the garbage). Building on the cellulose structure that gives an apple its shape, he "grows" lifelike human ears, pioneering a process that might someday be used to repair body parts safely and cheaply. And he has some even wilder ideas to share ... "What I'm really curious about is if one day it will be possible to repair, rebuild and augment our own bodies with stuff we make in the kitchen," he says.

  6. 12:34
    Laura Snyder The Philosophical Breakfast Club

    In 1812, four men at Cambridge University met for breakfast. What began as an impassioned meal grew into a new scientific revolution, in which these men — who called themselves “natural philosophers” until they later coined “scientist” — introduced four major principles into scientific inquiry. Historian and philosopher Laura Snyder tells their intriguing story.

  7. 14:56
    E.O. Wilson Advice to a young scientist

    "The world needs you, badly," says legendary biologist E.O. Wilson in his letter to a young scientist. He gives advice collected from a lifetime of experience — and reminds us that wonder and creativity are the center of the scientific life.

  8. 29:32
    Kary Mullis Play! Experiment! Discover!

    Biochemist Kary Mullis talks about the basis of modern science: the experiment. Sharing tales from the 17th century and from his own backyard-rocketry days, Mullis celebrates the curiosity, inspiration and rigor of good science in all its forms.