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Small Thing Big Idea
This original TED series celebrates the lasting genius of everyday objects so perfectly designed that they changed the world around them.
Why pasta comes in all shapes and sizes
3 minutes 23 seconds
Think twice when picking what pasta you want for dinner. The shape of your noodle makes a difference, explains Paola Antonelli, senior curator at The Museum of Modern Art.
The evolution of the coffee cup lid
3 minutes 1 second
Author A.J. Jacobs shows how the coffee cup lid was perfectly designed to give you a full sensory experience while drinking. This video was inspired by the original work of Louise Harpman and Scott Specht and their book "Coffee Lids: Peel, Pinch, Pucker, Puncture."
How the compass unlocked the world
3 minutes 6 seconds
"Everything that we think of as world history would not have taken place without the compass." TED science curator David Biello explains how the device changed our relationship to the world.
The function and fashion of eyeglasses
3 minutes 14 seconds
Glasses were originally created to overcome physical obstacles, but design evangelist Debbie Millman shares how they turned into a fashion statement.
Jennifer 8. Lee
Why 1.5 billion people eat with chopsticks
3 minutes 13 seconds
Author Jennifer 8. Lee explains how the chopstick spread from the East to the West -- and was designed to give you the perfect bite.
Why books are here to stay
3 minutes 17 seconds
Despite the rise of e-books, physical books aren't going anywhere. Graphic designer Chip Kidd shares why their design is so lasting.
The power of the Afro pick
3 minutes 33 seconds
The Afro pick is much more than a styling tool. It's a major player in Black history, explains artist Jon Gray.
How surfboards connect us to nature
3 minutes 23 seconds
Here's how the surfboard changed our relationship to water, according to fuseproject founder Yves Béhar.
The genius of the London Tube Map
3 minutes 1 second
Design legend Michael Bierut tells the story of the accidental success of one of the most famous maps in the world -- the London Tube Map.
The 3,000-year history of the hoodie
3 minutes 19 seconds
The hoodie is a lot more than just a comfy sweatshirt. Design curator Paola Antonelli takes us through its history.
Why the pencil is perfect
3 minutes 26 seconds
Why are pencils shaped like hexagons, and how did they get their iconic yellow color? Pencil shop owner Caroline Weaver takes us inside the fascinating history of the pencil.
How the progress bar keeps you sane
3 minutes 34 seconds
The progress bar makes waiting more exciting... and mitigates our fear of death. Journalist Daniel Engber explores how it came into existence.
How the jump rope got its rhythm
3 minutes 22 seconds
"Down down, baby, down down the roller coaster..." Hip-hop owes a lot to the queens of double dutch. Ethnomusicologist Kyra Gaunt takes us on a tour of the fascinating history of the jump rope.
How the button changed fashion
2 minutes 7 seconds
How the simple button changed the world, according to fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.
The hidden ways stairs shape your life
2 minutes 55 seconds
Stairs don't just get you from point A to point B. Architect David Rockwell explains how they shape your movement -- and your feelings.
Margaret Gould Stewart
How the hyperlink changed everything
3 minutes 20 seconds
The hyperlink is the LEGO block of the internet. Here's the bizarre history of how it came to be, as told by user experience master Margaret Gould Stewart.