TED Talks - Science & Medicine

TED Talks - Science & Medicine

Episodes

  • Sara Lewis: The loves and lies of fireflies

    Jul 1, 2014 | 14 min
    Biologist Sara Lewis has spent the past 20 years getting to the bottom of the magic and wonder of fireflies. In this charming talk, she tells us how and why the beetles produce their silent sparks, what happens when two fireflies have sex, and why one group of females is known as the firefly vampire. (It's not pretty.) Find out more astonishing facts about fireflies in Lewis' footnotes, below.
  • Naomi Oreskes: Why we should trust scientists

    Jun 25, 2014 | 20 min
    Many of the world's biggest problems require asking questions of scientists -- but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry -- and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science.
  • Uri Alon: Why truly innovative science demands a leap into the unknown

    Jun 12, 2014 | 16 min
    While studying for his PhD in physics, Uri Alon thought he was a failure because all his research paths led to dead ends. But, with the help of improv theater, he came to realize that there could be joy in getting lost. A call for scientists to stop thinking of research as a direct line from question to answer, but as something more creative. It's a message that will resonate, no matter what your field.
  • Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self

    Jun 3, 2014 | 7 min
    "Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished." Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the "end of history illusion," where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we'll be for the rest of time. Hint: that's not the case.
  • Gavin Schmidt: The emergent patterns of climate change

    May 1, 2014 | 13 min
    You can't understand climate change in pieces, says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. It's the whole, or it's nothing. In this illuminating talk, he explains how he studies the big picture of climate change with mesmerizing models that illustrate the endlessly complex interactions of small-scale environmental events.
  • Andrew Bastawrous: Get your next eye exam on a smartphone

    Apr 30, 2014 | 7 min
    Thirty-nine million people in the world are blind, and the majority lost their sight due to curable and preventable diseases. But how do you test and treat people who live in remote areas, where expensive, bulky eye equipment is hard to come by? TED Fellow Andrew Bastawrous demos a smartphone app and cheap hardware that might help.
  • Wendy Chung: Autism — what we know (and what we don’t know yet)

    Apr 28, 2014 | 16 min
    In this factual talk, geneticist Wendy Chung shares what we know about autism spectrum disorder — for example, that autism has multiple, perhaps interlocking, causes. Looking beyond the worry and concern that can surround a diagnosis, Chung and her team look at what we’ve learned through studies, treatments and careful listening.
  • Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion

    Apr 22, 2014 | 13 min
    Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.
  • David Sengeh: The sore problem of prosthetic limbs

    Apr 10, 2014 | 5 min
    What drove David Sengeh to create a more comfortable prosthetic limb? He grew up in Sierra Leone, and too many of the people he loves are missing limbs after the brutal civil war there. When he noticed that people who had prosthetics weren’t actually wearing them, the TED Fellow set out to discover why — and to solve the problem with his team from the MIT Media Lab.
  • Allan Adams: The discovery that could rewrite physics

    Apr 1, 2014 | 5 min
    On March 17, 2014, a group of physicists announced a thrilling discovery: the “smoking gun” data for the idea of an inflationary universe, a clue to the Big Bang. For non-physicists, what does it mean? TED asked Allan Adams to briefly explain the results, in this improvised talk illustrated by Randall Munroe of xkcd.
  • Ed Yong: Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales

    Mar 26, 2014 | 14 min
    We humans set a premium on our own free will and independence ... and yet there's a shadowy influence we might not be considering. As science writer Ed Yong explains in this fascinating, hilarious and disturbing talk, parasites have perfected the art of manipulation to an incredible degree. So are they influencing us? It's more than likely.
  • Daniel Reisel: The neuroscience of restorative justice

    Mar 18, 2014 | 17 min
    Daniel Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And he asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn’t we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate? Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury … could we help the brain re-grow morality?
  • Carin Bondar: The birds and the bees are just the beginning

    Mar 14, 2014 | 10 min
    Think you know a thing or two about sex? Think again. In this fascinating talk, biologist Carin Bondar lays out the surprising science behind how animals get it on. (This talk describes explicit and aggressive sexual content.)
  • Mary Lou Jepsen: Could future devices read images from our brains?

