Probably at some point, someone has asked if you've seen the latest TED talk on so-and-so. The first time that happened to me, I was like, "Ted said what?"
But since then, I've become a fan of the 18-minute talks that spread ideas on technology, entertainment, and design (that's where the name TED comes from).
So if you're looking to be educated, challenged, or even inspired in your work, here's a countdown of the ten most popular TED talks on energy.
10. Alex Laskey: How behavioral science can lower your energy bill
"What's a proven way to lower your energy costs? Would you believe: learning what your neighbor pays. Alex Laskey shows how a quirk of human behavior can make us all better, wiser energy users, with lower bills to prove it."
9. Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid
"What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? In this moving talk, entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping shows the materials that could make that possible, and how questioning our notion of 'normal' can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs."
8. Amory Lovins: A 40-year plan for energy
"In this intimate talk filmed at TED's offices, energy innovator Amory Lovins shows how to get the US off oil and coal by 2050, $5 trillion cheaper, with no Act of Congress, led by business for profit. The key is integrating all four energy-using sectors—and four kinds of innovation."
7. Shai Agassi: A new ecosystem for electric cars
"Forget about the hybrid auto — Shai Agassi says it's electric cars or bust if we want to impact emissions. His company, Better Place, has a radical plan to take entire countries oil-free by 2020."
6. Stewart Brand and Mark Z. Jacobsen: [Debate] Does the world need nuclear energy?
"Nuclear power: the energy crisis has even die-hard environmentalists reconsidering it. In this first-ever TED debate, Stewart Brand and Mark Z. Jacobson square off over the pros and cons. A discussion that'll make you think — and might even change your mind."
5. Charmian Gooch: Meet global corruption's hidden players
"When the son of the president of a desperately poor country starts buying mansions and sportscars on an official monthly salary of $7,000, Charmian Gooch suggests, corruption is probably somewhere in the picture. In a blistering, eye-opening talk (and through several specific examples), she details how global corruption trackers follow the money — to some surprisingly familiar faces."
4. Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy
"What's the key to using alternative energy, like solar and wind? Storage — so we can have power on tap even when the sun's not out and the wind's not blowing. In this accessible, inspiring talk, Donald Sadoway takes to the blackboard to show us the future of large-scale batteries that store renewable energy. As he says: 'We need to think about the problem differently. We need to think big. We need to think cheap.'"
3. William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind
At age 14, in poverty and famine, a Malawian boy built a windmill to power his family's home. Now at 22, William Kamkwamba, who speaks at TED, here, for the second time, shares in his own words the moving tale of invention that changed his life."
2. Taylor Wilson: Yup, I built a nuclear fusion reactor
Taylor Wilson believes nuclear fusion is a solution to our future energy needs, and that kids can change the world. And he knows something about both of those: When he was 14, he built a working fusion reactor in his parents' garage. Now 17, he takes the TED stage at short notice to tell (the short version of) his story."
1. Bill Gates: Innovating to zero!
At TED2010, Bill Gates unveils his vision for the world's energy future, describing the need for "miracles" to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he's backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050."