Sat, Aug 31, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Guide to the most-watched talks online

Before the Internet became so widely available, the privilege of seeing thinkers of our age explain their ideas was confined to city dwellers with time and money. Now there is broad access to a vast body of ideas

By Tom Meltzer  /  The Guardian, LONDON

Highlight: At an hour-and-a-half, the bit where it finally ends. But — if you are not familiar with this stuff already — it is well worth it.

Use this knowledge to: Cut your sugar; cut your kids’ sugar; hate juice.

The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

Who is talking? Psychotherapist and marriage coach Esther Perel.

What is she on about? The tension between desire and domestic life. She argues that erotic desire is not about toys, lingerie or Hollywood-derived spontaneity, but the freedom to keep exploring life away from your partner.

Is she right? You would have to ask the couples she works with.

Highlight: Her thesis that “the erotic mind is not very politically correct” because “most of us will get turned on at night by the very same things we protest about during the day.”

Use this knowledge to: Stop stifling your partner; keep things spicy.

Printing a human kidney

Who is talking? Anthony Atala, a surgeon and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

What is he on about? The capacity of 3D-printing technology to one day solve the organ-donor problem by printing human kidneys one layer of cells at a time.

Is he right? Well, he brings a prototype printed kidney out on stage, so he must be making some progress.

Highlight: A moving cameo from a boy with an artificial bladder.

Use this knowledge to: Save lives; prepare for the future; fax people kidneys as a joke.

Do schools kill creativity?

Who is talking? Educationalist, author, academic and government adviser Kenneth Robinson.

What is he on about? The need to reform education. Robinson says schools are teaching children to not be creative and failing to recognize the diversity of intelligence. He calls for a rethink of the fundamental principles of education, placing creativity front and center.

Is he right? Perhaps. He is certainly popular. With over 23 million views, Robinson’s 20-minute lecture is the most-watched TED talk so far.

Highlight: Robinson’s killer gags. It is almost a stand-up routine.

Use this knowledge to: Reform education; help your children; annoy teachers.

Moral behavior in animals

Who is talking? Professor Frans de Waal, a primatologist.

What is he on about? The capacity of animals to cooperate and empathize with one another, as demonstrated by chimps, elephants and capuchin monkeys. De Waal argues that this capacity in animals suggests morality has prehuman evolutionary roots.

Is he right? Perhaps, although the explanation may have more to do with survival than any meaningful notion of altruism.

Highlight: The capuchin monkeys rejecting unequal pay.

Use this knowledge to: Demand income equality for monkeys.

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