Think about everyday services, and what comes to mind? Probably practical matters: housing, food, health, education. Artist Theaster Gates wants to add a new item to the list. He makes the case for why, really, beauty is the most important basic service.

Rob Knight |

In this excerpt from his TED Book, microbial researcher Rob Knight shares his — and other scientists’ — work to understand the human microbiome — and the key diseases in which it now seems that microbes may play a part, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and allergies and asthma.

Interested in improving your own upstreamist health care? Below, six simple ways to start.


In Africa, ebola has already killed hundreds and sickened more than a thousand people so far this year — and the pandemic continues to spread into new countries. When did the current outbreak begin? Why can’t it be stopped? How much should you freak out? 3 ideas behind the week’s headlines.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal used to believe that stress is bad for your health. Then, new research changed her mind. Here are 7 studies that suggest new ways of looking at stress.

What are your drugs trying to tell you? |

The label on the back of your medical pill box is important — and incomprehensible. Find out what Thomas Goetz, former executive editor at Wired, is doing to help you understand the dangers and common side-effects of your drugs.


Physician Larry Brilliant shares data from his digital system for early detection of pandemics.