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Five TED talks that will blow your mind

July 13, 2011

David Merrill demos Siftables

Little magic cubes.  Those are the best three words to describe what’s going on.

In his talk, MIT grad student David Merrill demos Siftables–cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. It is the cutest interactive little computer toy I have ever seen since Paro the therapy seal.   They can do math, play music, and wirelessly communicate with each other.  I’m not entirely sure what they’re primary function will be, but I’ll be afraid if they ever became sentient!

A.J. Jacobs’ year of living biblically

AJ  “I’m Jewish like Olive Garden is Italian” Jacobs gets in touch with his religious fundamentalist side.  Based on his non-fiction novel, The Year of Living Biblically, this talk covers the highlights in his book, where he endeavors to follow the Holy Bible as literally as possible.  From stoning adulterers to avoiding touching every woman on her period, this amusing and informative talk is great for anyone with an inkling of interest on religion.

Jeff Han demonstrates his breakthrough touchscreen

Imagine having this type of touchscreen on a phone.  More advanced than what the average user is used to, this innovative screen can sense multiple points of touch and varied pressure.  It uses these input types to manipulate images and data on dimensions never before achieved.  Jeff Han presents a truly innovative new level of technology.

Robert Sapolsky: The Uniqueness of Humans

Robert Sapolsky is my favorite professor that I will never have.  Biology faculty at Stanford and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, he gives a funny and insightful iTED talk on what makes homo sapiens both different and the same from other animals.  In addition to being wildly witty and well-spoken, Robert Sapolsky has an epic hippie beard.

And finally, the classic must-see TED talk, as adapted in the viral RSA youtube video,

“Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.”

Originally a TED talk, career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t:  Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.  He explains how behavioral psychology is often paradoxical and rational self-interest isn’t very rational.  This is fascinating and inspiring lecture explains that the most important motivators in life are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

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