TED: The Hidden Power of Smiling

Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live — and has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles …

TED: Silk, the Ancient Material of the Future

Fiorenzo Omenetto shares 20+ astonishing new uses for silk, one of nature’s most elegant materials — in transmitting light, improving sustainability, adding strength and making medical leaps and bounds. He shows a few items made of the versatile stuff.

TED: Tales of Ice-bound Wonderlands

Diving under the Antarctic ice to get close to the much-feared leopard seal, photographer Paul Nicklen found a new friend. Share his passionate stories of the polar wonderlands, illustrated by images of the animals who live on and under the ice.

TED: On Being Wrong

Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.

TED: Grow Your Own Clothes

Designer Suzanne Lee shares her experiments in growing a kombucha-based material that can be used like fabric or vegetable leather to make clothing. The process is fascinating, the results are beautiful and the potential is simply stunning.

TED: Architecture That Senses and Responds

Carlo Ratti makes cool things by sensing the data we create. He pulls from passive data sets — like the calls we make, the garbage we throw away — to create surprising visualizations of city life, and uses sensors to design interactive environments.

TED: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”

As web companies tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble.” Eli Pariser argues this will ultimately be bad for us, and for democracy.

TED: Turning Trash Into Toys for Learning

Arvind Gupta shares simple yet stunning plans for turning trash into seriously entertaining, well-designed toys that kids can build themselves — while learning basic principles of science and design.

TED: Using Nature To Grow Batteries

Angela Belcher programs viruses to make nanoscale structures humans can use. Selecting for high-performing genes through directed evolution, she’s produced viruses that construct powerful batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells.