TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).
These are the 10 talks that have proven most popular during their first two years of publishing, each one having been watched more than a million times.
1. Johnny Lee demos Wii Remote hacks
Building sophisticated educational tools out of cheap parts, Johnny Lee demos his cool Wii Remote hacks, which turn the $40 video game controller into a digital whiteboard, a touchscreen and a head-mounted 3-D viewer.
2. My stroke of insight
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions – motion, speech, self-awareness – shut down one by one. An astonishing story.
3. Underwater astonishments
David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and a Times Square’s worth of neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean.
4. Lightning calculation and other “Mathemagic”
In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? He’ll tell you.
5. Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo
Blaise Aguera y Arcas leads a dazzling demo of Photosynth, software that could transform the way we look at digital images. Using still photos culled from the Web, Photosynth builds breathtaking dreamscapes and lets us navigate them.
6. Unveiling the genius of multi-touch interface design
Jeff Han shows off a cheap, scalable multi-touch and pressure-sensitive computer screen interface that may spell the end of point-and-click.
7. Debunking third-world myths
You’ve never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world.”
8. Why we do what we do, and how we can do it better
Tony Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions – and high-fives Al Gore in the front row.
9. Do schools kill creativity?
Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.
10. 15 ways to avert a climate crisis
With the same humor and humanity he exuded in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore spells out 15 ways that individuals can address climate change immediately, from buying a hybrid to inventing a new, hotter “brand name” for global warming.