TED talks is all about inspiring people. And one thing it has, is a whole collection of interesting and mind-blowing science talks. Here are some of my personal all-time favourites:
1. Markus Fischer: A robot that flies like a bird
This is one of my all-time favourites. Seldom has a robot made my hair stand on end. A traditional robot is a big, clumsy, heavy metallic frame with a bundle of wires. It might have a head with shiny eyes, and four limbs that squeak as they move in breaks. Fischer breaks all these stigmas about a robot, and shows a robot that flaps its soft wings and soars through the air in the auditorium, just like a real bird. Talk about technology advancement.
2. David Blaine: How I held my breathe for 17 minutes
Blaine is one of the few magicians whom I can never quite figure out how he does what he does. Not only how he does his magic, but WHY he actually attempts some of the craziest death-defying stunts ever! Besides getting frozen alive, buried alive and drowned alive, Blaine held his breathe for 17 minutes in 2008 on Oprah’s show. In this highly personal talk, Blaine described how he prepared for this record-breaking stunt (in a scientific manner), as well as the many close shaves with death he experienced during the process.
3. Keith Barry: Brain magic
Human brain hacker shows how the human mind can be easily deceived by making use of its loopholes – even on podcast! He calls himself a technologist, a software engineer of the human brain. And a really good one at that.
4. Brian Greene: Making sense of string theory
String theorist Greene takes an extremely complicated theory, and makes it simple enough for the layman to understand. Awesome usage of visual tools to help the audience visualize the 11 dimensions around us that we cannot usually see.
5. Adam Savage: How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries
Using famous examples in history such as Richard Feynman and Eratosthenes and Armand Fizeau, Savage explains how the simplest questions and simplest tools could bring you right to the edge of scientific discoveries. These people saw the same things, but were just a little bit more curious, and thought a little bit harder. My favorite quote from the talk – People often think of science as a closed black box, when it is actually an open field. We are all explorers!
6. Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see
Through a few interesting optical illusions – Lotto explains how our eyes and brain actually interact. How we view things do not only depend on our eye sight, but also how our brain perceives what we see.
7. Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth – visualized
Be fascinated when you see science at work. Not at the level that we usually see, but at a microscopic level, or at a time frame slowed down by 1000 times, or accelerated by 10,000 times. Not that we need to modify nature to make it beautiful, but it is our human perception that limits how we perceive beauty, and image maker Tsiaras does this beautifully with regards to the birth of a human life.
8. Stephen Hawking: Questioning the universe
Famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking asks some BIG questions about the universe – how did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we (humans) alone? What will the future be like? Professor Hawking gives some suggestions as to how we can answer these questions and some warnings, complete with humor and humbleness.
9. David Gallo: Underwater astonishments
In a short 5 minute talk, Gallo shows amazing pictures of underwater creatures that we don’t normally get to see in our everyday life (unless if you’re an underwater explorer or a fish, that is). Watch out for the male cuttlefish that gets aggressive in the presence of other male cuttlefish, but shows only the gentle side to the female.
10. Fabian Oefner: Psychedelic science
What happens when you merge Science and Art? Not as odd a pair if you think about it – nature is beautiful. Oefner’s mission is to bring out the most psychedelic images of Science. The best part is the live demo. Remember to breathe when you watch this. It will also bring a smile to you face, I assure you, as you realize the beauty that is constantly surrounding us. God’s creations.