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Can you solve the alien probe riddle? - Dan Finkel

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  • 1,972 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

Your team has developed a probe to study an alien monolith. It needs protective coatings — in red, purple and green — to cope with the environments it passes through. Can you figure out how to apply the colors so the probe survives the trip? Dan Finkel shows how.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Daniel Finkel
  • Animator Anton Trofimov
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
Additional Resources for you to Explore

A larger 4 by 4 by 4 probe were assembled from 64 smaller cubes. If you needed to paint this in 4 different colors instead of 3, could it be done?

To solve this, you’ll want to think about the solution for the 3-color cube. Paint the entire thing red, then look at how many cubes have 0, 1, 2, or 3 faces painted. Then think of how you could use symmetry to paint the other three colors in as well. Note: the 4-color version of this problem CAN be solved!

Looking for more math games? Check out the educator’s website.

Avatar for MaKayla Cartwright
09/25/2018 • 
 2 Responses
 / 2 Updates
Avatar for Tomy VG
Tomy VG
Rubik's cube is a three-dimensional mechanical puzzle invented by the Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Erno Rubik in 1974. Originally called "magic cube", the puzzle was licensed by Rubik to be sold by Ideal Toy Company in 1980, 5 years in which he won the German prize for Best Game of the Year in the category of best puzzles. Up to January 2009, 350 million cubes have been sold worldwide, making it not only the best-selling puzzle, but it is considered, in general, the best-selling toy in the world
10/07/2018 • 
 1 Response
 / 1 Updates
Avatar for Sunme Kim
One day the probe is traveling through an electric storm. No matter how protective the green cubes were, it was still struck down. Although the cover protected it, the probe could not fly through the weather. it met some aliens and the screen went blank. What do you do??
11/22/2018 • 
 2 Responses
 / 2 Updates

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Daniel Finkel
  • Animator Anton Trofimov
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott