Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of "social technology" that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.
How do babies learn so much from so little so quickly? In a fun, experiment-filled talk, cognitive scientist Laura Schulz shows how our young ones make decisions with a surprisingly strong sense of logic, well before they can talk.
We're all embedded in vast social networks of friends, family, co-workers and more. Nicholas Christakis tracks how a wide variety of traits -- from happiness to obesity -- can spread from person to person, showing how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know.
Oceanographer Paul Snelgrove shares the results of a ten-year project with one goal: to take a census of all the life in the oceans. He shares amazing photos of some of the surprising finds of the Census of Marine Life.
So the Mars Rovers didn't scoop up any alien lifeforms. Scientist Penelope Boston thinks there's a good chance -- a 25 to 50 percent chance, in fact -- that life might exist on Mars, deep inside the planet's caves. She details how we should look and why.
On any given day we're lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lies can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and "hotspots" used by those trained to recognize deception -- and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.
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.
Dan Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness," challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.
The face of nuclear terror has changed since the Cold War, but disaster-medicine expert Irwin Redlener reminds us the threat is still real. He looks at some of history's farcical countermeasures and offers practical advice on how to survive an attack.
At the EG conference in December 2007, artist Jonathan Harris discusses his latest projects, which involve collecting stories: his own, strangers', and stories collected from the Internet, including his amazing "We Feel Fine."
A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.
Architect Norman Foster discusses his own work to show how computers can help architects design buildings that are green, beautiful and "basically pollution-free." From the 2007 DLD Conference, Munich; www.dld-conference.com
Jane Goodall hasn't found the missing link, but she's come closer than nearly anyone else. The primatologist says the only real difference between humans and chimps is our sophisticated language. She urges us to start using it to change the world.
Before he was a legend, architect Frank Gehry takes a whistlestop tour of his early work, from his house in Venice Beach to the American Center in Paris, which was under construction (and much on his mind) when he gave this talk.