TED News in Brief: Remembering Elaine Morgan, the potential of a solar-powered plane, and more

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Elaine Morgan speaks at TEDGlobal 2009.

Elaine Morgan speaks at TEDGlobal 2009.

Writer Elaine Morgan has died at age 92. Perhaps best known for her book The Descent of Woman, at TEDGlobal 2009 she made her case for the “aquatic ape hypothesis” — an admittedly non-standard idea about human origins. Earlier this year, in The Guardian, Erika Milam offered a compelling new take on Morgan’s place in scientific discourse — suggesting it “may tell us more about the fraught relationship between feminism and science than it does about the evolution of humanity.”

Bertrand Piccard’s (watch his talk) solar plane just completed a flight from California to New York. The next step: a round-the-world flight planned for 2015. But there is a challenge — the fact that the cockpit only fits a single pilot with no room for food, water or other necessities. As Piccard’s partner Andre Borschberg explained to Ars Technica, “The weak link is the pilot. The pilot is not sustainable yet.”

TED Radio Hour has been named one of “5 Podcasts Every Millennial Should Listen To” by PolicyMic.

This article from Business Insider Australia illustrates the international reach of TEDx Talks. In it, writer Vivian Giang piggybacks on an argument made by Canadian restaurateur-turned-professor Bruce McAdams in his TEDx Talk (watch it here). His idea: that the relationship between tipping and the quality of the service has become very insignificant. Hers: That we should move toward getting rid of tipping.

Book designer Chip Kidd (watch his talk) works at a desk that looks a whole lot like a bookstore. The designer was featured this week in the Buzzfeed post “40 Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative.” We adore his computer screen smothered in Post-it notes, and the way he’s surrounded himself by volumes of visual covers.


Chip Kidd’s desk. The man sure loves books.

At TED2009, Bonnie Bassler described how bacteria ‘talk.’ (Watch the talk.) It seems that bacteria may also have also been whispering in the ears of researchers at LMU. As this article from reports, these researchers have identified a bacterial cell-cell communication system.

This Huffington Post article tells the sad tale of 25,000 bumblebees that were found dead in a Target parking lot last week in Oregon. The story reminds us of talks from bee-lovers Noah Wilson-Rich (watch his talk), Dennis van Engelsdorp (watch his talk) and Marla Spivak (read about her talk from TEDGlobal 2013).

TED’s own June Cohen appears in the Fast Company article “11 Little-Known Apps That Entrepreneurs Can’t Live Without.” A blurb introduces June and tells readers why she loves Video DownloadHelper, “a fabulously useful little Firefox plug-in/add-on that lets you easily download video from any website.”

Several post-TEDGlobal 2013 essays appeared this week from attendees. In a piece posted on his blog, Bruce Bassett describes the overwhelming intensity of TEDGlobal — and the feeling of depression that comes with its end. He writes, “The intense sense of community and shared aspirations that exists at TEDGlobal in a brief island in space and time is like being inside a Star Trek movie in which humanity has reached above pettiness and war, and found a higher mission based on exploration and federation.” Meanwhile, Henrik Ahlen gives a rundown of TEDGlobal for Alfa Bravo, looking at every aspect of from the conference from the attendees, to the talks he found most interesting, to the badges His conclusion: “Inspiration overload!”