$40K Awarded To The Best Social Networking Sleuths To Find Balloons

No, its not the return of Balloon Boy, nor a refrain from a 60s pop tune. Its a legitimate challenge to mark the the 40th anniversary of the Internet and it's open to all World Wide Webizens. Sponsored by DARPA, the competition requires participants to locate and 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 and thoroughfares, and competitors can follow these instructions to commence the necessary detective work required to win the DARPA Network Challenge:

   1. Register on this web site after November 23.
   2. Find other people interested in helping you solve the DARPA Network Challenge. (to date,
       more than 300 teams have formed.) 
   3. Starting December 5, submit locations (longitude & latitude) to the web site immediately
       after you find them.      
   4. For updates, follow DARPA News on Twitter.
  (Note:  Certain members of the Heene Family may not be eligible.)Richard and Falcon HeeneRichard and Falcon Heene

A $40,000 cash prize will be awarded to the first entrant or team to submit the latitude and longitude of all ten balloons. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Director Regina Dugan is seen here speaking at UCLA's 40th Anniversary of the Internet celebration explaining the challenge.

The goal is to learn more about behavior in social networks and how large computer-connected teams can use their resources and connections to compete. Forty years ago, the first Internet message was sent from the UCLA School of Engineering to the Stanford Research Institute.  To have accomplished this same challenge back then without social networks, GPS, location-based social networks and the Internet would have taken folks an extensive period of time.

In today's digerati savvy landscape, it will be interesting to see how long it will take the winner(s) to locate all ten balloons. Take our "How long will it take to find 10 Balloons POLL" and let us know how much time is required to become the DARPA Balloon Master. Also if you have already formed a team, please post the name of your team and URL(if you have one) in the comment section below.

December 6 update: A team led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spread the wealth far and wide to locate 10 red balloons in undisclosed locations across the country on Saturday to win the $40,000 cash prize from the Pentagon's think tank.