Weird Science: Gov Balloon Hunt Tests Use Of Facebook, Twitter

Guest Columnist

All you were told was that there were ten red balloons flying in different locations in the United States.  There was a $40,000 government reward for the first person to locate all of them.

So how long would it take you to find them—days, weeks, months?
Why is the Washington spending our tax dollars on this?

The first answer is 8 hours and 52 minutes.
More importantly it was not a waste of money. It might be one of the best bang for the buck expenditures in advanced thinking.
The experiment was organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the prize was won by a team of computer geeks from MIT.
The key was the use of social networking sites such as Tweeter and Facebook to see how quickly someone could organize strangers into a common effort. 
My first thought was this could be an online version of America’s Most Wanted with rewards.
My second thought was that DARPA might be one of coolest places to work.  Created fifty years ago, it offers prizes and funding for some of the most creative, cutting edge ideas. 
DARPA is at the corner of Science Boulevard and Science Fiction Avenue.  

How about smart bullets that self adjust to wind, rain etc., to seek a predetermined target? The idea came from a 1967 SciFi novel Logan’s Run.
How about a submersible aircraft like the one Admiral Harriman Nelson used on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea?
How about a precision-hopping robot to get over obstacles?
Think it’s all wasteful pie in the sky? 

Consider it was a DARPA project that first linked computers to develop the ARPANETrenamed the INTERNET!  [Sorry, Al Gore].
Just about every great advancement started out as a one in a million pie in the sky idea. 
Every large institution, in and out of government, that hopes to stay ahead of the curve should have a DARPA.

2 Responses to “Weird Science: Gov Balloon Hunt Tests Use Of Facebook, Twitter”

  1. joker says:

    LOL most of us have a LIFE, WHAT

  2. J. Parker says:

    Finally, an offering from Sam which does not bash the beliefs and the believers! Slow day, huh?