As a young child, Tania Luna left her home in post-Chernobyl Ukraine to take asylum in the US. And one day, on the floor of the New York homeless shelter where she and her family lived, she found a penny. She has never again felt so rich. A meditation on the bittersweet joys of childhood -- and how to hold them in mind.
Roberto D'Angelo and Francesca Fedeli thought their baby boy Mario was healthy -- until at 10 days old, they discovered he'd had a perinatal stroke. With Mario unable to control the left side of his body, they grappled with tough questions: Would he be "normal?” Could he live a full life? The poignant story of parents facing their fears -- and how they turned them around.
Currency -- the bills and coins you carry in your wallet and in your bank account -- is founded on marketing, on the belief that banks and governments are trustworthy. Now, Paul Kemp-Robertson walks us through a new generation of currency, supported by that same marketing ... but on behalf of a private brand. From Nike Sweat Points to bottles of Tide (which are finding an unexpected use in illegal markets), meet the non-bank future of currencies.
Philosopher John Searle lays out the case for studying human consciousness -- and systematically shoots down some of the common objections to taking it seriously. As we learn more about the brain processes that cause awareness, accepting that consciousness is a biological phenomenon is an important first step. And no, he says, consciousness is not a massive computer simulation.
"I love paper, and I love technology," says physicist and former sheep herder Kate Stone, who's spent the past decade working to unite the two. Her experiments combine regular paper with conductive inks and tiny circuit boards to offer a unique, magical experience. To date, applications include a newspaper embedded with audio and video, posters that display energy usage in real time, and the extremely nifty paper drumkit and set of DJ decks she demonstrates onstage.
Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds -- and so is economic inequality, says writer Chrystia Freeland. In an impassioned talk, she charts the rise of a new class of plutocrats (those who are extremely powerful because they are extremely wealthy), and suggests that globalization and new technology are actually fueling, rather than closing, the global income gap. Freeland lays out three problems with plutocracy … and one glimmer of hope.
Dong Woo Jang has an unusual after school hobby. Jang, who was 15 when he gave the talk, tells the story of how living in the concrete jungle of Seoul inspired him to build the perfect bow. Watch him demo one of his beautiful hand-crafted archer's bows.
More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer -- who himself has three or four “origins” -- meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.
Bernie Krause has been recording wild soundscapes -- the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, the subtle sounds of insect larvae -- for 45 years. In that time, he has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe. A surprising look at what we can learn through nature's symphonies, from the grunting of a sea anemone to the sad calls of a beaver in mourning.
Over 85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than two percent chance of survival. How could this be? Jack Andraka talks about how he developed a promising early detection test for pancreatic cancer that's super cheap, effective and non-invasive -- all before his 16th birthday.
Apes, dolphins and elephants are animals with remarkable communication skills. Could the internet be expanded to include sentient species like them? A new and developing idea from a panel of four great thinkers -- dolphin researcher Diana Reiss, musician Peter Gabriel, internet of things visionary Neil Gershenfeld and Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet.
Building a skyscraper? Forget about steel and concrete, says architect Michael Green, and build it out of … wood. As he details in this intriguing talk, it's not only possible to build safe wooden structures up to 30 stories tall (and, he hopes, higher), it's necessary.
When the son of the president of a desperately poor country starts buying mansions and sportscars on an official monthly salary of $7,000, Charmian Gooch suggests, corruption is probably somewhere in the picture. In a blistering, eye-opening talk (with several specific examples), she details how global corruption trackers follow the money -- to some surprisingly familiar faces.
There's a farming crisis no one is talking about: The world is running out of phosphorus, an essential element that's a key component of DNA and the basis of cellular communication. As biologist Mohamed Hijri shows, all roads of this crisis lead back to how we farm -- with chemical fertilizers chock-full of the element, which plants are not efficient at absorbing. One solution? A microscopic mushroom ...
All under the age of 16, brothers Jonny, Robbie and Tommy Mizzone are from New Jersey, a US state that's better known for the rock of Bruce Springsteen than the bluegrass of Earl Scruggs. Nonetheless, the siblings began performing bluegrass covers, as well as their own compositions, at a young age. Here, they play three dazzling songs in three different keys, passing the lead back and forth from fiddle to banjo to guitar.
The border between our physical world and the digital information surrounding us has been getting thinner and thinner. Designer and engineer Jinha Lee wants to dissolve it altogether. As he demonstrates in this short, gasp-inducing talk, his ideas include a pen that penetrates into a screen to draw 3D models and SpaceTop, a computer desktop prototype that lets you reach through the screen to manipulate digital objects.
You don't need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature's finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.
Collecting global health data is an imperfect science: Workers tramp through villages to knock on doors and ask questions, write the answers on paper forms, then input the data -- and from this messy, gappy information, countries and NGOs need to make huge decisions. Data geek Joel Selanikio talks through the sea change in collecting health data in the past decade -- starting with the PalmPilot and Hotmail, and now moving into the cloud.
It's a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventually becomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Right? Eric X. Li, a Chinese investor and political scientist, begs to differ. In this provocative, boundary-pushing talk, he asks his audience to consider that there's more than one way to run a successful modern nation.
The gastric brooding frog lays its eggs just like any other frog -- then swallows them whole to incubate. That is, it did until it went extinct 30 years ago. Paleontologist Michael Archer makes a case to bring back the gastric brooding frog and the thylacine, commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger.
The New Yorker receives around 1,000 cartoons each week; it only publishes about 17 of them. In this hilarious, fast-paced, and insightful talk, the magazine's longstanding cartoon editor and self-proclaimed "humor analyst" Bob Mankoff dissects the comedy within just some of the "idea drawings" featured in the magazine, explaining what works, what doesn't, and why.
As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.
Gayla Benefield was just doing her job -- until she uncovered an awful secret about her hometown that meant its mortality rate was 80 times higher than anywhere else in the US. But when she tried to tell people about it, she learned an even more shocking truth: People didn't want to know. In a talk that's part history lesson, part call-to-action, Margaret Heffernan demonstrates the danger of willful blindness, and praises ordinary people like Benefield who are willing to speak up.
When Lesley Hazleton was writing a biography of Muhammad, she was struck by something: The night he received the revelation of the Koran, according to early accounts, his first reaction was doubt, awe, even fear. And yet this experience became the bedrock of his belief. Hazleton calls for a new appreciation of doubt and questioning as the foundation of faith -- and an end to fundamentalism of all kinds.
Tech communities are booming all over Africa, says Nairobi-based Juliana Rotich, cofounder of the open-source software Ushahidi. But it remains challenging to get and stay connected in a region with frequent blackouts and spotty Internet hookups. So Rotich and friends developed BRCK, offering resilient connectivity for the developing world.
In 1985, architect Paul Pholeros was challenged to "stop people getting sick" in a small indigenous community in south Australia. And it meant thinking way beyond medicine. In this sparky, interactive talk, Pholeros shares his work with Healthabitat, which works to reduce poverty through practical design fixes -- in Australia and beyond.
The 2007-2008 financial crisis, you might think, was an unpredictable one-time crash. But Didier Sornette and his Financial Crisis Observatory have plotted a set of early warning signs for unstable, growing systems, tracking the moment when any bubble is about to pop. (And he's seeing it happen again, right now.)
There's no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But it's forbidden. Two years ago, Manal al-Sharif decided to encourage women to drive by doing so -- and filming herself for YouTube. Hear her story of what happened next.