In Brief

Mosquito Week, casting “Star Wars: Episode VII,” a dolphin’s first word, and the linguistic use of “totally”

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Bill Gates once released mosquitos into the TED theater to make a point about malaria research. Now, he's started Mosquito Week. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Bill Gates once released mosquitos into the TED theater to make a point about malaria research. Now, he’s started Mosquito Week. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Below, some intriguing news highlights from the TED community over the past month:

You’ve heard of Shark Week, but what about Mosquito Week? Bill Gates declares it a thing on his blog. (Watch the legendary talk in which Bill released mosquitos into the TED audience.)

David Binder cleaned up in the Tony nominations today. His revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, starring Neil Patrick Harris, got eight nominations, while his Of Mice and Men got two. (Watch David’s TED Talk, “The arts festival revolution”)

In other entertainment news, JJ Abrams announced the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII, and fans flip because Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew (aka Chewbacca) are all returning. (Watch JJ’s TED Talk, “The mystery box”)

Caitria and Morgan O’Neill roll out for communities in Arkansas struck by tornadoes this week. (Watch their talk, “How to step up in the face of disaster”)

Geena Rocero is off and running, advocating for the rights of transgender people across the globe. She talks to PSFK today about how Gender Proud hopes to make it easier to change one’s gender markers on official documents. (Watch Geena’s talk, “Why I must come out”)

A dolphin utters its first word—or at least its first word that a human being could understand: “sargassum,” a type of seaweed. Hear how Denise Herzing translated this. (Watch Denise’s talk, “Could we speak the language of dolphins?”)

Roger Ebert gets a statue, complete with a thumbs-up. (Watch his powerful TED Talk, “Remaking my voice”)

Manu Prakash tells The New York Times about some of the very cool experiments that people around the world are doing with his crazy cheap microscope. (Watch Manu’s talk, “A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami”)

John McWhorter talks about the linguistic phenomena that are “like” and “totally.” (Watch John’s TED Talk, “Txtng is killing language. JK!!!”)

Bryan Stevenson does a powerful interview with Guernica magazine, about his staff’s effort to mark the sites of lynchings and slave markets rather than let this part of American history be forgotten. (Watch Bryan’s talk, “We need to talk about an injustice”)

Carl Zimmer shares his introduction to Rachel Sussman’s book, The Oldest Living Things in the World: “We humans marvel at the longest-living human on record, Jean Calment, who lived from 1875 to 1997. But for a 13,000-year-old Palmer’s oak tree, Calment’s 122 years rushed by as quickly as a summer vacation.” (Watch Carl’s TED-Ed lessons on the evolution of feathers and the jewel wasp, and Rachel’s TED talk)

Rose George reports on the dark — and dangerous — menstruation shaming rituals in Nepal and Bangladesh. (Watch Rose’s talk, “Let’s talk crap. Seriously.”)