The simple genius of a good graphic | Tommy McCall

In a talk that’s part history lesson, part love letter to graphics, information designer Tommy McCall traces the centuries-long evolution of charts and diagrams — and shows how complex data can be sculpted into beautiful shapes. “Graphics that help us think faster, or see a book’s worth of information on a single page, are the key to unlocking new discoveries,” McCall says.

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How I’m using LEGO to teach Arabic | Ghada Wali

After a visit to a European library in search of Arabic and Middle Eastern texts turned up only titles about fear, terrorism and destruction, Ghada Wali resolved to represent her culture in a fun, accessible way. The result: a colorful, engaging project that uses LEGO to teach Arabic script, harnessing the power of graphic design to create connection and positive change. “Effective communication and education is the road to more tolerant communities,” Wali says.

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How urban spaces can preserve history and build community | Walter Hood

Can public spaces both reclaim the past and embrace the future? Landscape architect Walter Hood has explored this question over the course of an iconic career, with projects ranging from Lafayette Square Park in San Francisco to the upcoming International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. In this inspiring talk packed with images of his work, Hood shares the five simple concepts that guide his approach to creating spaces that illuminate shared memories and force us to look at one another in a different way.

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The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more.

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What a scrapyard in Ghana can teach us about innovation | DK Osseo-Asare

In Agbogbloshie, a community in Accra, Ghana, people descend on a scrapyard to mine electronic waste for recyclable materials. Without formal training, these urban miners often teach themselves the workings of electronics by taking them apart and putting them together again. Designer DK Osseo-Asare wondered: What would happen if we connected these self-taught techies with students and young professionals in STEAM fields? The result: a growing maker community where people engage in peer-to-peer, hands-on education, motivated by what they want to create. Learn more about how this African makerspace is pioneering a grassroots circular economy.

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The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more.

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You are fluent in this language (and don’t even know it) | Christoph Niemann

Without realizing it, we’re fluent in the language of pictures, says illustrator Christoph Niemann. In a charming talk packed with witty, whimsical drawings, Niemann takes us on a hilarious visual tour that shows how artists tap into our emotions and minds — all without words.

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How to build synthetic DNA and send it across the internet | Dan Gibson

Biologist Dan Gibson edits and programs DNA, just like coders program a computer. But his “code” creates life, giving scientists the power to convert digital information into biological material like proteins and vaccines. Now he’s on to a new project: “biological transportation,” which holds the promise of beaming new medicines across the globe over the internet. Learn more about how this technology could change the way we respond to disease outbreaks and enable us to download personalized prescriptions in our homes.

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How we can design timeless cities for our collective future | Vishaan Chakrabarti

There’s a creeping sameness in many of our newest urban buildings and streetscapes, says architect Vishaan Chakrabarti. And this physical homogeneity — the result of regulations, mass production, safety issues and cost considerations, among other factors — has blanketed our planet in a social and psychological homogeneity, too. In this visionary talk, Chakrabarti calls for a return to designing magnetic, lyrical cities that embody their local cultures and adapt to the needs of our changing world and climate.

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The genius behind some of the world’s most famous buildings | Renzo Piano

Legendary architect Renzo Piano — the mind behind such indelible buildings as The Shard in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the new Whitney Museum of Art in New York City — takes us on a stunning tour through his life’s work. With the aid of gorgeous imagery, Piano makes an eloquent case for architecture as the answer to our dreams, aspirations and desire for beauty. “Universal beauty is one of the few things that can change the world,” he says. “This beauty will save the world. One person at a time, but it will do it.”

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The incredible potential of flexible, soft robots | Giada Gerboni

Robots are designed for speed and precision — but their rigidity has often limited how they’re used. In this illuminating talk, biomedical engineer Giada Gerboni shares the latest developments in “soft robotics,” an emerging field that aims to create nimble machines that imitate nature, like a robotic octopus. Learn more about how these flexible structures could play a critical role in surgery, medicine and our daily lives.

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How we’ll become cyborgs and extend human potential | Hugh Herr

Humans will soon have new bodies that forever blur the line between the natural and synthetic worlds, says bionics designer Hugh Herr. In an unforgettable talk, he details “NeuroEmbodied Design,” a methodology for creating cyborg function that he’s developing at MIT, and shows us a future where we’ve augmented our bodies in a way that will redefine human potential — and, maybe, turn us into superheroes. “During the twilight years of this century, I believe humans will be unrecognizable in morphology and dynamics from what we are today,” Herr says. “Humanity will take flight and soar.”

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