In Zimbabwe in the 1980s, Mary Bassett witnessed the AIDS epidemic firsthand, and she helped set up a clinic to treat and educate local people about the deadly virus. But looking back, she regrets not sounding the alarm for the real problem: the structural inequities embedded in the world's political and economic organizations, inequities that make marginalized people more vulnerable. These same structural problems exist in the United States today, and as New York City's Health Commissioner, Bassett is using every chance she has to rally support for health equity and speak out against racism. "We don't have to have all the answers to call for change," she says. "We just need courage."
Uber didn't start out with grand ambitions to cut congestion and pollution. But as the company took off, co-founder Travis Kalanick wondered if there was a way to get people using Uber along the same routes to share rides, reducing costs and carbon footprint along the way. The result: uberPOOL, the company's carpooling service, which in its first eight months took 7.9 million miles off the roads and 1,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air in Los Angeles. Now, Kalanick says carpooling could work for commuters in the suburbs, too. "With the technology in our pockets today, and a little smart regulation," he says, "we can turn every car into a shared car, and we can reclaim our cities starting today."
When you look at Muslim scholar Dalia Mogahed, what do you see: A woman of faith? A scholar, a mom, a sister? Or an oppressed, brainwashed, potential terrorist? In this personal, powerful talk, Mogahed asks us, in this polarizing time, to fight negative perceptions of her faith in the media -- and to choose empathy over prejudice.
Why is Al Gore optimistic about climate change? In this spirited talk, Gore asks three powerful questions about the man-made forces threatening to destroy our planet -- and the solutions we're designing to combat them. (Featuring Q&A with TED curator Chris Anderson)
When you hear the word "drone," you probably think of something either very useful or very scary. But could they have aesthetic value? Autonomous systems expert Raffaello D'Andrea develops flying machines, and his latest projects are pushing the boundaries of autonomous flight -- from a flying wing that can hover and recover from disturbance to an eight-propeller craft that's ambivalent to orientation ... to a swarm of tiny coordinated micro-quadcopters. Prepare to be dazzled by a dreamy, swirling array of flying machines as they dance like fireflies above the TED stage.
More than a billion years ago, two black holes in a distant galaxy locked into a spiral, falling inexorably toward each other, and collided. "All that energy was pumped into the fabric of time and space itself," says theoretical physicist Allan Adams, "making the universe explode in roiling waves of gravity." About 25 years ago, a group of scientists built a giant laser detector called LIGO to search for these kinds of waves, which had been predicted but never observed. In this mind-bending talk, Adams breaks down what happened when, in September 2015, LIGO detected an unthinkably small anomaly, leading to one of the most exciting discoveries in the history of physics.
Shonda Rhimes, the titan behind Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, is responsible for some 70 hours of television per season, and she loves to work. "When I am hard at work, when I am deep in it, there is no other feeling," she says. She has a name for this feeling: The hum. The hum is a drug, the hum is music, the hum is God's whisper in her ear. But what happens when it stops? Is she anything besides the hum? In this moving talk, join Rhimes on a journey through her "year of yes" and find out how she got her hum back.
Textile artist Magda Sayeg transforms urban landscapes into her own playground by decorating everyday objects with colorful knit and crochet works. These warm, fuzzy "yarn bombs" started small, with stop sign poles and fire hydrants in Sayeg's hometown, but soon people found a connection to the craft and spread it across the world. "We all live in this fast-paced, digital world, but we still crave and desire something that's relatable," Sayeg says. "Hidden power can be found in the most unassuming places, and we all possess skills that are just waiting to be discovered."
If you take two different medications for two different reasons, here's a sobering thought: your doctor may not fully understand what happens when they're combined, because drug interactions are incredibly hard to study. In this fascinating and accessible talk, Russ Altman shows how doctors are studying unexpected drug interactions using a surprising resource: search engine queries.
When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations -- and that most of us don't converse very well. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. "Go out, talk to people, listen to people," she says. "And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed."
Somersaulting manta rays, dashing dolphins, swarming schools of fish and munching sharks inhabit a world beneath the ocean's surface that few get a chance to see. Conservation photographer Thomas Peschak visits incredible seascapes around the world, and his photos reveal these hidden ecosystems. "You can't love something and become a champion for it if you don't know it exists," he says. Join Peschak in a new, immersive TED Talk format as he shares his stunning work and his dream for a future of respectful coexistence with the ocean.
There are a few things that we all need: fresh air, water, food, shelter, love ... and a safe place to pee. For trans people who don't fit neatly into the gender binary, public restrooms are a major source of anxiety and the place where they are most likely to be questioned or harassed. In this poetically rhythmic talk, Ivan Coyote grapples with complex and intensely personal issues of gender identity and highlights the need for gender-neutral bathrooms in all public places.
What if we could grow delicious, nutrient-dense food, indoors anywhere in the world? Caleb Harper, director of the Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, wants to change the food system by connecting growers with technology. Get to know Harper's "food computers" and catch a glimpse of what the future of farming might look like.
