We’ve spent the past year researching the lineup for TEDGlobal 2013 — and bookmarking some amazing websites and pages along the way. Here are 11 you really didn’t know you needed. But you do.
An addictive database of useful biological numbers. Just go and start looking around, and try to stop — you can start off with the most popular numbers, or perhaps the most amazing. Sample:
•Average duration of a single eye blink, Human Homo sapiens: 0.1-0.4 sec
•Characteristic heart rate, Pond mussel: 4-6 beats per minute
•Number of skin cells, Human Homo sapiens: 1.1e+11 cells [1.1e+11 is scientific notation for 1.1*10^11, or one hundred and ten billion]
Found thanks to speaker: Uri Alon
2. ‘I regretted the minute I pressed share’: A Qualitative Study of Regrets on Facebook” (PDF)
Ever regret posting something dumb on Facebook? In one of the most entertaining academic papers ever written, a team of researchers at Alessandro Acquisti’s lab share clinical interviews about social-media shame. From authors: Yang Wang, Saranga Komanduri, Pedro G. Leon, Gregory Norcie, Alessandro Acquisti, and Lorrie Faith Cranor.
Found thanks to speaker: Alessandro Acquisti
3. Blind Juggler
Not quite what it sounds like, this is a collection of videos of robots that can juggle a small plastic ball — without any cameras or sensors to tell them where the ball is. The robots run from simple to baroque. Who knew pure physics was so hypnotizing to watch …
Found thanks to speaker: Raffaelo D’Andrea
4. “Short-Wavelength Light Sensitivity of Circadian, Pupillary, and Visual Awareness in Humans Lacking an Outer Retina”
Get ready to have your mind slightly blown: You have a body part you didn’t know about. Inside your eye, where you have rods and cones to process vision, there’s a third kind of receptor that tells light from dark, and helps adjust your sleep cycle. And in two legally blind patients with nonfunctioning rods and cones, Dr. Russell Foster and his team show in this paper, that third kind of receptor still works.
Found thanks to speaker: Russell Foster
5. Carnyx Scotland
What is a carnyx? A 2,000-year-old Scottish musical instrument, made of bronze, as tall as a man, with a bell shaped like the head of a boar. It was played between, let’s say, 300 BC and AD 200. Do you want to know more? Why, yes you do.
Found thanks to speaker: John Kenny
6. The Cloud Appreciation Society
Cloud videos, cloud news, and the cloud of the month. Cloudspotters of the world, unite and look up.
Found thanks to speaker: Gavin Pretor-Pinney
7. “The Art of Pickpocketing”
This is just a single video but you’ll have to watch it twice — see “gentleman thief” Apollo Robbins steal the watch right off a New Yorker writer’s wrist.
Found thanks to speaker: Apollo Robbins
8. Wild Sex
Curious about how birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it? Two seasons of frank, hilarious video lessons about animal sex, hosted by Dr. Carin Bondar. (Electric eels, I might add, do it, though it shocks ‘em. I know.)
Found thanks to speaker: Carin Bondar
9. Wild Sanctuary
This is one of those browser tabs you can keep open all day long — a constant soundtrack of field-recorded wild animal noises. You’ll hear birdsong, whales, and mysterious jungle beeping of some kind.
Found thanks to speaker: Bernie Krause
10. 88 Bar
Catch up on Chinese memes and culture in this fascinating group blog, curated with the help of An Xiao Mina.
Found thanks to speaker: An Xiao Mina
11. Global Gigs
Dreaming of a job far far away from wherever you are right now? This site (somewhat tricky to navigate but worth it) offers detailed first-person reports on the kinds of jobs you can get as a traveling expat.
Found thanks to speaker: Holly Morris