TED Talks@ted

Ideas worth spreading


Would you ever hop into a small, self-piloted flying taxi like this one? Think of all the time you’d save bypassing traffic! Worth it, right? Aviation entrepreneur Rodin Lyasoff dreams of a new golden age of air travel where we use autonomous air taxis to get from here to there. The technology to make this happen isn’t quite ready yet, but we’re a lot closer than you might think. “In the past century, flight connected our planet," Rodin says. "In the next, it will reconnect our local communities." To learn more about how researchers are making this vision a reality, watch his #TEDTalk at go.ted.com/airtaxi


How realistic does this pastel drawing look? Artist Zaria Forman used her fingers and palms to create this composition of a melting iceberg in Norway. She often travels thousands of miles to document places affected by climate change, ultimately turning her photographs into large-scale drawings that highlight the fragility of the Arctic. Zaria’s late mother Rena Bass Forman also photographed the Arctic from 2001 until she passed away in 2011, and her images now provide Zaria with endless inspiration. “[My mother] always wanted me to draw from her photos before she died, and I never wanted to, but now I am grateful to have the means to collaborate with her, even after her passing,” she says. To see more of Zaria’s breathtaking artwork, follow her at @zarialynn and watch her #TEDTalk at go.ted.com/glacierdrawings.


This is the Harvard Art Museum. The building “flirts” with light, says architect Renzo Piano. Renzo is the mastermind behind this museum and many of the world’s most iconic structures. He designed The Shard in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, NYC’s Whitney Museum of Art, and so much more. He believes that architecture is the art of making shelter for human beings, and he strives to design stunning places for people to meet, gather, dream, and marvel at our wondrous world. “Beauty can change people into better people, by switching a special light in their eyes,” Renzo says. “Beauty will save the world. One person at a time, but it will do it." To see more of his life’s work, visit go.ted.com/renzopiano

Photo by @nic.lehoux


Scientists are using drones to collect whale snot. Okay, technically it’s not snot. The technical term is “exhaled breath condensate,” aka the spray that whales blow out. After getting doused in “snot” one day, researcher Iain Kerr realized that its stinky scent meant that it likely includes biological material rather than just water and air. He figured it must be worth studying, but it was tricky to capture samples. Whales don’t exactly sit still, and they randomly dive underwater for 90+ minutes at a time. So, he created a special drone (called Parley SnotBot) mounted with petri dishes to hover over these massive, speedy creatures and collect their spray. Since 2015, he has captured over 500 samples of five species of whales in three areas. The samples reveal information about whales' pregnancies, stress levels, and DNA — not to mention, they give us a window into the health of the ocean, as well. To learn more about Iain’s work and see more of his amazing footage, visit go.ted.com/whalesnot
Photo courtesy of Iain Kerr and @parley.tv / Made possible thanks to support from @intel


Would you be so quick to swat that bug on your wall if you knew it looked like this? Photographer Levon Biss likes to take magnified portraits of insects, but he has a very particular technique. He goes section by section, photographing the eye, then changing the lighting to photograph the leg, and so on until he has 20 to 25 sections that he puts together for the final product. Each image is made up of anywhere between 8,000-10,000 separate shots, and they take three-and-a-half weeks to create. The result: stunning photographs of creatures that we normally don’t give a second look to. “I think there is a danger, as we get older, that our curiosity becomes slightly muted or dulled by familiarity. And as a visual creator, one of the challenges for me is to present the familiar in a new and engaging way,” Levon says. To see more of his work, go.ted.com/beautifulbugs and follow @levonbiss


It’s Friday! Do the worm like this little guy. This is an example of a soft robot. Soft robotics is an emerging field that aims to create nimble machines that imitate nature. The one shown here can move thanks to waves of pressure applied along its body. It’s incredibly flexible, so it can sneak under small spaces and keep moving forward despite physical pressure, like being run over by a car, for example. “The main objective is not to make super-precise machines, because we've already got them, but to make robots able to face unexpected situations in the real world,” says biomedical engineer Giada Gerboni. “We are just starting to learn how to control, how to put sensors on these very flexible structures. But of course, we are not even close to what nature figured out in millions of years of evolution.” To learn more about how these flexible structures could play a critical role in surgery, medicine and our daily lives, visit go.ted.com/softrobots
Video courtesy of Harvard University


