Some of the world's greatest scientists, doctors and medical researchers share their discoveries and visions onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
Think you're good at guessing stats? Guess again. Whether we consider ourselves math people or not, our ability to understand and work with numbers is terribly limited, says data visualization expert Alan Smith. In this delightful talk, Smith explores the mismatch between what we know and what we think we know.
What time is it on Mars? | Nagin Cox
Feb 03 2017 13 mins
Nagin Cox is a first-generation Martian. As a spacecraft engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cox works on the team that manages the United States' rovers on Mars. But working a 9-to-5 on another planet -- whose day is 40 minutes longer than Earth's -- has particular, often comical challenges.
A robot that eats pollution | Jonathan Rossiter
Feb 22 2017 14 mins
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-fighting robots.
Smelfies, and other experiments in synthetic biology | Ani Liu
Feb 27 2017 7 mins
What if you could take a smell selfie, a smelfie? What if you had a lipstick that caused plants to grow where you kiss? Ani Liu explores the intersection of technology and sensory perception, and her work is wedged somewhere between science, design and art. In this swift, smart talk, she shares dreams, wonderings and experiments, asking: What happens when science fiction becomes science fact?
A scientific approach to the paranormal | Carrie Poppy
Mar 03 2017 12 mins
What's haunting Carrie Poppy? Is it ghosts or something worse? In this talk, the investigative journalist narrates her encounter with a spooky feeling you'll want to warn your friends about and explains why we need science to deal with paranormal activity.
Lifelike simulations that make real-life surgery safer | Peter Weinstock
Mar 20 2017 16 mins
Critical care doctor Peter Weinstock shows how surgical teams are using a blend of Hollywood special effects and 3D printing to create amazingly lifelike reproductions of real patients -- so they can practice risky surgeries ahead of time. Think: "Operate twice, cut once." Glimpse the future of surgery in this forward-thinking talk.
3 ways to spot a bad statistic | Mona Chalabi
Mar 24 2017 11 mins
Sometimes it's hard to know what statistics are worthy of trust. But we shouldn't count out stats altogether ... instead, we should learn to look behind them. In this delightful, hilarious talk, data journalist Mona Chalabi shares handy tips to help question, interpret and truly understand what the numbers are saying.
How early life experience is written into DNA | Moshe Szyf
Mar 30 2017 16 mins
Moshe Szyf is a pioneer in the field of epigenetics, the study of how living things reprogram their genome in response to social factors like stress and lack of food. His research suggests that biochemical signals passed from mothers to offspring tell the child what kind of world they're going to live in, changing the expression of genes. "DNA isn't just a sequence of letters; it's not just a script." Szyf says. "DNA is a dynamic movie in which our experiences are being written."
How to take a picture of a black hole | Katie Bouman
Apr 04 2017 12 mins
At the heart of the Milky Way, there's a supermassive black hole that feeds off a spinning disk of hot gas, sucking up anything that ventures too close -- even light. We can't see it, but its event horizon casts a shadow, and an image of that shadow could help answer some important questions about the universe. Scientists used to think that making such an image would require a telescope the size of Earth -- until Katie Bouman and a team of astronomers came up with a clever alternative. Bouman explains how we can take a picture of the ultimate dark using the Event Horizon Telescope.
How we can find ourselves in data | Giorgia Lupi
Apr 07 2017 11 mins
Giorgia Lupi uses data to tell human stories, adding nuance to numbers. In this charming talk, she shares how we can bring personality to data, visualizing even the mundane details of our daily lives and transforming the abstract and uncountable into something that can be seen, felt and directly reconnected to our lives.
How radio telescopes show us unseen galaxies | Natasha Hurley-Walker
Apr 18 2017 15 mins
Our universe is strange, wonderful and vast, says astronomer Natasha Hurley-Walker. A spaceship can't carry you into its depths (yet) -- but a radio telescope can. In this mesmerizing talk, Hurley-Walker shows how she probes the mysteries of the universe using special technology that reveals light spectrums we can't see.
Science in service to the public good | Siddhartha Roy
Apr 25 2017 14 mins
We give scientists and engineers great technical training, but we're not as good at teaching ethical decision-making or building character. Take, for example, the environmental crisis that recently unfolded in Flint, Michigan -- and the professionals there who did nothing to fix it. Siddhartha Roy helped prove that Flint's water was contaminated, and he tells a story of science in service to the public good, calling on the next generation of scientists and engineers to dedicate their work to protecting people and the planet.
A tribute to nurses | Carolyn Jones
May 08 2017 10 mins
Carolyn Jones spent five years interviewing, photographing and filming nurses across America, traveling to places dealing with some of the nation's biggest public health issues. She shares personal stories of unwavering dedication in this celebration of the everyday heroes who work at the front lines of health care.
What you can do to prevent Alzheimer's | Lisa Genova
Apr 28 2017 13 mins
Alzheimer's doesn't have to be your brain's destiny, says neuroscientist and author of "Still Alice," Lisa Genova. She shares the latest science investigating the disease -- and some promising research on what each of us can do to build an Alzheimer's-resistant brain.
How human noise affects ocean habitats | Kate Stafford
May 12 2017 11 mins
Oceanographer Kate Stafford lowers us into the sonically rich depths of the Arctic Ocean, where ice groans, whales sing to communicate over vast distances -- and climate change and human noise threaten to alter the environment in ways we don't understand. Learn more about why this underwater soundscape matters and what we might do to protect it.
How pollution is changing the ocean's chemistry | Triona McGrath
May 29 2017 9 mins
As we keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, more of it is dissolving in the oceans, leading to drastic changes in the water's chemistry. Triona McGrath researches this process, known as ocean acidification, and in this talk she takes us for a dive into an oceanographer's world. Learn more about how the "evil twin of climate change" is impacting the ocean -- and the life that depends on it.
A climate solution where all sides can win | Ted Halstead
May 17 2017 13 mins
Why are we so deadlocked on climate, and what would it take to overcome the seemingly insurmountable barriers to progress? Policy entrepreneur Ted Halstead proposes a transformative solution based on the conservative principles of free markets and limited government. Learn more about how this carbon dividends plan could trigger an international domino effect towards a more popular, cost-effective and equitable climate solution.
A secret weapon against Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases | Nina Fedoroff
May 25 2017 15 mins
Where did Zika come from, and what can we do about it? Molecular biologist Nina Fedoroff takes us around the world to understand Zika's origins and how it spread, proposing a controversial way to stop the virus -- and other deadly diseases -- by preventing infected mosquitoes from multiplying.
What happens in your brain when you pay attention? | Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar
Jun 08 2017 6 mins
Attention isn't just about what we focus on -- it's also about what our brains filter out. By investigating patterns in the brain as people try to focus, computational neuroscientist Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar hopes to build computer models that can be used to treat ADHD and help those who have lost the ability to communicate. Hear more about this exciting science in this brief, fascinating talk.
What rivers can tell us about the earth's history | Liz Hajek
Jul 13 2017 11 mins
Rivers are one of nature's most powerful forces -- they bulldoze mountains and carve up the earth, and their courses are constantly moving. Understanding how they form and how they'll change is important for those that call their banks and deltas home. In this visual-packed talk, geoscientist Liz Hajek shows us how rocks deposited by ancient rivers can be used as a time machine to study the history of the earth, so we can figure out how to more sustainably live on it today.
Can clouds buy us more time to solve climate change? | Kate Marvel
Jul 17 2017 13 mins
Climate change is real, case closed. But there's still a lot we don't understand about it, and the more we know the better chance we have to slow it down. One still-unknown factor: How might clouds play a part? There's a small hope that they could buy us some time to fix things ... or they could make global warming worse. Climate scientist Kate Marvel takes us through the science of clouds and what it might take for Earth to break its own fever.
Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth
Jul 18 2017 17 mins
Right now, billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience -- and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it. How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we're all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it "reality." Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.
