1. Robots That Fly...and Cooperate, by Vijay Kumar
Vijay Kumar's team creates small, flying robots that are basically intelligent: They sense each other, so they can swarm together, form teams, and complete projects that include construction, surveillance (for example, after a natural disaster), and more. This is the future.
2. The Best Stats You've Ever Seen, by Hans Rosling
With a compelling sense of urgency and suspense, statistics expert Hans Rosling tells you why almost everything you thought you knew about the "developing world" is wrong. It's data like you've never seen before, expertly delivered.
3. The History of Our World in 18 Minutes, by David Christian
Starting with the Big Bang, David Christian takes you through the history of, well, everything, including life, human existence, and "progress." Set against a backdrop of striking images, this talk will make you rethink the cosmos and your place in it.
4. How Do We Heal Medicine? by Atul Gawande
Anyone involved in the modern medical system is aware that it's broken. While Western physicians can perform extremely impressive and advanced feats, the system often creates doctors who lack a certain sense of care--arguably one of the most important elements of the healing process. Atul Gawande, himself a doctor, discusses how we can fix our medical system by focusing less on superstars and more on teams.
5. How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes, by David Blaine
David Blaine, magician and stuntman extraordinaire, set the world record by holding his breath underwater for 17 minutes (longer than Navy SEALs). He gets candid in this TEDMED talk, sharing what his often extraordinarily risky job means to him, his identity, and to all of us.
6. The Surprising Decline in Violence, by Steven Pinker
While it may seem counterintuitive, considering places like Syria, Steven Pinker outlines the remarkable reduction in violence from Biblical times to today. He says that, in fact, we currently live in the most peaceful time humanity has ever seen.
7. Could This Laser Zap Malaria? by Nathan Myhrvold
Solving huge problems takes massive ingenuity, which is basically what Nathan Myhrvold and his team specialize in. They invent devices with the potential for massive impact, including on huge health problems like malaria. His live demo of a new mosquito-killing device is as remarkable as it is inspiring.
8. Let's Use Video to Reinvent Education, by Sal Khan
The creator of innovative education tool Khan Academy talks about how he came up with the idea, what it means to him, and what it could mean for the world. He demonstrates how interactive exercises can transform learning and outlines why teachers should revolutionize traditional teaching--letting students watch video lectures at home and do "homework" in the classroom, where the teacher can help.
9. How Photosynth Can Connect the World's Images, by Blaise Agüera y Arcas
In one of the most visually stunning TED talks ever, Blaise Agüera y Arcas takes you through a demo of Photosynth, new software with the power to revolutionize how we take in digital images. Photosynth culls photos from the Web to build magnificent landscapes, and allows individuals to journey within them. It's beautifully unforgettable.
10. How We'll Stop Polio for Good, by Bruce Aylward
While polio has been almost completely eliminated on Earth, Bruce Aylward says "almost" simply isn't good enough. Aylward puts forth a fascinating, smart, and doable plan to end this debilitating illness everywhere, for good.
11. The Danger of Science Denial, by Michael Specter
While science has long been heralded as a progressive force, there has been a lot of public fear and denial of scientific phenomena of late, such as bans of "Frankenfood" (GMO foods), claims of a connection between vaccines and autism, and herbal "miracle" cures. Specter outlines the danger of such beliefs and their potential ramifications.
12. Let's Put Birth Control Back on the Agenda, by Melinda Gates
Contraception is one of the most controversial topics in the world, and according to Melinda Gates, one of the most critical. She says the solution to a number of massive global problems lies in making sure women can control their own birthrate. She makes clear her own commitment to the issue and argues the world should take it just as seriously.
13. The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain
Since the social strengths of extroverts are often venerated--gregariousness, charisma, charm--it can be hard to feel valued as an introvert. Susan Cain makes a fervent case for why we should recognize the enormous impact of introverts, and their value as massive social contributors in their own right.