Ideas Worth Spreading: TEDTalks and Scientific Articles

This scientist makes ears out of apples (7:05)

Andrew Pelling is a biohacker, and nature is his hardware. His favorite materials are the simplest ones (and oftentimes he finds them in the garbage). Building on the cellulose structure that gives an apple its shape, he "grows" lifelike human ears, pioneering a process that might someday be used to repair body parts safely and cheaply. And he has some even wilder ideas to share ... "What I'm really curious about is if one day it will be possible to repair, rebuild and augment our own bodies with stuff we make in the kitchen," he says.

This virtual lab will revolutionize science class (11:26)

Virtual reality is no longer part of some distant future, and it's not just for gaming and entertainment anymore. Michael Bodekaer wants to use it to make quality education more accessible. In this refreshing talk, he demos an idea that could revolutionize the way we teach science in schools.
 

The magic ingredient that brings Pixar movies to life (12:04)

Danielle Feinberg, Pixar's director of photography, creates stories with soul and wonder using math, science and code. Go behind the scenes of Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Brave, WALL-E and more, and discover how Pixar interweaves art and science to create fantastic worlds where the things you imagine can become real. This talk comes from the PBS special "TED Talks: Science & Wonder."

Should you be able to patent a human gene?  (18:05)

A decade ago, US law said human genes were patentable — which meant patent holders had the right to stop anyone from sequencing, testing or even looking at a patented gene. Troubled by the way this law both harmed patients and created a barrier to biomedical innovation, Tania Simoncelli and her colleagues at the ACLU challenged it. In this riveting talk, hear the story of how they took a case everybody told them they would lose all the way to the Supreme Court.

Programming bacteria to detect cancer (and maybe treat it) (4:11)

Liver cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect, but synthetic biologist Tal Danino had a left-field thought: What if we could create a probiotic, edible bacteria that was "programmed" to find liver tumors? His insight exploits something we're just beginning to understand about bacteria: their power of quorum sensing, or doing something together once they reach critical mass. Danino, a TED Fellow, explains how quorum sensing works — and how clever bacteria working together could someday change cancer treatment.

How animations can help scientists test a hypothesis (5:06)

3D animation can bring scientific hypotheses to life. Molecular biologist (and TED Fellow) Janet Iwasa introduces a new open-source animation software designed just for scientists.

Hey science teachers – Make it fun (11:20)

High school science teacher Tyler DeWitt was ecstatic about a lesson plan on bacteria (how cool!) — and devastated when his students hated it. The problem was the textbook: it was impossible to understand. He delivers a rousing call for science teachers to ditch the jargon and extreme precision, and instead make science sing through stories and demonstrations. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)
 

Want to Innovate? Become a “now-ist” (12:27)

“Remember before the internet?” asks Joi Ito. “Remember when people used to try to predict the future?” In this engaging talk, the head of the MIT Media Lab skips the future predictions and instead shares a new approach to creating in the moment: building quickly and improving constantly, without waiting for permission or for proof that you have the right idea. This kind of bottom-up innovation is seen in the most fascinating, futuristic projects emerging today, and it starts, he says, with being open and alert to what’s going on around you right now. Don’t be a futurist, he suggests: be a now-ist.

The birth of virtual reality as an art form (17:34)

Chris Milk uses innovative technologies to make personal, interactive, human stories. Accompanied by Joshua Roman on cello and McKenzie Stubbert on piano, Milk traces his relationship to music and art — from the first moment he remembers putting on headphones to his current work creating breakthrough virtual reality projects. VR is the last medium for storytelling, he says, because it closes the gap between audience and storyteller. To illustrate, he brought the TED audience together in the world's largest collective VR experience. Join them and take part in this interactive talk by getting a Google Cardboard and downloading the experience at with.in/TED.

Sharon Terry: Science didn’t understand my kids’ rare disease until I decided to study it (15:02)

Meet Sharon Terry, a former college chaplain and stay-at-home mom who took the medical research world by storm when her two young children were diagnosed with a rare disease known as pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE). In this knockout talk, Terry explains how she and her husband became citizen scientists, working midnight shifts at the lab to find the gene behind PXE and establishing mandates that require researchers to share biological samples and work together.