You smell with your body, not just your nose | Jennifer Pluznick
Jul 27 2017 7 mins
Do your kidneys have a sense of smell? Turns out, the same tiny scent detectors found in your nose are also found in some pretty unexpected places -- like your muscles, kidneys and even your lungs. In this quick talk (filled with weird facts), physiologist Jennifer Pluznick explains why they're there and what they do.
Why I still have hope for coral reefs | Kristen Marhaver
Jul 28 2017 7 mins
Corals in the Pacific Ocean have been dying at an alarming rate, particularly from bleaching brought on by increased water temperatures. But it's not too late to act, says TED Fellow Kristen Marhaver. She points to the Caribbean -- given time, stable temperatures and strong protection, corals there have shown the ability to survive and recover from trauma. Marhaver reminds us why we need to keep working to protect the precious corals we have left. "Corals have always been playing the long game," she says, "and now so are we."
Meet the microscopic life in your home -- and on your face | Anne Madden
Aug 11 2017 10 mins
Behold the microscopic jungle in and around you: tiny organisms living on your cheeks, under your sofa and in the soil in your backyard. We have an adversarial relationship with these microbes -- we sanitize, exterminate and disinfect them -- but according to microbiologist Anne Madden, they're sources of new technologies and medicines waiting to be discovered. These microscopic alchemists aren't gross, Madden says -- they're the future.
What the sugar coating on your cells is trying to tell you | Carolyn Bertozzi
Aug 24 2017 11 mins
Your cells are coated with sugars that store information and speak a secret language. What are they trying to tell us? Your blood type, for one -- and, potentially, that you have cancer. Chemical biologist Carolyn Bertozzi researches how sugars on cancerous cells interact with (and sometimes trick) your immune system. Learn more about how your body detects cancer and how the latest cancer-fighting medicines could help your immune system beat the disease.
What it feels like to see Earth from space | Benjamin Grant
Sep 07 2017 12 mins
What the astronauts felt when they saw Earth from space changed them forever. Author and artist Benjamin Grant aims to provoke this same feeling of overwhelming scale and beauty in each of us through a series of stunning satellite images that show the effects human beings are having on the planet. "If we can adopt a more expansive perspective, embrace the truth of what is going on and contemplate the long-term health of our planet, we will create a better, safer and smarter future for our one and only home," Grant says.
The most Martian place on Earth | Armando Azua-Bustos
Sep 20 2017 4 mins
How can you study Mars without a spaceship? Head to the most Martian place on Earth -- the Atacama Desert in Chile. Astrobiologist Armando Azua-Bustos grew up in this vast, arid landscape and now studies the rare life forms that have adapted to survive there, some in areas with no reported rainfall for the past 400 years. Explore the possibility of finding life elsewhere in the universe without leaving the planet with this quick, funny talk.
The fascinating secret lives of giant clams | Mei Lin Neo
Sep 26 2017 5 mins
When you think about the deep blue sea, you might instantly think of whales or coral reefs. But spare a thought for giant clams, the world's largest living shellfish. These incredible creatures can live to 100, grow up to four and a half feet long and weigh as much as three baby elephants. In this charming talk, marine biologist Mei Lin Neo shares why she's obsessively trying to turn these legendary sea creatures into heroes of the oceans.
Mind-blowing, magnified portraits of insects | Levon Biss
Oct 04 2017 7 mins
Photographer Levon Biss was looking for a new, extraordinary subject when one afternoon he and his young son popped a ground beetle under a microscope and discovered the wondrous world of insects. Applying his knowledge of photography to subjects just five millimeters long, Biss created a process for shooting insects in unbelievable microscopic detail. He shares the resulting portraits -- each comprised of 8- to 10,000 individual shots -- and a story about how inspiration can come from the most unlikely places.
How LIGO discovered gravitational waves -- and what might be next | Gabriela González
Oct 03 2017 13 mins
More than 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted gravitational waves -- ripples in space-time caused by violent cosmic collisions -- LIGO scientists confirmed their existence using large, extremely precise detectors in Louisiana and Washington. Astrophysicist Gabriela González of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration tells us how this incredible, Nobel-winning discovery happened -- and what it might mean for our understanding of the universe. (In Spanish with English subtitles)
A global food crisis may be less than a decade away | Sara Menker
Oct 05 2017 17 mins
Sara Menker quit a career in commodities trading to figure out how the global value chain of agriculture works. Her discoveries have led to some startling predictions: "We could have a tipping point in global food and agriculture if surging demand surpasses the agricultural system's structural capacity to produce food," she says. "People could starve and governments may fall." Menker's models predict that this scenario could happen in a decade -- that the world could be short 214 trillion calories per year by 2027. She offers a vision of this impossible world as well as some steps we can take today to avoid it.
What's hidden under the Greenland ice sheet? | Kristin Poinar
Oct 17 2017 9 mins
The Greenland ice sheet is massive, mysterious -- and melting. Using advanced technology, scientists are revealing its secrets for the first time, and what they've found is amazing: hidden under the ice sheet is a vast aquifer that holds a Lake Tahoe-sized volume of water from the summer melt. Does this water stay there, or does it find its way out to the ocean and contribute to global sea level rise? Join glaciologist Kristin Poinar for a trip to this frozen, forgotten land to find out.
Can we stop climate change by removing CO2 from the air? | Tim Kruger
Oct 31 2017 8 mins
Could we cure climate change? Geoengineering researcher Tim Kruger wants to try. He shares one promising possibility: using natural gas to generate electricity in a way that takes carbon dioxide out of the air. Learn more -- both the potential and the risks -- about this controversial field that seeks creative, deliberate and large-scale intervention to stop the already catastrophic consequences of our warming planet.
How to win at evolution and survive a mass extinction | Lauren Sallan
Oct 31 2017 6 mins
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 to win? In this short, funny talk, paleobiologist and TED Fellow Lauren Sallan shares insights on how your ancestors' survival through mass extinction made you who you are today.
Why wildfires have gotten worse -- and what we can do about it | Paul Hessburg
Nov 07 2017 14 mins
Megafires, individual fires that burn more than 100,000 acres, are on the rise in the western United States -- the direct result of unintentional yet massive changes we've brought to the forests through a century of misguided management. What steps can we take to avoid further destruction? Forest ecologist Paul Hessburg confronts some tough truths about wildfires and details how we can help restore the natural balance of the landscape.
The future of good food in China | Matilda Ho
Nov 28 2017 5 mins
Fresh food free of chemicals and pesticides is hard to come by in China: in 2016, the Chinese government revealed half a million food safety violations in just nine months. In the absence of safe, sustainable food sources, TED Fellow Matilda Ho launched China's first online farmers market, instituting a zero-tolerance test towards pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in food. She shares how she's growing her platform from the ground up and bringing local, organically grown food to the families that need it.
The secrets of spider venom | Michel Dugon
Oct 05 2018 12 mins
Spider venom can stop your heart within minutes, cause unimaginable pain -- and potentially save your life, says zoologist Michel Dugon. With a live tarantula on his arm, Dugon explains the medical properties of their potent toxin and how it might be used to produce the next generation of antibiotics.
Lessons from a solar storm chaser | Miho Janvier
Dec 12 2017 5 mins
Space physicist Miho Janvier studies solar storms: giant clouds of particles that escape from the Sun and can disrupt life on Earth (while also producing amazing auroras). How do you study the atmosphere on the Sun, which burns at temperatures of up to around 10 million degrees Kelvin? With math! Join the TED Fellow as she shares her work trying to better understand how the Sun affects us here on Earth.
What we'll learn about the brain in the next century | Sam Rodriques
Jun 12 2018 13 mins
In this imaginative talk, neuroengineer Sam Rodriques takes us on a thrilling tour of the next 100 years in brain science. He envisions strange (and sometimes frightening) innovations that may be the key to understanding and treating brain disease -- like lasers that drill tiny holes in our skulls and allow probes to study the electrical activity of our neurons.
