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TED-Ed
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TED-Ed is TED's new education initiative.
TED-Ed is TED's new education initiative.

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Stretched across a tree-peppered expanse in Southern Africa lies the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, a medieval stone city of astounding wealth. Located in the present-day country of Zimbabwe, it’s the site of the second largest settlement ruins in Africa. But its history is controversial, defined by decades of dispute about who built it and why. Breeanna Elliott explores the mystery of Great Zimbabwe.

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What is the best life we can live? How can we cope with whatever the universe throws at us and keep thriving nonetheless? The ancient Greco-Roman philosophy of Stoicism explains that while we may not always have control over the events affecting us, we can have control over how we approach things. Massimo Pigliucci describes the philosophy of Stoicism.

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Ancient skeletons can tell us a great deal about the past, including the age, gender and even the social status of its former owner. But how can we know all of these details simply by examining some old, soil-caked bones? Farnaz Khatibi examines a fascinating branch of science known as biological anthropology.

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Imagine you were asked to invent something new. It could be whatever you want, made from anything you choose, in any shape or size. That kind of creative freedom sounds so liberating, doesn’t it? Or ... does it? if you're like most people you’d probably be paralyzed by this task. Why? Brandon Rodriguez explains how creative constraints actually help drive discovery and innovation.

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Today, there are thousands of cults around the world. Broadly speaking, a cult is a group or movement with a shared commitment to a usually extreme ideology that’s typically embodied in a charismatic leader. But what exactly differentiates cults from other groups – and why do people join them? Janja Lalich describes how cults recruit and manipulate their members.

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In Cretaceous times (around 100 million years ago), North Africa was home to a huge river system and a bizarre menagerie of giant prehistoric predators -- including the Spinosaurus, a dinosaur even more fearsome than the Tyrannosaurus rex. Nizar Ibrahim uses paleontological and geological data to reconstruct this “River of Giants” in surprising detail.

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Perpetual motion machines — devices that can do work indefinitely without any external energy source — have captured many inventors’ imaginations because they could totally transform our relationship with energy. There’s just one problem: they don’t work. Why not? Netta Schramm describes the pitfalls of perpetual motion machines.

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Today, Americans use an estimated 500 million drinking straws every day. But where did the idea for this beloved utensil come from? In the twelfth installment of our ‘Moments of Vision’ series, Jessica Oreck shares the origins of the bendy straw.

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Deep inside Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library lies a 240 page tome. Recently carbon dated to around 1420, its pages feature looping handwriting and hand drawn images seemingly stolen from a dream. It is called the Voynich manuscript, and it’s one of history’s biggest unsolved mysteries. The reason why? No one can figure out what it says. Stephen Bax investigates this cryptic work.

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Money laundering is the term for any process that “cleans” illegally obtained funds of their “dirty” criminal origins, allowing them to be used within the legal economy. And the practice is about as old as money itself. But how does it actually work? Delena D. Spann describes the ins and outs of money laundering.
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