Robert Wright uses evolutionary biology and game theory to explain why we appreciate the Golden Rule ("Do unto others..."), why we sometimes ignore it and why there’s hope that, in the near future, we might all have the compassion to follow it.
TED Studies, created in collaboration with Wiley, are curated video collections — supplemented by rich educational materials — for students, educators and self-guided learners. in What Makes Us Human?, TED speakers tackle humanity’s oldest and deepest questions by playing with primates, excavating ancient remains, and DNA-mapping family trees. E...
Medical ethicist Harvey Fineberg shows us three paths forward for the ever-evolving human species: to stop evolving completely, to evolve naturally -- or to control the next steps of human evolution, using genetic modification, to make ourselves smarter, faster, better. Neo-evolution is within our grasp. What will we do with it?
Think we're winning the battle against HIV? Maybe not, as the next wave of drug-resistant viruses arrives. In an eye-opening talk, TED Fellow Edsel Salvana describes the aggressive HIV subtype AE that's currently plaguing his home of the Philippines -- and warns us about what might become a global epidemic.
Birds, a perennial human fascination, entertained medieval homes long before science took them for serious study. "Wisdom of Birds" author Tim Birkhead tours some intriguing birdwatcher lore (dug up in old field journals) -- and talks about the role it plays in ornithology today.
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt asks a simple, but difficult question: why do we search for self-transcendence? Why do we attempt to lose ourselves? In a tour through the science of evolution by group selection, he proposes a provocative answer.
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. "Th...
Elaine Morgan was a tenacious proponent of a theory that is not widely accepted. The aquatic ape hypothesis lays out the idea that humans evolved from primate ancestors who dwelt in watery habitats. Hear her spirited defense of the idea -- and her theory on why science doesn't take it seriously. NOTE: Statements in this talk have been challenged...
At the Royal Institution in 1991, Richard Dawkins asks us to look at our universe with new eyes. Packed with big questions and illuminating visuals, this memorable journey through the history of life magnifies the splendor of evolution and our place in it.
Sharing the results of a massive, worldwide study, geneticist Svante Pääbo shows the DNA proof that early humans mated with Neanderthals after we moved out of Africa. (Yes, many of us have Neanderthal DNA.) He also shows how a tiny bone from a baby finger was enough to identify a whole new humanoid species.
The human brain is puzzling -- it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective's cap and leads us through this mystery. By making "brain soup," she arrives at a startling conclusion.
Congratulations! By being here, alive, you are one of history's winners -- the culmination of a success story four billion years in the making. The other 99 percent of species who have ever lived on earth are dead -- killed by fire, flood, asteroids, ice, heat and the cold math of natural selection. How did we get so lucky, and will we continue ...
Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at UCLA Medical School, provides a unique perspective on how human well-being, including mental health, can be improved by insights into animal health.
It’s the dream of kids all around the world to see giant beasts walk the Earth again. Could -- and should -- that dream be realized? Hendrik Poinar talks about the next big thing: the quest to engineer a creature that looks very much like our furry friend, the woolly mammoth. The first step, to sequence the woolly genome, is nearly complete. And...
In this prophetic 2003 talk -- just days before Dolly the sheep was stuffed -- biotech ethicist Gregory Stock looked forward to new, more meaningful (and controversial) technologies, like customizable babies, whose adoption might drive human evolution.
Biologist Sara Lewis has spent the past 20 years getting to the bottom of the magic and wonder of fireflies. In this charming talk, she tells us how and why the beetles produce their silent sparks, what happens when two fireflies have sex, and why one group of females is known as the firefly vampire. (It's not pretty.) Find out more astonishing ...
What do you call a veterinarian who can only take care of one species? A physician. In a fascinating talk, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz shares how a species-spanning approach to health can improve medical care of the human animal -- particularly when it comes to mental health.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher takes on a tricky topic – love – and explains its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its social importance. She closes with a warning about the potential disaster inherent in antidepressant abuse.
Throughout human evolution, multiple versions of humans co-existed. Could we be mid-upgrade now? Juan Enriquez sweeps across time and space to bring us to the present moment -- and shows how technology is revealing evidence that suggests rapid evolution may be under way.
Biologist Robert Full shares slo-mo video of some captivating critters. Take a closer look at the spiny legs that allow cockroaches to scuttle across mesh and the nanobristle-packed feet that let geckos to run straight up walls.