A decade ago, US law said human genes were patentable -- which meant patent holders had the right to stop anyone from sequencing, testing or even looking at a patented gene. Troubled by the way this law both harmed patients and created a barrier to biomedical innovation, Tania Simoncelli and her colleagues at the ACLU challenged it. In this riveting talk, hear the story of how they took a case everybody told them they would lose all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most iconic buildings on earth -- but there's a lot you probably don't know about it. In this tour-de-force talk, art historian Elizabeth Lev guides us across the famous building's ceiling and Michelangelo's vital depiction of traditional stories, showing how the painter reached beyond the religious iconography of the time to chart new artistic waters. Five hundred years after the artist painted it, says Lev, the Sistine Chapel forces us to look around as if it were a mirror and ask, "Who am I, and what role do I play in this great theater of life?"
Just a few meters below the waves, marine biologist and explorer-photographer David Gruber discovered something amazing -- a surprising new range of sea creatures that glow in many colors in the ocean's dim blue light. Join his journey in search of biofluorescent sharks, seahorses, sea turtles and more, and learn how these light-up creatures could illuminate a new understanding of our own brains.
Have you wondered why politicians aren't what they used to be, why governments seem unable to solve real problems? Economist Yanis Varoufakis, the former Minister of Finance for Greece, says that it's because you can be in politics today but not be in power -- because real power now belongs to those who control the economy. He believes that the mega-rich and corporations are cannibalizing the political sphere, causing financial crisis. In this talk, hear his dream for a world in which capital and labor no longer struggle against each other, "one that is simultaneously libertarian, Marxist and Keynesian."
As the world's population grows and the effects of climate change come into sharper relief, we'll have to feed more people using less arable land. Molecular biologist Jill Farrant studies a rare phenomenon that may help: "resurrection plants" -- super-resilient plants that seemingly come back from the dead. Could they hold promise for growing food in our coming hotter, drier world?
If you read a poem and feel moved by it, but then find out it was actually written by a computer, would you feel differently about the experience? Would you think that the computer had expressed itself and been creative, or would you feel like you had fallen for a cheap trick? In this talk, writer Oscar Schwartz examines why we react so strongly to the idea of a computer writing poetry -- and how this reaction helps us understand what it means to be human.
What will the world look like when we move beyond the keyboard and mouse? Interaction designer Sean Follmer is building a future with machines that bring information to life under your fingers as you work with it. In this talk, check out prototypes for a 3D shape-shifting table, a phone that turns into a wristband, a deformable game controller and more that may change the way we live and work.
Cave diver Jill Heinerth explores the hidden underground waterways coursing through our planet. Working with biologists, climatologists and archaeologists, Heinerth unravels the mysteries of the life-forms that inhabit some of the earth's most remote places and helps researchers unlock the history of climate change. In this short talk, take a dive below the waves and explore the wonders of inner space.
The water hyacinth may look like a harmless, even beautiful flowering plant -- but it's actually an invasive aquatic weed that clogs waterways, stopping trade, interrupting schooling and disrupting everyday life. In this scourge, green entrepreneur Achenyo Idachaba saw opportunity. Follow her journey as she turns weeds into woven wonders.
We've invested so much in police departments as protectors that we have forgotten what it means to serve our communities, says Baltimore Police officer Lt. Colonel Melvin Russell. It's led to coldness and callousness, and it's dehumanized the police force. After taking over as district commander in one of Baltimore's toughest neighborhoods, Russell instituted a series of reforms aimed at winning back the trust of the community and lowering the violent crime rate. "Law enforcement is in a crisis," he says. "But it's not too late for all of us to build our cities and nation to make it great again."
Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as writer and comedian James Veitch narrates a hilarious, weeks-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal.
As the world's climate patterns continue to shift unpredictably, places where drinking water was once abundant may soon find reservoirs dry and groundwater aquifers depleted. In this talk, civil and environmental engineer David Sedlak shares four practical solutions to the ongoing urban water crisis. His goal: to shift our water supply towards new, local sources of water and create a system that is capable of withstanding any of the challenges climate change may throw at us in the coming years.
Does collecting more data lead to better decision-making? Competitive, data-savvy companies like Amazon, Google and Netflix have learned that data analysis alone doesn't always produce optimum results. In this talk, data scientist Sebastian Wernicke breaks down what goes wrong when we make decisions based purely on data -- and suggests a brainier way to use it.
Astronomer Aomawa Shields searches for clues that life might exist elsewhere in the universe by examining the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. When she isn't exploring the heavens, the classically trained actor (and TED Fellow) looks for ways to engage young women in the sciences using theater, writing and visual art. "Maybe one day they'll join the ranks of astronomers who are full of contradictions," she says, "and use their backgrounds to discover, once and for all, that we are truly not alone in the universe."
Challenges and problems can derail your creative process ... or they can make you more creative than ever. In the surprising story behind the best-selling solo piano album of all time, Tim Harford may just convince you of the advantages of having to work with a little mess.
Wael Ghonim helped touch off the Arab Spring in his home of Egypt ... by setting up a simple Facebook page. As he reveals, once the revolution spilled onto the streets, it turned from hopeful to messy, then ugly and heartbreaking. And social media followed suit. What was once a place for crowdsourcing, engaging and sharing became a polarized battleground. Ghonim asks: What can we do about online behavior now? How can we use the Internet and social media to create civility and reasoned argument?
