What do you get when you combine the strongest materials from the plant world with the most elastic ones from the insect kingdom? Super-performing materials that might transform … everything. Nanobiotechnologist Oded Shoseyov walks us through examples of amazing materials found throughout nature, in everything from cat fleas to sequoia trees, and shows the creative ways his team is harnessing them in everything from sports shoes to medical implants.
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Why do we dance? African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence. In this electric demonstration, packed with live performances, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together.
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J.D. Vance grew up in a small, poor city in the Rust Belt of southern Ohio, where he had a front-row seat to many of the social ills plaguing America: a heroin epidemic, failing schools, families torn apart by divorce and sometimes violence. In a searching talk that will echo throughout the country’s working-class towns, the author details what the loss of the American Dream feels like and raises an important question that everyone from community leaders to policy makers needs to ask: How can we help kids from America’s forgotten places break free from hopelessness and live better lives?
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Can we fight terror without destroying democracy? Internet freedom activist Rebecca MacKinnon thinks that we’ll lose the fight against extremism and demagoguery if we censor the internet and press. In this critical talk, she calls for a doubling-down on encryption, recounts stories of unwarranted censorship of activists and appeals to governments to do a better job of protecting, not silencing, the people on the frontline of the fight against extremism.
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From improving vaccines to modifying crops to solving crimes, DNA technology has transformed our world. Now, for the first time in history, anyone can experiment with DNA at home, in their kitchen, using a device smaller than a shoebox. We are living in a personal DNA revolution, says biotech entrepreneur Sebastian Kraves, where the secrets buried in DNA are yours to find.
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Our kids are our future, and it’s crucial they believe it themselves. That’s why Nadia Lopez opened an academic oasis in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of the most underserved and violent neighborhoods in all of New York City — because she believes in every child’s brilliance and capabilities. In this short, energizing talk, the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy (and a star of Humans of New York) shares how she helps her scholars envision a brighter future for themselves and their families.
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How much do you get paid? How does it compare to the people you work with? You should know, and so should they, says management researcher David Burkus. In this talk, Burkus questions our cultural assumptions around keeping salaries secret and makes a compelling case for why sharing them could benefit employees, organizations and society.
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Many people like to talk about how important voting is, how it’s your civic duty and responsibility as an adult. Eric Liu agrees with all that, but he also thinks it’s time to bring joy back to the ballot box. The former political speechwriter shares details of how he and his team are fostering the culture around voting in the 2016 US election — and closes with a powerful analysis of why anyone eligible should show up on polling day.
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Why do some people do selfless things, helping other people even at risk to their own well-being? Psychology researcher Abigail Marsh studies the motivations of people who do extremely altruistic acts, like donating a kidney to a complete stranger. Are their brains just different?
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Tequila may be just another drink to those out in the town, but to a team of scientists in Mexico their country’s native alcohol turned out to be a gem; a diamond, to be precise. Javier Morales, Luis Apátiga and Victor Castaño at the National Autonomous University of Mexico made the alchemist-worthy discovery while experimenting turning various organic solutions, such as acetone and ethanol, into diamonds. The scientists noted that 80-proof tequila (40 percent alcohol) had the ideal proportion of ethanol to water to create diamond films. In order to make the diamonds, they evaporated the tequila into a vapor, and then heated the vapor above 1400 degrees Fahrenheit before depositing it on silicon or stainless steel trays. The resulting diamond films were between 100 to 400 nm in diameter and free of impurities.
Hard and heat resistant, the diamond films could have several commercial applications, such as for cutting tools and optical electronic devices. At the moment, the team is looking into creating diamonds with impurities for potential use as a new kind of semiconductor. The scientists have bigger plans in sight, too: They intend to turn their work into an industrial-scale venture by 2011 and hope to find a tequila distiller to provide them with the supplies.
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