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.
We need women to work, and we need working women to have babies. So why is America one of the only countries in the world that offers no national paid leave to new working mothers? In this incisive talk, Jessica Shortall makes the impassioned case that the reality of new working motherhood in America is both hidden and horrible: millions of women, every year, are forced back to work within just weeks of giving birth. Her idea worth spreading: the time has come for us to recognize the economic, physical and psychological costs of our approach to working mothers and their babies, and to secure our economic future by providing paid leave to all working parents.
How can technology help improve our quality of life? How can we navigate the world without using the sense of vision? Inventor and IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa, who's been blind since the age of fourteen, is working on answering these questions. In a charming demo, she shows off some new technology that's helping blind people explore the world ever more independently ... because, she suggests, when we design for greater accessibility, everyone benefits.
Ann Morgan considered herself well read -- until she discovered the "massive blindspot" on her bookshelf. Amid a multitude of English and American authors, there were very few books from beyond the English-speaking world. So she set an ambitious goal: to read one book from every country in the world over the course of a year. Now she's urging other Anglophiles to read translated works so that publishers will work harder to bring foreign literary gems back to their shores. Explore interactive maps of her reading journey here: go.ted.com/readtheworld
Marina Abramović's art pushes the boundary between audience and artist in pursuit of heightened consciousness and personal change. In her groundbreaking 2010 work, "The Artist Is Present," she simply sat in a chair facing her audience, for eight hours a day ... with powerfully moving results. Her boldest work may still be yet to come -- it's taking the form of a sprawling art institute devoted to experimentation and simple acts done with mindful attention. "Nothing happens if you always do things the same way," she says. "My method is to do things I'm afraid of, the things I don't know, to go to territory that nobody's ever been."
Given the choice between a job candidate with a perfect resume and one who has fought through difficulty, human resources executive Regina Hartley always gives the "Scrapper" a chance. As someone who grew up with adversity, Hartley knows that those who flourish in the darkest of spaces are empowered with the grit to persist in an ever-changing workplace. "Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose," she says. "Hire the Scrapper."
For the people of Kiribati, climate change isn't something to be debated, denied or legislated against -- it's an everyday reality. The low-lying Pacific island nation may soon be underwater, thanks to rising sea levels. In a personal conversation with TED Curator Chris Anderson, Kiribati President Anote Tong discusses his country's present climate catastrophe and its imperiled future. "In order to deal with climate change, there's got to be sacrifice. There's got to be commitment," he says. "We've got to tell people that the world has changed."
In this breathtaking talk, world champion freediver Guillaume Néry takes us with him into the ocean's depths. Meter by meter, he explains the physical and emotional impact of water pressure, silence and holding your breath. His eloquent description of the underwater experience reveals the hidden poetry of freediving.
Written language, the hallmark of human civilization, didn't just suddenly appear one day. Thousands of years before the first fully developed writing systems, our ancestors scrawled geometric signs across the walls of the caves they sheltered in. Paleoanthropologist, rock art researcher and TED Senior Fellow Genevieve von Petzinger has studied and codified these ancient markings in caves across Europe. The uniformity of her findings suggest that graphic communication, and the ability to preserve and transmit messages beyond a single moment in time, may be much older than we think.
What if you could experience a story with your entire body, not just with your mind? Nonny de la Peña is working on a new form of journalism that combines traditional reporting with emerging virtual reality technology to put the audience inside the story. The result is an evocative experience that de la Peña hopes will help people understand the news in a brand new way.
For architect Ole Scheeren, the people who live and work inside a building are as much a part of that building as concrete, steel and glass. He asks: Can architecture be about collaboration and storytelling instead of the isolation and hierarchy of a typical skyscraper? Visit five of Scheeren's buildings -- from a twisted tower in China to a floating cinema in the ocean in Thailand -- and learn the stories behind them.
In April 2003, just as American troops began rolling into Baghdad, a shell smashed into the building author and war correspondent Jean-Paul Mari was reporting from. There he had a face-to-face encounter with death, beginning his acquaintance with a phantom that has haunted those who have risked their lives on battlefields since ancient times. "What is this thing that can kill you without leaving any visible scars?" Mari asks. We know it as post-traumatic stress disorder -- or, as Mari describes it, an experience with the void of death. In this probing talk, he searches for answers to questions about mortality and psychosis and in the aftermath of horror and trauma.
What's going on inside the brains of animals? Can we know what, or if, they're thinking and feeling? Carl Safina thinks we can. Using discoveries and anecdotes that span ecology, biology and behavioral science, he weaves together stories of whales, wolves, elephants and albatrosses to argue that just as we think, feel, use tools and express emotions, so too do the other creatures – and minds – that share the Earth with us.
How do we respect someone's religious beliefs, while also holding religion accountable for the damage those beliefs may cause? Chelsea Shields has a bold answer to this question. She was raised in the orthodox Mormon tradition, and she spent the early part of her life watching women be excluded from positions of importance within the LDS Church. Now, this anthropologist, activist and TED Fellow is working to reform her church's institutionalized gender inequality. "Religions can liberate or subjugate, they can empower or exploit, they can comfort or destroy," she says. "What is taught on the Sabbath leaks into our politics, our health policy, violence around the world."
Josh Luber is a "sneakerhead," a collector of rare or limited sneakers. With their insatiable appetite for exclusive sneakers, these tastemakers drive marketing and create hype for the brands they love, specifically Nike, which absolutely dominates the multi-billion dollar secondary market for sneakers. Luber's company, Campless, collects data about this market and analyzes it for collectors and investors. In this talk, he takes us on a journey into this complicated, unregulated market and imagines how it could be a model for a stock market for commerce.
