The beautiful, sad, shifting state of wild ice: Geomorphologist / photographer James Balog travels the globe to capture the twisting, soaring forms of the world’s vanishing wild ice. In 2009, he wowed the TEDGlobal crowd with his time-lapse photos of the shifting landscapes of the world’s icy habitats.

Above, some striking footage from his project Extreme Ice Survey.

Watch the whole talk here»

Don’t try this at home: TEDxTempleU speaker Mike Zdilla pours up a liquid nitrogen cocktail to demonstrate the Leidenfrost effect, a phenomenon that occurs when a liquid comes into contact with a surface that is much hotter than the liquid’s boiling point: in this case, liquid nitrogen and Professor Zdilla’s mouth.

Says Zdilla in his talk:

My tongue, as far as the liquid nitrogen is concerned, is incredibly hot. So as soon as it comes close — before it even touches me — it effectively is instantly vaporized into this barrier gas that protects me from the liquid nitrogen … So the liquid nitrogen doesn’t ever really actually touch my tongue. 

Zdilla first tried this wild vapor-breathing as a way to explain the chemistry behind harnessing renewable energy sources — such as hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and solar — and look for ways to make them work for us. Here’s what he discovered:

Building floating neighborhoods in Boston: Brian Healy at TEDxBoston

Above, renderings of Floatyard, a proposed floating housing complex in the Boston Harbor

After Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on communities on the United States’ East Coast, many concerns about the longevity and durability of coastline architecture came to rise. Fear of future extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and changing geography have made architects like TEDxBoston speaker Brian Healy re-think how they are looking at building near water.

At TEDxBoston, Healy spoke about his vision for creating a floating, residential neighborhood in the Boston Harbor, a plan he calls Floatyard.

Floatyard is imagined as a floating housing complex comprised of “three stories of living units [arranged] along the four sides of a central courtyard,” reports the Boston Globe. Units would come in different shapes and sizes, with the courtyard providing a communal space for residents, including a garden, playground, and meeting space. Shops and recreation would take up some of the first floor, while the roof plays host to gardens and solar panels. Additional energy for the complex would be harvested from the movement of the building in the surrounding tides.

In his talk at
TEDxBoston, Healy explains the Floatyard project and provides context for his plans. From his talk:

Water is essential to us: to our bodies, to the planet, to everything. And we naturally gravitate and want to live [by water]. But [Hurricane] Sandy reminded us of the challenges of living or investing along the coastline…We’re reminded by the predictions of the rising sea and the potential flooding [of coastal cities] that we need to re-think how we inhabit the coast…

What if [a building] floats?…We found technology in Europe, particularly in Holland and Germany: lightweight, concrete floating tubes that we could utilize…We got excited about the idea of thinking about new buildings being floated — shipped — up and down the coast…

For more on Floatyard and designing future cities, watch Healy’s entire talk below:

(Photos: Perkins + Will Architecture)