Today is the day Americans celebrate the birth of the United States. In honor of that, author Caroline Paul believes we should help our kids grow up to be thoughtful, engaged citizens by teaching them the power of social justice and civic engagement. After all, children know what’s happening in the world, and they have the capacity to be deeply upset by it. By teaching them tools for change, adults can also help them learn real-life social skills such as teamwork, planning, and communication. “Keeping activism out of kids’ reach shortchanges them by under-preparing them for life,” Caroline says. “The protection we want for young kids comes not by ignoring a social justice issue but by assuring kids we can explain it, even if we have yet to remedy it.” To learn more, visit go.ted.com/kidactivists
Illustration by @celiajacobs


These robes, redesigned interpretations of traditional Klan robes, aim to confront the normalization of systemic racism in the US. By grappling with history in such a tangible way, multidisciplinary artist and @TEDFellow Paul Rucker hopes to show that the legacy of slavery is woven into our modern world — and that we can do something about it. “After making so many robes, I realized that the policies the Klan had in place or wanted to have in place a hundred years ago are in place today. We have segregated schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and it's not the people wearing hoods that are keeping these policies in place,” he says. “If we look at systemic racism and acknowledge that it's sown into the very fabric of who we are as a country, then we can actually do something about the intentional segregation in our schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces.” To watch his #TEDTalk, visit go.ted.com/modernklan

Photo courtesy of the artist

Please note that we have edited this caption because we noticed some misinterpretations of his message and wanted to clarify to ensure that we do justice to his work.


CRISPR, the groundbreaking gene-editing tool, should belong to everyone, says computational biologist and @TEDFellow Geoffrey Siwo. Right now institutions in the US and China are leading in terms of publications on genome-editing technologies, and the people leading the research are mostly male. This matters because those working on a new technology have control over the direction it goes in — a point that is made stronger by emerging evidence that CRISPR works differently on different human genomes. “So if only scientists from a certain part of the world — such as Europe and North America — are involved in using a technology, then those scientists are naturally likely to be biased in their choice of which diseases to study and focus their efforts on local populations, and people in other parts of the world will lose out,” says Geoffrey. Geoffrey is currently doing research to identify the disparities in the development of CRISPR and ensure that the technology will be used to benefit all people regardless of wealth, gender, race, or government. To learn more, visit go.ted.com/crisprforall

Illustration by @ajmollon


This is `Oumuamua, the first visitor EVER from another star system. Scientists had been expecting to see an interstellar comet pass through our solar system since the 1970s, but it had never happened until this guy showed up in October 2017. `Oumuamua (which is Hawaiian for “scout” or “messenger”) is a half-mile-long, and researchers like astrobiologist Karen J. Meech are still trying to figure out exactly where it came from. Is it rocky debris from a new star system? Shredded material from a supernova explosion? Or even evidence of alien technology? “I think this visitor from afar has really brought home the point that our solar system isn't isolated. We're part of a much larger environment, and in fact, we may even be surrounded by interstellar visitors and not even know it,” says Karen. To hear more about what Karen and her team have learned about `Oumuamua, visit go.ted.com/spacevisitor
Image by ESO/M. Kornmesser


In the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, artist and @TEDFellow eL Seed has created a piece called The Bridge. It was installed with the support of the South Korean military in November 2017 when tensions between North and South Korea were mounting, and it was designed to spark dialogue about the possibility of peace. But now in the wake of potentially breakthrough conversations between the two countries, eL Seed’s piece is more significant than ever. “When you build a bridge, you don’t build a bridge on one side. You build it from both sides,” @elseed says. “If you want to make peace with somebody, you have to come from each side. It seems that recently, North and South Korea have been able to meet at a point in the middle, at the DMZ. It makes you believe that other conflicts around the world might be solved too, if we can step towards each other.” To learn more, visit go.ted.com/thebridge

Photos courtesy of the artist


Tiq and Kim Milan can melt your cold heart and remind you that love is real. As a transgender man and a cisgender queer woman, the two married activists challenge misconceptions about their relationship and offer a vision of love and commitment that all people can aspire to. “If we drop all our preconceived notions about how somebody is supposed to be — in their body, in their gender, in their skin — if we take the intentional steps to unlearn these deep-seated biases and create space for people to be self-determined, and embrace who they are, then we will definitely create a better world than the one we were born into,” Tiq says. To watch @themrmilan and @kimkatrinmilan's full #TEDTalk, visit go.ted.com/queerlove. Happy Pride Month! #LoveIsLove