The Weirdest TED Talks

Everyone loves a TED Talk. And if you don’t love a TED Talk you’ve probably not discovered TED Talks yet. And if you haven’t discovered TED Talks yet, then here are some of the weirdest ones to get you hooked!

An Oregon activist demonstrates how to dry your hands with just 1 paper towel

An Oregon activist demonstrates how to dry your hands with just 1 paper towel

Screenshot from YouTube

Oregon activist Joe Smith wants to reduce waste in the US, which is a noble pursuit, for sure. And it’s interesting to discover that Americans use 13 billion pounds of paper towels a year. But his instructional presentation on how to revolutionize drying your hands, “How To Use A Paper Towel,” is just plain silly.

His technique: “Shake, and fold.” Shake your hands after washing, and fold your towel before using — a two-step process Smith enthusiastically demos for his audience with a variety of paper towels. “The fold is important because it allows interstitial suspension,” he explains. “You don’t have to remember that part, but trust me.”

Watch it here »

Neuroscientist Greg Gage choreographs a cockroach leg

Neuroscientist Greg Gage choreographs a cockroach leg

Screenshot from YouTube

This is probably one of the weirdest science experiments featured on TED: a severed cockroach leg waving back and forth to the bass notes of rock music. In “The Cockroach Beatbox,” a November 2011 talk, Gage uses the insect to demonstrate how brains receive and deliver electrical signals. And don’t worry about the leg the cockroach loses — Gage assures us that it’ll grow back.

Watch it here »

Radius Foundation director Terry Moore explains why you’ve been tying your shoes wrong

Radius Foundation director Terry Moore explains why you've been tying your shoes wrong

Screenshot from YouTube

You have probably tied your shoes the same way every day since you were five years old or so. But Moore says he has found a better way.

In “How To Tie Your Shoes,” a three-minute talk filmed in February 2005, Moore demonstrates the “correct” way to tie the knot. It’s easiest to understand by watching yourself, but it’s all about the direction you wrap one lace around the other. He says it’s not only stronger, but also looks better.

Watch it here »

Artist Neil Harbisson describes how he made himself a cyborg

Artist Neil Harbisson describes how he made himself a cyborg

Screenshot from YouTube

Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a rare visual condition that causes total color blindness. In the early 2000s, however, he teamed up with scientists to acquire an “electronic eye” that senses color frequencies and turns them into sounds. The thing is, it’s a device that a doctor drilled into his head. He proudly proclaims himself to be a cyborg.

“Life has changed dramatically since I hear color, because color is almost everywhere,” Harbisson explains in his June 2012 talk, “I Listen To Color.” “So the biggest change, for example, is going to an art gallery, I can listen to a Picasso.”

Watch it here »

Tom Thum spends his presentation beatboxing

Tom Thum spends his presentation beatboxing

Screenshot from TED

In “The Orchestra In My Mouth,” a talk filmed at TEDxSydney, Thum shows off his ability to imitate everything from traditional Chinese music to dubstep using just his voice. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Thum says, “I would like to take you on a journey throughout the continents and throughout sound itself.”

You might find it somewhat entertaining — if you’ve never heard someone beatbox before — but otherwise it seems more fitted for an open mic night.

Watch it here »

Astronomer Clifford Stoll talks about everything and nothing

Astronomer Clifford Stoll talks about everything and nothing

YouTube/TED

Stoll is an astronomer and author, and he’s a very bright guy. But that doesn’t mean he knows how to give a presentation.

Stoll goes into full mad scientist mode and uses his talk “The Call To Learn,” to bounce around the stage making crazy noises and talking about his background, the American education system, and Mobius loops. By the end, you’re left wondering what you just saw.

Watch it here »

Sebastian Wernicke condenses 1,000 TED Talks into six words

Sebastian Wernicke condenses 1,000 TED Talks into six words

YouTube/TED

Want more TED Talks but don’t have time to watch them all? Consulting firm Oliver Wyman’s Wernicke has you covered. With the help of crowdsourcing and inspired by the famous six-word story attributed to Ernest Hemingway (“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn”), he thinks he found a way to condense the lessons of 1,000 TED Talks into just six words.

In his November 2011 TEDxZurich talk, “1,000 TED Talks, 6 Words,” Wernicke reveals the final solution of his project: “Why the worry? I’d rather wonder.” It takes over seven minutes to get to this point, which doesn’t leave you with much of anything to work with.

Watch it here »

Never want to stop learning? Why would you! Have a look through our courses here at The Sheffield College today – no doubt you’ll find something that you love!

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