Earth’s mysterious red glow, explained – Zoe Pierrat

From TED Ed. Explore the phenomenon and uses of chlorophyll fluorescence, a small amount of light emitted by plants during photosynthesis. — In 2009, a satellite circled Earth, scanning and sorting the wavelengths reflecting off the planet’s surface. Researchers noticed something baffling: an unexpected wavelength of unknown origin. They tried looking at Earth with only…

What makes a language… a language? – Martin Hilpert

From TED Ed. Dig into the distinction between a language and a dialect, and uncover the history of standardized languages. — Outside of China, Mandarin and Cantonese are often referred to as Chinese dialects, despite being even more dissimilar than Spanish and Italian. On the other hand, speakers of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, which are…

Is this the most successful animal ever? – Nigel Hughes

From TED Ed. Discover the creatures known as trilobites, one of Earth’s most successful early animals, and find out what led to their extinction. — Prevailing for around 270 million years and encompassing more than 20,000 distinct species, trilobites are some of the most successful lifeforms in Earth’s history. When they sprung into existence, they…

Can you outsmart the slippery slope fallacy? – Elizabeth Cox

From TED Ed. Dig into the slippery slope fallacy, which assumes that one step will lead to a series of events that lead to an extreme— often bad— scenario. — It’s 1954. Vietnamese nationalists are on the verge of securing an independent Vietnam under communist leader Ho Chi Minh. U.S. President Eisenhower claims that by…

The secret society of the Great Dismal Swamp – Dan Sayers

From TED Ed. Uncover the history of the hidden communities that inhabited the Great Dismal Swamp in North America. — Straddling Virginia and North Carolina is an area that was once described as the “most repulsive of American possessions.” By 1728, it was known as the Great Dismal Swamp. But while many deemed it uninhabitable,…

The method that can “prove” almost anything – James A. Smith

From TED Ed. Explore the data analysis method known as p-hacking, where data is misrepresented as statistically significant. — In 2011, a group of researchers conducted a study designed to find an impossible result. Their study involved real people, truthfully reported data, and commonplace statistical analyses. So how did they do it? The answer lies…

Can we harness the power of lava? – Jean-Baptiste P. Koehl

From TED Ed. Explore how geothermal energy— the heat in the Earth’s crust— is being used to create renewable electricity and power. — While the weather in Iceland is often cold, wet, and windy, a nearly endless supply of heat bubbles away below the surface. In fact, almost every building in the country is heated…