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The Cuban Missile Crisis

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At this time in 1962, the U.S. was in the thick of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Here’s a brief recap of what exactly happened during those thirteen days.

It’s not hard to imagine a world where at any given moment, you and everyone you know could be wiped out without warning at the push of a button. This was the reality for millions of people during the 45-year period after World War II, now known as the Cold War. As the United States and Soviet Union faced off across the globe, each knew that the other had nuclear weapons capable of destroying it. And destruction never loomed closer than during the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

In 1961, the U.S. unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Cuba’s new communist government. That failed attempt was known as the Bay of Pigs, and it convinced Cuba to seek help from the U.S.S.R. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev was happy to comply by secretly deploying nuclear missiles to Cuba, not only to protect the island, but to counteract the threat from U.S. missiles in Italy and Turkey. By the time U.S. intelligence discovered the plan, the materials to create the missiles were already in place. 

At an emergency meeting on October 16, 1962, military advisors urged an airstrike on missile sites and invasion of the island. But President John F. Kennedy chose a more careful approach. On October 22, he announced that the the U.S. Navy would intercept all shipments to Cuba, but a naval blockade was considered an act of war. Although the President called it a quarantine that did not block basic necessities, the Soviets didn’t appreciate the distinction.

Thus ensued the most intense six days of the Cold War. As the weapons continued to be armed, the U.S. prepared for a possible invasion. For the first time in history, the U.S. Military set itself to DEFCON 2, the defense readiness one step away from nuclear war. With hundreds of nuclear missiles ready to launch, the metaphorical Doomsday Clock stood at one minute to midnight. 

But diplomacy carried on. In Washington, D.C., Attorney General Robert Kennedy secretly met with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. After intense negotiation, they reached the following proposal. The U.S. would remove their missiles from Turkey and Italy and promise to never invade Cuba in exchange for the Soviet withdrawal from Cuba under U.N. inspection. The crisis was now over. 

While criticized at the time by their respective governments for bargaining with the enemy, contemporary historical analysis shows great admiration for Kennedy’s and Khrushchev’s ability to diplomatically solve the crisis. Overall, the Cuban Missile Crisis revealed just how fragile human politics are compared to the terrifying power they can unleash.

For a deeper dive into the circumstances of the Cuban Missile Crisis, be sure to watch The history of the Cuban Missile Crisis – Matthew A. Jordan

Animation by Patrick Smith

teded: A little girl power for you on Internat…

teded:

A little girl power for you on International Day of the Girl.

Check out this lesson on confidence we made in partnership with the Always‪#‎LikeAGirl‬ campaign: 3 tips to boost your confidence

Animation by Kozmonot Animation Studio

teded: The 200 or so species of octopuses are …

teded:

The 200 or so species of octopuses are mollusks belonging to the order Cephalopoda, Greek for ‘head-feet’. Those heads contain impressively large brains, with a brain to body ratio similar to that of other intelligent animals, and a complex nervous system with about as many neurons as that of a dog.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why the octopus brain is so extraordinary – Cláudio L. Guerra

Animation by Cinematic

Happy World Octopus Day!

Learn more about these fascinating creatures, and then you’ll want to celebrate them….every day!!

teded: It’s World Smile Day! Commit an act of …

teded:

It’s World Smile Day! Commit an act of kindness today – help make one person smile! 😀

From the TED-Ed Lesson The science of attraction – Dawn Maslar

Animation by TOGETHER

“The Art of Disagreeing”

“The Art of Disagreeing”

Want to get better at making your case and changing minds?

Here’s a hint: It’s not always about facts. This TED-Ed animation analyzes why some arguments change people’s minds in some cases and backfire in others? Hugo Mercier explains how arguments are more convincing when they rest on a good knowledge of the audience, taking into account what the audience believes, who they trust, and what they value.

Check it out here to improve your skillz!

Animation by TED-Ed // Charlotte Arene

teded: It’s officially Fall! The animators at…

teded:

It’s officially Fall! The animators at TED-Ed happen to love leaves, and this is one of the things they do with them! 

What can you make this Autumn?

From the TED-Ed Lesson Dead stuff: The secret ingredient in our food chain – John C. Moore

Animation by TED-Ed

12 Amazing Facts About Elephants

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In honor of World Elephant Day, we present you with 12 little known facts about one of our favorite creatures…in GIFs, of course.

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1. Elephants know every member of their herd and are able to recognize up to 30 companions by sight or smell. 

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2. They can remember and distinguish particular cues that signal danger and can recall locations long after their last visit.

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3. An elephant’s memory is not limited to its herd, nor is it limited to its species. In one instance, two circus elephants that performed together rejoiced when crossing paths 23 years later. Elephants have also recognized humans that they once bonded with after decades apart. 4. 

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4. The elephant boasts the largest brain of any land mammal as well as an impressive encephalization quotient (the size of the animal’s brain relative to its body size). The elephant’s EQ is nearly as high as a chimpanzee’s.

