Ge Wang makes computer music, but it isn't all about coded bleeps and blips. With the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, he creates new instruments out of unexpected materials—like an Ikea bowl—that allow musicians to play music that's both beautiful and expressive.
Many of the world's biggest problems require asking questions of scientists -- but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry -- and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science.
Lorrie Faith Cranor studied thousands of real passwords to figure out the surprising, very common mistakes that users -- and secured sites -- make to compromise security. And how, you may ask, did she study thousands of real passwords without compromising the security of any users? That's a story in itself. It's secret data worth knowing, especially if your password is 123456 ...
In 1991, Shaka Senghor shot and killed a man. He was, he says, "a drug dealer with a quick temper and a semi-automatic pistol." Jailed for second degree murder, that could very well have been the end of the story. But it wasn't. Instead, it was the beginning of a years-long journey to redemption, one with humbling and sobering lessons for us all.
Jamila Lyiscott is a “tri-tongued orator;” in her powerful spoken-word essay “Broken English,” she celebrates — and challenges — the three distinct flavors of English she speaks with her friends, in the classroom and with her parents. As she explores the complicated history and present-day identity that each language represents, she unpacks what it means to be “articulate.”
Just like his beloved grandfather, Avi Reichental is a maker of things. The difference is, now he can use 3D printers to make almost anything, out of almost any material. Reichental tours us through the possibilities of 3D printing, for everything from printed candy to highly custom sneakers.
The place that travel writer Pico Iyer would most like to go? Nowhere. In a counterintuitive and lyrical meditation, Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness. In our world of constant movement and distraction, he teases out strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day, or a few days out of every season. It's the talk for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the demands for our world.
If you’re raised on dogma and hate, can you choose a different path? Zak Ebrahim was just seven years old when his father helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His story is shocking, powerful and, ultimately, inspiring.
Here's a talk that could literally change your life. Which career should I pursue? Should I break up -- or get married?! Where should I live? Big decisions like these can be agonizingly difficult. But that's because we think about them the wrong way, says philosopher Ruth Chang. She offers a powerful new framework for shaping who we truly are.
One could argue that slang words like ‘hangry,’ ‘defriend’ and ‘adorkable’ fill crucial meaning gaps in the English language, even if they don't appear in the dictionary. After all, who actually decides which words make it into those pages? Language historian Anne Curzan gives a charming look at the humans behind dictionaries, and the choices they make.
You may not know it yet, but AJ Jacobs is probably your cousin (many, many times removed). Using genealogy websites, he's been following the unexpected links that make us all, however distantly, related. His goal: to throw the world's largest family reunion. See you there?
While studying for his PhD in physics, Uri Alon thought he was a failure because all his research paths led to dead ends. But, with the help of improv theater, he came to realize that there could be joy in getting lost. A call for scientists to stop thinking of research as a direct line from question to answer, but as something more creative. It's a message that will resonate, no matter what your field.
The beauty of hackers, says cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari, is that they force us to evolve and improve. Yes, some hackers are bad guys, but many are working to fight government corruption and advocate for our rights. By exposing vulnerabilities, they push the Internet to become stronger and healthier, wielding their power to create a better world.
In 2002, investigative journalist and TED Fellow Will Potter took a break from his regular beat, writing about shootings and murders for the Chicago Tribune. He went to help a local group campaigning against animal testing: "I thought it would be a safe way to do something positive," he says. Instead, he was arrested, and so began his ongoing journey into a world in which peaceful protest is branded as terrorism.
Stella Young is a comedian and journalist who happens to go about her day in a wheelchair — a fact that doesn't, she'd like to make clear, automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity. In this very funny talk, Young breaks down society's habit of turning disabled people into "inspiration porn."
As a member of both the African American and LGBT communities, filmmaker Yoruba Richen is fascinated with the overlaps and tensions between the gay rights and the civil rights movements. She explores how the two struggles intertwine and propel each other forward — and, in an unmissable argument, she dispels a myth about their points of conflict. A powerful reminder that we all have a stake in equality.
Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue (wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut) is the key to what humanity has become. Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.
How can robots learn to stabilize on rough terrain, walk upside down, do gymnastic maneuvers in air and run into walls without harming themselves? Robert Full takes a look at the incredible body of the cockroach to show what it can teach robotics engineers.
"We're all going to die -- and poems can help us live with that." In a charming and funny talk, literary critic Stephen Burt takes us on a lyrical journey with some of his favorite poets, all the way down to a line break and back up to the human urge to imagine.
"Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished." Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the "end of history illusion," where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we'll be for the rest of time. Hint: that's not the case.
Plenty of good things are done in the name of religion, and plenty of bad things too. But what is religion, exactly — is it good or bad, in and of itself? Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah offers a generous, surprising view.
Sting's early life was dominated by a shipyard—and he dreamed of nothing more than escaping the industrial drudgery. But after a nasty bout of writer's block that stretched on for years, Sting found himself channeling the stories of the shipyard workers he knew in his youth for song material. In a lyrical, confessional talk, Sting treats us to songs from his upcoming musical, and to an encore of "Message in a Bottle."
As a young girl, photojournalist and TED Fellow Kitra Cahana dreamed about running away from home to live freely on the road. Now as an adult and self-proclaimed vagabond, she follows modern nomads into their homes -- boxcars, bus stops, parking lots, rest stop bathrooms -- giving a glimpse into a culture on the margins.
Wes Moore joined the US Army to pay for college, but the experience became core to who he is. In this heartfelt talk, the paratrooper and captain -- who went on to write "The Other Wes Moore" -- explains the shock of returning home from Afghanistan. He shares the single phrase he heard from civilians on repeat, and shows why it's just not sufficient. It's a call for all of us to ask veterans to tell their stories -- and listen.
Chris Kluwe wants to look into the future of sports and think about how technology will help not just players and coaches, but fans. Here the former NFL punter envisions a future in which augmented reality will help people experience sports as if they are directly on the field -- and maybe even help them see others in a new light, too.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt legendarily spared the life of a black bear -- and prompted a plush toy craze for so-called "teddy bears." Writer Jon Mooallem digs into this toy story and asks us to consider how the tales we tell about wild animals have real consequences for a species' chance of survival -- and the natural world at large.
Writer Andrew Solomon has spent his career telling stories of the hardships of others. Now he turns inward, bringing us into a childhood of adversity, while also spinning tales of the courageous people he's met in the years since. In a moving, heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.
What can we learn from people with the genetics to get sick — who don't? With most inherited diseases, only some family members will develop the disease, while others who carry the same genetic risks dodge it. Stephen Friend suggests we start studying those family members who stay healthy. Hear about the Resilience Project, a massive effort to collect genetic materials that may help decode inherited disorders.