The Good Country Index

The Good Country Index

Jul 05

The idea of the Good Country Index is pretty simple: to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away. Using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organisations, we’ve given each country a balance sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between…

Great Ideas: Solar Roadways (Updated)

Great Ideas: Solar Roadways (Updated)

Jun 03

Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds). These Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds… literally any surface under the sun. They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots. A nationwide system could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole. They have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a “home” for power and data cables. EVs will be able to charge with energy from the sun (instead of fossil fuels) from parking lots and driveways and after a roadway system is in place, mutual induction technology will allow for charging while driving…

TED: Amy Cuddy: ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’

TED: Amy Cuddy: ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’

May 04

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success…

TEDx: Martha Atkins on Deathbed Experiences

TEDx: Martha Atkins on Deathbed Experiences

Mar 13

Those who work with the dying are familiar with patients seeing long deceased loved ones, angelic beings, even hearing music and comforting voices as the patient nears death. Deathbed phenomena have been documented in the days, weeks, and months before death since the 1500s. Often confused with hallucinations, deathbed phenomena can bring comfort to patients and caregivers if those involved know what they are experiencing. Death and dying expert Martha Atkins discusses the deathbed phenomena and shares accounts from the dying and bedside witnesses…

How Wolves Change Rivers

How Wolves Change Rivers

Mar 06

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains…

Is It Possible To Clean The Oceans In 5 Years?

Is It Possible To Clean The Oceans In 5 Years?

Feb 02

Stiv Wilson writes: “As the policy director of the ocean conservation nonprofit 5Gyres.org, I can tell you that the problem of ocean plastic pollution is massive. In case you didn’t know, an ocean gyre is a rotating current that circulates within one of the world’s oceans — and recent research has found that these massive systems are filled with plastic waste. There are no great estimates (at least scientific) on how much plastic is in the ocean, but I can say from firsthand knowledge (after sailing to four of the world’s five gyres) that it’s so pervasive it confounds the senses. Gyre cleanup has often been floated as a solution in the past, and recently Boyan Slat’s proposed ‘Ocean Cleanup Array’ went viral in a big way. The nineteen-year-old claims that the system can clean a gyre in 5 years with ‘unprecedented efficiency’ and then recycle the trash collected. The problem is that the barriers to gyre cleanup are so massive that the vast majority of the scientific and advocacy community believe it’s a fool’s errand…”

TEDx: 13 Year-Old Logan LaPlante on Education

TEDx: 13 Year-Old Logan LaPlante on Education

Jan 11

When 13 year-old Logan LaPlante grows up, he wants to be happy and healthy. He discusses how hacking his education is helping him achieve this goal…

TEDx: Barrie Schwortz on The Shroud of Turin

TEDx: Barrie Schwortz on The Shroud of Turin

Jan 06

Barrie Schwortz, an Orthodox Jew, spends much of his time educating Christians that the Turin Shroud may well be an artifact of Jesus. An expert on imaging, he was the official documenting photographer for the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), the 1978 team that conducted the first in-depth scientific examination of the Shroud. In 2009, he founded the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, Inc. (STERA, Inc.). Schwortz began as a skeptic of the shroud, but by scientific evidence became absolutely convinced of its authenticity. To be open-minded and brave enough to immerse oneself in the evidence of beliefs that go against your own, and allow yourself to be convinced of their validity, requires a courage and honesty that not many can claim. This is what Barrie Schwortz has been doing for the past 30 years…

TED: ‘Eleanor Longden: The Voices In My Head’

TED: ‘Eleanor Longden: The Voices In My Head’

Aug 15

To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive…

Steven Pinker: Humankind Is Getting Nicer

Steven Pinker: Humankind Is Getting Nicer

May 01

What may be the most important thing that has ever happened in human history is that violence has gone down, by dramatic degrees, and in many dimensions all over the world and in many spheres of behavior: genocide, war, human sacrifice, torture, slavery, and the treatment of racial minorities, women, children, and animals…

TED Censors Alternative Speakers (Updated)

TED Censors Alternative Speakers (Updated)

