Image grid with night to day spectrum

Moments in Time: How A picture can change the way we look at time

A photograph is a physical representation of a specific moment in time. Day to Night is a photography technique developed by Stephen Wilkes that involves integrating multiple moments into a single photograph. Going right to left, left to right, or sometimes bottom to top, his images show the passing of time from day to night. […]

Animation of a molecular structure

It’s a Small World: Visualizing How Biologists See the Molecular Universe

I think biologists feel [a] sense of awe when they think about things that are happening at the molecular scale. There’s this whole universe in here, this tiny universe, that we’re just beginning to understand … I imagine biologists walking around with these movies in their heads … Creating an animation is basically trying to […]

Screenshot from language and cognition video

The Power of Words: An overview of theories of language and cognition

If you’ve ever learned another language, then you know that some words don’t translate exactly. For example, there’s a language in New Guinea that only has two words for color — mola, meaning “bright,” and milli, meaning “dark.” Now compare that to English. We have lots of words for color … But does the fact […]

Silhoutte of person waving US flag

US and Our Shadow

These are dark times. Do you know where your shadow is? With Groundhog’s Day approaching and the current state of the world, I’ve been thinking a lot about Carl Jung’s description of the shadow and the ways we project our own unconscious tendencies onto others. This video describes how the shadow, when “ignored or misunderstood,” […]

Patterns of mind: How differences in languages and bodies influence different ways of thinking

| Do patterns in the ways we interact with the world affect cognition? | Daniel Casasanto’s research on linguistic and bodily relativity shows that they do. Specific features in our languages (for example, the types of metaphors commonly used) and our bodies (like whether we are right or left-handed) result in specific patterns in our […]

The interconnectedness of our bodies and our minds | Antonio Damasio

Human beings have an innate capacity for pattern recognition. It is part of the ways our brains learn to process information we perceive from the physical world. However, perceptions only represent one level or scale of patterns. There are also associative patterns to be found in the interactions of perceptions and, at yet another level, […]

The hypothetical self: Experiementing with body, identity, and relationship

As one woman embodying a diverse range of characters, Sarah Jones helps her audiences discover different perspectives. Her performances provide us with a multifaceted lens to look through the eyes of others, a mirror in which to see ourselves, and a window into a whole new way of imagining the dynamics of body, identity, and […]

Change your mind, change the world | Center for the Investigation of Healthy Minds

Led by world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard J. Davidson, the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is at the forefront of research on healthy qualities of mind. Reference Change your mind, change the world | Center for the Investigation of Healthy Minds

What makes me human?: Noam Chomsky on language acquisition | BBC Radio 4

Emergence refers to the ways a complex phenomenon can emerge as a functional unit defined by the behavior of its constituent units. This is similar to the idea that a whole can be more than the sum of its parts, but with the understanding that the whole and its parts refer to patterns of interaction […]

The Power of Networks: Complexity, patterns, fractals, and scale | Gaia Marcus • Manuel Lima

Gaia Marcus: Something we’re examining is how people need to understand complexity… We’re taught that A plus B equals C but that’s not actually how that works at the more complex level. And something you touch on… was how order and disorder, or order and complexity are actually two poles of the same phenomena and […]

Situated Engagement: Climate action in the multi-level context of social life

| Relationship, place, and levels of scale | At the 2013 Climate, Mind, & Behavior Symposium, Chicago-based sustainability and diversity specialist Jennifer Hirsch presented her research on strategies for engaging with diverse communities in Chicago on climate action. With a focus on local narratives and their influence on community-based action, Hirsch illustrated the potential that […]

The Neuroscience of Creativity, Flow, and Openness to Experience | Scott Barry Kaufman

It seems appropriate that human creativity is connected to a neurological alliance of opposing forces. It’s as if the executive and default networks are normally in conflict, like little children competing for attention or ancient warlords fighting for dominion over the world. It very well could be their fate to remain forever in conflict, never […]

Burstein • Kaufman • Ferguson • Nasser (PBS Digital Studios) | How to be creative

Creativity has always been essential for our cultural growth, but there are still many misconceptions about this elusive process. Not the left-brain/right-brain binary that we’ve come to believe, being creative is considerably more complex, and requires a nuanced understanding of ourself and others. Being a powerful creative person involves letting go of preconceived notions of […]