    Mar 3, 2014 | 11 min
    As an expert on cutting-edge digital displays, Mary Lou Jepsen studies how to show our most creative ideas on screens. And as a brain surgery patient herself, she is driven to know more about the neural activity that underlies invention, creativity, thought. She meshes these two passions in a rather mind-blowing talk on two cutting-edge brain studies that might point to a new frontier in understanding how (and what) we think.
  • Leyla Acaroglu: Paper beats plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore

    Feb 11, 2014 | 19 min
    Most of us want to do the right thing when it comes to the environment. But things aren’t as simple as opting for the paper bag, says sustainability strategist Leyla Acaroglu. A bold call for us to let go of tightly-held green myths and think bigger in order to create systems and products that ease strain on the planet.
  • Roger Stein: A bold new way to fund drug research

    Jan 7, 2014 | 12 min
    Believe it or not, about 20 years' worth of potentially life-saving drugs are sitting in labs right now, untested. Why? Because they can't get the funding to go to trials; the financial risk is too high. Roger Stein is a finance guy, and he thinks deeply about mitigating risk. He and some colleagues at MIT came up with a promising new financial model that could move hundreds of drugs into the testing pipeline. (Filmed at TED@StateStreet.)
  • Krista Donaldson: The $80 prosthetic knee that's changing lives

    Dec 19, 2013 | 10 min
    We've made incredible advances in technology in recent years, but too often it seems only certain fortunate people can benefit. Engineer Krista Donaldson introduces the ReMotion knee, a prosthetic device for above-knee amputees, many of whom earn less than $4 a day. The design contains best-in-class technology and yet is far cheaper than other prosthetics on the market.
  • Geraldine Hamilton: Body parts on a chip

    Dec 3, 2013 | 14 min
    It's relatively easy to imagine a new medicine, a better cure for some disease. The hard part, though, is testing it, and that can delay promising new cures for years. In this well-explained talk, Geraldine Hamilton shows how her lab creates organs and body parts on a chip, simple structures with all the pieces essential to testing new medications -- even custom cures for one specific person. (Filmed at TEDxBoston)
  • Suzana Herculano-Houzel: What is so special about the human brain?

    Nov 26, 2013 | 14 min
    The human brain is puzzling -- it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective's cap and leads us through this mystery. By making "brain soup," she arrives at a startling conclusion.
  • Peter Doolittle: How your "working memory" makes sense of the world

    Nov 22, 2013 | 10 min
    "Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it." In this funny, enlightening talk, educational psychologist Peter Doolittle details the importance -- and limitations -- of your "working memory," that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what's happening right now.
  • Grégoire Courtine: The paralyzed rat that walked

    Nov 6, 2013 | 15 min
    A spinal cord injury can sever the communication between your brain and your body, leading to paralysis. Fresh from his lab, Grégoire Courtine shows a new method -- combining drugs, electrical stimulation and a robot -- that could re-awaken the neural pathways and help the body learn again to move on its own. See how it works, as a paralyzed rat becomes able to run and navigate stairs.
  • Gian Giudice: Why our universe might exist on a knife-edge

    Oct 24, 2013 | 15 min
    The biggest surprise of discovering the Higgs boson? That there were no surprises. Gian Giudice talks us through a problem in theoretical physics: what if the Higgs field exists in an ultra-dense state that could mean the collapse of all atomic matter? With wit and charm, Giudice outlines a grim fate -- and why we shouldn't start worrying just yet. (Filmed at TEDxCERN.)
  • Elizabeth Loftus: The fiction of memory

    Sep 23, 2013 | 18 min
    Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn't happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It's more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics, and raises some important ethical questions we should all remember to consider.
  • Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing

    Sep 17, 2013 | 16 min
    Honeybees have thrived for 50 million years, each colony 40 to 50,000 individuals coordinated in amazing harmony. So why, seven years ago, did colonies start dying en masse? Marla Spivak reveals four reasons which are interacting with tragic consequences. This is not simply a problem because bees pollinate a third of the world’s crops. Could this incredible species be holding up a mirror for us?
  • Sonia Shah: 3 reasons we still haven’t gotten rid of malaria

    Sep 12, 2013 | 16 min
    We’ve known how to cure malaria since the 1600s, so why does the disease still kill hundreds of thousands every year? It’s more than just a problem of medicine, says journalist Sonia Shah. A look into the history of malaria reveals three big-picture challenges to its eradication. Photos: Adam Nadel.
  • Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu: A mouse. A laser beam. A manipulated memory.