Fashion has a pollution problem -- can biology fix it? | Natsai Audrey Chieza
Nov 29 2017 13 mins
Natsai Audrey Chieza is a designer on a mission -- to reduce pollution in the fashion industry while creating amazing new things to wear. In her lab, she noticed that the bacteria Streptomyces coelicolor makes a striking red-purple pigment, and now she's using it to develop bold, color-fast fabric dye that cuts down on water waste and chemical runoff, compared with traditional dyes. And she isn't alone in using synthetic biology to redefine our material future; think -- "leather" made from mushrooms and superstrong yarn made from spider-silk protein. We're not going to build the future with fossil fuels, Chieza says. We're going to build it with biology.
Adventures of an interplanetary architect | Xavier De Kestelier
Dec 11 2017 12 mins
How will we live elsewhere in the galaxy? On Earth, natural resources for creating structures are abundant, but sending these materials up with us to the Moon or Mars is clunky and cost-prohibitive. Enter architect Xavier De Kestelier, who has a radical plan to use robots and space dust to 3D print our interplanetary homes. Learn more about the emerging field of space architecture with this fascinating talk about the (potentially) not-too-distant future.
How augmented reality could change the future of surgery | Nadine Hachach-Haram
Dec 08 2017 11 mins
If you're undergoing surgery, you want the best surgical team to collaborate on your case, no matter where they are. Surgeon and entrepreneur Nadine Hachach-Haram is developing a new system that helps surgeons operate together and train one another on new techniques -- from remote locations using low-cost augmented reality tools. Watch the system in action as she joins a surgeon in Minnesota performing a knee surgery, live on her laptop from the TED stage in New Orleans. As Hachach-Haram says: "Through simple, everyday devices that we take for granted, we can really do miraculous things." (This talk contains graphic images of surgery.)
How we can stop Africa's scientific brain drain | Kevin Njabo
Jan 10 2018 8 mins
How can Africans find solutions to Africa's problems? Conservation biologist Kevin Njabo tells his personal story of how he nearly became part of the group of African scientists who seek an education abroad and never return -- and why he's now building a permanent base on the continent to nurture and support local talent. "I'm not coming back alone. I'm bringing with me Western scientists, entrepreneurs and students," Njabo says. "When that happens, Africa will be on the way to solving Africa's problems."
Why I study the most dangerous animal on earth -- mosquitoes | Fredros Okumu
Jan 29 2018 12 mins
What do we really know about mosquitoes? Fredros Okumu catches and studies these disease-carrying insects for a living -- with the hope of crashing their populations. Join Okumu for a tour of the frontlines of mosquito research, as he details some of the unconventional methods his team at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania have developed to target what has been described as the most dangerous animal on earth.
You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them | Lisa Feldman Barrett
Jan 02 2018 18 mins
Can you look at someone's face and know what they're feeling? Does everyone experience happiness, sadness and anxiety the same way? What are emotions anyway? For the past 25 years, psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies to understand what emotions really are. She shares the results of her exhaustive research -- and explains how we may have more control over our emotions than we think.
The surprising solution to ocean plastic | David Katz
Jan 25 2018 11 mins
Can we solve the problem of ocean plastic pollution and end extreme poverty at the same time? That's the ambitious goal of The Plastic Bank: a worldwide chain of stores where everything from school tuition to cooking fuel and more is available for purchase in exchange for plastic garbage -- which is then sorted, shredded and sold to brands who reuse "social plastic" in their products. Join David Katz to learn more about this step towards closing the loop in the circular economy. "Preventing ocean plastic could be humanity's richest opportunity," Katz says.
Could fish social networks help us save coral reefs? | Mike Gil
Jan 30 2018 4 mins
Mike Gil spies on fish: using novel multi-camera systems and computer vision technology, the TED Fellow and his colleagues explore how coral reef fish behave, socialize and affect their ecosystems. Learn more about how fish of different species communicate via social networks -- and what disrupting these networks might mean to the delicate ecology of reefs, which help feed millions of us and support the global economy.
This deep-sea mystery is changing our understanding of life | Karen Lloyd
Feb 06 2018 13 mins
How deep into the Earth can we go and still find life? Marine microbiologist Karen Lloyd introduces us to deep-subsurface microbes: tiny organisms that live buried meters deep in ocean mud and have been on Earth since way before animals. Learn more about these mysterious microbes, which refuse to grow in the lab and seem to have a fundamentally different relationship with time and energy than we do.
The thrilling potential for off-grid solar energy | Amar Inamdar
Jan 26 2018 14 mins
There's an energy revolution happening in villages and towns across Africa -- off-grid solar energy is becoming a viable alternative to traditional electricity systems. In a bold talk about a true leapfrog moment, Amar Inamdar introduces us to proud owners of off-grid solar kits -- and explains how this technology has the opportunity to meet two extraordinary goals: energy access for all and a low-carbon future. "Every household a proud producer as well as consumer of energy," Inamdar says. "That's the democracy of energy." (Followed by a brief Q&A with TED Curator Chris Anderson)
The role of human emotions in science and research | Ilona Stengel
Feb 26 2018 10 mins
Do human emotions have a role to play in science and research? Material researcher Ilona Stengel suggests that instead of opposing each other, emotions and logic complement and reinforce each other. She shares a case study on how properly using emotions (like the empowering feeling of being dedicated to something meaningful) can boost teamwork and personal development -- and catalyze scientific breakthroughs and innovation.
How we look kilometers below the Antarctic ice sheet | Dustin Schroeder
Mar 01 2018 11 mins
Antarctica is a vast and dynamic place, but radar technologies -- from World War II-era film to state-of-the-art miniaturized sensors -- are enabling scientists to observe and understand changes beneath the continent's ice in unprecedented detail. Join radio glaciologist Dustin Schroeder on a flight high above Antarctica and see how ice-penetrating radar is helping us learn about future sea level rise -- and what the melting ice will mean for us all.
The wonderful world of life in a drop of water | Simone Bianco and Tom Zimmerman
Mar 07 2018 11 mins
"Hold your breath," says inventor Tom Zimmerman. "This is the world without plankton." These tiny organisms produce two-thirds of our planet's oxygen -- without them, life as we know it wouldn't exist. In this talk and tech demo, Zimmerman and cell engineer Simone Bianco hook up a 3D microscope to a drop of water and take you scuba diving with plankton. Learn more about these mesmerizing creatures and get inspired to protect them against ongoing threats from climate change.
Should we create a solar shade to cool the earth? | Danny Hillis
Apr 05 2018 6 mins
In this perspective-shifting talk, Danny Hillis prompts us to approach global issues like climate change with creative scientific solutions. Taking a stand for solar geoengineering, he looks at controversial solutions with open-minded curiosity.
The "dead zone" of the Gulf of Mexico | Nancy Rabalais
Apr 18 2018 12 mins
Ocean expert Nancy Rabalais tracks the ominously named "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico -- where there isn't enough oxygen in the water to support life. The Gulf has the second largest dead zone in the world; on top of killing fish and crustaceans, it's also killing fisheries in these waters. Rabalais tells us about what's causing it -- and how we can reverse its harmful effects and restore one of America's natural treasures.
How fungi recognize (and infect) plants | Mennat El Ghalid
Mar 27 2018 4 mins
Each year, the world loses enough food to feed half a billion people to fungi, the most destructive pathogens of plants. Mycologist and TED Fellow Mennat El Ghalid explains how a breakthrough in our understanding of the molecular signals fungi use to attack plants could disrupt this interaction -- and save our crops.
The shocking danger of mountaintop removal -- and why it must end | Michael Hendryx
May 22 2018 13 mins
Research investigator Michael Hendryx studies mountaintop removal, an explosive type of surface coal mining used in Appalachia that comes with unexpected health hazards. In this data-packed talk, Hendryx presents his research and tells the story of the pushback he's received from the coal industry, advocating for the ethical obligation scientists have to speak the truth.
