The world’s smartest animals: Mathias Osvath at TEDxLundUniversity

Intelligent animals like parrots, ravens, chimpanzees and dolphins have abilities that make them quite distinct from all other animals. Mathias Osvath has been studying these cognitive cousins, whose similarities — despite millions of years of evolutionary divergence — prove that natural selection has independently favored intelligence at least four times. At TEDxLundUniversity, Osvath uses this phenomenon to argue that if extraterrestrial life exists, it is likely to include intelligent life too. (Filmed at TEDxLundUniversity)

Each week, we choose four of our favorite talks, highlighting just a few of the enlightening speakers from the TEDx community, and its diverse constellation of ideas worth spreading. Browse all TEDxTalks here »

You would take an organ, but would you give?: Martha Ehlin

"If you would take an organ…shouldn’t you also give?"

For Martha Ehlin, life on the organ waiting list was a living nightmare. Through her story of recovery, she makes an impassioned plea for more people to become organ donors. After all, a donated organ may someday save your life. (Filmed at TEDxGöteborg.)

Each week, we choose four of our favorite talks, highlighting just a few of the enlightening speakers from the TEDx community, and its diverse constellation of ideas worth spreading. Browse all TEDxTalks here »

A cure for traffic jams: Jonas Eliasson

Laws that incentivize good behavior work better than those that simply prohibit, says scientist Jonas Eliasson. Through his research on traffic congestion charges, he reveals the power of incentives to achieve meaningful social change. (Filmed at TEDxKTH.)

Each week, we choose four of our favorite talks, highlighting just a few of the enlightening speakers from the TEDx community, and its diverse constellation of ideas worth spreading. Browse all TEDxTalks here »

Mars: our (once) watery neighbor?


NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover—and its tracks.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Read more here.

With the Mars Curiosity rover roving all over the Red Planet (and sending off some very entertaining tweets as it does), it seems appropriate to revisit astrophysicist Maria Sundin’s talk at TEDxUniversityofGothenburg on water, and its importance to our planet—as well as others.

From the talk:

"Looking at our neighbor, Mars—It is today a cold, dry desert planet. It’s smaller than the earth. But during the time that life arose on Earth—originated here—Mars was very different. It had a huge ocean on the northern hemisphere; it had an atmosphere.

If we talk about life in the universe, people usually want a big spaceship landing right outside there so we can, you know, try to communicate…but I would almost be just as intrigued if I found a dead bacteria or something very small and lifelike on Mars because that could give us the key to whether life originates if you have a place where the conditions are favorable.

The reason why Mars has changed so much is that it’s smaller than the earth. The lesser gravity means that Mars has been unable to keep its atmosphere, so it’s very low pressure on the surface. If you were to pour out a glass of water on the surface of Mars, it would just evaporate instantly.

But there has been lots of water there …so, just imagine this old neighbor planet—it has had oceans; it has had rivers; it’s been a very different world. So worlds can change.”