How a fleet of wind-powered drones is changing our understanding of the ocean | Sebastien de Halleux

Our oceans are unexplored and undersampled — today, we still know more about other planets than our own. How can we get to a better understanding of this vast, important ecosystem? Explorer Sebastien de Halleux shares how a new fleet of wind- and solar-powered drones is collecting data at sea in unprecedented detail, revealing insights into things like global weather and the health of our fish stocks. Learn more about what a better grasp of the ocean could mean for us back on land.

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A librarian’s case against overdue book fines | Dawn Wacek

Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there’s one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don’t actually do what we think they do. What if your library just … stopped asking for them altogether?

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What to trust in a “post-truth” world | Alex Edmans

Only if you are truly open to the possibility of being wrong can you ever learn, says researcher Alex Edmans. In an insightful talk, he explores how confirmation bias — the tendency to only accept information that supports your personal beliefs — can lead you astray on social media, in politics and beyond, and offers three practical tools for finding evidence you can actually trust. (Hint: appoint someone to be the devil’s advocate in your life.)

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How kids can help design cities | Mara Mintzer

Adults tend to think of kids as “future citizens” — their ideas and opinions will matter someday, just not today. But kids make up a quarter of the population, so shouldn’t they have a say in what the world they’ll inherit will look like? Urban planner Mara Mintzer shares what happened when she and her team asked kids to help design a park in Boulder, Colorado — and how it revealed an important blind spot in how we construct the built environment. “If we aren’t including children in our planning, who else aren’t we including?” Mintzer asks.

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How I accidentally changed the way movies get made | Franklin Leonard

How does Hollywood choose what stories get told on-screen? Too often, it’s groupthink informed by a narrow set of ideas about what sells at the box office. As a producer, Franklin Leonard saw too many great screenplays never get made because they didn’t fit the mold. So he started the Black List, an anonymous email that shared his favorite screenplays and asked: Why aren’t we making these movies? Learn the origin story of some of your favorite films with this fascinating insider view of the movie business.

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The case for curiosity-driven research | Suzie Sheehy

Seemingly pointless scientific research can lead to extraordinary discoveries, says physicist Suzie Sheehy. In a talk and tech demo, she shows how many of our modern technologies are tied to centuries-old, curiosity-driven experiments — and makes the case for investing in more to arrive at a deeper understanding of the world.

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How isolation fuels opioid addiction | Rachel Wurzman

What do Tourette syndrome, heroin addiction and social media obsession all have in common? They converge in an area of the brain called the striatum, says neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman — and this critical discovery could reshape our understanding of the opioid crisis. Sharing insights from her research, Wurzman shows how social isolation contributes to relapse and overdose rates and reveals how meaningful human connection could offer a potentially powerful source of recovery.

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What does the universe sound like? A musical tour | Matt Russo

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Let’s protect the oceans like national parks | David Lang

You don’t have to be a scientist to help protect the world’s oceans, says underwater drone expert and TED Fellow David Lang — in fact, ordinary citizens have pulled together to save the planet’s natural treasures many times in history. Lang asks us to take a lesson from the story of the US National Parks Service, offering a three-point plan for conserving underwater wonders.

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How whistle-blowers shape history | Kelly Richmond Pope

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