Scientists must be free to learn, to speak and to challenge | Kirsty Duncan
May 16 2018 13 mins
"You do not mess with something so fundamental, so precious, as science," says Kirsty Duncan, Canada's first Minister of Science. In a heartfelt, inspiring talk about pushing boundaries, she makes the case that researchers must be free to present uncomfortable truths and challenge the thinking of the day -- and that we all have a duty to speak up when we see science being stifled or suppressed.
The surprising science of alpha males | Frans de Waal
Jun 18 2018 15 mins
In this fascinating look at the "alpha male," primatologist Frans de Waal explores the privileges and costs of power while drawing surprising parallels between how humans and primates choose their leaders. His research reveals some of the unexpected capacities of alpha males -- generosity, empathy, even peacekeeping -- and sheds light on the power struggles of human politicians. "Someone who is big and strong and intimidates and insults everyone is not necessarily an alpha male," de Waal says.
How we can turn the cold of outer space into a renewable resource | Aaswath Raman
Jun 01 2018 13 mins
What if we could use the cold darkness of outer space to cool buildings on earth? In this mind-blowing talk, physicist Aaswath Raman details the technology he's developing to harness "night-sky cooling" -- a natural phenomenon where infrared light escapes earth and heads to space, carrying heat along with it -- which could dramatically reduce the energy used by our cooling systems (and the pollution they cause). Learn more about how this approach could lead us towards a future where we intelligently tap into the energy of the universe.
The doctors, nurses and aid workers rebuilding Syria | Rola Hallam
May 15 2018 7 mins
Local humanitarians are beacons of light in the darkness of war, says humanitarian aid entrepreneur and TED Fellow Rola Hallam. She's working to help responders on the ground in devastated communities like Syria, where the destruction of health care is being used as a weapon of war. One of her campaigns achieved a global first: a crowdfunded hospital. Since it opened in 2017, the aptly named Hope Hospital has treated thousands of children. "Local humanitarians have the courage to persist, to dust themselves off from the wreckage and to start again, risking their lives to save others," Hallam says. "We can match their courage by not looking away or turning our backs."
How vultures can help solve crimes | Lauren Pharr
May 31 2018 10 mins
Can a bird that symbolizes death help the living catch criminals? In this informative and accessible talk, forensic anthropologist Lauren Pharr shows us how vultures impact crime scenes -- and the assistance they can provide to detectives investigating murders. (This talk contains graphic images.)
Let's turn the high seas into the world's largest nature reserve | Enric Sala
Jun 06 2018 13 mins
What if we could save the fishing industry and protect the ocean at the same time? Marine ecologist Enric Sala shares his bold plan to safeguard the high seas -- some of the last wild places on earth, which fall outside the jurisdiction of any single country -- by creating a giant marine reserve that covers two-thirds of the world's ocean. By protecting the high seas, Sala believes we will restore the ecological, economic and social benefits of the ocean. "When we can align economic needs with conservation, miracles can happen," Sala says.
The journey through loss and grief | Jason B. Rosenthal
Jun 12 2018 14 mins
In her brutally honest, ironically funny and widely read meditation on death, "You May Want to Marry My Husband," the late author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal gave her husband Jason very public permission to move on and find happiness. A year after her death, Jason offers candid insights on the often excruciating process of moving through and with loss -- as well as some quiet wisdom for anyone else experiencing life-changing grief.
Four billion years of evolution in six minutes | Prosanta Chakrabarty
Jun 15 2018 5 mins
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. "Think of us all as young leaves on this ancient and gigantic tree of life -- connected by invisible branches not just to each other, but to our extinct relatives and our evolutionary ancestors."
The story of 'Oumuamua, the first visitor from another star system | Karen J. Meech
Jun 27 2018 13 mins
In October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system. The interstellar comet -- a half-mile-long object eventually named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for "scout" or "messenger" -- raised intriguing questions: Was it a chunk of rocky debris from a new star system, shredded material from a supernova explosion, evidence of alien technology or something else altogether? In this riveting talk, Meech tells the story of how her team raced against the clock to find answers about this unexpected gift from afar.
How we're saving one of Earth's last wild places | Steve Boyes
Jul 03 2018 9 mins
Navigating territorial hippos and active minefields, TED Fellow Steve Boyes and a team of scientists have been traveling through the Okavango Delta, Africa's largest remaining wetland wilderness, to explore and protect this near-pristine habitat against the rising threat of development. In this awe-inspiring talk packed with images, he shares his work doing detailed scientific surveys in the hopes of protecting this enormous, fragile wilderness.
The tiny creature that secretly powers the planet | Penny Chisholm
Jul 02 2018 16 mins
Oceanographer Penny Chisholm introduces us to an amazing little being: Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic species on the planet. A marine microbe that has existed for millions of years, Prochlorococcus wasn't discovered until the mid-1980s -- but its ancient genetic code may hold clues to how we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
How we study the microbes living in your gut | Dan Knights
Jul 10 2018 9 mins
There are about a hundred trillion microbes living inside your gut -- protecting you from infection, aiding digestion and regulating your immune system. As our bodies have adapted to life in modern society, we've started to lose some of our normal microbes; at the same time, diseases linked to a loss of diversity in microbiome are skyrocketing in developed nations. Computational microbiologist Dan Knights shares some intriguing discoveries about the differences in the microbiomes of people in developing countries compared to the US, and how they might affect our health. Learn more about the world of microbes living inside you -- and the work being done to create tools to restore and replenish them.
How to build synthetic DNA and send it across the internet | Dan Gibson
Jul 11 2018 15 mins
Biologist Dan Gibson edits and programs DNA, just like coders program a computer. But his "code" creates life, giving scientists the power to convert digital information into biological material like proteins and vaccines. Now he's on to a new project: "biological transportation," which holds the promise of beaming new medicines across the globe over the internet. Learn more about how this technology could change the way we respond to disease outbreaks and enable us to download personalized prescriptions in our homes.
A new way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere | Jennifer Wilcox
Jul 05 2018 14 mins
Our planet has a carbon problem -- if we don't start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, we'll grow hotter, faster. Chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox previews some amazing technology to scrub carbon from the air, using chemical reactions that capture and reuse CO2 in much the same way trees do ... but at a vast scale. This detailed talk reviews both the promise and the pitfalls.
A new way to monitor vital signs (that can see through walls) | Dina Katabi
Jul 12 2018 13 mins
At MIT, Dina Katabi and her team are working on a bold new way to monitor patients' vital signs in a hospital (or even at home), without wearables or bulky, beeping devices. Bonus: it can see through walls. In a mind-blowing talk and demo, Katabi previews a system that captures the reflections of signals like Wi-Fi as they bounce off people, creating a reliable record of vitals for healthcare workers and patients. And in a brief Q&A with TED curator Helen Walters, Katabi discusses safeguards being put in place to prevent people from using this tech to monitor somebody without their consent.
Where are all the aliens? | Stephen Webb
Jul 19 2018 13 mins
The universe is incredibly old, astoundingly vast and populated by trillions of planets -- so where are all the aliens? Astronomer Stephen Webb has an explanation: we're alone in the universe. In a mind-expanding talk, he spells out the remarkable barriers a planet would need to clear in order to host an extraterrestrial civilization -- and makes a case for the beauty of our potential cosmic loneliness. "The silence of the universe is shouting, 'We're the creatures who got lucky,'" Webb says.
Why we choke under pressure -- and how to avoid it | Sian Leah Beilock
Sep 18 2018 15 mins
When the pressure is on, why do we sometimes fail to live up to our potential? Cognitive scientist and Barnard College president Sian Leah Beilock reveals what happens in your brain and body when you choke in stressful situations, sharing psychological tools that can help you perform at your best when it matters most.
How data is helping us unravel the mysteries of the brain | Steve McCarroll
Sep 04 2018 17 mins
Geneticist Steve McCarroll wants to make an atlas of all the cells in the human body so that we can understand in precise detail how specific genes work, especially in the brain. In this fascinating talk, he shares his team's progress -- including their invention of "Drop-seq," a technology that allows scientists to analyze individual cells at a scale that was never before possible -- and describes how this research could lead to new ways of treating mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
A rare galaxy that's challenging our understanding of the universe | Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil
Aug 28 2018 4 mins
What's it like to discover a galaxy -- and have it named after you? Astrophysicist and TED Fellow Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil lets us know in this quick talk about her team's surprising discovery of a mysterious new galaxy type.
