Other people’s interests or areas of research often seem more exciting than our own. That’s why I’ve kept moving from one academic area to another throughout my academic life 🙂
Here is a playlist (compiled by “TED Talks“) of talks by authors who inspire you to learn more about their topics.
Paul Bloom: The origins of pleasure
Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are essentialists — that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is.
Jean-Baptiste Michel: The mathematics of history
What can mathematics say about history? According to TED Fellow Jean-Baptiste Michel, quite a lot. From changes to language to the deadliness of wars, he shows how digitized history is just starting to reveal deep underlying patterns.
Manuel Lima: A visual history of human knowledge
How does knowledge grow? Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches; other times it grows as a complex and interconnected network. Infographics expert Manuel Lima explores the thousand-year history of mapping data — from languages to dynasties — using trees and networks of information. It’s a fascinating history of visualizations, and a look into humanity’s urge to map what we know.
Sarah Parcak: Archaeology from space
In this short talk, TED Fellow Sarah Parcak introduces the field of “space archaeology” — using satellite images to search for clues to the lost sites of past civilizations.
John Lloyd: An inventory of the invisible
Nature’s mysteries meet tack-sharp wit in this hilarious, 10-minute mix of quips and fun lessons, as comedian, writer and TV man John Lloyd plucks at the substance of several things not seen.
Kevin Kelly: How technology evolves
Tech enthusiast Kevin Kelly asks “What does technology want?” and discovers that its movement toward ubiquity and complexity is much like the evolution of life.
Sheena Iyengar: The art of choosing
Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices — and how we feel about the choices we make. At TEDGlobal, she talks about both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.
Stewart Brand: The dawn of de-extinction. Are you ready?
Throughout humankind’s history, we’ve driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern cougar, the dodo … But now, says Stewart Brand, we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. So — should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.
Carolyn Steel: How food shapes our cities
Every day, in a city the size of London, 30 million meals are served. But where does all the food come from? Architect Carolyn Steel discusses the daily miracle of feeding a city, and shows how ancient food routes shaped the modern world.
Michael Sandel: The lost art of democratic debate
Democracy thrives on civil debate, Michael Sandel says — but we’re shamefully out of practice. He leads a fun refresher, with TEDsters sparring over a recent Supreme Court case (PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin) whose outcome reveals the critical ingredient in justice.
Murray Gell-Mann: Beauty, truth and … physics?
Armed with a sense of humor and laypeople’s terms, Nobel winner Murray Gell-Mann drops some knowledge on TEDsters about particle physics, asking questions like, Are elegant equations more likely to be right than inelegant ones?
Philip Zimbardo: The psychology of time
Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says happiness and success are rooted in a trait most of us disregard: the way we orient toward the past, present and future. He suggests we calibrate our outlook on time as a first step to improving our lives.