May the Fourth Be With You (and Inspire You)

May the Fourth be with you Star Wars DayMay the Fourth be with you! In celebration of Star Wars Day, it’s a great opportunity to discuss how science fiction is teaching us about the reality of life – from a Star Wars-themed defibrillator lesson, to 3D printing inspired by Terminator 2, to one of our favorite talks about the art and business of making a great first impression. Here are 11 TED-curated talks to inspire your inner nerd:

  1. Todd Scott: An intergalactic guide to using a defibrillator
    If Yoda goes into cardiac arrest, will you know what to do? Artist and first-aid enthusiast Todd Scott breaks down what you need to know about using an automated external defibrillator, or AED — in this galaxy and ones that are far, far away. Prepare to save the life of a Jedi, Chewbacca (he’ll need a quick shave first) or someone else in need with some helpful pointers.
  2. Janna Levin: The sound the universe makes
    We think of space as a silent place. But physicist Janna Levin says the universe has a soundtrack — a sonic composition that records some of the most dramatic events in outer space. (Black holes, for instance, bang on spacetime like a drum.) An accessible and mind-expanding soundwalk through the universe.
  3. Joseph DeSimone: What if 3D printing was 100x faster?
    What we think of as 3D printing, says Joseph DeSimone, is really just 2D printing over and over … slowly. Onstage at TED2015, he unveils a bold new technique — inspired, yes, by Terminator 2 — that’s 25 to 100 times faster, and creates smooth, strong parts. Could it finally help to fulfill the tremendous promise of 3D printing?
  4. Taryn Simon: Photographs of secret sites
    Taryn Simon exhibits her startling take on photography — to reveal worlds and people we would never see otherwise. She shares two projects: one documents otherworldly locations typically kept secret from the public, the other involves haunting portraits of men convicted for crimes they did not commit.
  5. Colin Stokes: How movies teach manhood
    When Colin Stokes’ 3-year-old son caught a glimpse of “Star Wars,” he was instantly obsessed. But what messages did he absorb from the sci-fi classic? Stokes asks for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain.
  6. Lemn Sissay:  A child of the state
    Literature has long been fascinated with fostered, adopted and orphaned children, from Moses to Cinderella to Oliver Twist to Harry Potter. So why do many parentless children feel compelled to hide their pasts? Poet and playwright Lemn Sissay tells his own moving story.
  7. Will Wright: Spore, birth of a game
    In a friendly, high-speed presentation, Will Wright demos his newest game, Spore, which promises to dazzle users even more than his previous masterpieces.
  8. Kevin Kelly: How technology evolves
    Tech enthusiast Kevin Kelly asks “What does technology want?” and discovers that its movement toward ubiquity and complexity is much like the evolution of life.
  9. Heather Knight: Silicon-based comedy
    In this first-of-its-kind demo, Heather Knight introduces Data, a robotic stand-up comedian that does much more than rattle off one-liners — it gathers audience feedback (using software co-developed with Scott Satkin and Varun Ramakrishna at CMU) and tunes its act as the crowd responds. Is this thing on?
  10. Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.
    Chip Kidd doesn’t judge books by their cover, he creates covers that embody the book — and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. In one of the funniest talks from TED2012, he shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs. This talk is from The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell.
  11. P.W. Singer: Military robots and the future of war
    In this powerful talk, P.W. Singer shows how the widespread use of robots in war is changing the realities of combat. He shows us scenarios straight out of science fiction — that now may not be so fictitious.

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