How China is (and isn't) fighting pollution and climate change | Angel Hsu
Aug 29 2018 12 mins
China is the world's biggest polluter -- and now one of its largest producers of clean energy. Which way will China go in the future, and how will it affect the global environment? Data scientist Angel Hsu describes how the most populous country on earth is creating a future based on alternative energy -- and facing up to the environmental catastrophe it created as it rapidly industrialized.
How I became part sea urchin | Catherine Mohr
Sep 21 2018 6 mins
As a young scientist, Catherine Mohr was on her dream scuba trip -- when she put her hand right down on a spiny sea urchin. While a school of sharks circled above. What happened next? More than you can possibly imagine. Settle in for this fabulous story with a dash of science.
The radical possibilities of man-made DNA | Floyd E. Romesberg
Nov 26 2018 13 mins
Every cell that's ever lived has been the result of the four-letter genetic alphabet: A, T, C and G -- the basic units of DNA. But now that's changed. In a visionary talk, synthetic biologist Floyd E. Romesberg introduces us to the first living organisms created with six-letter DNA -- the four natural letters plus two new man-made ones, X and Y -- and explores how this breakthrough could challenge our basic understanding of nature's design.
The key to a better malaria vaccine | Faith Osier
Oct 16 2018 7 mins
The malaria vaccine was invented more than a century ago -- yet each year, hundreds of thousands of people still die from the disease. How can we improve this vital vaccine? In this informative talk, immunologist and TED Fellow Faith Osier shows how she's combining cutting-edge technology with century-old insights in the hopes of creating a new vaccine that eradicates malaria once and for all.
The pharmacy of the future? Personalized pills, 3D printed at home | Daniel Kraft
Oct 18 2018 12 mins
We need to change how we prescribe drugs, says physician Daniel Kraft: too often, medications are dosed incorrectly, cause toxic side effects or just don't work. In a talk and concept demo, Kraft shares his vision for a future of personalized medication, unveiling a prototype 3D printer that could design pills that adapt to our individual needs.
5 transformational policies for a prosperous and sustainable world | Johan Rockström
Oct 17 2018 12 mins
In a talk about how we can build a robust future without wrecking the planet, sustainability expert Johan Rockström debuts the Earth3 model -- a new methodology that combines the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth's vital systems could become unstable. Learn more about five transformational policies that could help us achieve inclusive and prosperous world development while keeping the earth stable and resilient.
100 solutions to reverse global warming | Chad Frischmann
Nov 28 2018 17 mins
What if we took out more greenhouse gases than we put into the atmosphere? This hypothetical scenario, known as "drawdown," is our only hope of averting climate disaster, says strategist Chad Frischmann. In a forward-thinking talk, he shares solutions to climate change that exist today -- conventional tactics like the use of renewable energy and better land management as well as some lesser-known approaches, like changes to food production, better family planning and the education of girls. Learn more about how we can reverse global warming and create a world where regeneration, not destruction, is the rule.
3 kinds of bias that shape your worldview | J. Marshall Shepherd
Dec 11 2018 12 mins
What shapes our perceptions (and misperceptions) about science? In an eye-opening talk, meteorologist J. Marshall Shepherd explains how confirmation bias, the Dunning-Kruger effect and cognitive dissonance impact what we think we know -- and shares ideas for how we can replace them with something much more powerful: knowledge.
The biology of gender, from DNA to the brain | Karissa Sanbonmatsu
Jan 10 2019 12 mins
How exactly does gender work? It's not just about our chromosomes, says biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu. In a visionary talk, she shares new discoveries from epigenetics, the emerging study of how DNA activity can permanently change based on social factors like trauma or diet. Learn how life experiences shape the way genes are expressed -- and what that means for our understanding of gender.
The fascinating science of bubbles, from soap to champagne | Li Wei Tan
Dec 17 2018 14 mins
In this whimsical talk and live demo, scientist Li Wei Tan shares the secrets of bubbles -- from their relentless pursuit of geometric perfection to their applications in medicine and shipping, where designers are creating more efficient vessels by mimicking the bubbles created by swimming penguins. Learn more about these mathematical marvels and tap into the magic hidden in the everyday world.
The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it | Katharine Hayhoe
Dec 14 2018 17 mins
How do you talk to someone who doesn't believe in climate change? Not by rehashing the same data and facts we've been discussing for years, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. In this inspiring, pragmatic talk, Hayhoe shows how the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family, community and religion -- and to prompt people to realize that they already care about a changing climate. "We can't give in to despair," she says. "We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act -- and that hope begins with a conversation, today."
Can we solve global warming? Lessons from how we protected the ozone layer | Sean Davis
Jan 29 2019 9 mins
The Montreal Protocol proved that the world could come together and take action on climate change. Thirty years after the world's most successful environmental treaty was signed, atmospheric scientist Sean Davis examines the world we avoided when we banned chlorofluorocarbons -- and shares lessons we can carry forward to address the climate crisis in our time.
What sticky sea creatures can teach us about making glue | Jonathan Wilker
Jan 24 2019 13 mins
What if we could harness the sticking powers of sea creatures like mussels, oysters and barnacles, which refuse to budge even on wet, stormy coastlines? Dive into the wonderful world of animals that make their own glue and cement with scientist Jonathan Wilker -- and preview some of the amazing things we can learn from how they do it.
The age of genetic wonder | Juan Enriquez
Feb 15 2019 18 mins
Gene-editing tools like CRISPR enable us to program life at its most fundamental level. But this raises some pressing questions: If we can generate new species from scratch, what should we build? Should we redesign humanity as we know it? Juan Enriquez forecasts the possible futures of genetic editing, exploring the immense uncertainty and opportunity of this next frontier.
How a new species of ancestors is changing our theory of human evolution | Juliet Brophy
Mar 01 2019 11 mins
In 2013, a treasure trove of unusual fossils were uncovered in a cave in South Africa, and researchers soon realized: these were the remains of a new species of ancient humans. Paleoanthropologist Juliet Brophy takes us inside the discovery of Homo naledi, explaining how this mysterious ancestor is forcing us to rethink where we come from -- and what it means to be human.
Where did the Moon come from? A new theory | Sarah T. Stewart
Mar 13 2019 11 mins
The Earth and Moon are like identical twins, made up of the exact same materials -- which is really strange, since no other celestial bodies we know of share this kind of chemical relationship. What's responsible for this special connection? Looking for an answer, planetary scientist and MacArthur "Genius" Sarah T. Stewart discovered a new kind of astronomical object -- a synestia -- and a new way to solve the mystery of the Moon's origin.
The secret to scientific discoveries? Making mistakes | Phil Plait
Mar 18 2019 11 mins
Phil Plait was on a Hubble Space Telescope team of astronomers who thought they may have captured the first direct photo of an exoplanet ever taken. But did the evidence actually support that? Follow along as Plait shows how science progresses -- through a robust amount of making and correcting errors. "The price of doing science is admitting when you're wrong, but the payoff is the best there is: knowledge and understanding," he says.
To detect diseases earlier, let's speak bacteria's secret language | Fatima AlZahra'a Alatraktchi
Mar 27 2019 11 mins
Bacteria "talk" to each other, sending chemical information to coordinate attacks. What if we could listen to what they were saying? Nanophysicist Fatima AlZahra'a Alatraktchi invented a tool to spy on bacterial chatter and translate their secret communication into human language. Her work could pave the way for early diagnosis of disease -- before we even get sick.
