Skip to main content

The Surprise TED Talk That's Got the World Talking and Other Notes From the Week

Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week's top stories.

We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

While You Were Out, Pope Francis, Culture, News

Pope Francis Delivers Surprise TED Talk

The annual TED conference had a surprise speaker this past week: Pope Francis. The bishop of Rome took the TED Talk stage via video, speaking for 17 minutes in Italian from his Vatican desk. NPR’s Nina Gregory was able to witness the audience who heard the Pope’s talk. "There were people around me who cried, others who watched, rapt, and still others who watched while writing email," she says. "He got a standing ovation in the theater." His talk has been viewed over 700,000 times already, and that number is sure to grow.

Pope Francis addresses three main points in his talk titled “Why the Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone.” He begins with reminding us that none of us are an island and that we are all connected. The Pope built off this idea of unity by proposing that in order to sustain that connection, we must take care of each other with love and compassion. “Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around,” he says. Pope Francis goes on to introduce the revolution of tenderness—a movement that prompts us all to “use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.” It is through this revolution that he references our responsibility to solidarity and humility through which we can be a force for good. While these are the highlights, watching the full TED Talk is sure to move you. —Mary Brodeur

Sheryl Sandberg’s Latest Book on Grief Is Released

Facebook exec and renowned author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg this week released a book on different topic—grief. After her husband unexpectedly died in 2015, Sandberg recently told the Associated Press, "the grief felt like a void, like it was sucking me in and pushing on me, pulling me in and I couldn't even see or breathe… People who have been through things like this told me it gets better. And I really didn't believe them." Now, with Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, Sandberg joins forces with psychologist Adam Grant to share what she learned about our ability to build resilience for hard times. Her husband’s loss has also given her perspective to acknowledge how some aspects of her former Lean In philosophy falls short. "I didn't get it," she wrote. "I didn't get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home." The topic of Option B is perhaps better suited to strike a more universal chord. "Tragedy does not have to be personal, pervasive or permanent, but resilience can be," she wrote. "We can build it and carry it with us throughout our lives." Talk about words to remember. —Mary Rose Somarriba

New Technology Mimicking Womb May Save Lives of Extremely Premature Babies

Due to the high risks associated with premature births, infants born more than a month early often require neonatal intensive care. In the past, doctors have attempted to treat premature babies by replicating the environment of a womb.

New research, published in a study by Nature Communication and carried out by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, points to the “bio-bag”—an artificial womb—as the way forward. Lead researcher Alan Flake, director of the Center for Fetal Research, said, “We’ve developed a system that as closely as possible reproduces the environment of the womb and replaces the function of the placenta.” The bag is currently in the animal testing phase (which explains all the images of baby lambs in your newsfeed).

Currently, babies as early as 22 weeks of gestation can survive premature birth. However, the existing ventilation systems are risky for developing lungs. It is hoped that this new technology will eventually support human infants born before 28 weeks. —Maddy Kearns

Kim Kardashian West Opens Up About Paris Incident

Speaking with Ellen Degeneres, Kim Kardashian West got emotional describing how her attack and robbery in Paris has affected her. “It was meant to happen to me. I really feel like things happen in your life to teach you things. It was probably no secret, and you see it on the show—I was being flashy and I was definitely materialistic before," she said. Holding back tears, Kim shared with viewers of the Ellen Show that she has nothing against people earning money and buying valuables, but she’s changed her choices about showing them off. "I'm so happy that my kids get this me and that this is who I'm raising my kids [as]. 'Cause I just don't care about that stuff anymore. I really don't.” She later added that she’s somewhat grateful. “I don't want to sound like I'm not grateful. I'm out, I'm home, I'm safe, I'm such a better person—it's OK. Let's move on." I wouldn’t wish anything like Kardashian’s experience on anyone, but the attitude she’s taking to see room for gratitude despite it is definitely a positive one. —Mary Rose Somarriba

Woman Receives Congressional Recognition for Helping Victims of Sex Trafficking

Congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania recently honored Susan Ingram-Weideman with the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award. The award recognizes people who have used a personal tragedy to help others. In 2015 Ingram-Weidemann, from Delaware, reported that she had been sexually assaulted by massage therapist James Deiter. Afterward, 11 other women came forward and Deiter was sentenced to up to 13 years in prison. Ingram-Weidemann said about the experience, “It really motivated me to take something that was difficult in my life and try to make it easier for others.”

