For those of you who’ve missed it, it’s been 40 years since DARPA (then called “ARPA” – the Advanced Research Projects Agency) networked together the first 4 computers in what has since become the internet*. To celebrate, they’ve announced a contest, which I imagine vaguely reminiscent of this.
Tomorrow, they’re going to launch 10 balloons across the US, and the individual or team to locate the greatest number of them (to within 1 mile) wins $40,000. As they put it:
The challenge is to be the first to submit the locations of 10 moored, 8-foot, red, weather balloons at 10 fixed locations in the continental United States. The balloons will be in readily accessible locations and visible from nearby roads.
I love this because it’s such a simple experiment: who can figure out a way to network information most effectively? The balloons clearly aren’t going to be launched in such a way that Gertrude Smith of Poughkipsee will just happen to look out her window and see all 10. Quite frankly, I’d be hard pressed to figure out how (apart from blind luck) to go about organizing an optimal team.
Do you think you know how to do it? Then you’re in luck! Registration is still open, though at the moment you’ll be competing against 2,730 other worthies.
* For god’s sake, don’t make any Al Gore jokes here. The man never said he invented the internet, okay. Not once. So stop it.