playlist

What makes Earth so special?

There's something special about our busy, blue marble of a planet. These talks explore why we should make strides to preserve our shared, galactic home.

  1. 13:42
    Dave Brain What a planet needs to sustain life

    "Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, and Earth is just right," says planetary scientist Dave Brain. But why? In this pleasantly humorous talk, Brain explores the fascinating science behind what it takes for a planet to host life — and why humanity may just be in the right place at the right time when it comes to the timeline of life-sustaining planets.

  2. 9:47
    Louie Schwartzberg Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

    Nature’s beauty can be fleeting — but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.

  3. 18:19
    Suzanne Simard How trees talk to each other

    "A forest is much more than what you see," says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.

  4. 15:49
    Kenneth Lacovara Hunting for dinosaurs showed me our place in the universe

    What happens when you discover a dinosaur? Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara details his unearthing of Dreadnoughtus — a 77-million-year-old sauropod that was as tall as a two-story house and as heavy as a jumbo jet — and considers how amazingly improbable it is that a tiny mammal living in the cracks of the dinosaur world could evolve into a sentient being capable of understanding these magnificent creatures. Join him in a celebration of the Earth's geological history and contemplate our place in deep time.

  5. 11:08
    Liz Hajek What rivers can tell us about the earth's history

    Rivers are one of nature's most powerful forces — they bulldoze mountains and carve up the earth, and their courses are constantly moving. Understanding how they form and how they'll change is important for those that call their banks and deltas home. In this visual-packed talk, geoscientist Liz Hajek shows us how rocks deposited by ancient rivers can be used as a time machine to study the history of the earth, so we can figure out how to more sustainably live on it today.

  6. 11:55
    Anjali Tripathi Why Earth may someday look like Mars

    Every minute, 400 pounds of hydrogen and almost 7 pounds of helium escape from Earth's atmosphere into outer space. Astrophysicist Anjali Tripathi studies the phenomenon of atmospheric escape, and in this fascinating and accessible talk, she considers how this process might one day (a few billion years from now) turn our blue planet red.

  7. 14:42
    Barbara J. King Grief and love in the animal kingdom

    From mourning orcas to distressed elephants, biological anthropologist Barbara J. King has witnessed grief and love across the animal kingdom. In this eye-opening talk, she explains the evidence behind her belief that many animals experience complex emotions, and suggests ways all of us can treat them more ethically — including every time we eat. "Animals don't grieve exactly like we do, but this doesn't mean that their grief isn't real," she says. "It is real, and it's searing, and we can see it if we choose."

  8. 5:41
    Prosanta Chakrabarty Four billion years of evolution in six minutes

    Did humans evolve from monkeys or from fish? In this enlightening talk, ichthyologist and TED Fellow Prosanta Chakrabarty dispels some hardwired myths about evolution, encouraging us to remember that we're a small part of a complex, four-billion-year process — and not the end of the line. "We're not the goal of evolution," Chakrabarty says. "Think of us all as young leaves on this ancient and gigantic tree of life — connected by invisible branches not just to each other, but to our extinct relatives and our evolutionary ancestors."

  9. 10:01
    Heidi M. Sosik The discoveries awaiting us in the ocean's twilight zone

    What will we find in the twilight zone: the vast, mysterious, virtually unexplored realm hundreds of meters below the ocean's surface? Heidi M. Sosik of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution wants to find out. In this wonder-filled talk, she shares her plan to investigate these uncharted waters, which may hold a million new species and 90 percent of the world's fish biomass, using submersible technology. What we discover there won't just astound us, Sosik says — it will help us be better stewards of the world's oceans. (This ambitious idea is part of the Audacious Project, TED's initiative to inspire and fund global change.)

  10. 5:50
    Lucianne Walkowicz Let's not use Mars as a backup planet

    Stellar astronomer and TED Senior Fellow Lucianne Walkowicz works on NASA's Kepler mission, searching for places in the universe that could support life. So it's worth a listen when she asks us to think carefully about Mars. In this short talk, she suggests that we stop dreaming of Mars as a place that we'll eventually move to when we've messed up Earth, and to start thinking of planetary exploration and preservation of the Earth as two sides of the same goal. As she says, "The more you look for planets like Earth, the more you appreciate our own planet."