    Aug 15, 2013 | 16 min
    Can we edit the content of our memories? It’s a sci-fi-tinged question that Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu are asking in their lab at MIT. Essentially, the pair shoot a laser beam into the brain of a living mouse to activate and manipulate its memory. In this unexpectedly amusing talk they share not only how, but -- more importantly -- why they do this. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)
  • John Searle: Our shared condition -- consciousness

    Jul 22, 2013 | 16 min
    Philosopher John Searle lays out the case for studying human consciousness -- and systematically shoots down some of the common objections to taking it seriously. As we learn more about the brain processes that cause awareness, accepting that consciousness is a biological phenomenon is an important first step. And no, he says, consciousness is not a massive computer simulation. (Filmed at TEDxCERN.)
  • Peter Attia: Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?

    Jul 11, 2013 | 17 min
    As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.
  • The interspecies internet? An idea in progress

    Jul 10, 2013 | 21 min
    Apes, dolphins and elephants are animals with remarkable communication skills. Could the internet be expanded to include sentient species like them? A new and developing idea from a panel of four great thinkers -- dolphin researcher Diana Reiss, musician Peter Gabriel, internet of things visionary Neil Gershenfeld and Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet.
  • Michael Green: Why we should build wooden skyscrapers

    Jul 9, 2013 | 13 min
    Building a skyscraper? Forget about steel and concrete, says architect Michael Green, and build it out of … wood. As he details in this intriguing talk, it's not only possible to build safe wooden structures up to 30 stories tall (and, he hopes, higher), it's necessary.
  • Hendrik Poinar: Bring back the woolly mammoth!

    Jul 3, 2013 | 11 min
    It’s the dream of kids all around the world to see giant beasts walk the Earth again. Could -- and should -- that dream be realized? Hendrik Poinar gives an informative talk on the next -- really -- big thing: The quest to engineer a creature that looks very much like our furry friend, the woolly mammoth. The first step, to sequence the woolly genome, is nearly complete. And it’s huge. (Filmed at TEDxDeExtinction.)
  • John Wilbanks: Let’s pool our medical data

    Jun 19, 2013 | 17 min
    When you're getting medical treatment, or taking part in medical testing, privacy is important; strict laws limit what researchers can see and know about you. But what if your medical data could be used -- anonymously -- by anyone seeking to test a hypothesis? John Wilbanks wonders if the desire to protect our privacy is slowing research, and if opening up medical data could lead to a wave of health care innovation.
  • Colin Camerer: Neuroscience, game theory, monkeys

    May 28, 2013 | 15 min
    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 just how little we’re able to predict what others are thinking. And he presents an unexpected study that shows chimpanzees might just be better at it than we are. (Filmed at TEDxCalTech.)
  • Erik Schlangen: A "self-healing" asphalt

    May 21, 2013 | 6 min
    Paved roads are nice to look at, but they’re easily damaged and costly to repair. Erik Schlangen demos a new type of porous asphalt made of simple materials with an astonishing feature: When cracked, it can be “healed” by induction heating. (Filmed at TEDxDelft.)
  • Michael Merzenich: Growing evidence of brain plasticity

    May 21, 2013 | 24 min
    Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich looks at one of the secrets of the brain's incredible power: its ability to actively re-wire itself. He's researching ways to harness the brain's plasticity to enhance our skills and recover lost function.
  • Ellen Jorgensen: Biohacking -- you can do it, too

    May 6, 2013 | 11 min
    We have personal computing, why not personal biotech? That’s the question biologist Ellen Jorgensen and her colleagues asked themselves before opening Genspace, a nonprofit DIYbio lab in Brooklyn devoted to citizen science, where amateurs can go and tinker with biotechnology. Far from being a sinister Frankenstein's lab (as some imagined it), Genspace offers a long list of fun, creative and practical uses for DIYbio.
  • Laura Snyder: The Philosophical Breakfast Club

    May 6, 2013 | 13 min
    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.
  • Edith Widder: How we found the giant squid

    Apr 16, 2013 | 9 min
    Humankind has been looking for the giant squid (Architeuthis) since we first started taking pictures underwater. But the elusive deep-sea predator could never be caught on film. Oceanographer and inventor Edith Widder shares the key insight -- and the teamwork -- that helped to capture the squid on film for the first time.
  • Allan Savory: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change