Karl Fast (Adaptive Path • UX Week 2015) | Embodied Understanding

As Karl Fast describes, embodied cognition is based on research that shows how “physical states of the body [including the body’s perception of the environment] can prime and alter conceptual states of the mind.” There are a number of hypotheses that attempt to explain and expand upon this research. Although different in many ways, both […]

Mathias Weitbrecht • Visual Facilitators • Explainas | The way things are – The anatomy of reality

Do we really experience things that happen in an objective way? We act as if we do – but let’s take a look… Several layers seem to obscure reality and the way things are… People actually walk around and experience reality their way and believe “this is the way things really are”. Well, maybe not… […]

Thomas Metzinger (Being Human) | Being human: Being selfless

You are not your self. What if our experience of having or being a self is actually the result of a kind of full-body, virtual reality simulation? Thomas Metzinger proposes that what we experience as a sense of selfhood is the result of having a “transparent self-model”. The self-model is an internalized representation of the […]

The moral roots of liberals and conservatives | Jonathan Haidt

What if all human beings share the same foundational moral values, and most of our ideological differences are essentially reflections of our moral diversity? In his 2008 TED talk, Jonathan Haidt describes five moral foundations, how the importance assigned to each moral foundation varies among individuals, and how distinct patterns among people’s moral profiles can […]

Creative metaphors for social change | Arthur Romano

Movement strategist and nonviolence trainer Arthur Romano reflects on 3 creative metaphors for social change – critical mass, critical yeast, and the butterfly effect – drawn from complexity theory and the study of adaptive systems. Critical Mass So when we think about critical mass, we think of that moment after people have been doing work, […]

danah boyd (Web2.0 Expo) | Streams of content, limited attention: The flow of information through social media

For the last few centuries, we have been living in an era of broadcast media, but we have been switching to an era of networked media. This fundamentally alters the structure by which information flows. As networked technologies proliferate around the world, we can assume that there is a channel of distribution available to everyone […]

Kseniya Simonova (Ukraine’s Got Talent) | Sand animation

Even though the important role of language in human cognition is readily acknowledged, what is the role of storytelling? It may not require words or language, but it still conveys meaning. Maybe memories and concepts are simply stories that our minds tell themselves. Like stories, memories and concepts may vary with the narrator’s creative liberties, adapt to and with different […]

Language & complexity: Evolution inside out | Terrence Deacon

Drawing on biological anthropology and cognitive science, anthropologist Terrence Deacon explores the interplay of natural selection and adaptation among various environmental, genetic, cognitive, and social factors that could have contributed to the evolution of the human capacity for language.   Reference Language & complexity: Evolution inside out | Terrence Deacon

Beyond anatomy | Changing the way we think about the body and its parts

In her 2012 TEDx talk, Nina Tandon explains how our ideas about the body as a whole and parts have evolved “from body intact to body replaceable parts to growing pieces of the body that are living from scratch.” Her explanation also highlights the relevance of scale and the distinction between part-whole relationships at the […]

Onye Ozuzu (TEDxIIT) | Technology of the American dancing body

As a biracial, bicultural performing artist and instructor from Columbia College presenting at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Ozuzu skillfully weaves a multitude of narrative threads, providing evidence for the confluence of dance, body, culture, cognition, and technology to expressively argue her case for “movement as technology.” …and I was hooked on that activity, on […]

Planetary Collective: The Overview Effect

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect. The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an […]

The evolution of complexity and intelligence on earth

Much of our research on intelligence has started by assuming that humans are special. And I think that’s exactly the wrong place to start if you’re interested in the evolution of intelligence. And if you’re interested in the evolution of intelligence, humans aren’t so much special as different … So the three ingredients of intelligence […]

David Brier • Rafa Galeano (Fast Company) | What is innovation?

