What drives our desire to behave morally? Neuroeconomist Paul Zak shows why he believes oxytocin (he calls it "the moral molecule") is responsible for trust, empathy and other feelings that help build a stable society. NOTE: Research and statements in this talk have been challenged by other scientists working in this field. Please read "Criticisms & Updates" below for more details.
With scissors and paper, artist Béatrice Coron creates intricate worlds, cities and countries, heavens and hells. Striding onstage in a glorious cape cut from Tyvek, she describes her creative process and the way her stories develop from snips and slices.
How does cancer know it's cancer? At Jay Bradner's lab, they found a molecule that might hold the answer, JQ1. But instead of patenting it and reaping the profits (as many other labs have done) -- they published their findings and mailed samples to 40 other labs to work on. An inspiring look at the open-source future of medical research.
Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist describes the real differences between the left and right halves of the human brain. It's not simply "emotion on the right, reason on the left," but something far more complex and interesting. A Best of the Web talk from RSA Animate.
We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.
Artist Nathalie Miebach takes weather data from massive storms and turns it into complex sculptures that embody the forces of nature and time. These sculptures then become musical scores for a string quartet to play.
Physiatrist and engineer Todd Kuiken is building a prosthetic arm that connects with the human nervous system -- improving motion, control and even feeling. Onstage, patient Amanda Kitts helps demonstrate this next-gen robotic arm.
Nations can now attack other nations with cyber weapons: silent strikes on another country's computer systems, power grids, dams that leave no trace behind. (Think of the Stuxnet worm.) Guy-Philippe Goldstein shows how cyberattacks can leap between the digital and physical worlds to prompt armed conflict -- and how we might avert this global security hazard.
What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? In this moving talk, entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping shows the materials that could make that possible, and how questioning our notion of 'normal' can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs.
In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men -- many of them illiterate -- to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It's called the Barefoot College, and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it works.
Here's a powerful provocation from artist Jae Rhim Lee. Can we commit our bodies to a cleaner, greener Earth, even after death? Naturally -- using a special burial suit seeded with pollution-gobbling mushrooms. Yes, this just might be the strangest TEDTalk you'll ever see ...
On any given day we're lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lie can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and "hotspots" used by those trained to recognize deception -- and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.
What if every scientist could share their data as easily as they tweet about their lunch? Michael Nielsen calls for scientists to embrace new tools for collaboration that will enable discoveries to happen at the speed of Twitter.
Imagine it's late 1990, and you've just met a nice young man named Tim Berners-Lee, who starts telling you about his proposed system called the World Wide Web. Ian Ritchie was there. And ... he didn't buy it. A short story about information, connectivity and learning from mistakes.
A story, a work of art, a face, a designed object -- how do we tell that something is beautiful? And why does it matter so much to us? Designer Richard Seymour explores our response to beauty and the surprising power of objects that exhibit it.
Two murders sat unexplained and unsolved -- until reporter Paul Lewis starting talking to bystanders who had evidence on their mobile phones. Step by step, Lewis pieced together their evidence and their stories to find justice for the victims. It's the future of investigative journalism, powered by the crowd.
"Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species," says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.
Conductor Charles Hazlewood talks about the role of trust in musical leadership -- then shows how it works, as he conducts the Scottish Ensemble onstage. He also shares clips from two musical projects: the opera "U-Carmen eKhayelitsha" and the ParaOrchestra.
Less than 10% of plastic trash is recycled -- compared to almost 90% of metals -- because of the massively complicated problem of finding and sorting the different kinds. Frustrated by this waste, Mike Biddle has developed a cheap and incredibly energy efficient plant that can, and does, recycle any kind of plastic.
How do we search for alien life if it's nothing like the life that we know? Christoph Adami shows how he uses his research into artificial life -- self-replicating computer programs -- to find a signature, a "biomarker," that is free of our preconceptions of what life is.
Yang Lan, a journalist and entrepreneur who's been called "the Oprah of China," offers insight into the next generation of young Chinese citizens -- urban, connected (via microblogs) and alert to injustice.
Can opera be ever-so-slightly sexy? The glorious soprano Danielle de Niese shows how, singing the flirty "Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss." Which, translated, means, as you might guess: "I kiss so hot." From Giuditta by Frans Lehár; accompanist: Ingrid Surgenor.
Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they're right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry.
Some kids learn by listening; others learn by doing. Geoff Mulgan gives a short introduction to the Studio School, a new kind of school in the UK where small teams of kids learn by working on projects that are, as Mulgan puts it, "for real."
Modern medicine is in danger of losing a powerful, old-fashioned tool: human touch. Physician and writer Abraham Verghese describes our strange new world where patients are merely data points, and calls for a return to the traditional one-on-one physical exam.
Studies show that sketching and doodling improve our comprehension -- and our creative thinking. So why do we still feel embarrassed when we're caught doodling in a meeting? Sunni Brown says: Doodlers, unite! She makes the case for unlocking your brain via pad and pen.