The 'Spinning Beach Ball of Death' was a prank created by Improv Everywhere that turned a TED talk into a parade of rainbow colors.
What began as another speech about something broad such as 'Unexpected Discoveries' suddenly came to a halt when the overhead screen froze. Speaker Colin Roberston (aka Eugene Cordero) stood looking at the screen while Apple's spinning beach ball began to pop up all over the screen. Then planted members of the audience held up rainbow-colored umbrellas and began spinning them in the air. As the weirdness grew, men in business suits and multi-colored afro wigs came on to the stage and shot streamers into the audience. The whole performance was topped off with more people entering the stage who were dressed in morph-suits.
The TED audience certainly didn't see anything coming so what seemed like a Spinning Beach Ball of Death that was doomed to ruin a presentation turned out to be a hilarious prank.