Category: teded

Behind a TED-Ed Lesson: Animation + Inspiratio…

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To celebrate George Seurat’s birthday today, we thought we’d do a deep dive behind the scenes of one of our animated lessons, How do schools of fish swim in harmony?, which is about the concept of ‘emergence’ and whose animated style just so happens to have been largely influenced by the paintings of George Seurat and his contemporaries.

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Emergence refers to the spontaneous creation of sophisticated behaviors and functions from large groups of simple elements, and can be used to explain the movements of ants, fish, and birds, as well as how the tiny cells in your brain give rise to the complex thoughts, memories, and consciousness that are you.

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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, George Seurat (1884–86)

It’s kind of like a pointillist painting. When you zoom in real close, it’s just a collection of chaotic brush strokes. But take a few steps back, and you’ll see that all of those brush strokes are working together to illustrate a complex and detailed scene.

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Pointillism stems from Impressionism, and depending on the artist’s technique, the size of the brush strokes vary, but are always visible. For example, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night uses larger brush strokes in the night sky. Both the above and below concept designs show the animator of this lesson testing out how different brushstrokes interact to create depth within a scene. She decided that the swirling waters would make sense as large brushstrokes, which also offered contrast to allow the small fish to stand out.

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George Seurat also employed a technique called ‘divisionism’, sometimes known as ‘chromoluminarism’, in which colors were separated into individual dots or patches which interacted optically. So, rather than relying on mixing colors, painters like Seurat and Paul Signac juxtaposed contrasting colors to allow for optical mixing – which in theory would produce more vibrant and pure colors than the traditional process of mixing pigments.

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Circus Sideshow (Parade de Cirque), George Seurat (1887–88)

While designing this TED-Ed lesson, George Seurat and Paul Signac’s paintings provided inspiration not just for the brushstroke technique, but also for the color palette.

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This GIF of the brain and it’s neural connections draws many of its colors from Seurat’s circus series palette, while the brighter colors – such as the ones used in the title GIF above – are drawn from the more vibrant colors commonly used by Paul Signac, like in the painting below.

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Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (La Bonne-Mère), Marseilles, Paul Signac (1905-06)

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Animating this lesson was an opportunity to renew a sense of wonder in our ever complex universe, whether studying it up close or from afar. We hope that watching it might do the same for you!

From the TED-Ed Lesson How do schools of fish swim in harmony? – Nathan S. Jacobs

Animation by TED-Ed // Lisa LaBracio

Happy Birthday to George Seurat!

teded: It’s 1762. John Montagu is the 4th Ear…

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It’s 1762. John Montagu is the 4th Earl of Sandwich, a small parish in the southwest of England. Despite his keen administrative skills, Montagu is a corrupt politician, an adulterous husband, and an incessant, degenerate gambler. Often, while Montagu is in the midst of a particularly high-stakes game, he will insist on being served his meals at the table. In a moment of vision, though likely inspired by his travels, the Earl orders his meat and cheese be brought to him stacked between two slices of bread so that he may eat with one hand while continuing to gamble with the other. In one notorious episode, Montagu spends a full day and night gambling. It is during the infamous 24 hours at the gaming table that Montagu’s characteristic handheld concession is dubbed “the sandwich.“ 

According to one estimate, Americans now consume more than 300 million sandwiches every day.

Happy Sandwich Day!

From the TED-Ed Lesson How the sandwich was invented | Moments of Vision 5 – Jessica Oreck

7 Spooky(ish) Scary(ish) TED-Ed Lessons to Wat…

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Vampires: Folklore, fantasy and fact – Michael Molina

Animation by The Moving Company Animation Studio

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Beware of nominalizations (AKA zombie nouns) – Helen Sword

Animation by Bran Dougherty-Johnson

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The terrors of sleep paralysis – Ami Angelowicz

Animation by Pew36 Animation Studios

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Diagnosing a zombie: Brain and behavior – Tim Verstynen & Bradley Voytek

Animation by TED-Ed

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The science of stage fright (and how to overcome it) – Mikael Cho

Animation by KAPWA Studioworks

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The brilliance of bioluminescence – Leslie Kenna

Animation by Cinematic Sweden

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How do you decide where to go in a zombie apocalypse? – David Hunter

Animation by @provinciastudio

Happy Halloween! <3 TED-Ed 

Pre-game for Halloween with some Spoooooooky TED-Ed Lessons!

Why Do Cats Do That? (Vol.4)

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Happy #Caturday Tumblr! For the next several Saturdays, we’ll be trying to help you understand what’s up with your house cat.

In the wild, cats needed sharp claws for climbing, hunting and self-defense.  

Sharpening their claws on nearby surfaces kept them conditioned and ready, helped stretch their back and leg muscles, and relieved some stress too.  

So, it’s not that your house cat hates your couch, chair, ottoman, pillows, curtains and everything thing else you put in her environment. She’s ripping these things to shreds and keeping her claws in tip top shape because this is exactly what her ancestors did in order to survive.

Curious about cats? Check in with us every Saturday for some more #catfacts!

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do cats act so weird? – Tony Buffington

Animation by Chintis Lundgren

It’s Cat Day, Tumblr! Wanna play ‘Why’s my cat so weird??’ with us?

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do cats act so weird? – Tony Buffington

Animation by Chintis Lundgren

teded: More Mole Day facts for you!! If you co…

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More Mole Day facts for you!!

If you covered the Earth in a mole of donuts, how thick would that layer be?

8 km!

Happy Mole Day!

From the TED-Ed Lesson How big is a mole? (Not the animal, the other one.) – Daniel Dulek

Animation by Augenblick Studios

teded: A little girl power for you on Internat…

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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

“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

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