Artist Aaron Koblin takes vast amounts of data -- and at times vast numbers of people -- and weaves them into stunning visualizations. From elegant lines tracing airline flights to landscapes of cell phone data, from a Johnny Cash video assembled from crowd-sourced drawings to the "Wilderness Downtown" video that customizes for the user, his works brilliantly explore how modern technology can make us more human.
At the onstage introduction of Twirlr, a new social-sharing platform, someone forgets to silence their cell phone. And then ... this happens. (Song by Scott Brown and Anthony King; edit by Nathan Russell.)
In the deep, dark ocean, many sea creatures make their own light for hunting, mating and self-defense. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder was one of the first to film this glimmering world. At TED2011, she brings some of her glowing friends onstage, and shows more astonishing footage of glowing undersea life.
We think of pain as a symptom, but there are cases where the nervous system develops feedback loops and pain becomes a terrifying disease in itself. Starting with the story of a girl whose sprained wrist turned into a nightmare, Elliot Krane talks about the complex mystery of chronic pain, and reviews the facts we're just learning about how it works and how to treat it.
A future more beautiful? Architect Thomas Heatherwick shows five recent projects featuring ingenious bio-inspired designs. Some are remakes of the ordinary: a bus, a bridge, a power station ... And one is an extraordinary pavilion, the Seed Cathedral, a celebration of growth and light.
Ed Boyden shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins into brain cells, he can selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants. With this unprecedented level of control, he's managed to cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness. On the horizon: neural prosthetics. Session host Juan Enriquez leads a brief post-talk Q&A.
What's it like to be pals with a genius? Physicist Leonard Susskind spins a few stories about his friendship with the legendary Richard Feynman, discussing his unconventional approach to problems both serious and ... less so.
Imagine being able to see artwork in the greatest museums around the world without leaving your chair. Driven by his passion for art, Amit Sood tells the story of how he developed Art Project to let people do just that.
Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you'll live -- and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.
Fiorenzo Omenetto shares 20+ astonishing new uses for silk, one of nature's most elegant materials -- in transmitting light, improving sustainability, adding strength and making medical leaps and bounds. On stage, he shows a few intriguing items made of the versatile stuff.
Diving under the Antarctic ice to get close to the much-feared leopard seal, photographer Paul Nicklen found an extraordinary new friend. Share his hilarious, passionate stories of the polar wonderlands, illustrated by glorious images of the animals who live on and under the ice.
Pollination: it's vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film "Wings of Life," inspired by the vanishing of one of nature's primary pollinators, the honeybee.
Cosmologist Sean Carroll attacks -- in an entertaining and thought-provoking tour through the nature of time and the universe -- a deceptively simple question: Why does time exist at all? The potential answers point to a surprising view of the nature of the universe, and our place in it.
Designer Suzanne Lee shares her experiments in growing a kombucha-based material that can be used like fabric or vegetable leather to make clothing. The process is fascinating, the results are beautiful (though there's still one minor drawback ...) and the potential is simply stunning.
With his team at SENSEable City Lab, MIT's Carlo Ratti makes cool things by sensing the data we create. He pulls from passive data sets -- like the calls we make, the garbage we throw away -- to create surprising visualizations of city life. And he and his team create dazzling interactive environments from moving water and flying light, powered by simple gestures caught through sensors.
Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi have a powerful friendship born of unthinkable loss. Rodriguez' son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001; el-Wafi's son Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted of a role in those attacks and is serving a life sentence. In hoping to find peace, these two moms have come to understand and respect one another.
At the INK Conference, Arvind Gupta shares simple yet stunning plans for turning trash into seriously entertaining, well-designed toys that kids can build themselves -- while learning basic principles of science and design.
Software developer Mike Matas demos the first full-length interactive book for the iPad -- with clever, swipeable video and graphics and some very cool data visualizations to play with. The book is "Our Choice," Al Gore's sequel to "An Inconvenient Truth."
Inspired by an abalone shell, Angela Belcher programs viruses to make elegant nanoscale structures that humans can use. Selecting for high-performing genes through directed evolution, she's produced viruses that can construct powerful new batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells. In her talk, she shows us how it's done.
The feeling of security and the reality of security don't always match, says computer-security expert Bruce Schneier. In his talk, he explains why we spend billions addressing news story risks, like the "security theater" now playing at your local airport, while neglecting more probable risks -- and how we can break this pattern.
Medical ethicist Harvey Fineberg shows us three paths forward for the ever-evolving human species: to stop evolving completely, to evolve naturally -- or to control the next steps of human evolution, using genetic modification, to make ourselves smarter, faster, better. Neo-evolution is within our grasp. What will we do with it?
Ric Elias had a front-row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009. What went through his mind as the doomed plane went down? At TED, he tells his story publicly for the first time.
All over the planet, giant telescopes and detectors are looking (and listening) for clues to the workings of the universe. At the INK Conference, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy tours us around these amazing installations, taking us to some of the most remote and silent places on Earth.
John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4'x5' plywood board -- and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches -- spontaneous, and always surprising -- go further than classroom lectures can.
Can two countries at war dare to empathize with one another? Step by methodical step, sociologist Sam Richards gives his audience an extraordinary challenge: to allow a group of (mainly) Americans to understand -- not approve of, but understand -- the motivations of an Iraqi insurgent. A powerful talk.
Pioneering surgeon Susan Lim performed the first liver transplant in Asia. But a moral concern with transplants (where do donor livers come from ...) led her to look further, and to ask: Could we be transplanting cells, not whole organs? At the INK Conference, she talks through her new research, discovering healing cells in some surprising places.
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that's only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).
When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, come together to tell his remarkable story.