As a gay couple in San Francisco, Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols had a relatively easy time living the way they wanted. But outside the bubble of the Bay Area, what was life like for people still lacking basic rights? They set off on a world tour in search of "Supergays," LGBT people who were doing something extraordinary in the world. In 15 countries across Africa, Asia and South America -- from India, recently home to the world's first openly gay prince, to Argentina, the first country in Latin America to grant marriage equality -- they found the inspiring stories and the courageous, resilient and proud Supergays they had been looking for.
Search engines have become our most trusted sources of information and arbiters of truth. But can we ever get an unbiased search result? Swedish author and journalist Andreas Ekström argues that such a thing is a philosophical impossibility. In this thoughtful talk, he calls on us to strengthen the bonds between technology and the humanities, and he reminds us that behind every algorithm is a set of personal beliefs that no code can ever completely eradicate.
What if we could use existing technologies to provide Internet access to the more than 4 billion people living in places where the infrastructure can't support it? Using off-the-shelf LEDs and solar cells, Harald Haas and his team have pioneered a new technology that transmits data using light, and it may just be the key to bridging the digital divide. Take a look at what the future of the Internet could look like.
Although the tapir is one of the world's largest land mammals, the lives of these solitary, nocturnal creatures have remained a mystery. Known as "the living fossil," the very same tapir that roams the forests and grasslands of South America today arrived on the evolutionary scene more than 5 million years ago. But threats from poachers, deforestation and pollution, especially in quickly industrializing Brazil, threaten this longevity. In this insightful talk, conservation biologist, tapir expert and TED Fellow Patrícia Medici shares her work with these amazing animals and challenges us with a question: Do we want to be responsible for their extinction?
A genre unto herself, Kaki King fuses the ancient tradition of working with one's hands with digital technology, projection-mapping imagery onto her guitar in her groundbreaking multimedia work "The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body." Using her guitar's neck like a keyboard, she plays an intricate melody as she takes the audience on a musical journey of light and sound. She calls it "guitar as paintbrush."
In 2013, the world learned that the NSA and its UK equivalent, GCHQ, routinely spied on the German government. Amid the outrage, artists Mathias Jud and Christoph Wachter thought: Well, if they're listening ... let's talk to them. With antennas mounted on the roof of the Swiss Embassy in Berlin's government district, they set up an open network that let the world send messages to US and UK spies listening nearby. It's one of three bold, often funny, and frankly subversive works detailed in this talk, which highlights the world's growing discontent with surveillance and closed networks.
When a family falls into crisis -- and it sometimes happens, thanks to unemployment, drugs, bad relationships and bad luck -- the social services system is supposed to step in and help them get back on track. As Hilary Cottam shows, in the UK a typical family in crisis can be eligible for services from more than 70 different agencies, but it's unlikely that any one of them can really make a difference. Cottam, a social entrepreneur herself, asks us to think about the ways we solve deep and complex social problems. How can we build supportive, enthusiastic relationships between those in need and those that provide help?
At the Harbour School in Hong Kong, TED Senior Fellow Cesar Harada teaches citizen science and invention to the next generation of environmentalists. He's moved his classroom into an industrial mega-space where imaginative kids work with wood, metal, chemistry, biology, optics and, occasionally, power tools to create solutions to the threats facing the world's oceans. There, he instills a universal lesson that his own parents taught him at a young age: "You can make a mess, but you have to clean up after yourself."
When a young woman texted DoSomething.org with a heartbreaking cry for help, the organization responded by opening a nationwide Crisis Text Line for people in pain. Nearly 10 million text messages later, the organization is using the privacy and power of text messaging to help people handle addiction, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, sexual abuse and more. But there's an even bigger win: The anonymous data collected by text is teaching us when crises are most likely to happen -- and helping schools and law enforcement to prepare for them.
You're not at your best when you're stressed. In fact, your brain has evolved over millennia to release cortisol in stressful situations, inhibiting rational, logical thinking but potentially helping you survive, say, being attacked by a lion. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin thinks there's a way to avoid making critical mistakes in stressful situations, when your thinking becomes clouded -- the pre-mortem. "We all are going to fail now and then," he says. "The idea is to think ahead to what those failures might be."
Cave explorer and geologist Francesco Sauro travels to the hidden continent under our feet, surveying deep, dark places inside the earth that humans have never been able to reach before. In the spectacular tepuis of South America, he finds new minerals and insects that have evolved in isolation, and he uses his knowledge of these alien worlds to train astronauts.
Aboard an overloaded ship carrying more than 500 refugees, a young woman becomes an unlikely hero. This single, powerful story, told by Melissa Fleming of the UN's refugee agency, gives a human face to the sheer numbers of human beings trying to escape to better lives ... as the refugee ships keep coming ...
Artist and TED Fellow Christine Sun Kim was born deaf, and she was taught to believe that sound wasn't a part of her life, that it was a hearing person's thing. Through her art, she discovered similarities between American Sign Language and music, and she realized that sound doesn't have to be known solely through the ears -- it can be felt, seen and experienced as an idea. In this endearing talk, she invites us to open our eyes and ears and participate in the rich treasure of visual language.
Designer Tea Uglow is creating a future in which humanity's love for natural solutions and simple tools can coexist with our need for information and the devices that provide us with it. "Reality is richer than screens," she says. "We can have a happy place filled with the information we love that feels as natural as switching on lightbulb."
Geneticist Jennifer Doudna co-invented a groundbreaking new technology for editing genes, called CRISPR-Cas9. The tool allows scientists to make precise edits to DNA strands, which could lead to treatments for genetic diseases ... but could also be used to create so-called "designer babies." Doudna reviews how CRISPR-Cas9 works -- and asks the scientific community to pause and discuss the ethics of this new tool.