At TED2010, mathematics legend Benoit Mandelbrot develops a theme he first discussed at TED in 1984 -- the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated.
Clifford Stoll captivates his audience with a wildly energetic sprinkling of anecdotes, observations, asides -- and even a science experiment. After all, by his own definition, he's a scientist: "Once I do something, I want to do something else."
We can evolve bacteria, plants and animals -- futurist Juan Enriquez asks: Is it ethical to evolve the human body? In a visionary talk that ranges from medieval prosthetics to present day neuroengineering and genetics, Enriquez sorts out the ethics associated with evolving humans and imagines the ways we'll have to transform our own bodies if we...
"Where do great ideas come from?" Starting with this question in mind, Vittorio Loreto takes us on a journey to explore a possible mathematical scheme that explains the birth of the new. Learn more about the "adjacent possible" -- the crossroads of what's actual and what's possible -- and how studying the math that drives it could explain how we...
We've known about global warming for 50 years and done little about it, says Google.org director Larry Brilliant. In spite of this and other depressing trends, he's optimistic and tells us why. From Skoll World Forum, Oxford, UK, www.skollfoundation.org
Artificial intelligence is all around us ... and the future will only bring more of it. How can we ensure the AI systems we build are responsible, safe and sustainable? Ethical AI expert Genevieve Bell shares six framing questions to broaden our understanding of future technology -- and create the next generation of critical thinkers and doers.
Cosmologist Sean Carroll attacks -- in an entertaining and thought-provoking tour through the nature of time and the universe -- a deceptively simple question: Why does time exist at all? The potential answers point to a surprising view of the nature of the universe, and our place in it.
David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut -- and it may just change the way we see the world.
At his day job, Steve Truglia flips cars, walks through fire and falls out of buildings -- pushing technology to make stunts bigger, safer, more awesome. He talks us through his next stunt: the highest jump ever attempted, from the very edge of space.
Rich scientific evidence comes from the history of life on Earth -- we just have to ask the right questions to find it. Whether it's figuring out the cause of the dodo bird's extinction or the bite force of a Tyrannosaurus rex, paleontologist Michael Benton shares some offbeat quandaries from the past, present and future.
Days before this talk, journalist Naomi Klein was on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, looking at the catastrophic results of BP's risky pursuit of oil. Our societies have become addicted to extreme risk in finding new energy, new financial instruments and more ... and too often, we're left to clean up a mess afterward. Klein's question: What's the ...
A head start doesn't always ... well, help you get ahead. With examples from sports, technology and economics, journalist David Epstein shares how specializing in a particular skill too early in life may undermine your long-term development -- and explains the benefits of a "sampling period" where you try new things and focus on building a range...
How do we search for alien life if it's nothing like the life that we know? Christoph Adami shows how he uses his research into artificial life -- self-replicating computer programs -- to find a signature, a "biomarker," that is free of our preconceptions of what life is.
Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, talks about his quest to make all knowledge computational -- able to be searched, processed and manipulated. His new search engine, Wolfram Alpha, has no lesser goal than to model and explain the physics underlying the universe.
How much land mass would renewables need to power a nation like the UK? An entire country's worth. In this pragmatic talk, David MacKay tours the basic mathematics that show worrying limitations on our sustainable energy options ... and explains why we should pursue them anyway.
Outside.in's Steven Johnson says the Web is like a city: built by many people, completely controlled by no one, intricately interconnected and yet functioning as many independent parts. While disaster strikes in one place, elsewhere, life goes on.
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.
When you're getting medical treatment, or taking part in medical testing, privacy is important; strict laws limit what researchers can see and know about you. But what if your medical data could be used -- anonymously -- by anyone seeking to test a hypothesis? John Wilbanks wonders if the desire to protect our privacy is slowing research, and if...
Here's a crazy idea: Persuade the world to try living in peace for just one day, every September 21. In this energetic, honest talk, Jeremy Gilley tells the story of how this crazy idea became real -- real enough to help millions of kids in war-torn regions.
Jim Simons was a mathematician and cryptographer who realized: the complex math he used to break codes could help explain patterns in the world of finance. Billions later, he's working to support the next generation of math teachers and scholars. TED's Chris Anderson sits down with Simons to talk about his extraordinary life in numbers.
Nuclear power: the energy crisis has even die-hard environmentalists reconsidering it. In this first-ever TED debate, Stewart Brand and Mark Z. Jacobson square off over the pros and cons. A discussion that'll make you think -- and might even change your mind.
After a catastrophic car accident that left him in a coma, Simon Lewis found ways to recover -- physically and mentally -- beyond all expectations. At the INK Conference he tells how this remarkable story led him to concern over all threats to consciousness, and how to overcome them.
Ed Boyden shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins into brain cells, he can selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants. With this unprecedented level of control, he's managed to cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness. On the horizon: neural prosthetics. Session host Juan ...
Accepting his 2005 TED Prize, inventor Robert Fischell makes three wishes: redesigning a portable device that treats migraines, finding new cures for clinical depression and reforming the medical malpractice system.