The TED community is busy with new projects and ideas: below, some highlights.
A new galaxy cluster hidden in plain sight. Researchers at MIT, including TED speaker Henry Lin, have recently discovered a cluster of hundreds of galaxies obscured by an intensely active supermassive black hole at its center. That extra-bright black hole, named PKS1353-341, is 46 billion times brighter than our sun; in their newest paper, the team concluded that a feeding frenzy (big chunks of matter falling into the hole and feeding it) is the likely cause of the black hole’s extraordinary light, which blocked the cluster from view. This insight has led to the development of CHiPS, or Clusters Hiding in Plain Sight, an initiative that will re-analyze older data and images, in the hopes of identifying other galaxy clusters. (Watch Lin’s TED Talk.)
Mothers of Invention: the women solving climate change. Alongside comedian Maeve Higgins, Mary Robinson has launched a new feminist podcast spotlighting women who are leading the charge in the climate change battle. The series, Mothers of Invention, has featured Judi Wakhungu and Alice Kaudia, Kenyan policymakers who instituted Kenya’s plastic bag ban; Tara Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican restaurateur who led efforts to develop sustainable farming measures on the island following Hurricane Maria; and TED speaker Tara Houska, an indigenous rights lawyer who works toward mass divestment from fossil fuel funds. Robinson, who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, has long advocated for environment policy that protects vulnerable communities; in an interview with iNews, she said, “Climate change isn’t gender neutral: it affects women worse. So of course it makes sense that they would be the ones coming up with solutions.” (Watch Robinson’s TED Talk.)
Diversity specialist Vernā Myers joins Netflix. Following two decades of leading the Vernā Myers Company, Vernā Myers will soon join Netflix as Vice President of Inclusion Strategy. In the newly created role, Myers will strategize how Netflix can best integrate “cultural diversity, inclusion and equity” into their global expansion plans. In a press release from Netflix, Myers said, “I am so excited and look forward to collaborating all across Netflix to establish bold innovative frameworks and practices that will attract, fully develop, and sustain high performing diverse teams.” (Watch Myers’ TED Talk.)
Monica Lewinsky talks Emmy nomination. In a podcast interview with Vanity Fair, Monica Lewinsky discusses her anti-bullying work and recent Emmy nomination for her PSA “In Real Life.” The campaign, which debuted last October, features actors recreating real cyberbullying comments on the streets of New York to unknowing bystanders, and shows strangers stepping in to defend the victims. The film, which was produced in collaboration with ad agency BBDO New York and Dini von Mueffling Communications, asks the question: If it’s not okay in person, why is it okay online? “There’s a lot of pain out there from this,” Lewinsky said to Vanity Fair. “We carry that with us for a long time. I hope it helps heal people.” (Watch Lewinsky’s TED Talk.)
A celebration of poetry and art in Bhutan. Poet and educator Sarah Kay captivated audiences last week at the Mountain Echoes literary festival in Thimphu, Bhutan, with an enthralling performance and workshop session. The annual festival, which registered 17,000 visitors this year, gathered artists and literary luminaries including Kay, the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo and theatre actress Sanjana Kapoor to facilitate ”cultural dialogue, share stories, and create memories.” In addition to her performance, Kay led a workshop session called “Considering Breakthrough: Connecting with Spoken Word Poetry.” In The Times of India, Kay, who leads the global education initiative Project VOICE, says that for her, poetry is like “puzzle-solving.” (Watch Kay’s TED Talk.)