A Website Well Worth Checking Out

When I was looking up information about Dr Benjamin’s mathemagics performance (see my blog post), I stumbled across a site on the internet that I think is worth checking out. It is TED.com. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started in 1984 as a conference to “[bring] together people from those three worlds.” During the last 20 years it has grown in size and scope and is now a worldwide conference held annually with very prominent speakers speaking on all kinds of topics. Here’re a few excerpts from their website:

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).

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

All of the talks that are given in the conferences are around 18 minutes long and are freely available to watch and download from their website. I’ve watched over a dozen of them in the last few days. I’m sure I’ll be watching a lot more of them (there are over 200). All of them have been insightful—some of them have been extremely mind-opening. They’ve addressed a range of things: world problems, scientific discoveries and topics, and the human psyche. Many have also been quite entertaining. Although almost all of them that I’ve seen so far could make it on a longer list of my favorites, here are a few of the ones I found most interesting:

My stroke of insight
by Jill Bolte Taylor
Dr Taylor is a neuroanatomist who had a serious stroke. Her description of the event is fascinating and unique because she describes what it was like to experience the deterioration of her brain over the course of four hours from a neuroscience perspective. She gives some pretty profound insights into the separate functions of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. I found it fascinating enough that when I found out she wrote a book about it I drove to Barnes and Noble to buy it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it in stock after all so I’m probably going to have to order it.

How I’m trying to change the world now
by Bill Gates
Bill Gates talks about problems with malaria across the world and with the education system in the United States. I often hear people bash Bill Gates because “all he cares about is monopolizing the software market and making money.” From what I know of him he is a very respect-worthy person; I think this is a good look into who Bill Gates actually is and what he is doing for the world with his time and money.

Why play is vital — no matter your age
by Stuart Brown
Dr Brown is a psychiatrist that began studying murderers and felons and found that there was a lack of playing in their lives, he has spent years studying the need for playing in both humans and animals. He expounds on some of his findings.

Classical music with shining eyes
by Benjamin Zander
Benjamin Zander has been the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra for over 25 years. It says on the website that he “has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it.” Here he very successfully convinces the audience that everyone has a passion for classical music.

Lightning calculation and other “Mathemagic”
by Arthur Benjamin
Dr Benjamin is a professor of mathematics. He does some pretty fascinating things with mental mathematical calculations. See my blog post about him coming to BYU.

Asking big questions about the universe
by Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists. I’ve read some of his books. Here he talks about the origins of the universe, the probability that we are alone in the universe, and the future of mankind.