"Puppets always have to try to be alive," says Adrian Kohler of the Handspring Puppet Company, a gloriously ambitious troupe of human and wooden actors. Beginning with the tale of a hyena's subtle paw, puppeteers Kohler and Basil Jones build to the story of their latest astonishment: the wonderfully life-like Joey, the War Horse, who trots (and gallops) convincingly onto the TED stage.
When first discovered in 2010, the Stuxnet computer worm posed a baffling puzzle. Beyond its sophistication loomed a more troubling mystery: its purpose. Ralph Langner and team helped crack the code that revealed this digital warhead's final target. In a fascinating look inside cyber-forensics, he explains how -- and makes a bold (and, it turns out, correct) guess at its shocking origins.
Patricia Ryan is a longtime English teacher who asks a provocative question: Is the world's focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages? In other words: What if Einstein had to pass the TOEFL? It's a passionate defense of translating and sharing ideas.
"The human voice: mysterious, spontaneous, primal." With these words, soprano Claron McFadden invites us to explore the mysteries of breathing and singing, as she performs the intriguing modern song "Aria," by John Cage.
Eythor Bender of Berkeley Bionics brings onstage two amazing exoskeletons, HULC and eLEGS -- robotic add-ons that could one day allow a human to carry 200 pounds without tiring, or allow a wheelchair user to stand and walk. It's a powerful onstage demo, with implications for human potential of all kinds.
With never-before-seen video, primatologist Isabel Behncke Izquierdo (a TED Fellow) shows how bonobo ape society learns from constantly playing -- solo, with friends, even as a prelude to sex. Indeed, play appears to be the bonobos' key to problem-solving and avoiding conflict. If it works for our close cousins, why not for us?
What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading.
"If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she's gonna call me Point B ... " began spoken word poet Sarah Kay, in a talk that inspired two standing ovations at TED2011. She tells the story of her metamorphosis -- from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York's Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. -- and gives two breathtaking performances of "B" and "Hiroshima."
Lighting architect Rogier van der Heide offers a beautiful new way to look at the world -- by paying attention to light (and to darkness). Examples from classic buildings illustrate a deeply thought-out vision of the play of light around us.
We think of space as a silent place. But physicist Janna Levin says the universe has a soundtrack -- a sonic composition that records some of the most dramatic events in outer space. (Black holes, for instance, bang on spacetime like a drum.) An accessible and mind-expanding soundwalk through the universe.
Columnist David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature from the cognitive sciences -- insights with massive implications for economics and politics as well as our own self-knowledge. In a talk full of humor, he shows how you can't hope to understand humans as separate individuals making choices based on their conscious awareness.
With streams and rivers drying up because of over-usage, Rob Harmon talks about a clever market mechanism to bring back the water. Farmers and beer companies find their fates intertwined in the century-old tale of Prickly Pear Creek.
MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language -- so he wired up his house with videocameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son's life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch "gaaaa" slowly turn into "water." Astonishing, data-rich research with deep implications for how we learn.
As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there's a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.
Salman Khan talks about how and why he created the remarkable Khan Academy, a carefully structured series of educational videos offering complete curricula in math and, now, other subjects. He shows the power of interactive exercises, and calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script -- give students video lectures to watch at home, and do "homework" in the classroom with the teacher available to help.
Blogger Courtney E. Martin examines the perennially loaded word "feminism" in this personal and heartfelt talk. She talks through the three essential paradoxes of her generation's quest to define the term for themselves.
Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala's young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage. NOTE: This talk was given in 2011, and this field of science has developed quickly since then. Read "Criticisms & updates" below for more details.
America's school systems are funded by the 50 states. In this fiery talk, Bill Gates says that state budgets are riddled with accounting tricks that disguise the true cost of health care and pensions and weighted with worsening deficits -- with the financing of education at the losing end.
Wael Ghonim is the Google executive who helped jumpstart Egypt's democratic revolution ... with a Facebook page memorializing a victim of the regime's violence. Speaking at TEDxCairo, he tells the inside story of the past two months, when everyday Egyptians showed that "the power of the people is stronger than the people in power."
French street artist JR uses his camera to show the world its true face, by pasting photos of the human face across massive canvases. At TED2011, he makes his audacious TED Prize wish: to use art to turn the world inside out.
As a democratic revolution led by tech-empowered young people sweeps the Arab world, Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, shares a profoundly optimistic view of what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and beyond -- at this powerful moment when people realized they could step out of their houses and ask for change.
The three Ahn sisters (cellist Maria, pianist Lucia, violinist Angella) breathe new life into the piano trio with their passionate musicmaking. At TEDWomen, they start with the bright and poppy "Skylife," by David Balakrishnan, then play a gorgeous, slinky version of "Oblivion," by Astor Piazzolla.
Danny Hills makes a case for the next frontier of cancer research: proteomics, the study of proteins in the body. As Hillis explains it, genomics shows us a list of the ingredients of the body -- while proteomics shows us what those ingredients produce. Understanding what's going on in your body at the protein level may lead to a new understanding of how cancer happens.
It's been said that when an elder dies, it's as if a library is burned. Anthropologist Elizabeth Lindsey, a National Geographic Fellow, collects the deep cultural knowledge passed down as stories and lore.
Maxillofacial surgeon Iain Hutchison works with people whose faces have been severely disfigured. By pushing to improve surgical techniques, he helps to improve their lives; and by commissioning their portraits, he celebrates their humanity. NOTE: This talk contains images of disfigured and badly injured faces that may be disturbing -- and Hutchison provides thoughtful answers as to why a disfigured face can shock us so deeply. Squeamish? Hide your screen from 12:10 - 13:19, but do keep listening. Portraits shown in this talk come from Mark Gilbert.
We make important decisions every day -- and we often rely on experts to help us decide. But, says economist Noreena Hertz, relying too much on experts can be limiting and even dangerous. She calls for us to start democratizing expertise -- to listen not only to "surgeons and CEOs, but also to shop staff."
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright talks bluntly about politics and diplomacy, making the case that women's issues deserve a place at the center of foreign policy. Far from being a "soft" issue, she says, women's issues are often the very hardest ones, dealing directly with life and death. A frank and funny Q&A with Pat Mitchell from the Paley Center.
Lisa Gansky, author of "The Mesh," talks about a future of business that's about sharing all kinds of stuff, either via smart and tech-enabled rental or, more boldly, peer-to-peer. Examples across industries -- from music to cars -- show how close we are to this meshy future.