    Apr 10, 2013 | 23 min
    “Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And it's happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.
  • Carter Emmart demos a 3D atlas of the universe

    Mar 25, 2013 | 8 min
    For the last 12 years, Carter Emmart has been coordinating the efforts of scientists, artists and programmers to build a complete 3D visualization of our known universe. He demos this stunning tour and explains how it's being shared with facilities around the world.
  • Hadyn Parry: Re-engineering mosquitos to fight disease

    Mar 11, 2013 | 15 min
    In a single year, there are 200-300 million cases of malaria and 50-100 million cases of dengue fever worldwide. So: Why haven’t we found a way to effectively kill mosquitos yet? Hadyn Parry presents a fascinating solution: genetically engineering male mosquitos to make them sterile, and releasing the insects into the wild, to cut down on disease-carrying species.
  • Michael Dickinson: How a fly flies

    Mar 8, 2013 | 17 min
    An insect's ability to fly is perhaps one of the greatest feats of evolution. Michael Dickinson looks at how a common housefly takes flight with such delicate wings, thanks to a clever flapping motion and flight muscles that are both powerful and nimble. But the secret ingredient: the incredible fly brain. (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.)
  • Lee Cronin: Print your own medicine

    Mar 8, 2013 | 4 min
    Chemist Lee Cronin is working on a 3D printer that, instead of objects, is able to print molecules. An exciting potential long-term application: printing your own medicine using chemical inks.
  • Nina Tandon: Could tissue engineering mean personalized medicine?

    Mar 4, 2013 | 7 min
    Each of our bodies is utterly unique, which is a lovely thought until it comes to treating an illness -- when every body reacts differently, often unpredictably, to standard treatment. Tissue engineer Nina Tandon talks about a possible solution: Using pluripotent stem cells to make personalized models of organs on which to test new drugs and treatments, and storing them on computer chips. (Call it extremely personalized medicine.)
  • Al Gore: Averting the climate crisis

    Feb 7, 2013 | 17 min
    With the same humor and humanity he exuded in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore spells out 15 ways that individuals can address climate change immediately, from buying a hybrid to inventing a new, hotter "brand name" for global warming.
  • Susan Savage-Rumbaugh: The gentle genius of bonobos

    Feb 7, 2013 | 13 min
    Savage-Rumbaugh's work with bonobo apes, which can understand spoken language and learn tasks by watching, forces the audience to rethink how much of what a species can do is determined by biology -- and how much by cultural exposure.
  • David Deutsch: Chemical scum that dream of distant quasars

    Feb 7, 2013 | 11 min
    Legendary scientist David Deutsch puts theoretical physics on the back burner to discuss a more urgent matter: the survival of our species. The first step toward solving global warming, he says, is to admit that we have a problem.
  • Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero!

    Feb 6, 2013 | 29 min
    At TED2010, Bill Gates unveils his vision for the world's energy future, describing the need for "miracles" to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he's backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050.
  • Jonathan Eisen: Meet your microbes

    Feb 6, 2013 | 15 min
    Our bodies are covered in a sea of microbes -- both the pathogens that make us sick and the "good" microbes, about which we know less, that might be keeping us healthy. At TEDMED, microbiologist Jonathan Eisen shares what we know, including some surprising ways to put those good microbes to work.
  • Paul Root Wolpe: It's time to question bio-engineering

    Feb 6, 2013 | 20 min
    Bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe describes an astonishing series of recent bio-engineering experiments, from glowing dogs to mice that grow human ears. He asks: Isn't it time to set some ground rules? (Filmed at TEDxPeachtree.)
  • Simon Berrow: How do you save a shark you know nothing about?

    Feb 6, 2013 | 18 min
    They're the second largest fish in the world, they're almost extinct, and we know almost nothing about them. In this talk, Simon Berrow describes the fascinating basking shark ("Great Fish of the Sun" in Irish), and the exceptional -- and wonderfully low-tech -- ways he's learning enough to save them. (Filmed at TEDxDublin.)
  • Martin Hanczyc: The line between life and not-life

    Feb 6, 2013 | 15 min
    In his lab, Martin Hanczyc makes "protocells," experimental blobs of chemicals that behave like living cells. His work demonstrates how life might have first occurred on Earth ... and perhaps elsewhere too.
  • Simon Lewis: Don't take consciousness for granted

