In Brief

How drinking affects your microbes, how teachers can learn grit, the future of love and much more

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Rob Knight introduced us to the American Gut Project at TED2014. This week, they released some fascinating findings. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Rob Knight introduced us to the American Gut Project at TED2014. This week, they released some fascinating findings. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

By Olivia Cucinotta and Emily McManus

Here, a look at just a few members of the TED community making headlines this week.

Rob Knight’s American Gut project released its latest results this week, with data from the microbiomes (i.e., the microbial world inside each human body) of 3,238 participants so far. Some interesting facts they’ve called out:

    • Alcohol imbibers tended to have greater microbial diversity than those that don’t drink alcohol at all.
    • People who sleep more and who exercise outdoors have more diverse microbiomes.
    • Spikes in microbiome populations seem to occur around holidays: in July, and in November through January. (Read about Rob’s TED2014 talk, and watch for his video this fall.)

If you’ve watched Jonathan Haidt’s talks or read his work, you know about the “moral matrix” — the specific set of core values you hold that help you identify as conservative, liberal or other. In a knockout essay, Alan Jacobs at New Atlantis asks: So, how do we each form our unique moral matrix? Read his answers, and this thoughtful, personal response on American Conservative. (Watch Jonathan’s talks, “The moral roots of liberals and conservatives” and “How common threats can make common political ground.”)

As the Director of the National Institute of Health, Francis Collins has been working to make 3D printing technology shareable. The NIH just launched the NH 3D Print Exchange, which shares 3D printing files with scientists, educators and students. “3D printing is a potential game changer for medical research,” Collins says, and the exchange will make that resource available to everyone. (Watch Francis’s talk, “We need better drugs—now.”)

Can teachers learn grit? A recent Huffington Post story on training first-year teachers answers this question by looking to research by Angela Lee Duckworth. (Watch Angela’s talk, “The key to success? Grit.”)

Helen Fisher tackles big questions about the future of love in The Wall Street Journal. In a society of online dating and swiping left and right on Tinder, Fisher argues that, actually, online dating is revolutionizing nothing. She predicts that love will continue on as it has since the prehistoric age. “To bond is human,” she says, and no iPhone app can change that. (Watch Helen’s talk, “The brain in love.)

David McCandless and team are working on a visualization of the major sects of Islam — an evolving graphic that needs your input! Check it out and use the link on the page to add your thoughts. (Watch David’s talk, “The beauty of data visualization.”)

Think about everything humans have to do to make society work: find food, build homes, keep safe. Now, imagine that all without language, social structure or even opposable thumbs. Check out Deborah Gordon’s new TED-Ed lesson “Inside the ant colony” to learn more about the amazingly complex society of ants. (Also, check out Deborah’s talk, “What ants teach us about the brain, cancer and the Internet.”)

Allan Savory, who works to restore grasslands, is preparing for this year’s Savory Institute annual conference on August 1 and 2. This year, it’s called “Putting Grasslands to Work” and aims to “foster conversations around the unifying language of the land that bridges all cultures.” (Watch Allan’s talk, “How to fight desertification and reverse climate change” or read his TED Book, The Grazing Revolution.)