How you can help save the bees, one hive at a time | Noah Wilson-Rich
Mar 20 2019 12 mins
Bees are dying off in record numbers, but ecologist Noah Wilson-Rich is interested in something else: Where are bees healthy and thriving? To find out, he recruited citizen scientists across the US to set up beehives in their backyards, gardens and rooftops. Learn how these little data factories are changing what we know about the habitats bees need to thrive -- and keep our future food systems stable.
Can we regenerate heart muscle with stem cells? | Chuck Murry
Mar 29 2019 14 mins
The heart is one of the least regenerative organs in the human body -- a big factor in making heart failure the number one killer worldwide. What if we could help heart muscle regenerate after injury? Physician and scientist Chuck Murry shares his groundbreaking research into using stem cells to grow new heart cells -- an exciting step towards realizing the awesome promise of stem cells as medicine.
A personal air-quality tracker that lets you know what you're breathing | Romain Lacombe
Apr 22 2019 5 mins
How often do you think about the air you're breathing? Probably not enough, says entrepreneur and TED Fellow Romain Lacombe. He introduces Flow: a personal air-quality tracker that fits in your hand and monitors pollution levels in real time. See how this device could help you track and understand pollution street by street, hour by hour -- and empower you to take action to improve your health.
Inside the black hole image that made history | Sheperd Doeleman
Apr 18 2019 11 mins
At the center of a galaxy more than 55 million light-years away, there's a supermassive black hole with the mass of several billion suns. And now, for the first time ever, we can see it. Astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman, head of the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, speaks with TED's Chris Anderson about the iconic, first-ever image of a black hole -- and the epic, worldwide effort involved in capturing it.
How supercharged plants could slow climate change | Joanne Chory
May 02 2019 13 mins
Plants are amazing machines -- for millions of years, they've taken carbon dioxide out of the air and stored it underground, keeping a crucial check on the global climate. Plant geneticist Joanne Chory is working to amplify this special ability: with her colleagues at the Salk Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, she's creating plants that can store more carbon, deeper underground, for hundreds of years. Learn more about how these supercharged plants could help slow climate change. (This ambitious plan is a part of the Audacious Project, TED's initiative to inspire and fund global change.)
Sloths! The strange life of the world's slowest mammal | Lucy Cooke
May 21 2019 14 mins
Sloths have been on this planet for more than 40 million years. What's the secret to their success? In a hilarious talk, zoologist Lucy Cooke takes us inside the strange life of the world's slowest mammal and shows what we can learn from their ingenious adaptations.
These bacteria eat plastic | Morgan Vague
May 28 2019 9 mins
Humans produce 300 million tons of new plastic each year -- yet, despite our best efforts, less than 10 percent of it ends up being recycled. Is there a better way to deal with all this waste? Morgan Vague describes her research with microbiologist Jay Mellies on bacteria that have evolved the unexpected ability to eat plastic -- and how they could help us solve our growing pollution problem.
The amazing brains and morphing skin of octopuses and other cephalopods | Roger Hanlon
May 31 2019 13 mins
Octopus, squid and cuttlefish -- collectively known as cephalopods -- have strange, massive, distributed brains. What do they do with all that neural power? Dive into the ocean with marine biologist Roger Hanlon, who shares astonishing footage of the camouflaging abilities of cephalopods, which can change their skin color and texture in a flash. Learn how their smart skin, and their ability to deploy it in sophisticated ways, could be evidence of an alternative form of intelligence -- and how it could lead to breakthroughs in AI, fabrics, cosmetics and beyond.
The mysterious microbes living deep inside the earth -- and how they could help humanity | Karen Lloyd
Jun 10 2019 13 mins
The ground beneath your feet is home to a massive, mysterious world of microbes -- some of which have been in the earth's crust for hundreds of thousands of years. What's it like down there? Take a trip to the volcanoes and hot springs of Costa Rica as microbiologist Karen Lloyd shines a light on these subterranean organisms and shows how they could have a profound impact on life up here.
5 challenges we could solve by designing new proteins | David Baker
Jun 17 2019 10 mins
Proteins are remarkable molecular machines: they digest your food, fire your neurons, power your immune system and so much more. What if we could design new ones, with functions never before seen in nature? In this remarkable glimpse of the future, David Baker shares how his team at the Institute for Protein Design is creating entirely new proteins from scratch -- and shows how they could help us tackle five massive challenges facing humanity. (This ambitious plan is a part of the Audacious Project, TED's initiative to inspire and fund global change.)
Grief and love in the animal kingdom | Barbara J. King
Jul 08 2019 14 mins
From mourning orcas to distressed elephants, biological anthropologist Barbara J. King has witnessed grief and love across the animal kingdom. In this eye-opening talk, she explains the evidence behind her belief that many animals experience complex emotions, and suggests ways all of us can treat them more ethically -- including every time we eat. "Animals don't grieve exactly like we do, but this doesn't mean that their grief isn't real," she says. "It is real, and it's searing, and we can see it if we choose."
The fascinating (and dangerous) places scientists aren't exploring | Ella Al-Shamahi
Jul 15 2019 15 mins
We're not doing frontline exploratory science in a huge portion of the world -- the places governments deem too hostile or disputed. What might we be missing because we're not looking? In this fearless, unexpectedly funny talk, paleoanthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi takes us on an expedition to the Yemeni island of Socotra -- one of the most biodiverse places on earth -- and makes the case for scientists to explore the unstable regions that could be home to incredible discoveries.
What's at the bottom of the ocean -- and how we're getting there | Victor Vescovo
Aug 02 2019 7 mins
Victor Vescovo is leading the first-ever manned expedition to the deepest point of each of the world's five oceans. In conversation with TED science curator David Biello, Vescovo discusses the technology that's powering the explorations -- a titanium submersible designed to withstand extraordinary conditions -- and shows footage of a never-before-seen creature taken during his journey to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
How climate change affects your mental health | Britt Wray
Aug 27 2019 7 mins
"For all that's ever been said about climate change, we haven't heard nearly enough about the psychological impacts of living in a warming world," says science writer Britt Wray. In this quick talk, she explores how climate change is threatening our well-being -- mental, social and spiritual -- and offers a starting point for what we can do about it.
Emergency medicine for our climate fever | Kelly Wanser
Aug 28 2019 14 mins
As we recklessly warm the planet by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, some industrial emissions also produce particles that reflect sunshine back into space, putting a check on global warming that we're only starting to understand. Climate activist Kelly Wanser asks: Can we engineer ways to harness this effect and further reduce warming? Learn more about the promises and risks of "cloud brightening" -- and how it could help restore our climate to health.
A climate change solution that's right under our feet | Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Sep 03 2019 13 mins
There's two times more carbon in the earth's soil than in all of its vegetation and the atmosphere -- combined. Biogeochemist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe dives into the science of soil and shares how we could use its awesome carbon-trapping power to offset climate change. "[Soil] represents the difference between life and lifelessness in the earth system, and it can also help us combat climate change -- if we can only stop treating it like dirt," she says.
A "living drug" that could change the way we treat cancer | Carl June
Sep 10 2019 15 mins
Carl June is the pioneer behind CAR T-cell therapy: a groundbreaking cancer treatment that supercharges part of a patient's own immune system to attack and kill tumors. In a talk about a breakthrough, he shares how three decades of research culminated in a therapy that's eradicated cases of leukemia once thought to be incurable -- and explains how it could be used to fight other types of cancer.
How climate change could make our food less nutritious | Kristie Ebi
Sep 16 2019 11 mins
Rising carbon levels in the atmosphere can make plants grow faster, but there's another hidden consequence: they rob plants of the nutrients and vitamins we need to survive. In a talk about global food security, epidemiologist Kristie Ebi explores the potentially massive health consequences of this growing nutrition crisis -- and explores the steps we can take to ensure all people have access to safe, healthy food.
We need to track the world's water like we track the weather | Sonaar Luthra
Sep 20 2019 13 mins
We need a global weather service for water, says entrepreneur and TED Fellow Sonaar Luthra. In a talk about environmental accountability, Luthra shows how we could forecast water shortages and risks with a global data collection effort -- just like we monitor the movement of storms -- and better listen to what the earth is telling us.