    Feb 6, 2013 | 23 min
    After a catastrophic car accident that left him in a coma, Simon Lewis found ways to recover -- physically and mentally -- beyond all expectations. At the INK Conference he tells how this remarkable story led him to concern over all threats to consciousness, and how to overcome them.
  • Susan Solomon: The promise of research with stem cells

    Feb 6, 2013 | 16 min
    Calling them "our bodies' own repair kits," Susan Solomon advocates research using lab-grown stem cells. By growing individual pluripotent stem cell lines, her team creates testbeds that could accelerate research into curing diseases -- and perhaps lead to individualized treatment, targeted not just to a particular disease but a particular person.
  • Anil Ananthaswamy: What it takes to do extreme astrophysics

    Feb 6, 2013 | 15 min
    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.
  • Ben Goldacre: Battling bad science

    Feb 6, 2013 | 15 min
    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.
  • Robin Ince: Science versus wonder?

    Feb 6, 2013 | 9 min
    Does science ruin the magic of life? In this grumpy but charming monologue, Robin Ince makes the argument against. The more we learn about the astonishing behavior of the universe -- the more we stand in awe.
  • Aaron O'Connell: Making sense of a visible quantum object

    Feb 6, 2013 | 9 min
    Physicists are used to the idea that subatomic particles behave according to the bizarre rules of quantum mechanics, completely different to human-scale objects. In a breakthrough experiment, Aaron O'Connell has blurred that distinction by creating an object that is visible to the unaided eye, but provably in two places at the same time. In this talk he suggests an intriguing way of thinking about the result.
  • Phil Plait: How to defend Earth from asteroids

    Feb 6, 2013 | 15 min
    What's six miles wide and can end civilization in an instant? An asteroid -- and there are lots of them out there. With humor and great visuals, Phil Plait enthralls the TEDxBoulder audience with all the ways asteroids can kill, and what we must do to avoid them. (Filmed at TEDxBoulder.)
  • Angela Belcher: Using nature to grow batteries

    Feb 6, 2013 | 1 min
    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. (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.)
  • Carl Schoonover: How to look inside the brain

    Feb 6, 2013 | 6 min
    There have been remarkable advances in understanding the brain, but how do you actually study the neurons inside it? Using gorgeous imagery, neuroscientist and TED Fellow Carl Schoonover shows the tools that let us see inside our brains.
  • Garik Israelian: How spectroscopy could reveal alien life

    Feb 6, 2013 | 17 min
    Garik Israelian is a spectroscopist, studying the spectrum emitted by a star to figure out what it's made of and how it might behave. It's a rare and accessible look at this discipline, which may be coming close to finding a planet friendly to life.
  • Ed Boyden: A light switch for neurons

    Feb 6, 2013 | 19 min
    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.
  • Edith Widder: The weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence

    Feb 6, 2013 | 13 min
    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.
  • Joshua Klein: The intelligence of crows

    Feb 6, 2013 | 9 min
    Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he's come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human.
  • Sheila Nirenberg: A prosthetic eye to treat blindness

    Feb 6, 2013 | 11 min
    At TEDMED, Sheila Nirenberg shows a bold way to create sight in people with certain kinds of blindness: by hooking into the optic nerve and sending signals from a camera direct to the brain.
  • Paul Conneally: Digital humanitarianism

    Feb 6, 2013 | 12 min
    The disastrous earthquake in Haiti taught humanitarian groups an unexpected lesson: the power of mobile devices to coordinate, inform, and guide relief efforts. At TEDxRC2, Paul Conneally shows extraordinary examples of social media and other new technologies becoming central to humanitarian aid. (Filmed at TEDxRC2.)
  • Dimitar Sasselov: How we found hundreds of potential Earth-like planets

    Feb 6, 2013 | 19 min
    Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov and his colleagues search for Earth-like planets that may, someday, help us answer centuries-old questions about the origin and existence of biological life elsewhere (and on Earth). Preliminary results show that they have found 706 "candidates" -- some of which further research may prove to be planets with Earth-like geochemical characteristics.
  • Molly Crockett: Beware neuro-bunk

