TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences curated by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading”. Every year, the technology, entertainment, and design worlds’ most inspired movers and shakers convene for a week of forward thinking revelry. These are 10 of the talks that have been most well-rated over the internet and my personal favorites too.
10. Stephen Wolfram: Computing a theory of everything
Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, talks about his quest to make all knowledge computational — able to be searched, processed and manipulated. His new search engine, Wolfram Alpha, has no lesser goal than to model and explain the physics underlying the universe.
9. Malcolm Gladwell: Spaghetti Sauce
Detective of fads and emerging subcultures, chronicler of jobs-you-never-knew-existed, Malcolm Gladwell’s work is toppling the popular understanding of bias, crime, food, marketing, race, consumers and intelligence. Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce — and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.
8. Arthur Benjamin: Mathemagic
Mathematician and magician Arthur Benjamin combines his two passions in “Mathemagics,” a mind-boggling presentation of lightning calculations and other feats of mathematical agility. 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.
7. Richard Dawkins: Our “Queer” Universe
Oxford professor Richard Dawkins has helped steer evolutionary science into the 21st century, and his concept of the “meme” contextualized the spread of ideas in the information age. Biologist Richard Dawkins makes a case for “thinking the improbable” by looking at how the human frame of reference limits our understanding of the universe.
6. Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Photosynth
Blaise Agüera y Arcas is the architect of Bing Maps at Microsoft, building augmented reality into searchable maps. 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.