Since then, Ingram-Weidemann has started a non-profit called Walk her Home, which fundraises for victims of human trafficking and aims to “form a national alliance of credited safehouses” as a lifeline for women to removed themselves from these situations. Rep. Meehan and Ingram-Weidemann have collaborated on a bill that would require spas to report allegations of sexual assault to the police. —MK

Women Suing Over Vaginal Mesh Complications Say Doctors Didn’t Inform Them of Risks

Many women are taking a stand against a controversial health issue that is causing some serious damage. Though many doctors have claimed that vaginal mesh devices are harmless and easy procedures, women who have had the surgery are experiencing side effects that are anything but harmless. Vaginal mesh is a net-like implant often used to treat incontinence and prolapse, which are common results of pregnancy. After the results of the operation left some women permanently harmed and maimed, one woman set up a support page on Facebook called “Sling the Mesh.” 

Karen Sansom realized that there are many women who are told that the vaginal mesh procedure is low-risk; now many are suing after experiencing harmful side effects they were never informed of. Sansom said that after her vaginal mesh procedure, she knew something was seriously wrong when she had intense foot and leg pain along with burning pains in the vaginal area. When she went to see her surgeon, he dismissed her concerns and told that it was probably due to a slipped disk. According to her article, Sansom writes, “The NHS and MHRA say the risk of complications with these operations is one to three percent but a report in the journal Nature by nine leading medics puts that risk at 15 percent.” She is now suing over the complications she says she was never informed of. Other women have experienced leg amputation, removal of bowels and bladder, and constant burning infections as a result of the operation.

As with other areas of women’s health where patients say doctors gloss over the risks, as Dr. John Littell has written for Verily on the topics of prescribed birth control and miscarriage prevention, this is a topic that needs urgent attention. —Katie Faley

‘13 Reasons Why’ Receives Scrutiny

The much-anticipated Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based on the novel by the same name by Jay Asher, has been met with intense scrutiny and controversy since its release. The show produced in part by Selena Gomez focuses on a fictional high schooler, Hannah Baker, who ends her life after being bullied at school and raped. She leaves behind cassette tapes explaining to the people at school why she took her life. 

Controversy surrounding the show started almost immediately. One particularly poignant response was from mother and psychotherapist Brooke Fox, LCSW, who wrote about the serious consequences of the show, especially for a young audience. She was especially disturbed by the very graphic suicide scene, “I am not for censorship...But this scene was, plain and simple, a tutorial on how to complete the act of ending your life. It was graphic, It was bloody, and it was unnecessary.” Overall, she says, the series goes against the best practices for addressing suicide. The overall unintended consequences of the show are more harmful than good. Fox’s commentary is certainly worth a read for anyone interested in the show. —KF

Haim Releases New Song “Right Now”

The singer-songwriter sister trio known as Haim this week released a single after four years since their album Days Are Gone. “Right Now,” Variety reports, comes not a moment too soon. With it, Danielle, Alana, and Este Haim offer a taste of their next much-anticipated album Something to Tell You, with lovelorn vocals and drumbeats echoing sounds we’ve come to love. The song is released alongside a music video shot live in studio by director Paul Thomas Anderson in one take. Not long ago for Verily, Noah Deutsch recommended Haim as a band to listen to if you love Florence and the Machine. Now we’re one song richer in that regard. Just try not to listen to it on repeat this weekend. —MRS