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Can’t remember a speaker’s name? Some common search terms for elusive TED Talks

Posted by: Elizabeth Jacobs

When you can't remember a speaker name

Some TED Talks are memorable for their big, overarching themes. Others we remember for the small details — a random anecdote, the speaker’s facial hair. The anthropologist who swallowed a sword? The talk with huge photos of people’s faces everywhere? The famous writer who runs into the house to write down an idea before it’s lost forever? Because of the breadth and depth of topics covered at TED, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of a specific talk you watched and loved once it gets lost in the shuffle of our 1,300+ talk archive. Below, a list of commonly searched terms — some goofy, some hyper-specific, some narrowly off-target — used to find the slipperiest of talks.

“The brain lady”
Brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor gave a classic TEDTalk about becoming a part of her own research when she had a massive stroke. In the talk “Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight,” she describes in heartbreaking detail the experience of losing control of her brain functions one by one, as well as the road toward recovering them.

“Statistics guy”
Hans Rosling is synonymous with statistics in the TED world. One of the most frequent TED speakers, this data guru breaks down facts and figures about global health and international development into easily digestible pieces. Here, his first talk, “Stats that reshape your world-view.”

“Little colored things on fingers”
Pranav Mistry has developed technology that allows you take photos with your hands, watch embedded videos in print newspapers, and even turn a piece of paper into a tablet computer. With the aim to better integrate information technology and everyday objects, Mistry may just change the way we interact with the physical world around us. Watch his talk, “The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology.”

“Professor who assigns students less work” 
The number of options we have is often inversely related to our happiness, says psychologist Barry Schwartz. In the talk “The paradox of choice,” he explains how having too many choices ultimately leads to indecision and inaction. In the case of his college students, it’s not that they’re less intelligent than students in the past, but rather that they’re preoccupied with big decisions, struggling to choose between options that didn’t exist 30 years ago.

“Male speaker talking about liberals and conservatives”
Using moral psychology as the foundation to his talk, Jonathan Haidt explains the five morals of humanity, and how this correlates to conservatism and progressivism. The talk “The moral roots of liberals and conservatives” is a mind-stretching exercise in understanding and respecting other perspectives for the benefit of society at large.

“Universities without walls”
In the talk “Learning from a barefoot movement,” innovative educator Bunker Roy describes his Barefoot College, where the only disqualifying factor is having a Master’s degree or Ph.D. The program, run in villages throughout rural India, teaches adults and children professional skills on a schedule and in a setting that works for them.

“Bearded man says we’ll live to 1000 years old”
The first 1000-year-old is already living, according to Aubrey de Grey. This Cambridge researcher has found solutions to the seven basic ways humans age, starting with a simple 30-year life prolongation that would allow us to reach “longevity escape velocity.” After establishing the biological feasibility of this proposition, de Grey walks through the tangible steps needed to achieve this incredible feat in the talk “A roadmap to end aging.”

“Babies’ brains”
Child psychologist Allison Gopnik explains that babies and children begin learning and processing information well before we previously thought. In the surprising talk “What do babies think?” Gopnik delves into humanity’s youngest minds.

“The ‘Who’s the man now’ woman”
In the talk “New data on the rise of women” from TEDWomen 2010, journalist Hanna Rosin shares promising new data tracking the global rise of the supposedly “fairer sex,” with economic shifts and rising education driving the shift. In her talk, Rosin explores what implications this changing gender dynamic holds for society.

“Science prodigy with the Hungarian grandmother”
Eva Vertes was still a teenager when she gave the talk “Looking to the future of medicine” about cancer and Alzheimer’s research at TED2005. In this talk, the then-19-year-old shares her narrative of entering the medical research world and also describes her upcoming cancer research.

“The woman in a red sweater talking about green marketing”
Tree expert Nalini Nadkarni uses unconventional methods — dance, poetry and music — to translate and communicate her scientific findings to diverse audiences in the non-academic world. Her passion and commitment drive her research, which she describes in this inspiring talk, titled “Conserving the canopy.”

“Robot says cookie monster is very bad”
“Robots are all about people,” says scientist Cynthia Breazeal, who designs robots capable of integrating themselves into the daily lives of humans. In the talk “The rise of personal robots,” Breazeal describes how robots can help us become more creative and innovative, help bridge long-distance communication, or even be our encouraging sidekick during weight loss.

“Man doesn’t speak for 17 years”
Environmentalist John Francis has spent the past 30 years traveling the globe, spreading the word about the green movement. For half that time, however, he was completely silent. The remarkable talk “John Francis walks the Earth” will leave you thinking not only about how you treat people, but about how you treat the planet.

“2-year-old who says ‘water'”
MIT researcher Deb Roy charted the “wordscape” of his own home — what words were most frequently said in which rooms and what effect that had on his son’s language learning. Roy utilized incredible technology to collect an astoundingly robust data set, and while doing so he began to stretch the biological capabilities of human memory. Check out his talk, “The birth of a word.”