This contest from DARPA caught my eye because it involves weather balloons, the Internet, and social networking. WUWT is poised to help due to our reach, and because we have lots of keen eyed surfacestations.org volunteers with GPS and cameras.
This prize would be enough money to put a full page ad about climate in a major media outlet. Or, all balloon locators could equally split the winnings with me as facilitator. All you have to do is locate the weather balloons and get the lat/lon to me. The idea of this contest is to use social networking to locate them and win. Once the balloons are launched on December 5th, we have 9 days to find them. I think there’s a good chance WUWT readers can pull this off pretty quickly.
The way to do this (without tipping off competitors) is to post a notice in comments, saying you have a located one, and leave an email address where you can be contacted.
If WUWT readers think this is a good idea, I’ll register the website and we’ll give it a go. I also welcome strategies. My only question (which doesn’t seem to be delineated in the announcement) is how is DARPA going to label real balloons from regular red ones commonly available and used for promotions? I’ve sent them a query.
Here are the details:
From the rules:
The challenge is to locate ten moored red weather balloons located at ten fixed locations in the continental United States. Balloons will be in readily accessible locations, visible from nearby roadways and accompanied by DARPA representatives. All balloons are scheduled to go on display at all locations at 10:00AM (ET) until approximately 4:00 PM (local time) on Saturday, December 5, 2009. Should weather or technical difficulties arise with the launch, the display will be delayed until Sunday, December 6 or later, depending on conditions. If, for any reason, the balloon is displayed in one location then moved to a second location, either location will be accepted. Entrants are required to register and submit entries on the event website. Latitudes and longitudes are entered in degree-minute-second (DDD-MM-SS) format as explained on the website Coordinates must be entered with an error of less than one arc-minute to be accepted. In the event that one or more balloons is never displayed, this fact will be noted on the event website and the rules adjusted accordingly.
DARPA ANNOUNCES NEW CHALLENGE COMPETITION
The DARPA Network Challenge Will Explore How Broad-Scope Problems Can Be Solved Using Internet-based Technologies.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) today announced the DARPA Network Challenge to mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet. The competition requires participants to discover the exact position of 10 large, red weather balloons that DARPA will place in undisclosed locations across the continental United States. The first person to identify the location of all the balloons will win a $40,000 cash prize. The balloons will be positioned on December 5, 2009.
“It is fitting for DARPA to announce this competition on the anniversary of the day that the first message was sent over the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet,” said Dr. Regina E. Dugan, who made the announcement at a conference celebrating the anniversary. “In the 40 years since this breakthrough, the Internet has become an integral part of society and the global economy. The DARPA Network Challenge explores the unprecedented ability of the Internet to bring people together to solve tough problems.”
The DARPA Network Challenge is open to individuals of all ages, reflecting DARPA’s interest in attracting students to pursue careers in the areas of science and technology, including emerging specialties in the social sciences. Open to participants worldwide, the Challenge enables collaboration across borders, mobilizing individuals and groups to address difficult problems aided by the Internet.
This is the latest example of DARPA’s interest in reaching nontraditional sources of ideas and talent. The Grand Challenge competitions were started in 2004 to foster the development of autonomous robotic vehicle technology for use on the battlefield. The competition model for stimulating technological development enabled significant strides that will someday keep our men and women in uniform out of harm’s way.
“The DARPA Network Challenge taps into the same fresh thinking that made the earlier competitions a success,” said Dr. Norman Whitaker, who led DARPA’s most recent Challenge. “Future innovation depends on the upcoming generation of technologists who are discovering new, collaborative ways to approach problems that were not dreamt of 40 years ago.”
The 10 balloons will be placed in publicly accessible locations in the continental United States and will be on display for one day (December 5th) during daylight hours. The first participant to identify the latitude and longitude of all 10 balloons will receive the cash prize.
Event details can be found at www.darpa.mil/networkchallenge and updates on Twitter.com/DARPA_News.