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.
Divisions along religious lines are deepening, and we're doubting more and more how much we have in common. How can we stand boldly and visibly together? Inspired by an idea from her collaborator Yazmany Arboleda, place-maker Nabila Alibhai and her colleagues created "Colour in Faith," a social practice art project that unites people of different religions by getting them to paint each other's houses of worship yellow, in a show of solidarity. "We've proven that the human family can come together and send a message far brighter and more powerful than the voices of those that wish to do us harm," Alibhai says.
For the past 70 years, scientists in Britain have been studying thousands of children through their lives to find out why some end up happy and healthy while others struggle. It's the longest-running study of human development in the world, and it's produced some of the best-studied people on the planet while changing the way we live, learn and parent. Reviewing this remarkable research, science journalist Helen Pearson shares some important findings and simple truths about life and good parenting.
With more than half of the world population living in cities, one thing is undeniable: we are an urban species. Part game, part urban planning sketching tool, "Cities: Skylines" encourages people to use their creativity and self-expression to rethink the cities of tomorrow. Designer Karoliina Korppoo takes us on a tour through some extraordinary places users have created, from futuristic fantasy cities to remarkably realistic landscapes. What does your dream city look like?
How can Africa, the home to some of the largest bodies of water in the world, be said to have a water crisis? It doesn't, says Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò -- it has a knowledge crisis. Táíwò suggests that lack of knowledge on important topics like water and food is what stands between Africa's current state and a future of prosperity. In a powerful talk, he calls for Africa to make the production of knowledge within the continent rewarding and reclaim its position as a locus of learning on behalf of humanity.
In the century-old statues that occupy Cape Town, Sethembile Mzesane didn't see anything that looked like her own reality. So she became a living sculpture herself, standing for hours on end in public spaces dressed in symbolic costumes, to reclaim the city and its public spaces for her community. In this powerful, tour-de-force talk, she shares the stories and motivation behind her mesmerizing performance art.
Between 2008 and 2016, the United States deported more than three million people. What happens to those left behind? Journalist Duarte Geraldino picks up the story of deportation where the state leaves off. Learn more about the wider impact of forced removal as Geraldino explains how the sudden absence of a mother, a local business owner or a high school student ripples outward and wreaks havoc on the relationships that hold our communities together.
"There are a lot of resources given by nature for free -- all we need is our sensitivity to see them and our creativity to use them," says architect Anna Heringer. Heringer uses low-tech materials like mud and bamboo to create structures from China to Switzerland, Bangladesh and beyond. Visit an awe-inspiring school, an elegant office and cozy social spaces -- all built from natural materials -- in this delightful talk.
Don't believe predictions that say the future is trending towards city living. Urbanization is actually reaching the end of its cycle, says logistics expert Julio Gil, and soon more people will be choosing to live (and work) in the countryside, thanks to rapid advances in augmented reality, autonomous delivery, off-the-grid energy and other technologies. Think outside city walls and consider the advantages of country living with this forward-thinking talk.
Can you still be friends with someone who doesn't vote the same way as you? For Caitlin Quattromani and Lauran Arledge, two best friends who think very differently about politics, the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election could have resulted in hostility and disrespect. Hear about how they chose to engage in dialogue instead -- and learn some simple tactics they're using to maintain their bipartisan friendship.
Forget quinoa. Meet fonio, an ancient "miracle grain" native to Senegal that's versatile, nutritious and gluten-free. In this passionate talk, chef Pierre Thiam shares his obsession with the hardy crop and explains why he believes that its industrial-scale cultivation could transform societies in Africa.
How can disadvantaged students succeed in school? For sociologist Anindya Kundu, grit and stick-to-itiveness aren't enough; students also need to develop their agency, or their capacity to overcome obstacles and navigate the system. He shares hopeful stories of students who have defied expectations in the face of personal, social and institutional challenges.
Underneath every shiny new megacity, there's often a story of communities displaced. In this moving, poetic talk, OluTimehin Adegbeye details how government land grabs are destroying the lives of thousands who live in the coastal communities of Lagos, Nigeria, to make way for a "new Dubai." She compels us to hold our governments and ourselves accountable for keeping our cities safe for everyone. "The only cities worth building, indeed the only futures worth dreaming of, are those that include all of us, no matter who we are or how we make homes for ourselves," she says.
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.
What if you could know exactly how food or medication would impact your health -- before you put it in your body? Genomics researcher Jun Wang is working to develop digital doppelgangers for real people; they start with genetic code, but they'll also factor in other kinds of data as well, from food intake to sleep to data collected by a "smart toilet." With all of this valuable information, Wang hopes to create an engine that will change the way we think about health, both on an individual level and as a collective.
