Have you checked out TED Talks?

I have to admit, I’m not much of an audio learning gal.  I love music and I love the idea of podcasts.  But in my free time I’m drawn more to actually reading (whether ebooks or paper books).

However!  I have to admit, over the past month I’ve gotten sucked into podcasts!  Specifically, to TED Talks.  They have made a nonenjoyable commute time not only bearable but interesting and fun!

I have been getting physical therapy this summer to remove scar tissue post-surgery.  I have a great therapist at a great location.  However, the office is on the other side of town.  And the main road is currently under construction.  Now, the construction area is only about 2 1/2 miles long.  But.  In early afternoon, that extends my travel time almost 15 minutes.  Ugh!

Now, naturally, I’ve made plans to detour around that.  But one day this summer, when I was out on my own and driving a ways, I thought, “Oh!  I’ve got the TEDTalks app downloaded on my phone!”  I pulled it up, picked the TED Talk by Ingrid Fetell Lee entitled, “Where joy hides and where to find it.”  Pressed play, and drove off.  It gave me the most lovely trip.



So what are TEDTalks?

TEDTalks’ mission statement is spreading great ideas.  They do this in the form of short talks that take, in general, 18 minutes or less.  (I’ve got some bookmarked that are 6 minutes and change long!)  They hold conferences and TEDTalks where expert speakers present fabulously fascinating talks on a wide variety of subjects.  You can search for topics by dropdowns of list (like tech, entertainment, science, design, business, global efforts) or by just entering your search word.  Today, there are more than 2800 TEDTalks for you to choose from!

You can find TEDTalks as a free app (like I did) but they also have a website, and a YouTube site where you can listen to talks for free.  (There may be a paid or subscription version but I haven’t investigated those.)  On my app, I’ve bookmarked a bunch of TEDTalks that I’m interested in listening to on my next drives to PT.  I’ve only bookmarked the science section so far, but here are some that I’m looking forward to checking out:

  • Richard Feynman’s “Physics is fun to imagine”
  • Edith Widder’s “Glowing life in an underwater world”
  • Charles Limb’s “Your brain on improv”
  • Louie Schwartzberg’s “Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.”
  • Scott Rickard’s “The beautiful math behind the world’s ugliest music”

And that’s just a sampling of the TEDTalks that are on my wish list for future drives!  I haven’t had a moment to bookmark talks in education, entertainment, global events and so on…but that’s my plan.

My favorites so far

So, what are some of my recent favorites?  I mentioned the incredible “Where joy hides and where to find it.”  Ingrid Fetell Lee became interested in joy.  What creates it?  What makes people feel joy?  What are some ways architects create spaces that help people feel it or live in it?  This was the most beautiful talk.  Inspiring and fun.  And something that’s stayed with me as I’ve noticed, since hearing the talk, more actual physical things that make me feel joyful.  Totally fun.



Another recent fave is Jakob Magolan’s “A crash course in organic chemistry.”  I’m sure I was drawn to this one because chemistry is on our radar.  Not organic chemistry, just high school chemistry, since Jackson will be taking that this year as a junior.  I don’t know a lot about chemistry myself (and what’s awesome for my son is that he’ll be taking his chemistry course online with a certified science teacher via Bridgeway Academy), other than that I think the periodic table is a beautiful thing.  So one day, I thought I’d get my feet wet by listening to Magolan’s TEDTalk.  It was spectacular.  He really made me appreciate the design of elements and molecules (you probably don’t hear that statement much in conversation), and how exact and precise chemistry is.  Definitely worth your time.


Sometime soon when I’m not in a car, I’d like to re-listen to Ian Firth’s “Bridges should be beautiful.”  He talks about how bridges should be safe and well-constructed (that’s their function, after all) but that they should be elegant and a pleasure to look at.  Isn’t that interesting?  As someone who teaches art to children, I really felt that resonate with me.  I love for things to be beautiful as well as functional.  I’d like to hear it again (and watch it this time) because apparently he has some incredible images to go along with his talk.

Which brings me to a caveat…

Do not listen, watch, AND drive!

We do not text and drive or generally, talk and drive with our cell phones.  And these TEDTalks all have images.  But I do not watch them while I drive.  (Which probably enabled me to get thru the construction zone the last time without incident or injury to myself or my car!  Not to mention others on the road.)  I put my phone somewhere that I can’t easily see the screen (like on the storage compartment between my front seat and passenger seat) or actually in the passenger seat.  If you’re really tempted you could just push play on your phone then place it in the back seat.  You might miss some of the content.  But the main focus (the cake) is generally the talks.  The images or video are just the icing.

I’m sure I don’t need to say this to any of my readers.  But if you want to see the images in the TEDTalk, don’t watch them when you’re driving.  Do that while you’re on your stationary bike or just listening at home.  Be safe.  And wise.  You are precious and important; don’t do anything that would keep you from being an excellent defensive driver!

But if you’re looking for fascinating content that you can squeeze into those odd moments that we have here and there, check out TED Talks!  I’m definitely looking forward to diving into some more amazing talks!


Enjoy!  –Wren



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