Can seaweed help curb global warming? | Tim Flannery
Sep 23 2019 14 mins
It's time for planetary-scale interventions to combat climate change -- and environmentalist Tim Flannery thinks seaweed can help. In a bold talk, he shares the epic carbon-capturing potential of seaweed, explaining how oceangoing seaweed farms created on a massive scale could trap all the carbon we emit into the atmosphere. Learn more about this potentially planet-saving solution -- and the work that's still needed to get there.
How one tree grows 40 different kinds of fruit | Sam Van Aken
Sep 27 2019 11 mins
Artist Sam Van Aken shares the breathtaking work behind the "Tree of 40 Fruit," an ongoing series of hybridized fruit trees that grow 40 different varieties of peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and cherries -- all on the same tree. What began as an art project to showcase beautiful, multi-hued blossoms has become a living archive of rare heirloom specimens and their histories, a hands-on (and delicious!) way to teach people about cultivation and a vivid symbol of the need for biodiversity to ensure food security. "More than just food, embedded in these fruit is our culture ... In many ways, these fruit are our story," Van Aken says.
How community-led conservation can save wildlife | Moreangels Mbizah
Oct 01 2019 5 mins
Conservationist and TED Fellow Moreangels Mbizah studied the famous Cecil the lion until he was shot by a trophy hunter in 2015. She wonders how things could've gone differently, asking: "What if the community that lived next to Cecil was involved in protecting him?" In a quick talk, Mbizah shares the state of conservation in her home of Zimbabwe -- and why she thinks that communities living with wildlife are the ones best positioned to help them.
What happens in your brain when you taste food | Camilla Arndal Andersen
Oct 03 2019 13 mins
With fascinating research and hilarious anecdotes, neuroscientist Camilla Arndal Andersen takes us into the lab where she studies people's sense of taste via brain scans. She reveals surprising insights about the way our brains subconsciously experience food -- and shows how this data could help us eat healthier without sacrificing taste.
How a handful of fishing villages sparked a marine conservation revolution | Alasdair Harris
Oct 17 2019 11 mins
We need a radically new approach to ocean conservation, says marine biologist and TED Fellow Alasdair Harris. In a visionary talk, he lays out a surprising solution to the problem of overfishing that could both revive marine life and rebuild local fisheries -- all by taking less from the ocean. "When we design it right, marine conservation reaps dividends that go far beyond protecting nature," he says.
A love story for the coral reef crisis | Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Oct 18 2019 6 mins
Over the course of hundreds of scuba dives, marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson fell in love -- with a fish. In this ode to parrotfish, she shares five reasons why these creatures are simply amazing (from their ability to poop white sand to make colorful "wardrobe changes") and shows what's at stake -- for us and them -- as climate change threatens the future of coral reefs.
The link between fishing cats and mangrove forest conservation | Ashwin Naidu
Oct 24 2019 5 mins
Mangrove forests are crucial to the health of the planet, gobbling up CO2 from the atmosphere and providing a home for a diverse array of species. But these rich habitats are under continual threat from deforestation and industry. In an empowering talk, conservationist and TED Fellow Ashwin Naidu shares how community-driven efforts in South and Southeast Asia are working to protect mangroves -- all with a little help from the mysterious and endangered fishing cat.
The next software revolution: programming biological cells | Sara-Jane Dunn
Nov 01 2019 14 mins
The cells in your body are like computer software: they're "programmed" to carry out specific functions at specific times. If we can better understand this process, we could unlock the ability to reprogram cells ourselves, says computational biologist Sara-Jane Dunn. In a talk from the cutting-edge of science, she explains how her team is studying embryonic stem cells to gain a new understanding of the biological programs that power life -- and develop "living software" that could transform medicine, agriculture and energy.
Small rockets are the next space revolution | Peter Beck
Nov 12 2019 11 mins
We're in the dawn of a new space revolution, says engineer Peter Beck: the revolution of the small. In a talk packed with insights into the state of the space industry, Beck shares his work building rockets capable of delivering small payloads to space rapidly and reliably -- helping us search for extraterrestrial life, learn more about the solar system and create a global internet network.
What it's like to live on the International Space Station | Cady Coleman
Nov 13 2019 6 mins
In this quick, fun talk, astronaut Cady Coleman welcomes us aboard the International Space Station, where she spent nearly six months doing experiments that expanded the frontiers of science. Hear what it's like to fly to work, sleep without gravity and live life hurtling at 17,500 miles per hour around the Earth. "The space station is the place where mission and magic come together," Coleman says.
The search for our solar system's ninth planet | Mike Brown
Nov 22 2019 13 mins
Could the strange orbits of small, distant objects in our solar system lead us to a big discovery? Planetary astronomer Mike Brown proposes the existence of a new, giant planet lurking in the far reaches of our solar system -- and shows us how traces of its presence might already be staring us in the face.
Your body was forged in the spectacular death of stars | Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
Dec 17 2019 15 mins
We are all connected by the spectacular birth, death and rebirth of stars, says astrophysicist Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz. Journey through the cosmic history of the universe as Ramirez-Ruiz explains how supernovas forged the elements of life to create everything from the air you breathe to the very atoms that make you.
The search for dark matter -- and what we've found so far | Risa Wechsler
Jan 06 2020 15 mins
Roughly 85 percent of mass in the universe is "dark matter" -- mysterious material that can't be directly observed but has an immense influence on the cosmos. What exactly is this strange stuff, and what does it have to do with our existence? Astrophysicist Risa Wechsler explores why dark matter may be the key to understanding how the universe formed -- and shares how physicists in labs around the world are coming up with creative ways to study it.
The urgent case for antibiotic-free animals | Leon Marchal
Jan 07 2020 10 mins
The UN predicts that antimicrobial resistance will be our biggest killer by 2050. "That should really scare the hell out of all of us," says bioprocess engineer Leon Marchal. He's working on an urgently needed solution: transforming the massive, global animal feed industry. Learn why the overuse of antibiotics in animal products, from livestock feed to everyday pet treats, has skyrocketed worldwide -- and how we can take common-sense measures to stave off a potential epidemic.
Why are drug prices so high? Investigating the outdated US patent system | Priti Krishtel
Jan 16 2020 12 mins
Between 2006 and 2016, the number of drug patents granted in the United States doubled -- but not because there was an explosion in invention or innovation. Drug companies have learned how to game the system, accumulating patents not for new medicines but for small changes to existing ones, which allows them to build monopolies, block competition and drive prices up. Health justice lawyer Priti Krishtel sheds light on how we've lost sight of the patent system's original intent -- and offers five reforms for a redesign that would serve the public and save lives.
How designing brand-new enzymes could change the world | Adam Garske
Jan 21 2020 13 mins
"If DNA is the blueprint of life, enzymes are the laborers that carry out its instructions," says chemical biologist Adam Garske. In this fun talk and demo, he shows how scientists can now edit and design enzymes for specific functions -- to help treat diseases like diabetes, create energy-efficient laundry detergent and even capture greenhouse gases -- and performs his own enzyme experiment onstage.
Are indoor vertical farms the future of agriculture? | Stuart Oda
Jan 21 2020 9 mins
By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion. How are we going to feed everyone? Investment-banker-turned-farmer Stuart Oda points to indoor vertical farming: growing food on tiered racks in a controlled, climate-proof environment. In a forward-looking talk, he explains how this method can maintain better safety standards, save money, use less water and help us provide for future generations.
What ocean microbes reveal about the changing climate | Angelicque White
Jan 24 2020 13 mins
When the ocean changes, the planet changes -- and it all starts with microbes, says biological oceanographer Angelicque White. Backed by decades of data, White shares how scientists use these ancient microorganisms as a crucial barometer of ocean health -- and how we might rejuvenate them as marine temperatures steadily rise.
