Nature from the inside out — beautiful X-ray images show the hidden complexity of the natural world

Radiation physicist Arie van’t Riet never thought he’d be an artist. But after a colleague asked him to X-ray a painting, Arie saw a world of possibilities for X-ray imaging outside the hospital. He began to X-ray all sorts of atypical subjects — flowers, plants, bugs, snails, lizards — seduced by the challenge of recreating natural scenes.

In a fascinating talk at TEDxGroningen, Arie explains his journey from physicist to artist, and shares the process behind his beautiful, sometimes-tricky art. Says Arie, “I try to combine the visible world, with color and surface, with the X-ray world — the inner.”

All photos copyright Arie van’t Riet. To see more of Arie’s work, visit his website.

Go, go boson! François Englert and Peter Higgs get the Nobel Prize in Physics

You may have heard of the Higgs boson — that elusive little thing that explains a lot about our universe? Well, so has the Swedish Royal Academy of Science, and, today, its members awarded physicists François Englert and Peter Higgs the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work theorizing its existence, a postulate later confirmed by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Hooray, CERN!

At TEDx, we’re no stranger to the fascinating science going down at the home of the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. In fact, CERN just held their first TEDx event this May — TEDxCERN! As part of the event, CERN scientists teamed up with our friends at TED-Ed to create some amazing animations on the stuff they study.

So, for all of you who wanna learn about particle physics, but don’t exactly have the time to win a Nobel Prize, two animated lessons — one on the Higgs and the other, well, just on the beginning of the universe:

The basics of the Higgs boson
In 2012, scientists at CERN discovered evidence of the Higgs boson — a particular game-changer in the field of particle physics — key to understanding how particles gain mass. Using the Socratic method, CERN scientists Dave Barney and Steve Goldfarb explain the exciting implications of the Higgs boson.

The beginning of the universe, for beginners
How did the universe begin — and how is it expanding? CERN physicist Tom Whyntie shows how cosmologists and particle physicists explore these questions by replicating the heat, energy and activity of the first few seconds of our universe, from right after the Big Bang.

(Above, extraordinary photos of CERN, all copyright CERN and their photographers.)

5 TEDx Talks from kids who are probably smarter than you

You’re smart. Possibly even brilliant. But we’re willing to bet that you’ve got nothing on these kids. (Believe us, we don’t either.)

See, these kids rule. They’re developing mathematical theories before they hit puberty, teaching computers to diagnose breast cancer, analyzing air pollutants, and finding ways to prevent carcinogens forming in grilled chicken. Because what else would you do in grade school?

So to give us all a little hope for the future — 5 TEDx talks from kids who are way smarter than the rest of us:

1. The 10-year-old Princeton student / astrophysicist: Jacob Barnett 

At age two, boy genius Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with autism, and doctors told his parents he may never talk or learn. By age nine, not only could he talk and learn, he had already built a series of mathematical models that expanded Einstein’s theory of relativity. He’s funny and boisterous and totally freaking brilliant.

2. The girl who taught a computer to diagnose breast cancer … in middle school: Brittany Wenger

When most of us were cutting out pictures from magazines or stressing about soccer team tryouts, teen wunderkind Brittany Wegner was teaching a computer to diagnose breast cancer. That impressive feat required 600 hours of coding and 7.6 million trials, and has the potential to save millions of lives. So…NBD, really.

3. iPhone app developer … and 6th grader: Thomas Suarez

Most 12-year-olds love playing video games, but Thomas Suarez went a step beyond. He taught himself how to create them. After developing popular iPhone apps like “Bustin Jeiber,” a whack-a-mole game, Thomas is now using his skills to help other kids learn to become developers — that is, when he’s not hanging out with MakerBot co-founder and TED Fellow Bre Pettis.

4. The high school student who created a new way to detect cancer … before he could vote: Jack Andraka

While other kids were struggling to memorize the periodic table or master the structure of DNA, Jack Andraka was busy isolating proteins, reading research papers, and, you know, developing a test to detect pancreatic cancer: one that takes only 3 cents to run and runs at a nearly 100% accuracy rate. Kinda impressive, we think.    .

5. Three girls who fight carcinogens, asthma, and chemotherapy resistance in their free time: Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose, Naomi Shah 

Here’s a trio of science superstars for you: Lauren Hodge discovered how crafty cooking can stop carcinogenic compounds forming in grilled chicken; Shree Bose spent 12 years researching how cancer patients develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs; and Naomi Shah discovered new ways to approach asthma after analyzing indoor air pollutants, air quality, and lung health. Isn’t that what everyone does in their free time?