playlist

TED MacArthur Grant winners

A collection of talks from creative individuals striving to bring light to some of the world's most pressing issues.

  1. 14:45
    Rhiannon Giddens Songs that bring history to life

    Rhiannon Giddens pours the emotional weight of American history into her music. Listen as she performs traditional folk ballads — including "Waterboy," "Up Above My Head," and "Lonesome Road" by Sister Rosetta Tharp — and one glorious original song, "Come Love Come," inspired by Civil War-era slave narratives.

  2. 10:07
    Kate Orff Reviving New York's rivers — with oysters!

    Landscape architect Kate Orff sees the oyster as an agent of urban change. Bundled into beds and sunk into city rivers, oysters slurp up pollution and make legendarily dirty waters clean — thus driving even more innovation in "oyster-tecture." Orff shares her vision for an urban landscape that links nature and humanity for mutual benefit.

  3. 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.

  4. 23:41
    Bryan Stevenson We need to talk about an injustice

    In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.

  5. 9:21
    Manu Prakash A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami

    Perhaps you’ve punched out a paper doll or folded an origami swan? TED Fellow Manu Prakash and his team have created a microscope made of paper that's just as easy to fold and use. A sparkling demo that shows how this invention could revolutionize healthcare in developing countries … and turn almost anything into a fun, hands-on science experiment.

  6. 13:49
    Colin Camerer When you're making a deal, what's going on in your brain?

    When two people are trying to make a deal — whether they’re competing or cooperating — what’s really going on inside their brains? Behavioral economist Colin Camerer shows research that reveals how badly we predict what others are thinking. Bonus: He presents an unexpected study that shows chimpanzees might just be better at it.

  7. 10:25
    Angela Belcher Using nature to grow batteries

    Inspired by an abalone shell, Angela Belcher programs viruses to make elegant nanoscale structures that humans can use. Selecting for high-performing genes through directed evolution, she's produced viruses that can construct powerful new batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells. In her talk, she shows us how it's done.

  8. 16:05
    Joe DeRisi Solving medical mysteries

    Biochemist Joe DeRisi talks about amazing new ways to diagnose viruses (and treat the illnesses they cause) using DNA. His work may help us understand malaria, SARS, avian flu — and the 60 percent of everyday viral infections that go undiagnosed.

  9. 5:03
    LaToya Ruby Frazier A visual history of inequality in industrial America

    For the last 12 years, LaToya Ruby Frazier has photographed friends, neighbors and family in Braddock, Pennsylvania. But though the steel town has lately been hailed as a posterchild of "rustbelt revitalization," Frazier's pictures tell a different story, of the real impact of inequality and environmental toxicity. In this short, powerful talk, the TED Fellow shares a deeply personal glimpse of an often-unseen world.

  10. 14:52
    Elyn Saks A tale of mental illness — from the inside

    "Is it okay if I totally trash your office?" It's a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn't a joke. A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

  11. 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.

  12. 17:19
    James Randi Homeopathy, quackery and fraud

    Legendary skeptic James Randi takes a fatal dose of homeopathic sleeping pills onstage, kicking off a searing 18-minute indictment of irrational beliefs. He throws out a challenge to the world's psychics: Prove what you do is real, and I'll give you a million dollars. (No takers yet.)

  13. 18:13
    Mark Roth Suspended animation is within our grasp

    Mark Roth studies suspended animation: the art of shutting down life processes and then starting them up again. It's wild stuff, but it's not science fiction. Induced by careful use of an otherwise toxic gas, suspended animation can potentially help trauma and heart attack victims survive long enough to be treated.

  14. 17:31
    Patrick Awuah How to educate leaders? Liberal arts

    A liberal arts education is critical to forming true leaders, says university head Patrick Awuah — because it builds decision-making skills, an ethical framework and a broad vision. Awuah himself left a career at Microsoft in the US to found a liberal arts school in Africa: Ashesi University, in his home nation of Ghana. A passionate talk about dreaming, doing and leading.

  15. 8:38
    Edith Widder How we found the giant squid

    Humankind has been looking for the giant squid (Architeuthis) since we first started taking pictures underwater. But the elusive deep-sea predator could never be caught on film. Oceanographer and inventor Edith Widder shares the key insight — and the teamwork — that helped to capture the squid on film for the first time.

  16. 23:05
    Anna Deavere Smith Four American characters

    Writer and actor Anna Deavere Smith gives life to author Studs Terkel, convict Paulette Jenkins, a Korean shopkeeper and a bull rider, excerpts from her solo show "On the Road: A Search for American Character."