Our poop and pee have superpowers, but for the most part we don't harness them. Molly Winter faces down our squeamishness and asks us to see what goes down the toilet as a resource, one that can help fight climate change, spur innovation and even save us money.
"A forest is much more than what you see," says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery -- trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.
Neuroengineer Ed Boyden wants to know how the tiny biomolecules in our brains generate emotions, thoughts and feelings -- and he wants to find the molecular changes that lead to disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer's. Rather than magnify these invisible structures with a microscope, he wondered: What if we physically enlarge them and make them easier to see? Learn how the same polymers used to make baby diapers swell could be a key to better understanding our brains.
eL Seed fuses Arabic calligraphy with graffiti to paint colorful, swirling messages of hope and peace on buildings from Tunisia to Paris. The artist and TED Fellow shares the story of his most ambitious project yet: a mural painted across 50 buildings in Manshiyat Naser, a district of Cairo, Egypt, that can only be fully seen from a nearby mountain.
At the intersection of medical invention and indigenous culture, pediatric cardiologist Franz Freudenthal mends holes in the hearts of children across the world, using a device born from traditional Bolivian loom weaving. "The most complex problems in our time," he says, "can be solved with simple techniques, if we are able to dream."
What happens when the way we buy, sell and pay for things changes, perhaps even removing the need for banks or currency exchange bureaus? That's the radical promise of a world powered by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. We're not there yet, but in this sparky talk, digital currency researcher Neha Narula describes the collective fiction of money -- and paints a picture of a very different looking future.
Gerard Ryle led the international team that divulged the Panama Papers, the 11.5 million leaked documents from 40 years of activity of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that have offered an unprecedented glimpse into the scope and methods of the secretive world of offshore finance. Hear the story behind the biggest collaborative journalism project in history.
Adam Savage makes things and builds experiments, and he uses costumes to add humor, color and clarity to the stories he tells. Tracing his lifelong love of costumes -- from a childhood space helmet made of an ice cream tub to a No-Face costume he wore to Comic-Con -- Savage explores the world of cosplay and the meaning it creates for its community. "We're connecting with something important inside of us," he says. "The costumes are how we reveal ourselves to each other."
How do you define "nature?" If we define it as that which is untouched by humans, then we won't have any left, says environmental writer Emma Marris. She urges us to consider a new definition of nature -- one that includes not only pristine wilderness but also the untended patches of plants growing in urban spaces -- and encourages us to bring our children out to touch and tinker with it, so that one day they might love and protect it.
If you want to build a business that lasts, there may be no better place to look for inspiration than your own immune system. Join strategist Martin Reeves as he shares startling statistics about shrinking corporate life spans and explains how executives can apply six principles from living organisms to build resilient businesses that flourish in the face of change.
Machine learning isn't just for simple tasks like assessing credit risk and sorting mail anymore -- today, it's capable of far more complex applications, like grading essays and diagnosing diseases. With these advances comes an uneasy question: Will a robot do your job in the future?
Professional Arab women juggle more responsibilities than their male counterparts, and they face more cultural rigidity than Western women. What can their success teach us about tenacity, competition, priorities and progress? Tracing her career as an engineer, advocate and mother in Abu Dhabi, Leila Hoteit shares three lessons for thriving in the modern world.
Forests don't have to be far-flung nature reserves, isolated from human life. Instead, we can grow them right where we are -- even in cities. Eco-entrepreneur and TED Fellow Shubhendu Sharma grows ultra-dense, biodiverse mini-forests of native species in urban areas by engineering soil, microbes and biomass to kickstart natural growth processes. Follow along as he describes how to grow a 100-year-old forest in just 10 years, and learn how you can get in on this tiny jungle party.
"Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, and Earth is just right," says planetary scientist Dave Brain. But why? In this pleasantly humorous talk, Brain explores the fascinating science behind what it takes for a planet to host life -- and why humanity may just be in the right place at the right time when it comes to the timeline of life-sustaining planets.
What do you get when you combine the strongest materials from the plant world with the most elastic ones from the insect kingdom? Super-performing materials that might transform ... everything. Nanobiotechnologist Oded Shoseyov walks us through examples of amazing materials found throughout nature, in everything from cat fleas to sequoia trees, and shows the creative ways his team is harnessing them in everything from sports shoes to medical implants.
We are embarrassingly unaware of how divided our societies are, and Brexit grew out of a deep, unexamined divide between those that fear globalization and those that embrace it, says social scientist Alexander Betts. How do we now address that fear as well as growing disillusionment with the political establishment, while refusing to give in to xenophobia and nationalism? Join Betts as he discusses four post-Brexit steps toward a more inclusive world.
