View the TED-Ed Lesson How do tornadoes form?

Tornadoes are the most violent storms on Earth, with wind velocities that can exceed 200 miles per hour. How do these terrifying cyclones form? Meteorologist James Spann sheds light on the lifespan of tornadoes as they go from supercell thunderstorms to terrible twisters before eventually dissolving back into thin air.

5 Brainiac Brain Facts (in TED-Ed GIFs)

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1. We like to think of romantic feelings as spontaneous and indescribable things that come from the heart. But it’s actually your brain running a complex series of calculations within a matter of seconds that’s responsible for determining attraction.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The science of attraction

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2. Playing an instrument is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout. As you play, your brain simultaneously processes different information in intricate, interrelated, and astonishingly fast sequences.

From the TED-Ed lesson How playing an instrument benefits your brain

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3. The human brain consumes an astounding 3.4 x 10^21 ATP molecules per minute, making it a legitimate energy hog!

From the TED-Ed Lesson What percentage of your brain do you use?

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4. As we grow, we install pain detectors in most areas of our body. Just like all nerve cells, these detectors conduct electrical signals, sending information from wherever they’re located back to your brain. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is causing damage.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How do pain relievers work?

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5. On a per weight basis, humans pack in more neurons than any other species. That’s what makes us so smart!

From the TED-Ed Lesson What percentage of your brain do you use?

More fun facts at ed.ted.com!

View the TED-Ed Lesson The past, present and future of the bubonic plague


The bubonic plague, which killed around 1/5 of the world’s population in the 14th century, is still around today — but it now claims only a few thousand lives each year. How did that number shrink so drastically? Sharon N. DeWitte investigates the causes and effects of the black death and explains how knowing this information can help us prepare for any future outbreaks of the disease.

As we grow, we install pain detectors in most areas of our body. These detectors are specialized nerve cells called nociceptors that stretch from your spinal cord to your skin, your muscles, your joints, your teeth and some of your internal organs. Just like all nerve cells, they conduct electrical signals, sending information from wherever they’re located back to your brain. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is causing damage.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How do pain relievers work? - George Zaidan

Animation by Augenblick Studios

How the Federal Reserve regulates inflation

1. If the total amount of currency circulating increases faster than the total value of goods and services in the economy, each individual piece will be able to buy a smaller portion of those things than before. This is called inflation.

2. On the other hand, if the money supply remained the same while more goods and services were produced, each dollar’s value would increase, in a process known as deflation.

3. So which is worse? Too much inflation means that the money in your wallet will be worth less tomorrow, making you want to spend it today. While this stimulates business, it also encourages overconsumption or hoarding commodities like food and fuel, raising their prices and leading to consumer shortages as well as more inflation.

4. But deflation makes people want to hold on to their money. The decrease in consumer spending reduces business profits, which leads to more unemployment and a further decrease in spending, causing the economy to keep shrinking.

So most economists believe that while too much of either is dangerous, a small consistent amount of inflation is necessary to encourage economic growth. The Fed uses vast amounts of economic data to get the numbers just right in order to stimulate growth and keep people employed without letting inflation reach disruptive levels. 

Animation by Qa’ed Mai