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Ideas Worth Spreading

TED is, in effect, a convention of speakers from various walks of life, generally predisposed towards science, arts, and humanities. Run by a small non-profit group, it attracts many of the biggest names in three industries: Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Biyearly conferences occur in various locales, including Oxford, Tanzania, and Mysore, attracting presenters from all over the world - though the central, annual convention is still held in Long Beach, California. Each 'talk' runs a variable amount of time, from five minutes to almost an hour, and the most well-received presentations are provided for free viewing online, under the Creative Commons license.

Talks generally range from the arts to the social sciences, from new methods of interactive design to discourse on education systems. The tone of the presentations oftentimes ranges towards the irreverent, humor and jokes interspersed throughout.


The organization also hosts a charity, the "TED Prize", a $100,000 USD grant and assistance provided yearly to three individuals who wish 'to change the world' in a tangible, worthwhile manner. Every year, after months of preparation, these three individuals release their idea publicly, at the central talks in Long Beach.

TED's website can be found here, but be warned: while worth watching, the videos contained can quickly lead to an Archive Binge.

Not to be confused with the 2012 film.


This website provides examples of:

  • Atlantis: Mentioned in the Sea Monster riddle as a floating city that failed to pay proper tithe to the sea monsters that are now threatening Atlantartica, the floating city the protagonist rules.
  • Baleful Polymorph: In the crystal riddle, the apprentices are in danger of transforming into uncontrollable elemental spirits because they swallowed the elemental crystals.
  • Blatant Burglar: The Phantom Thief in the egg drop riddle enters the museum she plans to rob clad in a balaclava.
  • Bungling Inventor: Slate Kanoli, the protagonist's uncle in the Death Race riddle (and a Distressed Dude), is an inventor whose inventions include a snow speedo, a portable cloud, and the Coil Runner, a vehicle where messing with the emergency turbo thrusters can cause any of three catastrophic failures.
  • Butt-Monkey: The protagonist of the Dragon Jousting and Fantasy Election riddles keeps getting into situations where he has to deduce true information based on falsehoods, or else be executed.
  • Captain Colorbeard: One riddle has you trying to find where the pirate Captain Greenbeard buried his treasure.
  • Captain Ersatz: Occasionally worked into the settings of the riddles.
    • The protagonist of the World's Most Evil Wizard riddle is a female Harry Potter who has to survive against the evil wizard Moldevort.
    • Harry Potter is again referenced in the Sorting Hat Riddle, where the protagonist is in the Sorting Ceremony at Magnificent Marigold's Magical Macademy.
    • The Monster Duel riddle takes place at a Diskymon tournament.
  • Crash-Into Hello: On their TED Ed youtube channel, the How to Speed Up Chemical Reactions (And Get a Date) video invokes this trope to illustrate chemical collisions (with parallels between particular orientation and amount of energy in the collisions).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The manager in the prisoner boxes riddle is angry that the band members keep misplacing their instruments... so he kidnaps them and forces them to solve a riddle under threat to drop the contract if they fail.
  • Eat the Evidence: In the Crystal riddle, the apprentices, having tripped the alarm while stealing the elemental crystals, decide to swallow the crystals. Unfortunately, the crystals could turn them into elemental spirits if they are not decontaminated immediately.
  • Edutainment Show: The talks themselves are definitely meant to educate the audience on whatever topic they cover. That doesn't stop some speakers from injecting humor into their talks.
  • The Emperor: The counterfeit coin riddle features an emperor who jails the protagonist just for speaking out against his taxation policies.
  • Empty Quiver: The Rogue Submarine riddle features the protagonist trying to resolve an Empty Quiver scenario by hacking into the titular sub's computers and inputting the correct code to abort the missile launch.
  • La Résistance: The protagonists of the passcode riddle are a trio of resistance fighters in a dystopian future.
  • Meaningful Name: Each of the four apprentices in the crystal riddle have a name corresponding to the elemental crystal they ate, which serves as an alternate way to solve the riddle:
    • Rikku = Riku(陸), Japanese for 'Land' or 'Continent' ('Earth')
    • Sumi = Sum(숨), Korean for 'Breath' ('Air')
    • Bella = Latin for war ('Fire')
    • Jonah = From Jonah and the Whale. Jonah was swallowed by a whale, a fish of the sea. ('Water')
  • No Honor Among Thieves: In the pirate riddle, while all the pirates will follow the pirate code to the letter, their goal is always to get the most gold possible for themselves, and if they think that following a certain plan won't give them more profit than the other alternative, they will vote for the planner to walk the plank.
  • Phantom Thief: The protagonist of the egg drop riddle is “the world’s most notorious jewel thief” who spends the riddle using a logical deduction to decide which of the eggs featured in a 100-story egg museum she should steal.
  • Stock Puzzle: The Ted-Ed riddles series uses several of these as the basis of its riddles.
    • Fox-Chicken-Grain Puzzle: The 4 persons crossing a bridge variant is used in one riddle, where you and your three coworkers must escape a remote lab before zombies get you. The Cannibals and Missionaries variant is used in another riddle, where three lions and three wildebeest must escape a brushfire while making sure the lions never outnumber the wildebeest at any time.
    • Game of Nim: You play a variant of this game against the rogue AI Nim, where you start on top of 25 meters of electrified water, Nim starts at the bottom, both players must lower the water level to exactly 0 on their turn, and can only lower the water levels by 1, 3, or 4 levels.
    • Knights and Knaves: The Three Gods puzzle appears, with the player a crashed astronaut who must figure out the identities of three alien overlords, one of whom is always truthful, another is always false, and a third whose answers are random, using three yes-or-no questions. And to make matters worse, they don't know which of the words Ozo or Ulu means yes, and which means no.
    • Twelve Coins Puzzle: Shows up with the protagonist having to determine which coin amongst twelve is counterfeit- but, because the ruler is not at all patient, can only use the set of scales three times.
  • To Serve Man: The aliens in the prisoner hat riddle kidnap the humans specifically to eat them (though for some reason they avoid eating logical thinkers).
  • Villain Protagonist: The egg drop riddle stars a Phantom Thief who wants to steal a valuable egg from the egg museum.
  • You Can't Make an Omelette...: The egg drop riddle ends with the narrator saying “Like the old saying goes, you can’t pull off a heist without breaking a few eggs.”

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