OwlTail

Cover image of TED Talks Science and Medicine

TED Talks Science and Medicine

Some of the world's greatest scientists, doctors and medical researchers share their discoveries and visions onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

Popular episodes

All episodes

The best episodes ranked using user listens.

Podcast cover

Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth

Right now, billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience -- and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it. How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we're all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it "reality." Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.

17mins

18 Jul 2017

Rank #1

Podcast cover

5 challenges we could solve by designing new proteins | David Baker

Proteins are remarkable molecular machines: they digest your food, fire your neurons, power your immune system and so much more. What if we could design new ones, with functions never before seen in nature? In this remarkable glimpse of the future, David Baker shares how his team at the Institute for Protein Design is creating entirely new proteins from scratch -- and shows how they could help us tackle five massive challenges facing humanity. (This ambitious plan is a part of the Audacious Project, TED's initiative to inspire and fund global change.)

10mins

17 Jun 2019

Rank #2

Similar Podcasts

Podcast cover

Small rockets are the next space revolution | Peter Beck

We're in the dawn of a new space revolution, says engineer Peter Beck: the revolution of the small. In a talk packed with insights into the state of the space industry, Beck shares his work building rockets capable of delivering small payloads to space rapidly and reliably -- helping us search for extraterrestrial life, learn more about the solar system and create a global internet network.

11mins

12 Nov 2019

Rank #3

Podcast cover

You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them | Lisa Feldman Barrett

Can you look at someone's face and know what they're feeling? Does everyone experience happiness, sadness and anxiety the same way? What are emotions anyway? For the past 25 years, psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies to understand what emotions really are. She shares the results of her exhaustive research -- and explains how we may have more control over our emotions than we think.

18mins

2 Jan 2018

Rank #4

Most Popular Podcasts

Podcast cover

What's at the bottom of the ocean -- and how we're getting there | Victor Vescovo

Victor Vescovo is leading the first-ever manned expedition to the deepest point of each of the world's five oceans. In conversation with TED science curator David Biello, Vescovo discusses the technology that's powering the explorations -- a titanium submersible designed to withstand extraordinary conditions -- and shows footage of a never-before-seen creature taken during his journey to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

7mins

2 Aug 2019

Rank #5

Podcast cover

How community-led conservation can save wildlife | Moreangels Mbizah

Conservationist and TED Fellow Moreangels Mbizah studied the famous Cecil the lion until he was shot by a trophy hunter in 2015. She wonders how things could've gone differently, asking: "What if the community that lived next to Cecil was involved in protecting him?" In a quick talk, Mbizah shares the state of conservation in her home of Zimbabwe -- and why she thinks that communities living with wildlife are the ones best positioned to help them.

5mins

1 Oct 2019

Rank #6

Podcast cover

What you can do to prevent Alzheimer's | Lisa Genova

Alzheimer's doesn't have to be your brain's destiny, says neuroscientist and author of "Still Alice," Lisa Genova. She shares the latest science investigating the disease -- and some promising research on what each of us can do to build an Alzheimer's-resistant brain.

13mins

28 Apr 2017

Rank #7

Podcast cover

How one tree grows 40 different kinds of fruit | Sam Van Aken

Artist Sam Van Aken shares the breathtaking work behind the "Tree of 40 Fruit," an ongoing series of hybridized fruit trees that grow 40 different varieties of peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and cherries -- all on the same tree. What began as an art project to showcase beautiful, multi-hued blossoms has become a living archive of rare heirloom specimens and their histories, a hands-on (and delicious!) way to teach people about cultivation and a vivid symbol of the need for biodiversity to ensure food security. "More than just food, embedded in these fruit is our culture ... In many ways, these fruit are our story," Van Aken says.

11mins

27 Sep 2019

Rank #8

Podcast cover

What we'll learn about the brain in the next century | Sam Rodriques

In this imaginative talk, neuroengineer Sam Rodriques takes us on a thrilling tour of the next 100 years in brain science. He envisions strange (and sometimes frightening) innovations that may be the key to understanding and treating brain disease -- like lasers that drill tiny holes in our skulls and allow probes to study the electrical activity of our neurons.

13mins

12 Jun 2018

Rank #9

Podcast cover

Why we choke under pressure -- and how to avoid it | Sian Leah Beilock

When the pressure is on, why do we sometimes fail to live up to our potential? Cognitive scientist and Barnard College president Sian Leah Beilock reveals what happens in your brain and body when you choke in stressful situations, sharing psychological tools that can help you perform at your best when it matters most.

