So what are TED talks? TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED is an American media organization that posts talks online for free distribution under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. TED was originally conceived in 1984 as a conference, which has been held annually since 1990. TED’s early emphasis was on technology and design, it has since broadened its perspective to include talks on many scientific, cultural, political, and academic topics. It features renown speakers, chosen as expert at explaining their specialist subject (a bit like the U3A but without the tea and biscuits!). You can access TED talks at www.ted.com, you don’t need to register unless you are an enthusiast just put a few words in the search box in the far right hand corner relating to your interests and click on a talk in the list which appears.
The TED talks are generally hosted on YouTube but there are many other science related talks hosted on the same site; there is much more to YouTube than just entertainment videos, just enter a science topic which interests you in the search box and see what comes up.
BBC iPlayer is a source of past BBC science programmes e.g. Horizon; you will need to register but it is free. Just look for Science and Nature under the Categories tab and you are away.
To get you going look at a few of the recommendations below.
You might have seen David Spiegelhalter who is a statistician and Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge recently on the Andrew Marr Show where he had some trenchant things to say about the use of Covid 19 statistics by politicians; if you missed it catch it here , it is well worth a watch. If you want to know more about his work look at some of his TED talks and podcasts – don’t worry, just concentrate on the Public Understanding bit of his title and the statistics will look after themselves, you learn some by accident along the way while being entertained. For a good start look at a recent TED talk from him at
which you might find fun and then move on to other TED talks by him and even his podcasts e.g. see
where he may amusingly rant (his words not mine) about the misuse of statistics in the media.
Ever wondered how mussels, clams etc. stick to rocks on the sea shore? Perhaps not; but they use an adhesive which will stick underwater, something you can’t buy in B&Q. Learn all about it from Jonathan Wilker at
The late Hans Rosling was a truly charismatic presenter who brought statistics to life with his unique style. Here is a selection of the best Hans Rosling talks.
His 2015 TED talk explained why we have our current Covid19 problems.
Marcus du Sautoy
Marcus du Sautoy, Oxford’s University’s science ambassador is a a mathematician specialising in symmetry. Take a look at his TED Talks it won’t hurt, I promise.