    Feb 6, 2013 | 12 min
    Brains are ubiquitous in modern marketing: Headlines proclaim cheese sandwiches help with decision-making, while a “neuro” drink claims to reduce stress. There’s just one problem, says neuroscientist Molly Crockett: The benefits of these "neuro-enhancements" are not proven scientifically. In this to-the-point talk, Crockett explains the limits of interpreting neuroscientific data, and why we should all be aware of them.
  • Bruce Aylward: How we'll stop polio for good

    Feb 6, 2013 | 24 min
    Polio is almost completely eradicated. But as Bruce Aylward says: Almost isn't good enough with a disease this terrifying. Aylward lays out the plan to continue the scientific miracle that ended polio in most of the world -- and to snuff it out everywhere, forever.
  • Bill Doyle: Treating cancer with electric fields

    Feb 6, 2013 | 16 min
    Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the best-known methods for treating cancer. At TEDMED, Bill Doyle presents a new approach, called Tumor Treating Fields, which uses electric fields to interrupt cancer cell division. Still in its infancy -- and approved for only certain types of cancer -- the treatment comes with one big benefit: quality of life.
  • Cynthia Kenyon: Experiments that hint of longer lives

    Feb 6, 2013 | 17 min
    What controls aging? Biochemist Cynthia Kenyon has found a simple genetic mutation that can double the lifespan of a simple worm, C. elegans. The lessons from that discovery, and others, are pointing to how we might one day significantly extend youthful human life.
  • Brian Greene: Is our universe the only universe?

    Feb 6, 2013 | 23 min
    Is there more than one universe? In this visually rich, action-packed talk, Brian Greene shows how the unanswered questions of physics (starting with a big one: What caused the Big Bang?) have led to the theory that our own universe is just one of many in the "multiverse."
  • Anthony Atala: Printing a human kidney

    Feb 6, 2013 | 18 min
    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.
  • Helen Fisher: The brain in love

    Feb 6, 2013 | 15 min
    Why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it? To learn more about our very real, very physical need for romantic love, Helen Fisher and her research team took MRIs of people in love -- and people who had just been dumped.
  • Jonathan Drori: The beautiful tricks of flowers

    Feb 6, 2013 | 14 min
    In this visually dazzling talk, Jonathan Drori shows the extraordinary ways flowering plants -- over a quarter million species -- have evolved to attract insects to spread their pollen: growing 'landing-strips' to guide the insects in, shining in ultraviolet, building elaborate traps, and even mimicking other insects in heat.
  • Christina Warinner: Tracking ancient diseases using ... plaque

    Feb 6, 2013 | 6 min
    Imagine what we could learn about diseases by studying the history of human disease, from ancient hominids to the present. But how? TED Fellow Christina Warinner is an achaeological geneticist, and she's found a spectacular new tool -- the microbial DNA in fossilized dental plaque.
  • Janna Levin: The sound the universe makes

    Feb 6, 2013 | 18 min
    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.
  • Harvey Fineberg: Are we ready for neo-evolution?

    Feb 6, 2013 | 18 min
    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?
  • Jack Choi: On the virtual dissection table

    Feb 6, 2013 | 7 min
    Onstage at TED2012, Jack Choi demonstrates a powerful tool for training medical students: a stretcher-sized multi-touch screen of the human body that lets you explore, dissect and understand the body's parts and systems.
  • Susan Lim: Transplant cells, not organs

    Feb 6, 2013 | 17 min
    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.
  • Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth -- visualized

    Feb 6, 2013 | 10 min
    Image-maker Alexander Tsiaras shares a powerful medical visualization, showing human development from conception to birth and beyond. (Some graphic images.)
  • Cheryl Hayashi: The magnificence of spider silk

    Feb 6, 2013 | 15 min
    Cheryl Hayashi studies spider silk, one of nature's most high-performance materials. Each species of spider can make up to 7 very different kinds of silk. How do they do it? Hayashi explains at the DNA level -- then shows us how this super-strong, super-flexible material can inspire.
  • Heribert Watzke: The brain in your gut

    Feb 6, 2013 | 16 min
    Did you know you have functioning neurons in your intestines -- about a hundred million of them? Food scientist Heribert Watzke tells us about the "hidden brain" in our gut and the surprising things it makes us feel.
  • George Whitesides: Toward a science of simplicity

    Feb 6, 2013 | 19 min
    Simplicity: We know it when we see it -- but what is it, exactly? In this funny, philosophical talk, George Whitesides chisels out an answer.
  • Paul Snelgrove: A census of the ocean

