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X Marks the Spot: A Mandela Day design project, plus this week’s TEDx Talks

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Just some of the powerful posters created for Mandela Day, through a project launched at TEDxSoweto.

Just some of the powerful posters created for Mandela Day, through a project launched at TEDxSoweto.

This week, the world celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. For the participants of TEDxSoweto — which took place in April in Johannesburg, South Africa — it was time to publish the results of a campaign started at the event. During the event, a group of volunteers — including many designers — wondered how they could mark Mandela’s birthday and decided to do so through art. They launched the Mandela Poster Project, asking designers from around the world to create posters for the leader. In the end, 700 posters were submitted. The best of the project will go on tour and, after that, will be auctioned to support the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.

Yesterday, the Mandela Poster Project website went live! Head to it and check out moving dedications to Mandela from the best designers in the world.

In this project, you can see the creative power of the TEDx events — dozens of which are held across the world every week. From these events, the TEDx team chooses four favorite talks each weekhighlighting just a few of the enlightening speakers from the TEDx community and its diverse constellation of ideas. Some of the topics of this week’s talks: flying snakes, electronic tattoos and the possibility of microchip clinical trials.

Your body in a microchip: Geraldine Hamilton at TEDxBoston
At TEDXBoston, Geraldine Hamilton explains that our bodies are dynamic environments. The development of new medicines in the laboratory often comes up short because it cannot predict how patients will respond to treatments. Hamilton suggests that we need laboratory environments to replicate the human body and demonstrates how new “organ-on-a-chip” technology can mimic the body’s conditions and so be used to study drug toxicity, potential new therapies. Could this be the way to safer clinical trials?

How electronic tattoos can protect newborns’ lives: Todd Coleman at TEDxSanDiego
Dr. Todd Coleman presents epidermal electronics: discrete, non-invasive semiconductors that can be attached to the human body like tattoos. This technology could be hugely valuable for pregnant mothers and new parents, allowing them to monitor their baby’s health at home instead of needing large and cumbersome devices that can only be used in hospitals.

You’ve cheated, but are you cheater? Gabrielle Adams at TEDxLondonBusinessSchool
At TEDxLondonBusinessSchool, Gabrielle Adams shares the results of a social psychology study on how language can substantially curtail cheating. The study illustrates how we can challenge unethical behavior by using nouns that connect a person’s actions to their identity. She suggests that instructions such as “Don’t be a cheater” or “Be a donor” are more effective than “Don’t cheat” and “Donate.”

Snakes that fly — really: Jake Socha at TEDxVirginiaTech
There are snakes that can fly! Many people’s worst nightmare, these remarkable animals don’t need to board a plane with Samuel L. Jackson to get airborne. At TEDxVirginiaTech, Jake Socha defies engineers’ predictions and beliefs, and explains the snakes’ extraordinary aerodynamics.  If this discovery is anything to go by, we need to continue to look at nature for inspiration in design.

Other great features on the TEDx blog this week: