The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference is an annual invitation-only gathering of some of the most brilliant people in the world. Geniuses from one field after another get up and speak for twenty or so minutes about whatever they want, and the TED people have graciously put up many of the talks online. If you have time to kill and a mind to blow, you could do worse than to spend a few hours watching one astounding presentation after another.
I first saw Hans Rosling's 2006 talk about six months ago and it literally brought tears to my eyes. Rosling is a Swedish professor of public health on a mission to make the world's data, especially UN public health data, widely available and accessible. Here he creates highly visual animated data maps to show that the world is getting better, the gap between rich and poor is shrinking, and life expectancy is rising almost everywhere. This is a stunning, rousing talk and is apparently now considered legendary among TED aficionados. Check it out here.
Now, his 2007 follow-up talk is also online. All together now: Hans Rosling Rulez!