    Feb 6, 2013 | 18 min
    Oceanographer Paul Snelgrove shares the results of a ten-year project with one goal: to take a census of all the life in the oceans. He shares amazing photos of some of the surprising finds of the Census of Marine Life.
  • Brian Cox: CERN's supercollider

    Feb 6, 2013 | 14 min
    "Rock-star physicist" Brian Cox talks about his work on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Discussing the biggest of big science in an engaging, accessible way, Cox brings us along on a tour of the massive project.
  • Mick Ebeling: The invention that unlocked a locked-in artist

    Feb 6, 2013 | 9 min
    The nerve disease ALS left graffiti artist TEMPT paralyzed from head to toe, forced to communicate blink by blink. In a remarkable talk at TEDActive, entrepreneur Mick Ebeling shares how he and a team of collaborators built an open-source invention that gave the artist -- and gives others in his circumstance -- the means to make art again.
  • Mike deGruy: Hooked by an octopus

    Feb 6, 2013 | 17 min
    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.
  • Isabel Behncke: Evolution's gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans

    Feb 6, 2013 | 8 min
    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?
  • Quyen Nguyen: Color-coded surgery

    Feb 6, 2013 | 17 min
    Surgeons are taught from textbooks which conveniently color-code the types of tissues, but that's not what it looks like in real life -- until now. At TEDMED Quyen Nguyen demonstrates how a molecular marker can make tumors light up in neon green, showing surgeons exactly where to cut.
  • Jack Horner: Building a dinosaur from a chicken

    Feb 6, 2013 | 17 min
    Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a "Chickenosaurus".
  • Erica Frenkel: The universal anesthesia machine

    Feb 6, 2013 | 12 min
    What if you're in surgery and the power goes out? No lights, no oxygen -- and your anesthesia stops flowing. It happens constantly in hospitals throughout the world, turning routine procedures into tragedies. Erica Frenkel demos one solution: the universal anesthesia machine. (Filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic.)
  • Nina Tandon: Caring for engineered tissue

    Feb 6, 2013 | 5 min
    Tissue engineer and TED Fellow Nina Tandon is growing artificial hearts and bones. To do that, she needs new ways of caring for artificially grown cells -- techniques she's developed by the simple but powerful method of copying their natural environments.
  • Daniel Kraft: Medicine's future? There's an app for that

    Feb 6, 2013 | 19 min
    Daniel Kraft offers a fast-paced look at the next few years of innovations in medicine, powered by new tools, tests and apps that bring diagnostic information right to the patient's bedside. (Filmed at TEDxMaastricht.)
  • Honor Harger: A history of the universe in sound

    Feb 6, 2013 | 12 min
    Artist-technologist Honor Harger listens to the weird and wonderful noises of stars and planets and pulsars. In her work, she tracks the radio waves emitted by ancient celestial objects and turns them into sound, including "the oldest song you will ever hear," the sound of cosmic rays left over from the Big Bang.
  • Jay Bradner: Open-source cancer research

    Feb 6, 2013 | 14 min
    How does cancer know it's cancer? At Jay Bradner's lab, they found a molecule that might hold the answer, JQ1 -- and instead of patenting JQ1, 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. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)
  • Iain Hutchison: Saving faces

    Feb 6, 2013 | 17 min
    Facial 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.
  • Danny Hillis: Understanding cancer through proteomics

    Feb 6, 2013 | 21 min
    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.
  • Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight

    Feb 6, 2013 | 21 min
    Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one. An astonishing story.
  • Brian Greene: Making sense of string theory

    Feb 6, 2013 | 16 min
    Physicist Brian Greene explains superstring theory, the idea that minscule strands of energy vibrating in 11 dimensions create every particle and force in the universe.
  • VS Ramachandran: 3 clues to understanding your brain

    Feb 6, 2013 | 23 min
    Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.
  • Richard Dawkins: Why the universe seems so strange

    Feb 6, 2013 | 12 min
    Biologist Richard Dawkins makes a case for "thinking the improbable" by looking at how the human frame of reference limits our understanding of the universe.
  • Stephen Hawking: Questioning the universe

    Feb 6, 2013 | 9 min
    In keeping with the theme of TED2008, professor Stephen Hawking asks some Big Questions about our universe -- How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? -- and discusses how we might go about answering them.

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