A new type of medicine, custom-made with tiny proteins | Christopher Bahl
Jan 28 2020 4 mins
Some common life-saving medicines, such as insulin, are made of proteins so large and fragile that they need to be injected instead of ingested as pills. But a new generation of medicine -- made from smaller, more durable proteins known as peptides -- is on its way. In a quick, informative talk, molecular engineer and TED Fellow Christopher Bahl explains how he's using computational design to create powerful peptides that could one day neutralize the flu, protect against botulism poisoning and even stop cancer cells from growing.
The science of friction -- and its surprising impact on our lives | Jennifer Vail
Feb 05 2020 11 mins
Tribology: it's a funny-sounding word you might not have heard before, but it could change how you see and interact with the physical world, says mechanical engineer Jennifer Vail. Offering lessons from tribology -- the study of friction and wear -- Vail describes the surprisingly varied ways it impacts everyday life and how it could help us make a better world.
What a nun can teach a scientist about ecology | Victoria Gill
Feb 12 2020 13 mins
To save the achoque -- an exotic (and adorable) salamander found in a lake in northern Mexico -- scientists teamed up with an unexpected research partner: a group of nuns called the Sisters of the Immaculate Health. In this delightful talk, science journalist Victoria Gill shares the story of how this unusual collaboration saved the achoque from extinction -- and demonstrates how local and indigenous people could hold the secret to saving our planet's weird, wonderful and most threatened species.
How a miniaturized atomic clock could revolutionize space exploration | Jill Seubert
Mar 05 2020 11 mins
Ask any deep space navigator like Jill Seubert what makes steering a spacecraft difficult, and they'll tell you it's all about the timing; a split-second can decide a mission's success or failure. So what do you do when a spacecraft is bad at telling time? You get it a clock -- an atomic clock, to be precise. Let Seubert whisk you away with the revolutionary potential of a future where you could receive stellar, GPS-like directions -- no matter where you are in the universe.
The dangers of a noisy ocean -- and how we can quiet it down | Nicola Jones
Mar 11 2020 13 mins
The ocean is a naturally noisy place full of singing whales, grunting fish, snapping shrimp, cracking ice, wind and rain. But human-made sounds -- from ship engines to oil drilling -- have become an acute threat to marine life, says science journalist Nicola Jones. Watch (and listen) as she discusses the strange things that happen to underwater creatures in the face of ocean noise pollution -- and shares straightforward ways we can dial down the sound to see almost immediate impacts.
How we could change the planet's climate future | David Wallace-Wells
Mar 13 2020 11 mins
The climate crisis is too vast and complicated to solve with a silver bullet, says author David Wallace-Wells. What we need is a shift in how we live. Follow along as he lays out some of the dramatic actions we could take to build a livable, prosperous world in the age of global warming.
The weird history of the "sex chromosomes" | Molly Webster
Mar 23 2020 13 mins
The common thinking on biological sex goes like this: females have two X chromosomes in their cells, while males have one X and one Y. In this myth-busting talk, science writer and podcaster Molly Webster shows why the so-called "sex chromosomes" are more complicated than this simple definition -- and reveals why we should think about them differently.
Indigenous knowledge meets science to solve climate change | Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim
Mar 27 2020 13 mins
To tackle a problem as large as climate change, we need both science and Indigenous wisdom, says environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim. In this engaging talk, she shares how her nomadic community in Chad is working closely with scientists to restore endangered ecosystems -- and offers lessons on how to create more resilient communities.
The quest for the coronavirus vaccine | Seth Berkley
Mar 27 2020 62 mins
When will the coronavirus vaccine be ready? Epidemiologist Seth Berkley (head of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance) takes us inside the effort to create a vaccine for COVID-19. With clarity and urgency, he explains what makes it so challenging to develop, when we can expect it to be rolled out at scale and why we'll need global collaboration to get it done. (This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers. Recorded March 26, 2020)
How you can help save the monarch butterfly -- and the planet | Mary Ellen Hannibal
Apr 01 2020 11 mins
Monarch butterflies are dying at an alarming rate around the world -- a looming extinction that could also put human life at risk. But we have just the thing to help save these insects, says author Mary Ellen Hannibal: citizen scientists. Learn how these grassroots volunteers are playing a crucial role in measuring and rescuing the monarch's dwindling population -- and how you could join their ranks to help protect nature. (You'll be in good company: Charles Darwin was a citizen scientist!)
How to make pandemics optional, not inevitable | Sonia Shah
Apr 01 2020 43 mins
What can past pandemics teach us how to tackle the current one? Tracing the history of contagions from cholera to Ebola and beyond, science journalist Sonia Shah explains why we're more vulnerable to outbreaks now than ever before, what we can do to minimize the spread of coronavirus and how to prevent future pandemics. (This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series, hosted by science curator David Biello and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers. Recorded March 31, 2020)
A history of Indigenous languages -- and how to revitalize them | Lindsay Morcom
Apr 07 2020 13 mins
Indigenous languages across North America are under threat of extinction due to the colonial legacy of cultural erasure, says linguist Lindsay Morcom. Highlighting grassroots strategies developed by the Anishinaabe people of Canada to revive their language and community, Morcom makes a passionate case for enacting policies that could protect Indigenous heritage for generations to come.
The galactic recipe for a living planet | Karin Öberg
Apr 10 2020 13 mins
Did you know that one of the most notorious poisons is also a key ingredient for life as we know it? Join space chemist Karin Öberg and learn how she scans the universe in search of this paradoxical chemical using ALMA, the world's largest radio telescope, to detect hotbeds of molecular activity and the formation of life-sustaining planets.
The wonders of the molecular world, animated | Janet Iwasa
Apr 13 2020 6 mins
Some biological structures are so small that scientists can't see them with even the most powerful microscopes. That's where molecular animator and TED Fellow Janet Iwasa gets creative. Explore vast, unseen molecular worlds as she shares mesmerizing animations that imagine how they might work.
An ER doctor on triaging your "crazy busy" life | Darria Long
May 13 2020 11 mins
How do doctors in the emergency room stay calm and focused amidst the chaos? Drawing on years of experience, ER doctor Darria Long shares a straightforward framework to help you take back control and feel less overwhelmed when life starts to get "crazy busy."
Let's make the world wild again | Kristine Tompkins
May 26 2020 16 mins
Earth, humanity and nature are inextricably interconnected. To restore us all back to health, we need to "rewild" the world, says environmental activist Kristine Tompkins. Tracing her life from Patagonia CEO to passionate conservationist, she shares how she has helped to establish national parks across millions of acres of land (and sea) in South America -- and discusses the critical role we all have to play to heal the planet. "We have a common destiny," she says. "We can flourish or we can suffer, but we're going to be doing it together."
A dose of reality about generic drugs | Katherine Eban
Jun 17 2020 16 mins
Investigative journalist Katherine Eban set out to report on a seemingly straightforward question: Are generic drugs really identical to their brand-name counterparts? The answer sparked a decade of interviews, meetings with whistleblowers, on-the-ground reporting across four continents and digging into confidential FDA documents. In this alarming talk, she takes us inside overseas manufacturing plants and exposes the fraud behind many low-cost generic medicines.
The new science of personalized vaccines | Ofer Levy
Jun 18 2020 11 mins
At the intersection of precision medicine and vaccinology lies a revolutionary scientific pursuit: personalized vaccines. Infectious disease specialist Ofer Levy introduces this promising medical approach, in which tailored inoculations will enable effective immunization of the most vulnerable among us, including the young and elderly, and shares how we're now venturing into a new era of sustaining and supporting human life. (This talk contains graphic medical imagery.)
The case to infect volunteers with COVID-19 to accelerate vaccine testing | Nir Eyal
Jun 25 2020 18 mins
Conventional vaccine testing is a slow, years-long process. As thousands of people continue to die each day from COVID-19, bioethicist Nir Eyal proposes a radical idea that could dramatically accelerate the vaccine development timeline: "human challenge trials," in which scientists would deliberately expose volunteers to the virus to more quickly determine a vaccine's efficacy. (This virtual conversation, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson, was recorded June 15, 2020.)