What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it's fame and money, you're not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you're mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.
The Internet has transformed the front lines of war, and it's leaving governments behind. As security analyst Rodrigo Bijou shows, modern conflict is being waged online between non-state groups, activists and private corporations, and the digital landscape is proving to be fertile ground for the recruitment and radicalization of terrorists. Meanwhile, draconian surveillance programs are ripe for exploitation. Bijou urges governments to end mass surveillance programs and shut "backdoors" -- and he makes a bold call for individuals to step up.
António Guterres thinks that we can solve the global refugee crisis -- and he offers compelling, surprising reasons why we must try. In conversation with TED's Bruno Giussani, Guterres discusses the historical causes of the current crisis and outlines the mood of the European countries that are trying to screen, shelter and resettle hundreds of thousands of desperate families. Bigger picture: Guterres calls for a multilateral turn toward acceptance and respect -- to defy groups like ISIS's anti-refugee propaganda and recruiting machine.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Why does so much interesting stuff exist in the universe? Particle physicist Harry Cliff works on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and he has some potentially bad news for people who seek answers to these questions. Despite the best efforts of scientists (and the help of the biggest machine on the planet), we may never be able to explain all the weird features of nature. Is this the end of physics? Learn more in this fascinating talk about the latest research into the secret structure of the universe.
For sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the ocean is more than a muse -- it's an exhibition space and museum. Taylor creates sculptures of human forms and mundane life on land and sinks them to the ocean floor, where they are subsumed by the sea and transformed from lifeless stone into vibrant habitats for corals, crustaceans and other creatures. The result: Enigmatic, haunting and colorful commentaries about our transient existence, the sacredness of the ocean and its breathtaking power of regeneration.
Legendary duo Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have been friends for decades. In a raw, tender and wide-ranging conversation hosted by Pat Mitchell, the three discuss longevity, feminism, the differences between male and female friendship, what it means to live well and women's role in future of our planet. "I don't even know what I would do without my women friends," Fonda says. "I exist because I have my women friends."
"If you want to go out and start your own cemetery" in the UK, says Alison Killing, "you kind of can." She thinks a lot about where we die and are buried -- and in this talk, the architect and TED Fellow offers an eye-opening economic and social perspective on an overlooked feature of our towns and cities: the cemetery. Speaking specifically to UK laws, she unpacks the fascinating, sometimes funny, often contradictory laws about where you can be buried.
Nicole Paris was raised to be a beatboxer -- when she was young, her father, Ed Cage, used to beatbox her to sleep at night. Now the duo is known for their beatbox battles and jam sessions, which mix classic rap beats with electronic dance sounds. Prepare yourself for a bit of a hip-hop history lesson, and enjoy the show.
Raymond Wang is only 17 years old, but he's already helping to build a healthier future. Using fluid dynamics, he created computational simulations of how air moves on airplanes, and what he found is disturbing -- when a person sneezes on a plane, the airflow actually helps to spread pathogens to other passengers. Wang shares an unforgettable animation of how a sneeze travels inside a plane cabin as well as his prize-winning solution: a small, fin-shaped device that increases fresh airflow in airplanes and redirects pathogen-laden air out of circulation.
Hundreds of meters below the surface of the ocean, Laura Robinson probes the steep slopes of massive undersea mountains. She's on the hunt for thousand-year-old corals that she can test in a nuclear reactor to discover how the ocean changes over time. By studying the history of the earth, Robinson hopes to find clues of what might happen in the future.
The way we fish for popular seafood such as salmon, tuna and shrimp is threatening to ruin our oceans. Paul Greenberg explores the sheer size and irrationality of the seafood economy, and suggests a few specific ways we can change it, to benefit both the natural world and the people who depend on fishing for their livelihoods.
Downloadable, printable clothing may be coming to a closet near you. What started as designer Danit Peleg's fashion school project turned into a collection of 3D-printed designs that have the strength and flexibility for everyday wear. "Fashion is a very physical thing," she says. "I wonder what our world will look like when our clothes will be digital."
Jedidah Isler dreamt of becoming an astrophysicist since she was a young girl, but the odds were against her: At that time, only 18 black women in the United States had ever earned a PhD in a physics-related discipline. In this personal talk, she shares the story of how she became the first black woman to earn a PhD in astrophysics from Yale -- and her deep belief in the value of diversity to science and other STEM fields. "Do not think for one minute that because you are who you are, you cannot be who you imagine yourself to be," she says. "Hold fast to those dreams and let them carry you into a world you can't even imagine."
Kristen Marhaver studies corals, tiny creatures the size of a poppyseed that, over hundreds of slow years, create beautiful, life-sustaining ocean structures hundreds of miles long. As she admits, it's easy to get sad about the state of coral reefs; they're in the news lately because of how quickly they're bleaching, dying and turning to slime. But the good news is that we're learning more and more about these amazing marine invertebrates -- including how to help them (and help them help us). This biologist and TED Senior Fellow offers a glimpse into the wonderful and mysterious lives of these hard-working and fragile creatures.