In Brief

A know-it-all gets another chance, JR quips with Stephen Colbert and a plan to give half the planet back to wildlife

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JR with Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert snaps a photo with TED Prize winner JR on the set of The Colbert Report

Members of the TED community sure were busy this week. Below, some highlights:

Legendary biologist E.O. Wilson has come out with a bold idea: that we set aside half of Planet Earth for wildlife. If we don’t, he warns, he sees us hurtling toward a “biological holocaust” that could send us the way of the dinosaurs. (Watch his TED Prize talk: My wish: Build the Encyclopedia of Life.)

Artist JR, who launched more than 100,000 black-and-white posters with his TED Prize wish, appeared on The Colbert Report last night. The best moment? When Stephen Colbert said: “You like to hide your identity. Are you a criminal?”(Check out JR’s TED Prize talk: My wish: Use art to turn the world inside out)

Meanwhile, Ken Jennings has returned to the set of Jeopardy! for the Battle of the Decades. This week he plays during 2000s week, and naturally mopped the floor with last night’s other contestants. (Watch Ken’s talk: Watson, Jeopardy! and me, the obsolete know-it-all)

At the Boston Review, Paul Bloom kicks off a debate on empathy. He’s against it. And as you might guess, this provokes strong responses from thinkers like Peter Singer and Simon Baron-Cohen. (Watch Paul’s TED Talk: Can prejudice ever be a good thing?)

Ellen’s Jorgensen’s DIY biohacking lab supports many fascinating citizen scientists, including Heather Dewey-Hagborg. Her portraits and sculptures based on DNA were featured on the series AHA: A House for Arts, on WMHT-PBS, a PBS station in upstate NY. (Watch Ellen’s TED Talk: Biohacking—you can do it, too. And our video portrait of Heather: A DNA portrait from a single hair)

Captain Charles Moore, one of the first people to raise the flag on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GBGP), reports from his latest six-week cruise to the area, which is one of five (FIVE!) major garbage patches drifting in our oceans. (Watch his TED Talk: Seas of plastic. Bonus: Watch more talks from the inspired 2010 event TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch)

Christopher Ryan‘s idea—that we are all sexual omnivores—gets illustrated. (Watch Christopher’s TED Talk: Are we all sexual omnivores?)

Here’s a great Reddit AMA about the search for extraterrestrial life from Seth Shostak, who works for TED Prize winner Jill Tarter’s organization, the SETI Institute. (Watch Jill’s talk: Join the SETI search)

Anne Curzan explains in the Chronicle of Education’s Lingua Franca blog why she asks her students not to use laptops in class. Her standard first-day spiel is both personal and data driven—and, to her colleagues’ surprise, she gets almost no pushback from the class. (Watch Anne’s TED Talk: What makes a word ‘real?’)