Can global capital markets become catalysts for social change? According to investment expert Audrey Choi, individuals own almost half of all global capital, giving them (us!) the power to make a difference by investing in companies that champion social values and sustainability. "We have more opportunity today than ever before to make choices," she says. "So change your perspective. Invest in the change you want to see in the world."
Gregory Heyworth is a textual scientist; he and his lab work on new ways to read ancient manuscripts and maps using spectral imaging technology. In this fascinating talk, watch as Heyworth shines a light on lost history, deciphering texts that haven't been read in thousands of years. How could these lost classics rewrite what we know about the past?
Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain's inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair: Doublecortin-positive cells. Similar to stem cells, they are extremely adaptable and, when extracted from a brain, cultured and then re-injected in a lesioned area of the same brain, they can help repair and rebuild it. "With a little help," Bloch says, "the brain may be able to help itself."
Social justice advocate and law scholar Dorothy Roberts has a precise and powerful message: Race-based medicine is bad medicine. Even today, many doctors still use race as a medical shortcut; they make important decisions about things like pain tolerance based on a patient's skin color instead of medical observation and measurement. In this searing talk, Roberts lays out the lingering traces of race-based medicine -- and invites us to be a part of ending it. "It is more urgent than ever to finally abandon this backward legacy," she says, "and to affirm our common humanity by ending the social inequalities that truly divide us."
We're headed towards a global food crisis: Nearly 3 billion people depend on the ocean for food, and at our current rate we already take more fish from the ocean than it can naturally replace. In this fact-packed, eye-opening talk, entrepreneur and conservationist Mike Velings proposes a solution: Aquaculture, or fish farming. "We must start using the ocean as farmers instead of hunters," he says, echoing Jacques Cousteau. "The day will come where people will demand farmed fish on their plates that's farmed well and farmed healthy -- and refuse anything less."
How much do you know about intellectual disabilities? Special Olympics champion and ambassador Matthew Williams is proof that athletic competition and the camaraderie it fosters can transform lives, both on and off the field. Together with his fellow athletes, he invites you to join him at the next meet -- and challenges you to walk away with your heart unchanged.
When Ebola broke out in March 2014, Pardis Sabeti and her team got to work sequencing the virus's genome, learning how it mutated and spread. Sabeti immediately released her research online, so virus trackers and scientists from around the world could join in the urgent fight. In this talk, she shows how open cooperation was key to halting the virus ... and to attacking the next one to come along. "We had to work openly, we had to share and we had to work together," Sabeti says. "Let us not let the world be defined by the destruction wrought by one virus, but illuminated by billions of hearts and minds working in unity."
When Andrés Ruzo was a young boy in Peru, his grandfather told him a story with an odd detail: There is a river, deep in the Amazon, which boils as if a fire burns below it. Twelve years later, after training as a geoscientist, he set out on a journey deep into the jungle of South America in search of this boiling river. At a time when everything seems mapped and measured, join Ruzo as he explores a river that forces us to question the line between known and unknown ... and reminds us that there are great wonders yet to be discovered.
Economic growth is the defining challenge of our time; without it, political and social instability rises, human progress stagnates and societies grow dimmer. But, says economist Dambisa Moyo, dogmatic capitalism isn't creating the growth we need. As she shows, in both state-sponsored and market-driven models, capitalism is failing to solve social ills, fostering corruption and creating income inequality. Moyo surveys the current economic landscape and suggests that we have to start thinking about capitalism as a spectrum so we can blend the best of different models together to foster growth.
Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction -- from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they're bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.
Roboticist Auke Ijspeert designs biorobots, machines modeled after real animals that are capable of handling complex terrain and would appear at home in the pages of a sci-fi novel. The process of creating these robots leads to better automata that can be used for fieldwork, service, and search and rescue. But these robots don't just mimic the natural world -- they help us understand our own biology better, unlocking previously unknown secrets of the spinal cord.
Plastic bags are essentially indestructible, yet they're used and thrown away with reckless abandon. Most end up in the ocean, where they pollute the water and harm marine life; the rest are burned in garbage piles, where they release harmful dioxins into the atmosphere. Melati and Isabel Wijsen are on a mission to stop plastic bags from suffocating their beautiful island home of Bali. Their efforts -- including petitions, beach cleanups, even a hunger strike -- paid off when they convinced their governor to commit to a plastic bag-free Bali by 2018. "Don't ever let anyone tell you that you're too young or you won't understand," Isabel says to other aspiring activists. "We're not telling you it's going to be easy. We're telling you it's going to be worth it."
Computer code is the next universal language, and its syntax will be limited only by the imaginations of the next generation of programmers. Linda Liukas is helping to educate problem-solving kids, encouraging them to see computers not as mechanical, boring and complicated but as colorful, expressive machines meant to be tinkered with. In this talk, she invites us to imagine a world where the Ada Lovelaces of tomorrow grow up to be optimistic and brave about technology and use it to create a new world that is wonderful, whimsical and a tiny bit weird.
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."