Category: teded

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

“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

teded:

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

“I was a conductor on the Underground Railroad…

“I was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and I can say what many others cannot. I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.”

Escaping slavery; risking everything to save her family; leading a military raid; championing the cause of women’s suffrage; these are just a handful of the accomplishments of Harriet Tubman, one of America’s most courageous heroes. 

Explore Tubman’s accomplishments by watching out the TED-Ed Lesson The breathtaking courage of Harriet Tubman – Janell Hobson

Animation by Yan Dan Wong

In the mid-16th century, Italians were captiva…

In the mid-16th century, Italians were captivated by a type of male singer whose incredible range contained notes previously thought impossible for adult men. However, this gift came at a high price. To prevent their voices from breaking, these singers had been castrated before puberty, halting the hormonal processes that would deepen their voices. Known as castrati, their light, angelic voices were renowned throughout Europe, until the cruel procedure that created them was outlawed in the 1800s.

Yikes!

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why does your voice change as you get older? – Shaylin A. Schundler

Animation by @rewfoe

Why does your voice change as you get older?

Naturally developing voices are capable of incredible variety. And as we age, our bodies undergo two major changes which explore that range. So how exactly does our voice box work, and what causes these shifts in speech?

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The specific sound of a speaking voice is the result of many anatomical variables, but it’s mostly determined by the age and health of our vocal cords and the size of our larynxes. The larynx is a complex system of muscle and cartilage that supports and moves the vocal cords, or, as they’re more accurately known, the vocal folds. Strung between the thyroid and arytenoid cartilages, these two muscles form an elastic curtain that opens and shuts across the trachea, the tube that carries air through the throat. The folds are apart when we’re breathing, but when we speak, they slam shut. Our lungs push air against the closed folds, blowing them open and vibrating the tissue to produce sound. By pushing air faster or slower, we change the frequency and amplitude of these vibrations, which respectively translate to the pitch and volume of our voices. Rapid and small vibrations create high-pitched, quiet tones, while slow, large vibrations produce deep, bellowing rumbles. 

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This process is the same from your first words to your last, but as you age, your larynx ages too. During puberty, the first major shift starts, as your voice begins to deepen. This happens when your larynx grows in size, elongating the vocal folds and opening up more room for them to vibrate. These longer folds have slower, larger vibrations, which result in a lower baseline pitch. This growth is especially dramatic in many males, whose high testosterone levels lead first to voice cracks, and then to deeper, more booming voices, and laryngeal protrusions called Adam’s apples. Another vocal development during puberty occurs when the homogenous tissue covering the folds specializes into three distinct functional layers: a central muscle, a layer of stiff collagen wrapped in stretchy elastin fibers, and an outer layer of mucus membrane. These layers add nuance and depth to the voice, giving it a distinct timbre that sets it apart from its pre-pubescent tones. 

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After puberty, most people’s voices remain more or less the same for about 50 years. But we all use our voices differently, and eventually we experience the symptoms associated with aging larynxes, known as presbyphonia. First, the collagen in our folds stiffens and the surrounding elastin fibers atrophy and decay. This decreased flexibility increases the pitch of older voices.

Ultimately, these anatomical changes are just a few of the factors that can affect your voice. But when kept in good condition, your voice box is a finely tuned instrument, capable of operatic arias, moody monologues, and stirring speeches.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why does your voice change as you get older? – Shaylin A. Schundler

Animation by @rewfoe

Why don’t poisonous animals poison themselves?

In fact, how do any toxic animals survive their own secretions? The answer is that they use one of two basic strategies: securely storing these compounds or evolving resistance to them. Snakes employ both strategies – they store their flesh-eating, blood-clotting compounds in specialized compartments that only have one exit: through the fangs and into their prey or predator and they have built-in biochemical resistance. Rattlesnakes and other types of vipers manufacture special proteins that bind and inactivate venom components in the blood.

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Poisonous and venomous animals aren’t the only ones that can develop this resistance: their predators and prey can, too. The garter snake, which dines on neurotoxic salamanders, has evolved resistance to salamander toxins through some of the same genetic changes as the salamanders themselves.

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That means that only the most toxic salamanders can avoid being eaten— and only the most resistant snakes will survive the meal. The result is that the genes providing the highest resistance and toxicity will be passed on in greatest quantities to the next generations.

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As toxicity ramps up, resistance does too, in an evolutionary arms race that plays out over millions of years. This pattern appears over and over again. Grasshopper mice resist painful venom from scorpion prey through genetic changes in their nervous systems. Horned lizards readily consume harvester ants, resisting their envenomed sting with specialized blood plasma. And sea slugs eat jellyfish nematocysts, prevent their activation with compounds in their mucus, and repurpose them for their own defenses.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why don’t poisonous animals poison themselves? – Rebecca D. Tarvin

Animation by Giulia Martinelli

Hallucinatory experiences are much more closel…

Hallucinatory experiences are much more closely tied to ordinary perception than we once thought.

We know from fMRI studies that hallucinations activate the same brain areas as sight, areas that are not activated by imagination. Many other hallucinations, including smells, sights, and sounds, also involve the same brain areas as real sensory experiences. Because of this, the cerebral cortex is thought to play a part in hallucinations. This thin layer of grey matter covers the entire cerebrum, with different areas processing information from each of our senses. But even in people with completely unimpaired senses, the brain constructs the world we perceive from incomplete information. 

For example, our eyes have blind spots where the optic nerve blocks part of the retina. When the visual cortex processes light into coherent images, it fills in these blind spots with information from the surrounding area. Occasionally, we might notice a glitch, but most of the time we’re none the wiser. When the visual cortex is deprived of input from the eyes, even temporarily, the brain still tries to create a coherent picture, but the limits of its abilities become a lot more obvious. 

By studying hallucinations, we stand to learn a great deal about how our brains construct the world we see, hear, smell, and touch. As we learn more, we’ll likely come to appreciate just how subjective and individual each person’s island universe of perception really is.

For more on the science and research of hallucinations, check out the TED-Ed Lesson What causes hallucinations? – Elizabeth Cox

Animation by Nerdo