15mins

18 Sep 2018

Rank #10

Podcast cover

The biology of gender, from DNA to the brain | Karissa Sanbonmatsu

How exactly does gender work? It's not just about our chromosomes, says biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu. In a visionary talk, she shares new discoveries from epigenetics, the emerging study of how DNA activity can permanently change based on social factors like trauma or diet. Learn how life experiences shape the way genes are expressed -- and what that means for our understanding of gender.

12mins

10 Jan 2019

Rank #11

Podcast cover

How a new species of ancestors is changing our theory of human evolution | Juliet Brophy

In 2013, a treasure trove of unusual fossils were uncovered in a cave in South Africa, and researchers soon realized: these were the remains of a new species of ancient humans. Paleoanthropologist Juliet Brophy takes us inside the discovery of Homo naledi, explaining how this mysterious ancestor is forcing us to rethink where we come from -- and what it means to be human.

11mins

1 Mar 2019

Rank #12

Podcast cover

What a nun can teach a scientist about ecology | Victoria Gill

To save the achoque -- an exotic (and adorable) salamander found in a lake in northern Mexico -- scientists teamed up with an unexpected research partner: a group of nuns called the Sisters of the Immaculate Health. In this delightful talk, science journalist Victoria Gill shares the story of how this unusual collaboration saved the achoque from extinction -- and demonstrates how local and indigenous people could hold the secret to saving our planet's weird, wonderful and most threatened species.

13mins

12 Feb 2020

Rank #13

Podcast cover

The "dead zone" of the Gulf of Mexico | Nancy Rabalais

Ocean expert Nancy Rabalais tracks the ominously named "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico -- where there isn't enough oxygen in the water to support life. The Gulf has the second largest dead zone in the world; on top of killing fish and crustaceans, it's also killing fisheries in these waters. Rabalais tells us about what's causing it -- and how we can reverse its harmful effects and restore one of America's natural treasures.

12mins

18 Apr 2018

Rank #14

Podcast cover

The surprising science of alpha males | Frans de Waal

In this fascinating look at the "alpha male," primatologist Frans de Waal explores the privileges and costs of power while drawing surprising parallels between how humans and primates choose their leaders. His research reveals some of the unexpected capacities of alpha males -- generosity, empathy, even peacekeeping -- and sheds light on the power struggles of human politicians. "Someone who is big and strong and intimidates and insults everyone is not necessarily an alpha male," de Waal says.

15mins

18 Jun 2018

Rank #15

Podcast cover

The amazing brains and morphing skin of octopuses and other cephalopods | Roger Hanlon

Octopus, squid and cuttlefish -- collectively known as cephalopods -- have strange, massive, distributed brains. What do they do with all that neural power? Dive into the ocean with marine biologist Roger Hanlon, who shares astonishing footage of the camouflaging abilities of cephalopods, which can change their skin color and texture in a flash. Learn how their smart skin, and their ability to deploy it in sophisticated ways, could be evidence of an alternative form of intelligence -- and how it could lead to breakthroughs in AI, fabrics, cosmetics and beyond.

13mins

31 May 2019

Rank #16

Podcast cover

The search for dark matter -- and what we've found so far | Risa Wechsler

Roughly 85 percent of mass in the universe is "dark matter" -- mysterious material that can't be directly observed but has an immense influence on the cosmos. What exactly is this strange stuff, and what does it have to do with our existence? Astrophysicist Risa Wechsler explores why dark matter may be the key to understanding how the universe formed -- and shares how physicists in labs around the world are coming up with creative ways to study it.

15mins

6 Jan 2020

Rank #17

Podcast cover

How early life experience is written into DNA | Moshe Szyf

Moshe Szyf is a pioneer in the field of epigenetics, the study of how living things reprogram their genome in response to social factors like stress and lack of food. His research suggests that biochemical signals passed from mothers to offspring tell the child what kind of world they're going to live in, changing the expression of genes. "DNA isn't just a sequence of letters; it's not just a script." Szyf says. "DNA is a dynamic movie in which our experiences are being written."

16mins

30 Mar 2017

Rank #18

Podcast cover

The science of friction -- and its surprising impact on our lives | Jennifer Vail

Tribology: it's a funny-sounding word you might not have heard before, but it could change how you see and interact with the physical world, says mechanical engineer Jennifer Vail. Offering lessons from tribology -- the study of friction and wear -- Vail describes the surprisingly varied ways it impacts everyday life and how it could help us make a better world.

11mins

5 Feb 2020

Rank #19

Podcast cover

The pharmacy of the future? Personalized pills, 3D printed at home | Daniel Kraft

We need to change how we prescribe drugs, says physician Daniel Kraft: too often, medications are dosed incorrectly, cause toxic side effects or just don't work. In a talk and concept demo, Kraft shares his vision for a future of personalized medication, unveiling a prototype 3D printer that could design pills that adapt to our individual needs.

12mins

18 Oct 2018

Rank #20