Apr 18

TED has removed the license of TEDxWestHollywood for their planned “Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?” event, says the TEDxWestHollywood blog. The takedown was only a couple of weeks before the April 14 event (and after they had spent more than a year preparing). In an email to Suzanne Taylor, the organizer of TEDxWestHollywood, a representative of TED outlined the objections: “And when we look at your speaker line-up, we see several people who promote — as fact — theories that are well outside what most scientists would accept as credible. … We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance.” So which specific speakers does TED object to? “The names of note they wanted us to qualify for them were Marianne Williamson, Russell Targ, Larry Dossey, and Marilyn Schlitz”…

Brene Brown: ‘The Power of Being Vulnerable’ (Updated)

Brene Brown: ‘The Power of Being Vulnerable’ (Updated)

Apr 13

Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame — and a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions: How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy? Brené is a nationally renowned speaker and has won numerous teaching awards, including the College’s Outstanding Faculty Award. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, and has appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, and many other national media outlets. Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability (watch here) is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 6 million views…

TED: ‘Ron Finley: A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central LA’

TED: ‘Ron Finley: A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central LA’

Mar 07

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

2012: The Greatest Year In The History Of The World (Updated)

2012: The Greatest Year In The History Of The World (Updated)

Jan 10

It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age. (This post includes Hans Rosling and Steven Pinker providing supporting evidence that humankind is getting dramatically better, very fast.)

Favorite TED Videos (Updated)

Favorite TED Videos (Updated)

Aug 21

A collection of our favorite TED videos…

TED: ‘Pam Warhurst: How We Can Eat Our Landscapes’

TED: ‘Pam Warhurst: How We Can Eat Our Landscapes’

Aug 21

What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community…

TED: Hans Rosling On Religions & Babies

TED: Hans Rosling On Religions & Babies

May 23

Hans Rosling had a question: Do some religions have a higher birth rate than others — and how does this affect global population growth? Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, he graphs data over time and across religions. With his trademark humor and sharp insight, Hans reaches a surprising conclusion on world fertility rates…

TED: Michael Norton: How To Buy Happiness

TED: Michael Norton: How To Buy Happiness

Apr 25

At TEDxCambridge, Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and (of course) other people…

2012 TED Prize Given To The City 2.0

2012 TED Prize Given To The City 2.0

Mar 06

Since 2005, the TED conference has awarded $100,000 prizes each year to individuals with an idea to change the world. This year, the award was distributed in a different way: to an idea, the City 2.0. The idea of a reimagined city was a dominant theme at this year’s TED conference….

Daniel Simons: ‘Seeing The World As It Isn’t’

Daniel Simons: ‘Seeing The World As It Isn’t’

Feb 25

Daniel Simons is head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois. His research explores the ways in which our beliefs and intuitions about the workings of our own minds are often mistaken and why that matters. He is best known for his experiments revealing striking failures of perception and the limits of visual awareness. His research is exhibited in science museums worldwide and his writing has been published in many newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Chicago Tribune. He recently co-authored the book, “The Invisible Gorilla, and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us”…

TED: Peter Finwick: ‘Preparing For A Good Death’

TED: Peter Finwick: ‘Preparing For A Good Death’

Dec 18

Peter Finwick talks about how to prepare for a good death…

Britta Riley: Window Farms

Britta Riley: Window Farms

Nov 25

Artist and innovator, Britta Riley, explains R&D-I-Y. Using social media and mass participation, the community has researched and developed her unique approach to growing food in small urban apartments using a window, plastic bottles and some plants. Her company, Windowfarms.org was named one of the top 100 businesses to watch in 2010 by Entrepreneur Magazine. Windowfarms makes vertical hydroponic platforms for growing food in city windows, designed in conjunction with a online citizen science web platform for with over 16,000 community members worldwide…

Favorite TED Videos

Favorite TED Videos

Nov 23

A collection of our all-time favorite TED videos.

Bunker Roy: Barefoot College

Bunker Roy: Barefoot College

Nov 20

In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men — many of them illiterate — to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It’s called the Barefoot College, and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it works…

Michael Pawlyn: Using Nature’s Genius In Architecture

Michael Pawlyn: Using Nature’s Genius In Architecture

Nov 10

How can architects build a new world of sustainable beauty? By learning from nature. At TEDSalon in London, Michael Pawlyn describes three habits of nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun…