Vampires, sleep paralysis and more: 5 very spooky TED-Ed lessons


If you’re a big fan of superstition and the supernatural, you are surely in your element this Friday the 13th. In celebration of this creepy calendar day, TED-Ed has gathered up five of our scariest lessons, sure to get you in the spirit of all things spooky.

First, imagine you’re fast asleep and then suddenly awake. You want to move but can’t, as if someone is sitting on your chest. And you can’t even scream! This is sleep paralysis, a creepy but common phenomenon caused by an overlap in REM sleep and waking stages. In this TED-Ed Lesson, Ami Angelowicz describes just how pervasive (but harmless) it is and introduces a paralyzing cast of characters from around the world.

The myth of the always terrifying, bloodsucking vampire has stalked humans from ancient Mesopotamia to 18th-century Eastern Europe, but it has differed in the terrifying details. So, how did we arrive at the popular image we know, love and fear today? And what truly makes a vampire? In this lesson, Michael Molina digs up the science and the superstition behind these classic characters.

If we’re discussing fiction’s most terrifying figures, we can’t leave out the zombie. They eat brains. They are also, like all of us, driven by brain functions. What is happening in their brains to make them act as they do? In this intriguing dialogue, Tim Verstynen & Bradley Voytek apply the various human medical possibilities that make zombies…zombies.

If you’re ever searching for something truly weird, often you only need to venture into nature. The jewel wasp and the cockroach, for example, have a disgusting and fascinating parasitic relationship. The jewel wasp stuns the cockroach, and months later, a jewel wasp hatches out of the cockroach. In this lesson, Carl Zimmer walks us through how this happens and why it personally fascinates him.

Sometimes our biggest fears aren’t the fictional characters we imagine creeping under our beds (or the terrifying zombie bugs in our backyard). In fact, the most common fear reported by adults is public speaking! If talking to a crowd makes you feel like you’re fighting for your life, you’re not alone. But the better you understand your body’s reaction, the more likely you are to overcome it. In this lesson, Mikael Cho advises how to trick your brain and steal the show.

1 Comment

  1. Juan Carlos Chinchilla

    Yes, this is funny and something true about friday 13th.
    For example People in spain are very supertitions, good luck with the football game today.

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