Science TEDx

X Marks the Spot: The geometry of life, plus this week’s TEDx Talks

Posted by: Emmie Le Marchand

This week TEDx celebrated the birthday of Rosalind Franklin, the pioneering scientist who helped our fundamental understanding of the structure of DNA strands. Sixty years after her famous Photo 51, Czech designer Vit Zemcik created a video to showcase his own understanding of the geometry of life.

Zemcik explains his video, which showed at TEDxHradecKralove “The design is based on geometrical shapes and abstraction. It starts with simple shapes and grows into more complex ones trying to suggest a way of understanding the geometry of life. Could it be an atom, a planet, a seed, an egg cell, a DNA? Is it simple or complex? Analog or digital? Is there a way we follow?”

In this video you can see the creative power of the TEDx events, hundreds of which are held all over the world every week. From these events, the TEDx team chooses their four favorite talks to showcase just a few of the inspiring ideas from the TEDx community. The chosen talks this week address sensitive and significant areas of medicine — from the taboos surrounding experiments on pregnant women to brain donation.

Making tumors glow to stop cancer: Dr Jim Olson at TEDxSeattle
Operating on cancerous brains is next to impossible because of the difficulty in distinguishing between healthy and diseased tissue. This means pieces of malignant cancers are often being left behind after surgery. Dr. Jim Olson and his team has found a potential solution. At TEDxAukland, Dr. Olson describes how they used the bioluminescence of scorpions to create a “tumor dye” that can help to highlight the cancerous areas in need of removal. He also explains that funding for development of discoveries is often the hardest part and he introduces Project Violet, an initiative that gives donors and citizen scientists a personal stake in the drugs being developed.

Ending a pregnancy taboo: Lode Dewulf at TEDxBrusselsChange
Pregnant women have their ears chewed off with advice and are given great long lists of things they shouldn’t do while pregnant. Much of this advice, however, is just speculation. There is a lack of medical data on treating pregnant women because of the taboo on conducting experiments on them. At TEDxBrusselsChange, Lode Dewulf calls for a breakdown of these taboos and asks pregnant women to share their medical data so that there can be more healthy pregnancies … and healthy babies.

Autism research takes brains: Cynthia Schumann at TEDxUCDavis
Autism researcher Cynthia Shuman explains that research into mental disorders is restricted because of the shortage of human brains for studying. In this dynamic talk from TEDxUCDavis, Schuman presents surprising figures about brain endowment, introduces the UCDavis Mind Institute, Mind Bears, and pleas for increased brain donation to help the search for a cure.

A discovery that could keep organs alive: John Windsor at TEDxAuckland
“The organs fall like dominoes — first the heart, then the lungs, then the kidneys.” This is the story of multiple organ failure, the leading cause of death in intensive care units around the world. Dr. John Windsor calls it the “plague of modern medicine” because nobody understands its cause, but his team has made a discovery that may lead to groundbreaking new treatments. Shedding light on this important mystery in medicine, Dr. Windsor explains some of the experiments that led to his discoveries.

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