Science fiction visions of the future show us AI built to replicate our way of thinking -- but what if we modeled it instead on the other kinds of intelligence found in nature? Robotics engineer Radhika Nagpal studies the collective intelligence displayed by insects and fish schools, seeking to understand their rules of engagement. In a visionary talk, she presents her work creating artificial collective power and previews a future where swarms of robots work together to build flood barriers, pollinate crops, monitor coral reefs and form constellations of satellites.
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.
What makes our bodies age ... our skin wrinkle, our hair turn white, our immune systems weaken? Biologist Elizabeth Blackburn shares a Nobel Prize for her work finding out the answer, with the discovery of telomerase: an enzyme that replenishes the caps at the end of chromosomes, which break down when cells divide. Learn more about Blackburn's groundbreaking research -- including how we might have more control over aging than we think.
We've heard a lot of rhetoric lately suggesting that countries like the US are losing valuable manufacturing jobs to lower-cost markets like China, Mexico and Vietnam -- and that protectionism is the best way forward. But those jobs haven't disappeared for the reasons you may think, says border and logistics specialist Augie Picado. He gives us a reality check about what global trade really looks like and how shared production and open borders help us make higher quality products at lower costs.
What's stopping the American government from recording your phone calls, reading your emails and monitoring your location? Very little, says surveillance and cybersecurity counsel Jennifer Granick. The government collects all kinds of information about you easily, cheaply and without a warrant -- and if you've ever participated in a protest or attended a gun show, you're likely a person of interest. Learn more about your rights, your risks and how to protect yourself in the golden age of surveillance.
In a mind-bending talk that blurs the line between science and art, Tomás Saraceno exhibits a series of air-inspired sculptures and installations designed to usher in a new era of sustainability, the "Aerocene." From giant, cloud-like playgrounds suspended 22 meters in the air to a balloon sculpture that travels the world without burning a single drop of fossil fuel, Saraceno's work invites us to explore the bounds of our fragile human and terrestrial ecosystems. (In Spanish with English subtitles)
We all have origin stories and identity myths, our tribal narratives that give us a sense of security and belonging. But sometimes our small-group identities can keep us from connecting with humanity as a whole -- and even keep us from seeing others as human. In a powerful talk about how we understand who we are, Chetan Bhatt challenges us to think creatively about each other and our future. As he puts it: it's time to change the question from "Where are you from?" to "Where are you going?"
Every artist has a name, and every artist has a story. Laolu Senbanjo's story started in Nigeria, where he was surrounded by the culture and mythology of the Yoruba, and brought him to law school, to New York and eventually to work on Beyoncé's "Lemonade." He shares what he calls "The Sacred Art of the Ori," art that uses skin as canvas and connects artist and muse through mind, body and soul.
Physics doesn't just happen in a fancy lab -- it happens when you push a piece of buttered toast off the table or drop a couple of raisins in a fizzy drink or watch a coffee spill dry. Become a more interesting dinner guest as physicist Helen Czerski presents various concepts in physics you can become familiar with using everyday things found in your kitchen.
Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there's a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life -- serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you -- gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.
The treatment of HIV has significantly advanced over the past three decades -- why hasn't our perception of people with the disease advanced along with it? After being diagnosed with HIV, Arik Hartmann chose to live transparently, being open about his status, in an effort to educate people. In this candid, personal talk, he shares what it's like to live with HIV -- and calls on us to dismiss our misconceptions about the disease.
What if you knew what your coworkers really thought about you and what they were really like? Ray Dalio makes the business case for using radical transparency and algorithmic decision-making to create an idea meritocracy where people can speak up and say what they really think -- even calling out the boss is fair game. Learn more about how these strategies helped Dalio create one of the world's most successful hedge funds and how you might harness the power of data-driven group decision-making.
Meet the "ems" -- machines that emulate human brains and can think, feel and work just like the brains they're copied from. Futurist and social scientist Robin Hanson describes a possible future when ems take over the global economy, running on superfast computers and copying themselves to multitask, leaving humans with only one choice: to retire, forever. Glimpse a strange future as Hanson describes what could happen if robots ruled the earth.
We're so used to narratives out of Africa being about war, poverty and devastation, says TED Fellow Wanuri Kahiu. Where's the fun? Introducing "AfroBubbleGum" -- African art that's vibrant, lighthearted and without a political agenda. Rethink the value of all that is unserious as Kahiu explains why we need art that captures the full range of human experiences to tell the stories of Africa.
Terrorists and extremists aren't all naturally violent sociopaths -- they're deliberately recruited and radicalized in a process that doesn't fit into a neat pattern. Erin Marie Saltman discusses the push and pull factors that cause people to join extremist groups and explains innovative ways of preventing and countering radicalization.