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TED Talks  Ideas worth spreading


What can octopuses teach us about different kinds of intelligence? Octopuses’ neurons lie outside their central brain, causing them to experience consciousness very differently than humans and most mammals do. They might not even have a full grasp of their own bodies, which explains why their tentacles operate independently and can still function even after being severed. What does this have to do with us? “We humans are forever trapped within the inner universes prescribed by our brains, bodies and environments,” says cognitive neuroscientist Anil Seth. “But by studying the limits of our own awareness alongside the abilities of other species and by realizing that how we experience the world and the self is not the only way, we can gain startling glimpses into a space of possible consciousnesses.” Read his full article at go.ted.com/octopusbrain

Animation by @dennism00re

Jackson Bird is transgender, and he has a message for anyone too scared to ask questions or worried they'll say the wrong thing: just ask. It might be difficult, and you might slip up a few times, but people who are trans deserve your respect. Watch @jackisnotabird’s full #TEDTalk at go.ted.com/transrespect to learn more about misconceptions about pronouns and transitioning.


This is a numeric model that depicts the cracks in Greenland’s ice sheet. It shows how a crevasse can fracture when filled with water from a glacier aquifer. That water causes a three millimeter increase in global sea level rise per year. It might not seem like a lot, but it is already making a tremendous impact. “How much sea level rise is coming, and how fast will it get here? We need to know how much and how fast, so the world and its communities can plan for the sea level rise that's coming,” says glaciologist Kristin. To watch her full #TEDTalk, visit go.ted.com/greenlandicesheet

Video courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, with data from Ian Howat, Ted Scambos and Reto Stockli

When Gretchen Carlson spoke out about her experience of workplace harassment, it inspired women everywhere to share their own stories, be fierce, and take their power back. “We will no longer be underestimated, intimidated or set back," Gretchen says. "We will stand up and speak up and have our voices heard. We will be the women we were meant to be." To learn what we can do to take steps toward ending this problem, watch @therealgretchencarlson's #TEDTalk at go.ted.com/befierce

Filmmaker and activist Jen Brea was a healthy, active grad student when she was suddenly diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a chronic illness that can cause debilitating fatigue, pain, and more. Before her diagnosis, doctors didn’t believe her when she explained the severity of her symptoms. When she showed them a video of herself crying in pain on the floor that she recorded using her phone, the conversation changed. That moment inspired her to make Unrest, a documentary that chronicles her life with a lifelong illness that doctors still don’t fully understand. Her work has given a voice and new hope to the disabled community and the millions of people who struggle with ME. @jen.brea is also a @TEDFellow, and she joined us at TED’s office for a Facebook Live this afternoon to tell us more about her experience and work. Watch the interview at go.ted.com/jenbrealive, and watch her talk at go.ted.com/unrest. Unrest is available on Amazon and iTunes now.
Photo courtesy of @unrestfilm

“If all we do is argue and assert that our views and our feelings are more true than someone else’s, that's never going to lead to anything productive,” says political pundit Sally Kohn in her Facebook Live interview with podcaster Manoush Zomorodi at #TEDWomen. “I try to start from a place of seeing people as more than just the worst things that they seem to believe. No one is that.” Sally and Manoush had a conversation about how to have civil discourse and the current state of media, and it was one of four Facebook Live interviews hosted during the TEDWomen conference this week in New Orleans. Visit go.ted.com/sallykohnlive to watch Sally’s full interview, and check out facebook.com/TED for more.
Photo by @ryanlashphotography

We’re in New Orleans for #TEDWomen! We kicked off the conference with a tour of the local art scene with mural artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums (@bmike2c) and Malik Bartholomew from @knownolatours. “If these walls could talk, they’d tell a lot of important stories,” says Malik. Flip through to see some of the highlights from the tour, and check out TED’s Instagram story for more.

Writer Lidia Yuknavitch is a self-proclaimed misfit, and she has a message to everyone who feels like they don’t quite fit in: embrace it. In her new TED Book, the Misfit’s Manifesto, she explores how you can take your suffering and your failures and forge your own original path. “To be a misfit means to be willing to dive into the waters of one’s life, swim to the wreckage at the bottom, and bring something back to the surface,” she says. To read an excerpt from her book, visit go.ted.com/sufferingmyth

This is a “real-time zoetrope” made by artist Eric Dyer. The zoetrope was a 19th-century cylindrical device that placed similar pictures next to each other and spun to create the illusion of motion. It stood upright and was used to depict moving images before films existed. The term actually translates to ”wheel of life,” which inspired Eric to create the artistic rendering depicted here in honor of his family dog, Pixie. “Pixie reminds me that physical presence is important and that play is not a luxury, but a necessity,” he says. To learn more, watch his #TEDTalk at go.ted.com/zoetrope

The term “dinosaur” has developed a negative connotation, often describing something that is out-of-date or unable to adapt. In reality, these creatures were marvels of speed, size, power and versatility, and they can teach us a great deal about our world, says paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara. They reigned unchallenged for 165 million years — what do they reveal about our past, and what can they tell us about our environmental future? “To be a dinosaur is to belong to a staggeringly successful group of animals whose reign across time may never be matched by humans or any of our mammalian kin,” Kenneth says. To learn more about why we should study and respect dinos, visit go.ted.com/dinosaursmatter.
Illustration by @mike_lemanski

Would you believe us if we told you this was made out of paper? Artist Karen “Bit” Vejle is an expert at psaligraphy, or the art of paper cutting. Using just a pair of scissors, she creates intricate designs that tell elaborate stories — stories that often combine her Norwegian heritage and ancient Chinese culture (where this art form originated). This piece depicts a dragon egg, which is a symbol of power and strength in both Asian and Scandinavian cultures. Bit created seven of these for Paper Dialogues, a 2014 exhibit made in collaboration with Chinese art professor and psaligrapher Xiaoguang Qiao. Each egg is filled with icons from Norway’s past, present and future, with the one pictured here highlighting its present: the high mountains, deep valleys, and the Northern lights. “I always tell stories; you’ll find several in each paper cut,” says Bit. “If you are a child you will see one thing, if you are an adult you will see something else.” To see more of her work, visit go.ted.com/papercut and follow @bitvejleofficial

We are in the middle of an empathy crisis, says social activist Monica Lewinsky. Our culture thrives off public shaming and harassment, but together we can change that by showing compassion for ourselves and others. On October 19 at 3:30pm EST, Monica will be at TED’s office to discuss why we must end bullying — and how we can do it. Visit go.ted.com/lewinskylive to join the live conversation. #BeStrong

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