Throughout history, speculation has spurred beautiful, revolutionary science -- opening our eyes to entirely new universes. "I'm not talking about science that takes baby steps," says Eric Haseltine. "I'm talking about science that takes enormous leaps." In this talk, Haseltine passionately takes us to the edges of intellectual pursuit with two ideas -- one that's already made history, and the other that's digging into one of humanity's biggest questions with admirable ambition (and a healthy dose of skepticism from many).
What caused the war in Syria? Oppression, drought and religious differences all played key roles, but Marwa Al-Sabouni suggests another reason: architecture. Speaking to us over the Internet from Homs, where for the last six years she has watched the war tear her city apart, Al-Sabouni suggests that Syria's architecture divided its once tolerant and multicultural society into single-identity enclaves defined by class and religion. The country's future now depends on how it chooses to rebuild.
We're heading for a world population of 10 billion people -- but what will we all eat? Lisa Dyson rediscovered an idea developed by NASA in the 1960s for deep-space travel, and it could be a key to reinventing how we grow food.
Artist Safwat Saleem grew up with a stutter -- but as an independent animator, he decided to do his own voiceovers to give life to his characters. When YouTube commenters started mocking his Pakistani accent, it crushed him, and his voice began to leave his work. Hear how this TED Fellow reclaimed his voice and confidence in this charming, thoughtful talk.
John Legend is on a mission to transform America's criminal justice system. Through his Free America campaign, he's encouraging rehabilitation and healing in our prisons, jails and detention centers -- and giving hope to those who want to create a better life after serving their time. With a spoken-word prelude from James Cavitt, an inmate at San Quentin State Prison, Legend treats us to his version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." "Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom?"
Perspective is everything, especially when it comes to examining your beliefs. Are you a soldier, prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs -- or a scout, spurred by curiosity? Julia Galef examines the motivations behind these two mindsets and how they shape the way we interpret information, interweaved with a compelling history lesson from 19th-century France. When your steadfast opinions are tested, Galef asks: "What do you most yearn for? Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?"
TED Fellow Prosanta Chakrabarty explores hidden parts of the world in search of new species of cave-dwelling fish. These subterranean creatures have developed fascinating adaptations, and they provide biological insights into blindness as well as geological clues about how the continents broke apart million of years ago. Contemplate deep time in this short talk.
Gill Hicks's story is one of compassion and humanity, emerging from the ashes of chaos and hate. A survivor of the London terrorist bombings on July 7, 2005, she shares her story of the events of that day -- and the profound lessons that came as she learned how to live on.
Wanda Diaz Merced studies the light emitted by gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic events in the universe. When she lost her sight and was left without a way to do her science, she had a revelatory insight: the light curves she could no longer see could be translated into sound. Through sonification, she regained mastery over her work, and now she's advocating for a more inclusive scientific community. "Science is for everyone," she says. "It has to be available to everyone, because we are all natural explorers."
We're on the edge of a new frontier in art and creativity -- and it's not human. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, principal scientist at Google, works with deep neural networks for machine perception and distributed learning. In this captivating demo, he shows how neural nets trained to recognize images can be run in reverse, to generate them. The results: spectacular, hallucinatory collages (and poems!) that defy categorization. "Perception and creativity are very intimately connected," Agüera y Arcas says. "Any creature, any being that is able to do perceptual acts is also able to create."
Architecture is more than a clever arrangement of bricks. In this eloquent talk, Michael Murphy shows how he and his team look far beyond the blueprint when they're designing. Considering factors from airflow to light, theirs is a holistic approach that produces community as well as (beautiful) buildings. He takes us on a tour of projects in countries such as Rwanda and Haiti, and reveals a moving, ambitious plan for The Memorial to Peace and Justice, which he hopes will heal hearts in the American South.
How do you build a product people really want? Allow consumers to be a part of the process. "Empathy for what your customers want is probably the biggest leading indicator of business success," says designer Tom Hulme. In this short talk, Hulme lays out three insightful examples of the intersection of design and user experience, where people have developed their own desire paths out of necessity. Once you know how to spot them, you'll start noticing them everywhere.
What makes you, you? Psychologists like to talk about our traits, or defined characteristics that make us who we are. But Brian Little is more interested in moments when we transcend those traits -- sometimes because our culture demands it of us, and sometimes because we demand it of ourselves. Join Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.