Investing in women can unlock infinite potential around the globe. But how can women walk the line between Western-style empowerment and traditional culture? Kavita Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women talks about three encounters with powerful women who fight to make the world better -- while preserving the traditions that sustain them.
Birds, a perennial human fascination, entertained medieval homes long before science took them for serious study. "Wisdom of Birds" author Tim Birkhead tours some intriguing birdwatcher lore (dug up in old field journals) -- and talks about the role it plays in ornithology today.
Want your local politician to pay attention to an issue you care about? Send a monthly handwritten letter, says former mayor Omar Ahmad -- it's more effective than email, phone, or even writing a check. He shares four steps to writing a letter that works.
Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the "marshmallow problem" -- a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?
Drugs alone can't stop disease in sub-Saharan Africa: We need diagnostic tools to match. TED Senior Fellow Frederick Balagadde shows how we can multiply the power and availability of an unwieldy, expensive diagnostic lab -- by miniaturizing it to the size of a chip.
Legendary skeptic James Randi takes a fatal dose of homeopathic sleeping pills onstage, kicking off a searing 18-minute indictment of irrational beliefs. He throws out a challenge to the world's psychics: Prove what you do is real, and I'll give you a million dollars. (No takers yet.)
Some 80 to 90 percent of undersea creatures make light -- and we know very little about how or why. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder explores this glowing, sparkling, luminous world, sharing glorious images and insight into the unseen depths (and brights) of the ocean.
185 voices from 12 countries join a choir that spans the globe: "Lux Aurumque," composed and conducted by Eric Whitacre, merges hundreds of tracks individually recorded and posted to YouTube. It's an astonishing illustration of how technology can connect us.
Thelma Golden, curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, talks through three recent shows that explore how art examines and redefines culture. The "post-black" artists she works with are using their art to provoke a new dialogue about race and culture -- and about the meaning of art itself.
Underwater filmmaker Mike deGruy has spent decades looking intimately at the ocean. A consummate storyteller, he takes the stage at Mission Blue to share his awe and excitement -- and his fears -- about the blue heart of our planet.
In a short, funny, data-packed talk at TED U, Catherine Mohr walks through all the geeky decisions she made when building a green new house -- looking at real energy numbers, not hype. What choices matter most? Not the ones you think.
Photographs do more than document history -- they make it. At TED University, Jonathan Klein of Getty Images shows some of the most iconic, and talks about what happens when a generation sees an image so powerful it can't look away -- or back.
Vaccine-autism claims, "Frankenfood" bans, the herbal cure craze: All point to the public's growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason, says Michael Specter. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress.
Natalie Merchant sings from her poetry-inspired album "Leave Your Sleep," which pairs lyrics from poets -- from Gerard Manley Hopkins to a near-forgotten 10-year-old girl in Brooklyn -- with simple melodies and her unmistakable voice. Stay for an encore performance of her hit "Thank You," dedicated to a notable philanthropist in the audience.
Pollen goes unnoticed by most of us, except when hay fever strikes. But microscopes reveal it comes in stunning colors and shapes -- and travels remarkably well. Jonathan Drori gives an up-close glimpse of these fascinating flecks of plant courtship.
Meet seven all-terrain robots -- like the humanoid, soccer-playing DARwIn and the cliff-gripping CLIMBeR -- built by Dennis Hong's robotics team at RoMeLa, based at Virginia Tech. Watch to the end for the five creative secrets to his lab's success.
Soldiers who've lost limbs in service face a daily struggle unimaginable to most of us. At TEDMED, Dean Kamen talks about the profound people and stories that motivated his work to give parts of their lives back with his design for a remarkable prosthetic arm.
Armed with bracing logic, wit and her "public-health nerd" glasses, Elizabeth Pisani reveals the myriad of inconsistencies in today's political systems that prevent our dollars from effectively fighting the spread of HIV. Her research with at-risk populations -- from junkies in prison to sex workers on the street in Cambodia -- demonstrates the sometimes counter-intuitive measures that could stall the spread of this devastating disease.
Games are invading the real world -- and the runaway popularity of Farmville and Guitar Hero is just the beginning, says Jesse Schell. At the DICE Summit, he makes a startling prediction: a future where 1-ups and experience points break "out of the box" and into every part of our daily lives.
Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs "childish" thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids' big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups' willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.
How many of today's headlines will matter in 100 years? 1000? Kirk Citron's "Long News" project collects stories that not only matter today, but will resonate for decades -- even centuries -- to come. At TED2010, he highlights recent headlines with the potential to shape our future.
Educating the poor is more than just a numbers game, says Shukla Bose. She tells the story of her groundbreaking Parikrma Humanity Foundation, which brings hope to India's slums by looking past the daunting statistics and focusing on treating each child as an individual.
In this moving yet pragmatic talk, Kevin Bales explains the business of modern slavery, a multibillion-dollar economy that underpins some of the worst industries on earth. He shares stats and personal stories from his on-the-ground research -- and names the price of freeing every slave on earth right now.
Patsy Rodenburg says the world needs actors more than ever. In this talk at Michael Howard Studios, she tells the story of a profound encounter that reveals the deeper role theater can play in people's lives.
Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, talks about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician -- and what he learned. Called back onstage later, Gupta plays his own transcription of the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.
Planetary scientist Joel Levine shows some intriguing -- and puzzling -- new discoveries about Mars: craters full of ice, traces of ancient oceans, and compelling hints at the presence, sometime in the past, of life. He makes the case for going back to Mars to find out more.
Tax forms, credit agreements, healthcare legislation: They're crammed with gobbledygook, says Alan Siegel, and incomprehensibly long. He calls for a simple, sensible redesign -- and plain English -- to make legal paperwork intelligible to the rest of us.
Biologist Juliana Machado Ferreira, a TED Senior Fellow, talks about her work helping to save birds and other animals stolen from the wild in Brazil. Once these animals are seized from smugglers, she asks, then what?
Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.