Let This Awesome Science Infect Your Mind
Ed Yong is one of the finest science writers in the world. His National Geographic blog is chock full of the weird, wild, and WTF-inducing stories that make our living world so darn interesting. So I was overjoyed when I heard he would be speaking at this year’s TED.
He didn’t disappoint. In his talk above, he unlocks the under-appreciated and often cringe-worthy world of mind-controlling parasites. They get no respect, I tell ya, no respect at all. Yet they are cornerstones of countless ecosystems, determining food availability and managing population sizes like armies of freaky fauna, each deployed in a Trojan Horse of evolution’s design. Every parasite’s life is a story, by definition, an elaborate chain that extends from host to host, and I think they’ve found their minstrel in Ed. I mean that as a compliment, of course.
Listen to him weave a tapestry of tapeworms, explain what makes flamingos munch on zombie shrimp, show you how a cricket is like a TARDIS, how a wasp turns a cockroach into a cocker spaniel, and how a brain-controlling protozoan reminds him of an Elizabeth Gilbert novel. My favorite part of this? The idea that ideas themselves may be parasites.
I haven’t loved a TED talk this much in a long time. Or maybe that’s just the parasite talking.