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.
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."