Photographer George Kourounis travels the globe looking for the angriest parts of our world.

His ambition to document the most strange, dangerous, and rare natural phenomena has led him to chase tornadoes, trudge through ice storms, and even get married on the side of an erupting volcano.

In a talk at TEDxAthens, George explains his obsession, and tells some stories from a quest to share the beauty in the scary parts of nature.

Watch the whole talk here»

(All photos: George Kourounis / Angry Planet)

Discovered! A translucent snail living deep underground in Croatia
In Lukina Jama-Trojama, Croatia’s deepest cave and one of the 20 deepest cave systems in the world, scientists recently discovered a new species of snail: Zospeum tholussum. The Zospeum tholussum is tiny, fragile, and translucent, with a curvy, transparent shell to match.

"Only one living specimen was found," says a release about the discovery, first recorded in the journal Subterranean Biology, “…at the remarkable depth of 980 m, in an unnamed chamber full of rocks and sand and a small stream running through it.”

This snazzy new species is one of several species of snails that spend their days completely underground in the darkest dark, breathing air, yet unable to see. Zospeum are considered to be eutroglobionts, AKA exclusive cave-dwellers. So don’t expect to find one in your family’s garden.

To celebrate this discovery, a talk on snails and a talk on caves:

My life in caves: Andy Eavis at TEDxHull
Though not a discoverer of snails, TEDxHull speaker Andy Eavis has been exploring caves since he was 18. In this fascinating talk, he shares stories from his trips underground — with beautiful photos to boot.

What I’ve learned from snails: Panagiota Vlachou at TEDxAcademy
What can you learn from a plate of snails? A lot. At TEDxAcademy in Greece, heliciculturalist (now you know the technical term for snail farmer) Panagiota Vlachou explains how she came to farm snails, and how — for her — they became a symbol of economic recovery and even feminism. (Filmed in Greek with English subtitles)

(Photos: Top left, Croatian Speleological Server, Top right, Alexander M. Weigand; Bottom, Jana Bedek, HBSD)

TEDx in weird places: 5 TEDx events you have to see to believe

A TEDx event surrounded by penguins? At a bowling alley? During Burning Man? All real things.

You don’t need an auditorium, seats, slides or even a stage to share new ideas. All you need is some enthusiasm, good ideas, and a willingness to take risks and change the world. With over 7,000 events since TEDx’s start in 2009, you have to believe that some have taken place in really strange places. Here are five of our favorites:

1. TEDxEverest: A TEDx at 21,000 feet
imageFor the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s first ascent of the tallest mountain peak,
TEDx’ers Nate Mook and Eiso Vaandrager (seen above) brought TEDx to Mt. Everest — bringing talks to an audience of international climbers, local sherpas, and good friends at Everest’s Advanced Base Camp.

2. TEDxKalamata: TEDx goes ancient
This July, TEDxKalamata claimed a TEDx first — the first TEDx held at an archeological site: the ancient ekklesiasterion (assembly hall) of Messene, Greece. Using the remains of this ancient theater as a backdrop, 50 volunteers and 18 speakers came together to imagine a new future for Greece and the world.

3. TEDxMaastricht: TEDx by train
Earlier this month, TEDxMaastricht in the Netherlands held a very interesting event: a mini TEDx on a train heading from Maastricht to Amsterdam and, later, from Amsterdam to Maastricht. Via the magic of the TEDxMaastricht team, the last car of a Dutch intercity train was transformed into a venue for great new ideas, with 16 different speakers giving talks on the railway.

4. TEDxBrooklyn: Rental shoes, lucky strikes, and new ideas
For two years straight, TEDxBrooklyn, a TEDx event sharing ideas from the über-hip New York City borough, has held their event in a bowling alley. While all the speakers may not be championship pin-crashers, attendees have gotten the chance to try out their bowling skills at the event’s fun after-parties.

5. TEDxBlackRockCity: A TEDx takes on Burning Man
imageFor three years, TEDxBlackRockCity has brought TEDx to the desert.
Embracing the collaborative, creative environment of the annual Burning Man festival, TEDxBlackRockCity showcases some of the best ideas that this radical community of artists, innovators, creative thinkers has to offer.

In July, the second TEDxKalamata event took over the ancient ekklesiasterion (assembly hall) in Messene, Greece, becoming the first TEDx event held at an archaeological site. The ekklesiasterion of Messene is an outdoor theater thought to have been used for political assemblies and theatrical and musical performances as early as 369 B.C. — the beautiful place pictured above.

Under the theme, “Brave New World,” 18 speakers and 50 volunteers came together to present a vision for a Greece and Kalamata of the future. Says organizers, “The world is changing and it is a demanding necessity to face those changes, to meet the people who drive them and discuss on how opportunities can be created for a city and a society. Academics, entrepreneurs, artists and visionaries [offer] ways to integrate best practices and innovative ideas in a brave new city.”

For more information about TEDxKalamata, visit their website.

(Photos via TEDxKalamata, Hang Massive, and EMEA)