Once it's created, plastic (almost) never dies. While in 12th grade Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao went in search of a new bacteria to biodegrade plastic -- specifically by breaking down phthalates, a harmful plasticizer. They found an answer surprisingly close to home.
Can a person disappear in plain sight? That's the question Liu Bolin's remarkable work seems to ask. The Beijing-based artist is sometimes called "The Invisible Man" because in nearly all his art, Bolin is front and center — and completely unseen. He aims to draw attention to social and political issues by dissolving into the background.
As machines take on more jobs, many find themselves out of work or with raises indefinitely postponed. Is this the end of growth? No, says Erik Brynjolfsson -- it’s simply the growing pains of a radically reorganized economy. A riveting case for why big innovations are ahead of us … if we think of computers as our teammates. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Robert Gordon.
The US economy has been expanding wildly for two centuries. Are we witnessing the end of growth? Economist Robert Gordon lays out 4 reasons US growth may be slowing, detailing factors like epidemic debt and growing inequality, which could move the US into a period of stasis we can't innovate our way out of. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Erik Brynjolfsson.
Deep brain stimulation is becoming very precise. This technique allows surgeons to place electrodes in almost any area of the brain, and turn them up or down -- like a radio dial or thermostat -- to correct dysfunction. Andres Lozano offers a dramatic look at emerging techniques, in which a woman with Parkinson's instantly stops shaking and brain areas eroded by Alzheimer's are brought back to life.
Remember the days you struggled just to make a yo-yo spin, and if you were really fancy, to “walk the dog”? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Japanese yo-yo world champion BLACK tells the inspiring story of finding his life's passion, and gives an awesome performance that will make you want to pull your yo-yo back out of the closet.
When Joshua Prager was 19, a devastating bus accident left him a hemiplegic. He returned to Israel twenty years later to find the driver who turned his world upside down. In this mesmerizing tale of their meeting, Prager probes deep questions of nature, nurture, self-deception and identity.
Today, thanks to better early detection, there are 63% fewer deaths from heart disease than there were just a few decades ago. Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wonders: Could we do the same for depression and schizophrenia? The first step in this new avenue of research, he says, is a crucial reframing: for us to stop thinking about "mental disorders" and start understanding them as "brain disorders."
It's 2013, yet 2.5 billion people in the world have no access to a basic sanitary toilet. And when there's no loo, where do you poo? In the street, probably near your water and food sources -- causing untold death and disease from contamination. Get ready for a blunt, funny, powerful talk from journalist Rose George about a once-unmentionable problem.
In 1812, four men at Cambridge University met for breakfast. What began as an impassioned meal grew into a new scientific revolution, in which these men -- who called themselves “natural philosophers” until they later coined “scientist” -- introduced four major principles into scientific inquiry. Historian and philosopher Laura Snyder tells their intriguing story.
When Eric Dishman was in college, doctors told him he had 2 to 3 years to live. That was a long time ago. Now, Dishman puts his experience and his expertise as a medical tech specialist together to suggest a bold idea for reinventing health care -- by putting the patient at the center of a treatment team.
At age 12, Freeman Hrabowski marched with Martin Luther King. Now he's president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where he works to create an environment that helps under-represented students -- specifically African-American, Latino and low-income learners -- get degrees in math and science. He shares the four pillars of UMBC's approach.
Your smartphone may feel like a friend -- but a true friend would give you a smile once in a while. At TED2013, Keller Rinaudo demos Romo, the smartphone-powered mini robot who can motor along with you on a walk, slide you a cup of coffee across the table, and react to you with programmable expressions.
Trivia whiz Ken Jennings has made a career as a keeper of facts; he holds the longest winning streak in history on the US quiz show Jeopardy. But in 2011, he played a challenge match against IBM's supercomputer Watson -- and lost. With humor and humility, Jennings tells us how it felt to have a computer literally beat him at his own game, and makes the case for good old-fashioned human knowledge.
3D printing has grown in sophistication since the late 1970s; TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits is shaping the next development, which he calls 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time. This emerging technology will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time. Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract.
What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just money. But it's not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work.
As we move through the world, we have an innate sense of how things feel -- the sensations they produce on our skin and how our bodies orient to them. Can technology leverage this? In this fun, fascinating TED-Ed lesson, learn about the field of haptics, and how it could change everything from the way we shop online to how dentists learn the telltale feel of a cavity.
Imagine an electric vehicle that can get you to work -- or anywhere in a six-mile radius -- quickly, without traffic frustrations or gasoline. Now imagine you can pick it up and carry it with you. Yes, this souped-up skateboard could change the face of morning commutes.
One afternoon, Kees Moeliker got a research opportunity few ornithologists would wish for: A flying duck slammed into his glass office building, died, and then ... what happened next would change his life. [Note: Contains graphic images and descriptions of sexual behavior in animals.]
There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That's the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.
When two people are trying to make a deal -- whether they’re competing or cooperating -- what’s really going on inside their brains? Behavioral economist Colin Camerer shows research that reveals how badly we predict what others are thinking. Bonus: He presents an unexpected study that shows chimpanzees might just be better at it.
Mark Shaw demos Ultra-Ever Dry, a liquid-repellent coating that acts as an astonishingly powerful shield against water and water-based materials. At the nano level, the spray covers a surface with an umbrella of air so that water bounces right off. Watch for an exciting two-minute kicker.
In the Maasai community where Richard Turere lives with his family, cattle are all-important. But lion attacks were growing more frequent. In this short, inspiring talk, the young inventor shares the solar-powered solution he designed to safely scare the lions away.
Our bodies and homes are covered in microbes -- some good for us, some bad for us. As we learn more about the germs and microbes who share our living spaces, TED Fellow Jessica Green asks: Can we design buildings that encourage happy, healthy microbial environments?
Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre has inspired millions by bringing together "virtual choirs," singers from many countries spliced together on video. Now, for the first time ever, he creates the experience in real time, as 32 singers from around the world Skype in to join an onstage choir (assembled from three local colleges) for an epic performance of Whitacre's "Cloudburst," based on a poem by Octavio Paz.
Today we know the molecular cause of 4,000 diseases, but treatments are available for only 250 of them. So what's taking so long? Geneticist and physician Francis Collins explains why systematic drug discovery is imperative, even for rare and complex diseases, and offers a few solutions -- like teaching old drugs new tricks.
Entrepreneur Elon Musk is a man with many plans. The founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX sits down with TED curator Chris Anderson to share details about his visionary projects, which include a mass-marketed electric car, a solar energy leasing company and a fully reusable rocket.
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was "the best on the planet." It wasn't until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 14, to begin a life in hiding, as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope -- and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.
The Internet connects billions of people and machines; it's the backbone of modern life. But tech pioneer Danny Hillis thinks the Internet just wasn't designed to grow this big -- and he fears that one big cyber-attack or glitch could shut it down and take civilization with it. To head off a digital dark age, he sounds a clarion call to develop a Plan B: a parallel system to fall back on if -- or when -- the Internet crashes.