To begin with, I am spoilt for choice.
TED.com is an unfathomably large warehouse of ideas – a museum from which picking ten most priceless artifacts was a daunting task for a curator’s penlight. Yet, from the burgeoning nation of intellectuals exceeding far beyond our mental landscapes, these ten have captured mine – and thousands’ – imaginations, the most. Each TED Talk is aimed at delivering an idea – a spark of a notion that may someday grow into a robust wildfire of curiosity. Some speakers deliver an idea better than others, but it’s never the question of how voluminously you can speak at TED. TED looks for perfect thought-igniters, and is an undoubted expert at finding them.
- What physics taught me about marketing — Dan Cobley
In his hilariously ingenious talk, Dan Cobley illustrates what physics and good marketing share at their wholly dissimilar cores. Bizarrely deploying Newton’s second law of motion, the second law of thermodynamics and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to explain basic branding fundamentals, this must-watch talk goes a long way in proving that physicist ingenuity is not far from insanity.
- Gene editing can change an entire species – forever — Jennifer Kahn
Science journalist Jennifer Kahn says that a ground-shaking discovery now allows genome researchers over the globe to reprogram entire DNA sequences, ensuring that future generations inherit the resulting edited genetic “code.” Kahn peppers her deeply intuitive talk with ponderings over the ethical dilemmas this technology opens up – most importantly, when humankind wields the incredible power to control its future kind, does it have the power to call itself God?
- Can we build AI without losing control over it? — Sam Harris
Sam Harris is that rare cocktail of a science futurist and a philosopher. In his talk that has fittingly been earmarked as one that will keep you up all night, Sam says that the dawn isn’t far when the Earth buzzes with superhuman machines — machines right out of fantasy dystopias that will have the potential – and perhaps the intent – to wipe humanity out. Watch at your own assured risk.
- A 40-year plan for energy — Amory Lovins
There is just one succinct word that manifests the heart and soul of the brilliant futurist Amory Lovins on paper – eagle-eyed. From the generous offices of the TED premises, Lovins demonstrates with unbelievable dexterity what the US could look like by 2050. By capitalizing on the four energy-using sectors, Lovins says that the key to energy creation is not brute force – it is mind-boggling innovation. And he is a powerhouse when it comes to that.
- How Humans Could Evolve to Survive in Space — Lisa Nip
The space is a cold, hostile dominion largely unchartered by the likes of mankind. For space researchers, Gravity is beyond a nightmare – it is a shockingly existent threat that seems virtually impossible to combat.
Lisa Nip throws open her treasure chests of extensive research and actionable innovation to answer some of the most troubling questions of space exploration. She says that humans see it as a challenge that they aren’t adapted to the freezing frontiers of the universe – they well have the power to invent their way out.
- What Humans Will Look Like in the Next 100 Years — Juan Enriquez
Juan Enriquez delves into the realms of anthropology to dig our past – and hence our future – out from the sands. Employing the principles of extreme gene manipulation, he powerfully constructs what Homo optimus, perhaps your grandson, will look, talk, and think like. In this lucid, compact and yet horizon-defying talk, Enriquez proves once again that he is the unmatched standard-bearer of genetic engineering.
- Why I fell in love with monster prime numbers — Adam Spencer
Comedian and self-proclaimed math geek Adam Spencer sheds light on these queer monstrosities of numbers that would be powerful sources of motivation for anyone to curl up inside a blanket. Spencer claims – unquestionably – the magic of math asserts no bounds, and waves these gigantic numbers at your face for evidence.
- What I learned from quasars, blazars and our incredible universe– Jedidah Isler
Jedidah Isler is that rarity of an astrophysicist who has the prized ability to talk in the common man’s tongue. She traces her journey from childhood inquisitiveness to a career in the pursuit of the true meaning of what we can neither see, nor ever fathom. She takes us trillions of kilometres away to celestial supergiants throbbing with untapped reservoirs of energy. From the blip of a dying pulsar to the inescapable suction of a supermassive black hole, she elucidates all – without deploying a strand of astrophysicist jargon.
- What the discovery of gravitational waves means — Allan Adams
The stunning echo of space-time at the LIGO facility this year catapulted our minds to probe the stars for unexplored horizons. In his enlightening yet coherently nontechnical talk, Allan Adams deftly illustrates what the buzz in the scientific echelons was all about. With the passion of a desperate tour guide and the expertise of a nerdy physicist, Adams effortlessly creates his magnum opus – an unforgettable eye-opener.
- Questioning the universe — Stephen Hawking
The most famous physicist alive, Stephen Hawking is doubtlessly the zenith of human intellectual achievement. I saved the best for the last, of course.
From a Harvard wheelchair and through the robotic buzz of an artificial voice synthesizer, the emissary of the cosmos breathtakingly unveils the mysteries of the dark, lifeless universe. But for most of us, his talk symbolizes much more than that — it is a proud sentinel to remind us that no hurdle is too difficult to leap over if one is powered by the blazing flairs of ambition.