TED Blog

J.J. Abrams’ talk has perhaps the best title of all time: “The mystery box.” In it, the Star Trek director and Lost co-creator reveals how, years ago, he purchased a box at a magic shop that promised $50 of magic for $15. Only, he has never had the heart to open it because “it represents infinite potential.” In his fast-paced talk, Abrams reflects on how mystery boxes are an essential part of on-screen narratives, and how withholding information can be far more engaging than giving it away.

So, would you have refrained from opening the box for as many years as Abrams did? Abrams and his production company Bad Robot teamed up with magic enthusiasts Theory 11 to create a real-life Mystery Lockbox to test your willpower. The medium-sized wooden box has a hinged top and a question-mark branded on its lid. Inside, are 12 decks of Mystery…

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