In 1816, Europe and North America were plagued by heavy rains, odd-colored snow, famines, strange fogs and very cold weather well into June. Though many people believed it to be the apocalypse, this “year without a summer” was actually the result of a supervolcano eruption that happened one year earlier over 1,000 miles away. Alex Gendler describes the history and science of these epic eruptions.
Before we began putting art into museums, art mostly served as the visual counterpart to religious stories. Are these theological paintings, sculptures, textiles and illuminations from centuries ago still relevant to us? Jeremiah Dickey describes the evolution of art in the public eye and explains how the modern viewer can see the history of art as an ongoing global conversation.
Solar power is cheaper and more sustainable than our current coal-fueled power plants, so why haven’t we made the switch? The real culprits here are the clouds, which make solar power difficult to control. Alexandros George Charalambides explains how solar towers and panels create electricity and how scientists are trying to create a system that can function even under cloud cover.
Plants have a hard time finding mates — their inability to get up and move around tends to inhibit them. Luckily for plants, bees and other pollinator species (including butterflies, moths and birds) help matchmake these lonely plants in exchange for food. Fernanda S. Valdovinos explains how these intricate pollination networks work and how it can all change from one season to the next.
If you think scientists lead boring, monotonous lives, you must not know about Tycho Brahe. The 16th century astronomer who accurately predicted planetary motion led quite a dramatic life — complete with a kidnapping, a sword duel and even a clairvoyant dwarf. Dan Wenkel dives into the history behind this sensational scientist, explaining how he continued to inspire intrigue even after his death.
Honeybees are some of nature’s finest mathematicians. Not only can they calculate angles and comprehend the roundness of the earth, these smart insects build and live in one of the most mathematically efficient architectural designs around: the beehive. Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson delve into the very smart geometry behind the honeybee’s home.
With the advent of the Internet and social media, news is distributed at an incredible rate by an unprecedented number of different media outlets. How do we choose which news to consume? Damon Brown gives the inside scoop on how the opinions and facts (and sometimes non-facts) make their way into the news and how the smart reader can tell them apart.
Everyone experiences pain — but why do some people react to the same painful stimulus in different ways? And what exactly is pain, anyway? Karen D. Davis walks you through your brain on pain, illuminating why the “pain experience” differs from person to person.
In the first two lessons of this series on space-time, we’ve dealt with objects moving at constant speeds, with straight world lines, in space-time. But what happens when you throw gravity into the mix? In this third and final lesson, CERN scientists Andrew Pontzen and Tom Whyntie explore what gravity means for space-time — or rather, what space-time means for gravity.
Lesson by Andrew Pontzen and Tom Whyntie, animation by Giant Animation Studios.
The folks at Pixar are widely known as some of the world’s best storytellers and animators. They are perhaps less recognized as some of the most innovative math whizzes around. Pixar Research Lead Tony DeRose delves into the math behind the animations, explaining how arithmetic, trigonometry and geometry help bring Woody and the rest of your favorite characters to life.
The fundamentals of space-time: Part 1 - Andrew Pontzen and Tom Whyntie
Space is where things happen. Time is when things happen. And sometimes, in order to really look at the universe, you need to take those two concepts and mash them together. In this first lesson of a three-part series on space-time, hilarious hosts Andrew Pontzen and Tom Whyntie go through the basics of space and time individually, and use a flip book to illustrate how we can begin to look at them together.
In the past decade, the US honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. While this is obviously bad news for honeypots everywhere, bees also help feed us in a bigger way — by pollinating our nation’s crops. Emma Bryce investigates potential causes for this widespread colony collapse disorder.
If you read “Bob, a DJ and a clown” on a guest list, are three people coming to the party, or only one? That depends on whether you’re for or against the Oxford comma — perhaps the most hotly contested punctuation mark of all time. When do we use one? Can it really be optional, or is there a universal rule? TED-Ed explores both sides of this comma conundrum.
Ready to dance in your seat? Drummer Clayton Cameron breaks down different genres of music—from R&B to Latin to pop—by their beats. A talk that proves hip hop and jazz aren’t cooler than math—they simply rely on it.
When you take a bite of a hot pepper, your body reacts as if your mouth is on fire — because that’s essentially what you’ve told your brain! Rose Eveleth details the science and history behind spicy foods, giving insights into why some people continue to pay the painful price for a little spice.