TEDster Allison Hunt's five-minute talk finds humor and marketing strategy in the most unlikely of places -- her own hip-replacement surgery. As the world scrutinizes broken healthcare systems, this particularly timely clip shows how sneaking to the front of a 2-year waiting list can have an altruistic effect.
In this deeply personal talk, novelist and poet Chris Abani searches for the heart of Africa through poetry and narrative -- including his own story of artistic and political awakening, which began with an inventive teacher who taught him the forbidden history of his own people. How, he asks, can we reconcile stories of terror, war and corruption with one's enduring sense of pure wonder?
In this provocative talk, journalist Andrew Mwenda asks us to reframe the "African question" -- to look beyond the media's stories of poverty, civil war and helplessness and see the opportunities for creating wealth and happiness throughout the continent. Most important, he says, the solution to Africa's problems is not more aid.
Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction? When does a made-up word become real? And could you use "synecdochical" in a sentence, please? In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways in which today's print dictionary is poised for transformation in this internet era.
Dutch artist Theo Jansen demonstrates his amazingly lifelike kinetic sculptures, built from plastic tubes and lemonade bottles. His "Strandbeests" (Beach Creatures) are built to move and even survive on their own.
In an exclusive preview of his new book, The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker looks at language, and the way it expresses the workings of our minds. By analyzing common sentences and words, he shows us how, in what we say and how we say it, we're communicating much more than we realize.
Filmmaker Deborah Scranton talks about and shows clips from her documentary The War Tapes, which put cameras in the hands of Charlie Company, a unit of the National Guard, for one year in Iraq. The soldiers' raw footage and diary excerpts tell a powerful, unsettling story of modern war.
Microsoft's Stephen Lawler gives a whirlwind tour of Virtual Earth, moving up, down and through its hyperreal cityscapes with dazzlingly fluidity, a remarkable feat that requires staggering amounts of data to bring into focus. Google might still be ahead of the game, but even in beta, Virtual Earth shows incredible promise. Microsoft's visions for the product -- as a provider of real-time weather and traffic data, or a realistic backdrop for game developers and IM conversations, or virtual ad space -- all seem well within the limits of possibility.
Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo. Curious about that speck in corner? Dive into a freefall and watch as the speck becomes a gargoyle. With an unpleasant grimace. And an ant-sized chip in its lower left molar. "Perhaps the most amazing demo I've seen this year," wrote Ethan Zuckerman, after TED2007. Indeed, Photosynth might utterly transform the way we manipulate and experience digital images.
Caroline Lavelle plays the cello like a sorceress casting a spell, occasionally hiding behind her wild mane of blond hair as she sings of pastoral themes. Her alluring style is reminiscent of Sarah MacLaughlin -- “The sea it freezes over to trap the light / And I'm in love with being in love and you were never quite the one.” When Lavelle gives full voice to her cello, as she does here during a performance of “Farther than the Sun” (from her album Brilliant Midnight 2.0) she's truly enchanting. TED Music Director Thomas Dolby backs her on keyboards.
Backed by Thomas Dolby, who uses his Roland synthesizer to create vocal layers in real time, fiddler Natalie MacMaster performs Dolby's original song "Blue Is a River," in a performance that combines the traditional with the high-tech (and with a little step dancing). You can find the lyrics on Thomas Dolby's blog.
Genomics pioneer Craig Venter takes a break from his epic round-the-world expedition to talk about the millions of genes his team has discovered so far, in their quest to map the ocean's hidden biodiversity. (Quite a task, when you consider that there are tens of millions of microbes in a single drop of sea water.) He updates the TED audience on his discoveries, from the 2,000 photoreceptor genes found in the Sargasso Sea to the thrill of being under house arrest in French waters. After touching on the potential of environmental genomics to monitor the safety of air, water and offshore drilling, Venter ends with his vision for engineered species that can replace the petrochemical industry by creating clean energy.
Al Seckel, a cognitive neuroscientist and master of visual illusions, explores some of the perceptual illusions that fool our eyes and our brains. Running through example after example of images that buck our expectations, he asks why such tricks make us so happy (The Pursuit of Happiness was the theme of the 2004 TED conference). He even creates some of his own illusions, challenging our notion of what's true.
Chris Anderson, the editor of WIRED, explores the four key stages of any viable technology: setting the right price, gaining market share, displacing an established technology and, finally, becoming ubiquitous. To demonstrate this trajectory, Anderson explores the evolution of the DVD player as it passes through each of these four tipping points, then offers specific examples of current trends in technology -- ranging from DNA sequencing to the hybrid -- to illustrate each stage of the game.