Arts

A photographer’s lovely visual thank you to some often overlooked medical professionals. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t make a difference, and it’s great to be reminded that I do.” That quote is from one of the hundreds of heartfelt notes that photographer Carolyn Jones (TED Talk: A tribute to nurses) received after she published a book of portraits, The American Nurse, and a documentary with the same name. “I think nurses feel a little forgotten,” she says. In the US, nurses ...
There are continents to explore right below our feet — including two giant blobs 100 times as tall as Everest. Here’s how seismologist and geophysicist Ed Garnero is studying this unseen and largely uncharted territory. For most people, everything they know about the composition of the Earth is what they were taught in elementary school: that our planet is made up of an eggshell-like crust over a thick mantle surrounding a super-hot core. In the last decade, scientists have made som...
We usually think of A.I.s as faster and better versions of human brains, but if we want technology to progress by leads and bounds, we must make A.I.s that are like nothing else on Earth, says digital visionary Kevin Kelly. Because of a quirk in our evolutionary history, we are cruising as the only self-conscious species on our planet, leaving us with the incorrect idea that human intelligence is singular. It is not. Our own intelligence is a society of intelligences, and this suite occupies onl...
It’s time to ensure that no American has to worry about where they and their families will sleep tonight, says housing consultant James Stockard. There’s a lot of talk these days about how we can make America great again, with politicians, academics and journalists looking for the answers in areas that include increased defense spending, infrastructure investment and job programs. But after spending nearly 50 years consulting on housing at the local, state and national levels, I believe ther...
Can you tell your cavum from your cauda? Your homogenitus from your homomutatus? Those four cloud formations, along with eight others, have been added to the International Cloud Atlas, the official compendium of all things cloud. Cloud Appreciation Society founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney introduces us to them and to the wild and wonderful world above us. For Gavin Pretor-Pinney, hell might be someplace like Yuma, Arizona, said to be the sunniest city on Earth and boasting more than 4,000 blinding ho...
Wax print cotton kimonos! Lacquer tribal stools! Since Cameroon-born artist Serge Mouangue lived in Japan, he’s been creating the most fascinating aesthetic fusion. Artist and TED Fellow Serge Mouangue (TEDxConcorde talk: Le kimono africain) is used to moving fluidly among cultures. Born in Cameroon, he and his family immigrated to France when he was a child and he grew up in Paris. After studying applied art and industrial design, he moved to Australia and worked as an industrial designer...
Preparation is the key trick used by magicians — and it can help you conjure big wow moments, too, says David Kwong. In 2014, Hollywood director Edgar Wright, known for offbeat films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and next month’s Baby Driver, invited me to his home so he could learn “how a magician thinks.” I invited my magician pal Blake Vogt to help me “load up.” Loading up is magician-speak for the advance organization and placement of...
An estimated 30 percent of the planet’s food supply is needlessly discarded. Here are some imaginative ideas to stop the rot. We humans have a puzzling attitude towards food — it’s one of the few things in life that we absolutely need to survive, yet we can be shockingly careless with it. From a shriveled up peach that went ignored in a fridge drawer to a misshapen cabbage tossed for not meeting supermarket standards, 1.3 billion tons of food is discarded each year, while an estimated...
And Brexit wouldn’t have happened. At least that’s according to the Global Vote, an initiative which lets people vote in other country’s elections. Creator Simon Anholt tells us about the lessons learned from this real-life experiment in democracy. The results of the November 2016 election in America were as follows: Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, won a landslide victory with 52 percent of the overall vote. Jill Stein, the Green candidate, came a distant second, with 19 per...
Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky shows us the surprising ways that our brains get mixed up between the physical and metaphorical — and how this can pit us against each other. When humans put pigment to wall in Lascaux Cave more than 17,000 years ago, the point was to minimize the distance between object and representation, to be as close as possible to possessing the real horse. To gain its power, as imbued in a symbol. The clearest human mastery of symbolism comes with our use of language. ...
News flash no. 1: “balloon art” is not an oxymoron. News flash no. 2: The man who invented the Fly Guy, that ubiquitous flailing balloon figure, is crafting some eye- and wind-catching pieces of balloon art. Take a look at these colorful creations from Doron Gazit. Even though you may not know it, you’re probably familiar with the work of environmental artist Doron Gazit (TEDxVail: Sculpting the winds of change). Every time you walk by a car dealership or supermarket and see a balloon ...
The neutrino has been called “the ghost particle,” due to its otherworldly ability to pass through solid objects, including you and me. Researchers in Antarctica are trying to catch them, hoping they might reveal the most energetic areas of the universe. Neutrinos: you can’t feel them, you can’t see them, but they’re everywhere. They’re constantly zipping around and through us: in a single second, about a hundred billion neutrinos pass through the square centimeter of your ...
The different ways in which parents handle their kids’ use of technology are creating three distinct types of tech users — and setting the stage for a clash of cultures, says writer Alexandra Samuel. The era of the digital native is over. If that declaration comes as a relief, you’re most likely either an older tech user who is tired of feeling irrelevant, or a millennial frustrated with being reduced to a headphone-wearing cliché. In 2001, education consultant Mark Prensky coined thi...
Artist Olalekan Jeyifous creates fantastical, futuristic images of Lagos, Nigeria, to get people thinking about how we live today. Olalekan Jeyifous may have trained as an architect, but these days, the Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist is much more interested in sparking debate with his conceptual drawings and sculptures. Starting conversation is at the center of his Improvised Shanty-Megastructures series, a speculative, forward-facing vision of Lagos, Nigeria, one of the world’s larg...
Not all of us are born with one main interest — and we should see that as our biggest strength, not our weakness, says Emilie Wapnick, a writer, coach, artist (and then some). Do you remember being asked, as a little kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up? When I think back, I don’t remember what I said. But I do remember what happened after I answered: the face of the adult who’d asked took on a look of approval and pride. It felt good to declare an identity. As we get older, “...
When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like — including ourselves — we experience a great spiritual moment, says writer Anne Lamott. There are times in our lives — scary, unsettling times — when we know that we need help or answers but we’re not sure what kind, or even what the problem or question is. We look and look, tearing apart our lives like we’re searching for car keys in our couch, and we come up empty-handed. Then when we’re doing something ...
Researchers are finding that your mental patterns could be harming your telomeres — essential parts of the cell’s DNA — and affecting your life and health. Nobel-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn and health psychologist Elissa Epel explain. How can one person bask in the sunshine of good health, while another person looks old before her time? Humans have been asking this question for millennia, and recently, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to scientists that the differences...
Economist Robin Hanson thinks the era of ems — robots with artificial copies of human brains — could occur in the next century. Read his astonishing predictions … and prepare for your jaw to drop. The next big new-era-inducing change is likely to be the arrival of artificial intelligence, in the form of robots smart enough to substitute wholesale for human workers. I guess that the first such robots will be whole brain emulations or “ems.” An em results from taking a particular...
We can do so with careful planning, recovering the ideals of compassion, peace and equity, and standing together in the face of hate, says Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Life, down here on earth, is holy. It is also exceptionally fragile. It is hevel, a Hebrew word meaning a mere breath. Almost in his last words, Moses tells his people, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your de...
Here’s something you might want to consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do, says productivity guru Tim Ferriss. To do or not to do? To try or not to try? Most people will vote no, whether they consider themselves brave or not. Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows, and most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty. For years, I set goals, made resolutions to change direction — nothing...