With the exhilarating (and exhausting) holiday season behind us, January offers a month of new beginnings and boundless optimism. In the first few weeks of the new year, millions of people around the world will set pen to paper and hammer out a list of goals for the year ahead. If you haven’t made your New Year’s resolutions yet, check out this collection of TED-Ed Lessons for a little inspiration. Whether you’re hoping to cut down on sweets, improve your writing skills or brush up on some advanced quantum mechanics, we’ve got you covered.
The holiday season is perhaps the most sugar-loaded season of them all, but you might consider cutting down the sugary snacking in the new year. When you eat something loaded with sugar, your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine — an overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more. Nicole Avena explains why sweets and treats should be enjoyed in moderation.
While learning to play a musical instrument might not immediately propel you to rock star status, the impact it can have on your brain is exceptional. When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. In this lesson, Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.
A classic, but very important resolution for anyone with a pulse. When you’re up late studying for tomorrow’s exam, should you drink another cup of coffee and spend the next few hours cramming? Or should you go to sleep? Shai Marcu defends the latter option, showing how sleep restructures your brain in a way that’s crucial for how our memory works.
One of the most confounding principles in writing is correct comma usage. It isn’t easy holding complex sentences together (just ask a conjunction or a subordinate), but the clever little comma can help lighten the load. But how can you tell when help is really needed? Terisa Folaron offers some tricks of the comma trade.
If you’re feeling bold in the new year, why not aim your intellectual sights high and study up on some complex physics? Chad Orzel’s four-part series is a great place to start, with lessons on the central mystery in quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and Schrödinger’s cat.
Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How many languages do you know? While this lesson won’t be able to teach you a new one, it does detail the fascinating ways linguists group languages into language families, and demonstrates how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past.
Do you fear public speaking? If you have a racing heart, sweaty palms and labored breathing just thinking about getting onstage, don’t worry — you’re not alone. But the better you understand your body’s reaction, the more likely you are to overcome it. Mikael Cho advises how to trick your brain and steal the show.
Art is important, even if you’re not an artist. Many professionals (including doctors, nurses and police officers) can learn real world skills through art analysis. Studying art like René Magritte’s Time Transfixed can enhance communication and analytical skills, with an emphasis on both the seen and unseen. Amy E. Herman explains why art historical training can prepare you for real world investigation in 2015.
If going green is one of your biggest goals this year, why not try vermicomposting in your home? Nearly one third of our food ends up in the trash can. There is hope, however, in the form of worms, which naturally convert organic waste into fertilizer. Matthew Ross details the steps we can all take to vermicompost at home — and why it makes good business sense to do so.
Networking seems so hard — but not if you have the right advice. Try taking advantage of weak ties; you never know how a friend of a friend of a friend can aid you in your dreams. Lisa Green Chau outlines how being proactive and always saying yes can lead to future opportunities.