The 2012 Paralympic Games are underway in London, and several TED speakers are right there on the front lines. During Wednesday night’s dazzling Opening Ceremony, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking took the stage to expound on the evening’s theme of Enlightenment. “What is it,” he asked, as the performers around him brought Big Bang imagery to life, “that breathes fire into the equations, and makes a universe for them to describe?” (Watch Hawking onscreen at TED 2008, sharing the past, present and future of humanity’s role in the universe.)
Retired paralympian Aimee Mullins has a new role this year, serving as Chef de Mission for Team USA. She adds this to her many accomplishments in a long career as an athlete, writer, model and actress. (Watch her most recent talk from TEDMED 2009, urging us to understand how our struggles make us who we are.)
Meanwhile, photojournalist Giles Duley is providing photographic coverage of the Games. In an essay in The Observer last weekend, Duley described his lifelong Olympics addiction and how he came to understand the true beauty of the Paralympics after losing both his legs and an arm in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. Watch his moving talk, given at TEDxObserver earlier this year, about his journey both as a photographer and as a person.