A Scientific Easter Egg

As new groundbreakers in science and technology race to the cutting edge, we want to celebrate those who have made an appearance on the TEDx stage, sharing their scientific acumen with the world by way of the TED Universe.

Katie Bouman: How To Take a Picture of a Black Hole

In 2016, MIT’s Katie Bouman took to the TEDxBeaconStreet stage to deliver an impassioned talk about a phenomenon that’s as isolated as it is enigmatic: a supermassive black hole. And she didn’t merely want to wax poetic about it to the audience, eithershe wanted to tell them (and the world) how to photograph it.

“We may be seeing our first picture of a black hole in the next couple of years,” Dr. Bouman forecasted in her talk, “How To Take a Picture of a Black Hole,” and her words are now ringing true.

In 2017, an international team of astronomers, engineers, and computer scientists collaborated to harness the power of eight ground telescopes. These telescopes, chosen strategically for their positions on the globe, worked together to create a “super-telescope” which detects shadows of light and matter as they are swept into the black hole.

Right on schedule, images of the amorphous orange glow surrounding the black hole exploded onto our screens in 2019. True to her word, Dr. Bouman and her team of scientists and engineers have truly broken the boundaries of what we thought possible. Through years of persistence and worldwide teamwork, these scientific pioneers have truly captured the invisible.

Xiaoxiang Zhu: Globalization: A View From Space

Anyone who’s ever filled out an online form has probably wondered: What is this company actually doing with my data? In a world where it feels like companies are encroaching on personal privacy and social media feels more Orwellian than free-willing, it begs the question: is data being used positively?

In the case of Xiaoxiang Zhu, the answer is a resounding YES.

In her 2018 talk here at TEDxTUM, “Globalization: A View From Space,” Xiaoxiang, TUM’s own professor of Signal Processing and Earth Observation, took the audience on a journey of her global urbanization model with the goals to eliminate poverty and create sustainable cities worldwide.

Xiaoxiang explained how social media analysis and satellite radar information can give researchers insights on a range of data pointsfrom population demographics to architectural specificityleading to safer, better-planned cities on a global scale.

Xiaoxiang and her team have completed hundreds of urbanized city models to date, and maintain the goal to launch global 3D urban models in the year 2021.


Daniel Aaron Donahue: HIV—Curing the Incurable

Twelve years ago, the landscape of medical science careened toward what seemed more anomalous than scientific: a man known as the Berlin Patient was cured of an incurable disease. In 2019, a man known as the London Patient has emerged as the second patient on earth to have been cured of the same illness, a virus surrounded by stigma, misinformation, and shame: HIV.

So, if two people can be cured of HIV, why can’t scientists cure the masses still affected by the virus? In Daniel Aaron Donahue’s 2017 TEDxTUM talk, “HIV—Curing the Incurable,” we get an inside glimpse at how HIV lies dormant for years inside the body.

Aaron explains how he and his team of colleagues at the Pasteur Institute in Paris are currently pushing forward toward a widespread cure with two separate methods of action to eradicate these inactive virus cells in a way that’s noninvasive, safe, and can be comprehensively performed across the globe.

By understanding the way HIV works, Aaron and his team are rushing to the forefront of medical innovation in order to outsmart it.