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Top of the talks

Five of the best from TED.

THE MOTTO OF TED - the global set of conferences whose past speakers have included everyone from Bill Clinton, Richard Dawkins and  Bill Gates, to designer Philippe Starck, model Aimee Mullins  and a telephone book worth of Nobel Prize winners – is “ideas worth spreading”.

TED’s own idea is simple: stand some of the most interesting people in the world before a live audience and give them 18 minutes to deliver the talk of their lives.

In keeping with the theme of ideas worth spreading, here’s our pick of five of the most thought-provoking contributions from TED – some from this year’s European outing, and a couple of old favourites.

Kick your shoes off, sit back – and enjoy.

1. Lewis Pugh on the mind-bending, finger-bursting swim in a lake created from a melted glacier 5,300 metre up Mt Everest: how it almost killed him; and what it taught him about himself, and about climate change.

2. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on a rural childhood; how he started Amazon, and why anyone can be born gifted, it’s choosing what to do with those gifts that’s the real challenge.

3. Sheena Iyengar takes up the theme of choices – and looks at how culture and upbringing influence the choices we make, whether that’s how to take your green tea – or how anxious you are to please your Mum.

4. The buzz of TED 2009 was Pattie Maes’ talk introducing the concept of ‘Sixth Sense’ – technology so cool, it allows users to turn the palm of their hands into a calculator,  take photos with their fingers or use their hands as a barcode scanner. Incredible, exciting – and very Minority Report.

5. From 2008, here’s Benjamin Zander on why everyone deep down loves classical music – and there’s really no such thing as being tone deaf.

About the author:

Jennifer O'Connell

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