Venice is sinking. To save it, Rachel Armstrong says we need to outgrow architecture made of inert materials and, well, make architecture that grows itself. She proposes a not-quite-alive material that does its own repairs and sequesters carbon, too.
After a traumatic brain injury, it sometimes happens that the brain can repair itself, building new brain cells to replace damaged ones. But the repair doesn't happen quickly enough to allow recovery from degenerative conditions like motor neuron disease (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS). Siddharthan Chandran walks through some new tec...
Imagine the brain could reboot, updating its damaged cells with new, improved units. That may sound like science fiction — but it's a potential reality scientists are investigating right now. Ralitsa Petrova details the science behind neurogenesis and explains how we might harness it to reverse diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. [Directe...
Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, with a surface area of about 20 square feet in adults. When we are cut or wounded, our skin begins to repair itself through a complex, well-coordinated process. Sarthak Sinha takes us past the epidermis and into the dermis to investigate this regenerative response.
Can architects re-engineer their design process? Joshua Prince-Ramus shows how the results can be spectacular. He walks us through his fantastic re-creation of the Wyly Theater as a giant "theatrical machine" that reconfigures itself at the touch of a button.
Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain's inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair: Doublecortin-positive cells. Similar to stem cells, they are extremely adaptable and, when extracted from a...
Humanity is on its way to creating a "black ball": a technological breakthrough that could destroy us all, says philosopher Nick Bostrom. In this incisive, surprisingly light-hearted conversation with Head of TED Chris Anderson, Bostrom outlines the vulnerabilities we could face if (or when) our inventions spiral beyond our control -- and explor...
Susan Blackmore studies memes: ideas that replicate themselves from brain to brain like a virus. She makes a bold new argument: Humanity has spawned a new kind of meme, the teme, which spreads itself via technology -- and invents ways to keep itself alive
"How will this generation define itself?" asks spoken word artist Ise Lyfe. Accompanied by cellist Michael Feckses, Lyfe challenges those in Silicon Valley to reflect and embrace humanity as technology progresses.
Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich looks at one of the secrets of the brain's incredible power: its ability to actively re-wire itself. He's researching ways to harness the brain's plasticity to enhance our skills and recover lost function.
Aboard Mission Blue, scientist Greg Stone tells the story of how he helped the Republic of Kiribati to create an enormous protected area in the middle of the Pacific -- protecting fish, sealife and perhaps the island nation itself.
In tough economic times, our exploratory science programs -- from space probes to the LHC -- are first to suffer budget cuts. Brian Cox explains how curiosity-driven science pays for itself, powering innovation and a profound appreciation of our existence.
Using the fundamentals of set theory, explore the mind-bending concept of the "infinity of infinities" -- and how it led mathematicians to conclude that math itself contains unanswerable questions. [Lesson by Dennis Wildfogel, directed by Aaron Augenblick, narrated by Dennis Wildfogel].
Plenty of good things are done in the name of religion, and plenty of bad things too. But what is religion, exactly — is it good or bad, in and of itself? Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah offers a generous, surprising view.
Paul Rothemund writes code that causes DNA to arrange itself into a star, a smiley face and more. Sure, it's a stunt, but it's also a demonstration of self-assembly at the smallest of scales -- with vast implications for the future of making things.
The brain uses a quarter of the body's entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body's mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.
Videos on the web should work like the web itself: dynamic, full of links, maps and information that can be edited and updated live, says Ryan Merkley. On the TED stage he demos Mozilla's Popcorn Maker, a web-based tool for easy video remixing.
Thelma Golden, curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, talks through three recent shows that explore how art examines and redefines culture. The "post-black" artists she works with are using their art to provoke a new dialogue about race and culture -- and about the meaning of art itself.
From deep in the TED archive, Danny Hillis outlines an intriguing theory of how and why technological change seems to be accelerating, by linking it to the very evolution of life itself. The presentation techniques he uses may look dated, but the ideas are as relevant as ever.
Creativity has never been more essential to competitiveness in the business world, but the critical approach to practical originality in organizations is often lacking. Alan Iny offers a key to think outside the box: apply doubt to the very models and philosophies that make up the box itself.
Would mathematics exist if people didn't? Did we create mathematical concepts to help us understand the world around us, or is math the native language of the universe itself? Jeff Dekofsky traces some famous arguments in this ancient and hotly debated question. [Directed by The Tremendousness Collective, narrated by Addison Anderson].
Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value -- and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.
It seems the more we know about how democracy works -- through government transparency, better media coverage, even new insights about our brains -- the less we trust democracy itself. Yet it's still, arguably, the best system of government available. As Ivan Krastev says, "What went right is also what went wrong." Can democracy survive?
Ramesh Raskar presents femto-photography, a new type of imaging so fast it visualizes the world one trillion frames per second, so detailed it shows light itself in motion. This technology may someday be used to build cameras that can look “around” corners or see inside the body without X-rays.
Meet the "Row-bot," a robot that cleans up pollution and generates the electricity needed to power itself by swallowing dirty water. Roboticist Jonathan Rossiter explains how this special swimming machine, which uses a microbial fuel cell to neutralize algal blooms and oil slicks, could be a precursor to biodegradable, autonomous pollution-fight...
What does the future look like from the eyes of the most prolific female inventor in IBM's history? Think: 3D printers building last-minute umbrellas at the office and toilet paper that automatically reorders itself when the last roll sits empty. Lisa Seacrat DeLuca envisions a radically reinvented world that surprisingly doesn't appear too diff...