Dang! That Took Much Longer Than I Thought It Would!

Warning: Humblebrag ahead…

I saw in my inbox that today was the tenth anniversary of the first TED-Ed video.

If you’re not familiar with TED-Ed, here is a short blurb from its website:

TED-Ed is TED’s youth and education initiative. TED-Ed’s mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world. Everything we do supports learning — from producing a growing library of original animated videos, to providing an international platform for teachers to create their own interactive lessons, to helping curious students around the globe bring TED to their schools and gain presentation literacy skills, to celebrating innovative leadership within TED-Ed’s global network of over 650,000 teachers. 

And here is part of what the email had to say:

When we published our first batch of videos on March 12, 2012, we didn’t know what TED-Ed’s future might hold. Now, we’re looking back on a decade of curiosity, asking and exploring answers to life’s big questions, and meeting one of the most inquisitive and supportive communities on the internet – that’s you! 1,400 videos and 3 billion views later, you’ve spent a whopping 166 million hours— equal to 52 years— learning on our YouTube channel alone.

As part of the 10-year celebration, TED-Ed selected ten of its most-viewed videos— one published in each year that they’ve been around.

I scrolled through each one, and this one caught my fancy; it was a brain teaser: The basic premise is as follows:

In this version, you and nine other humans have been abducted by aliens. The aliens would like to eat you all, but not if you can prove your intelligence. So they propose a test.

The aliens line you up, placing you in order of height (tallest in the back, shortest in front), and place black or white hats on each of you. You must face forward, and you mustn’t look at your own hat. Starting with the person in the back, each person must say a single word: “black” or “white” to guess the color of the hat on his or her own head, despite not being able to see it. If nine of you get it right, you live. If you don’t, you’re lunch. The good news? You get to talk it through as a group first.

Here is the animated video that TED-Ed created to go with the riddle. The first part of the video (about 95 seconds), describes the problem. The next three minutes or so describes the solution.

If you watch the video, you will notice that the aliens give the prisoners five minutes to discuss a strategy.

I told myself I’d give myself 15 minutes, and if I couldn’t figure it out by then, I’d watch the solution.

Well, 15 minutes went by; no solution. So I tell myself, 15 more minutes.

Now I’m 30 minutes in, and still no solution.

Now I’m committed.

The next thing I know, an hour has gone by, and I feel like I’m no lo closer to the solution than I was when I started.

I realized I was experiencing the classic definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

But I couldn’t let it go.

Finally, after about 90 minutes I finally figured it out. (like I said, there would be some humblebragging)

Unfortunately, I went well past the five minutes that the aliens had given me, so they would have destroyed me and had me for dinner long before I figured it out.

The solution, if you watch the video, or figure it out yourself, is relatively simple, as I thought it would be.

If you are interested in seeing what the other top videos were from the first ten years of TED-Ed, here is the link.

*image from Metro UK


61 thoughts on “Dang! That Took Much Longer Than I Thought It Would!

  1. I can be stubborn about some things, but I would have caved much sooner if I couldn’t come up with the answer on this one. When working on a complex Sudoku puzzle, I can stick with those for a long time without peeking at the solution. It’s interesting how the need to solve some puzzles becomes almost obsessive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. like Pete, I’m all in with puzzles, sudoku and crosswords and jigsaws, and refuse to give up, but logic puzzles have always been the bane of my existence, so I would be dead quite early in the process.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. we each have our things that we like to challenge ourselves with and this is one of mine for some reason. I even finish them when a cat hides a piece or two.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I would have capitulated on two facts. One, we humans are not smart enough not to eat. And two, if prepared correctly, we are twice as delicious as the aliens had hoped. Then I would explain to my captors how I am a world-renown chef specializing in the preparation and cooking of my fellow humans and offer my services in exchange for remaining alive. Now, which of you wants marinated first?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohhh! I used to love TED’s riddle and puzzle videos! They were pretty fun, and always made me feel like a genius whenever (if ever) I figured it out. I remember solving this one overtime too😅
    Definitely try out the other ones they hVe

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are a ‘stick to it’, Jim. Way to go! I absolutely love TED talks, yet none of my favorites made the list. I guess that shows how good the talks are.

    Liked by 1 person

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