It all comes down to dots. In his famous commencement speech, Steve Jobs said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach […]

Finding the simple patterns in a complex world | Michael Barnsley

Professor Michael Barnsley has developed a new way to uncover simple patterns that might underlie apparently complex systems, such as clouds, cracks in materials or the movement of the stockmarket. The method, named fractal Fourier analysis, is based on new branch of mathematics called fractal geometry. The method could help scientists better understand the complicated […]

John Bohannon (TEDxBrussels) | Dance vs powerpoint: A modest proposal

This idea came to me while talking to a physicist friend of mine at MIT. He was struggling to explain something to me: a beautiful experiment that uses lasers to cool down matter…But the experiment is not the end of the story, because you still have to transmit that knowledge to other people… [I]f you’re […]

Microsoft Design • Bassett & Partmers | Connecting

What is Interaction Design? Connecting explores this question with some of the industry’s foremost thought leaders. When digital and physical worlds become one, new behaviors become possible, enabling connected humans with a collective capacity to change the world…. It’s not very different from what happened, you know, during the Cambrian explosion when cells began to […]

The power of networks: Knowledge in an age of infinite interconnectedness | Manuel Lima

I’m going to talk today about the power of networks and the challenge of mapping an increasingly complex world. And I’m actually gonna start this talk with trees…This widespread metaphor it’s so so popular because it really expresses a human desire for order, for symmetry, for hierarchy, for simplicity, for balance and unity. Trees are […]

Isabel Behncke (TED) | Evolution’s gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans

Bonobos, like humans, love to play throughout their entire lives. Play is not just child’s games. For us and them, play is foundational for bonding relationships and fostering tolerance. It’s where we learn to trust and where we learn about the rules of the game. Play increases creativity and resilience, and it’s all about the […]

Alex “Sandy” Pentland (Harvard Business Review) | The new science of building great teams

When we set out to document the behavior of teams that “click,” we noticed we could sense a buzz in a team even if we didn’t understand what the members were talking about. That suggested that the key to high performance lay not in the content of a team’s discussions but in the manner in […]

The Universcale: From the nanoworld to the universe | Nikon

From the nanoworld to the universe — The worlds we measure using our infinite yardstick. Nikon’s opto-electronics technologies let people explore realms beyond the range of the naked eye. In this presentation, you can see the relative sizes of objects arranged on a single scale. This lets you grasp the sizes of things that you […]

Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps (1957) | Kees Boeke

Kees Boeke’s Cosmic View is a classic on learning about the scale of things. It is similar to the Morrison’s Powers of Ten, but aimed at a younger audience. Its legacy includes Charles Eames’s film Powers of Ten, the resulting book by Philip and Phylis Morrison, and several similar books which followed. REFERENCE Cosmic View: […]

Antwerp Central Station – Belgium | Sound of Music Flash Mob

More than 200 dancers were performing their version of “Do Re Mi”, in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone […]

perpetual ocean

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio | Perpetual Ocean

This is an animation of ocean surface currents from June 2005 to December 2007 from NASA satellites. Watch how bigger currents like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean and the Kuroshio in the Pacific carry warm waters across thousands of miles at speeds greater than four miles per hour (six kilometers per hour); how […]

Fibonacci TED Talk

Arthur Benjamin (TED) | The magic of Fibonacci numbers

Fibonacci was actually named Leonardo of Pisa, and these numbers appear in his book “Liber Abaci,” which taught the Western world the methods of arithmetic that we use today. In terms of applications, Fibonacci numbers appear in nature surprisingly often. The number of petals on a flower is typically a Fibonacci number, or the number […]

music animation machine

Bach • Stephen Malinowski | Toccata and fugue in D minor

The subtleties and intricate patterns at the core DNA of western classical music—which have enchanted and fascinated people for centuries—still challenge us today: how do we find our way into a musical language developed long ago and containing considerable structural complexities? Musician and inventor Stephen Malinowski uses a simple visual approach to stimulate our ability […]


One is one … or is it? Counting, units, and the (relative) value of the concept of one

Interaction involves relationships, and relationships involve the ways in which things are connected to each other. It all begins with the individual thing or unit of one. One is, by definition, the smallest whole number. So it may feel like a very simple idea. Yet when we question this idea, we find that the concept […]

TED Playlists: Adventures in Mapping (10 Talks)

Maps don’t just tell you which street to turn left on. Maps convey information that shapes our lives, deepen our understanding of problems and our ability to create solutions, and whisk our imaginations to new lands. Aris Venetikidis: Making sense of maps Lalitesh Katragadda: Making maps to fight disaster, build economies Steven Johnson: How the […]