August Top 5

Why do we sleep?

Making peace is a marathon

How formula one racing can help babies

Bitcoin, sweat, tide; meet the future of branded currency

The voice of the natural world


Day 221: A Full Band Beatbox

We’ve seen Tom Thum at the Sydney TED this year; now here’s a band full of beat boxers. The R+B group, ‘Naturally 7’ beatbox the sounds of an orchestra to perform their single, ‘Fly Baby.’ Much like any ‘regular’ group, each member is in charge of a certain instrument- bass, percussion, harmonica. Unlike a standard group however, the only instrument sounds come from their mouths.

Day 220: The year 2200

By the end of this century, the worlds population is expected to top out at just less than ten billion, before entering a phase of decline. What then?
According to Pete Alcorn, this will have two beneficial economic effects. Firstly, investing in property becomes a bad bet, as much of the cost is currently wrapped up in its speculative value. Secondly, scarcity of labour drives wages. Both of these lift pressure off the poorer groups in society.
Much of our culture are obsessed with looking back in history. We often feel we’re in a downhill slide from the good old days. Research shows, however, that those who think they’re in for a good future make better decisions. When the population declined in Europe after the Black Plague, the middle class was born and the Renaissance took place. Examining the population data over the next couple of hundred years means we may romanticise the future. Hopefully then, our great great grandchildren will start building the 22nd century enlightenment

Day 218: The refugees of boom and bust

In 2006 young Qatari students took Cameron Sinclair to see migrant worker camps. For the first time, he realised there were over 1.1 million migrants behind the headlines on new building projects. Mainly of Indian, Sri Lankan or Pakistani descent, these people pay a middle man thousands of dollars to get to the UAE, in order to make a better life for their families back home. Instead, they find themselves in a labour camp with inadequate water, no air conditioning and their passports taken away.
During the GFC, the construction industry went bust. Thousands of these workers found themselves without documentation, passports or tickets home. This talk is from 2009, but as recently as May this year, there have been reports of ongoing strikes over work conditions.
Sinclair challenges everybody who works in the industry to make a stand. If an engineer, architect, or building contractor arrives on site weekly to see this exploitation, aren’t they complicit rather than complacent?

Day 217: Photographing the landscape of oil

Canada and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil suppliers, only have fifteen years worth of oil left. It takes 500 years to produce the equivalent of the 30 billion barrels we use each year, meaning it’s a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’ it runs out.
After seventeen years of photographing industrial lands it occurred to Edward Burtynsky that oil is underpinning the rate of industrial development. He documented the arc of oil, from the ground to everyday usage, through a series of pictures which show everything from the wellhead to a car engine.
The overuse of oil is a massive danger to our society. Burtynsky used his skills as a photographer to raise awareness of this, and he encourages us all to use our various talents to the same end. In 30 years, let’s look back and say truthfully that we did as much as we possibly could.

Day 216: Could a Saturn moon harbour life?

Carolyn Porco was leader of the imaging team on the Cassini mission to Saturn. Two years before this talk, they’d discovered towering jets erupting from the South Pole of one of Saturn’s moons. After speculating that they were geysers, this implied the possibility of an environment within the moon. In the time since, the Cassini spacecraft has flown closer, enabling the team to find more complex compounds, such as salty water and formaldehyde. The circumstances are such that there may be the conditions to sustain life there. So, imagine the day when we’ll journey to one of Saturn’s moons!

Day 211: Kirk Citron- And now, the real news.

How many of today’s stories will matter in 100 years?
According to Kirk Citron, we are drowning in news. Reuters puts out 3.5 million news stories a year. ‘The Long News’ is a project founded by TED fellows, with the aim of examining the stories which will make a difference in future.
So what will be important? According to Citron, science is a front runner. There’s also the issue of resources; how will we feed everybody? Global politics are also undergoing major changes; the world will surely be different when, or if, China sets the agenda.
These headlines are in stark contrast to the stories which are actually making the news; items such as celebrity culture and the American economy. In the long run, some news stories are definitely more important than others.