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5. The elephant brain is remarkably similar to the human brain, with as many neurons and synapses, as well as a highly developed hippocampus and cerebral cortex.

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6. Elephants are one of the few non-human animals to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

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7. Elephants are creative problem solvers. 

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8. Don’t try to outsmart an elephant! They have an understanding of basic arithmetic and can even keep track of relative quantities.

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9. Elephants communicate using everything from body signals to infrared rumbles that can be heard from kilometers away. Their understanding of syntax suggests that they have their own language and grammar. 

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10. Elephants can recognize 12 distinct tones of music and recreate melodies.

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11. Elephants are the only non-human animals to mourn their dead, performing burial rituals and returning to visit graves. 

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12. Elephants are one of the few species who can recognize themselves in the mirror.

Given what we now know about elephants, and what they continue to teach us about animal intelligence, it is more important than ever to make sure that these magnificent creatures do not vanish.

Check out some more fun elephant facts here and be sure to watch the TED-Ed Lesson Why elephants never forget – Alex Gendler

Animation by the ever-talented Avi Ofer

It’s Elephant Appreciation Day! We are FULL of reasons to appreciate these majestic creatures – here are 12 of those reasons.

Check out some more fun elephant facts here and be sure to watch the TED-Ed Lesson Why elephants never forget – Alex Gendler

Animation by the ever-talented Avi Ofer

Despite an increase in awareness and advocacy across the globe, elephants are still a highly vulnerable population. Consider adopting an elephant or donating to one of many organizations that work to conserve elephant populations! <3

teded: Today is the International Day of Peace…

teded:

Today is the International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”). Established in 1981 by a unanimous United Nations resolution, the General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”

Get involved.

From the TED-Ed Lesson What are the universal human rights?

Animation by Sarah Saidan

From the TED-Ed Lesson How can you change some…

From the TED-Ed Lesson How can you change someone’s mind? (hint: facts aren’t always enough) – Hugo Mercier

Animation by TED-Ed // Charlotte Arene

Did Ancient Troy really exist?

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When Homer’s Iliad was first written down in the 8th century BCE, the story of the Trojan war was already an old one. From existing oral tradition, audiences knew the tales of the long siege, the epic duels outside the city walls, and the cunning trick that finally won the war. 

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In the end, the magnificent city was burned to the ground, never to rise again. 

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But had it ever existed? By the time the field of archaeology began to take shape in the 19th century, many were skeptical, considering the epic to be pure fiction, a founding myth imagining a bygone heroic era. But some scholars believed that behind the superhuman feats and divine miracles there must have been a grain of historical truth – a war that was really fought, and a place where it happened.

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Frank Calvert was one such believer. He had spent his youth traveling and learning about ancient civilizations before accompanying his brother Frederick on a diplomatic mission to the northwest Anatolian region of Çanakkale. It was here that Homer described the Greek encampment at the mouth of the Scamander river. And it was here that fate brought Frank into contact with a journalist and geologist named Charles Maclaren. Locals and travelers had long speculated that Troy might’ve stood on one of the surrounding hilltops. But Maclaren had been one of the first to publish a detailed topographical study of the area. He believed he had found the site – a 32-meter mound known by the name Hisarlık, derived from the Turkish word for “fortress.” Frank Calvert began to survey the site, but lacked the funds for a full excavation. This was where the wealthy German businessman and amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann came in. At Calvert’s invitation, Schliemann visited the grounds in 1868, and decided to excavate. Eager to find the ancient city, Schliemann tore massive trenches all the way to the base of the hill. There, he uncovered a hoard of precious artifacts, jewelry, and metalwork, including two diadems and a copper shield. Schliemann took full credit for the discovery, announcing that he had found Troy and the treasure of its king Priam. But the real treasure was elsewhere.

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When later archaeologists studied the site, they realized that the mound consisted of no less than nine cities, each built atop the ruins of the last. The layer Schliemann had uncovered dated back to the Mycenaean Age, more than 1,000 years too early for Homer. But inside the mound was indeed evidence for a city that had thrived during the Bronze Age, with charred stone, broken arrowheads, and damaged human skeletons suggesting a violent end. It was Troy VII, contained in the middle layers and now ravaged for a second time by Schliemann’s careless excavation. The settlement, spanning some 200,000 square meters and home to as many as 10,000 people, thrived until around 1180 BCE. Its position at the southern entrance of the Dardanelles strait would’ve made a formidable strategic location for both defense and trade. Most importantly, there are the remains of a massive fortification wall – perhaps the very same one from which Priam and Hector once watched the Greeks approach. 

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Of course, it’s difficult to be certain that these ruins are the true remains of ancient Troy, and scholars still dispute whether the Trojan War as described by Homer ever happened. Yet the evidence is strong enough that UNESCO has labelled Hisarlık the archeological site of Troy. Regardless of its identity, thanks to persistence, a bit of faith, and a lot of research, archaeologists are bringing the long-buried secrets of an ancient, lost city to light.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Did ancient Troy really exist? – Einav Zamir Dembin

Animation by Cabong Studios