WASHINGTON — They called it the Red Balloon Challenge. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, responsible for investing in next-generation technologies, recently paid researchers at MIT $40,000 to coordinate a social-media treasure hunt for 10 red balloons placed at various locations across the country. They succeeded, in eight hours, 52 minutes, and 41 seconds.
At Brown University, researchers received nearly $300,000 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to determine the color of the wings of the Archaeopteryx, a bird that lived 150 million years ago. They concluded “black, with 95 percent probability.”