Chasing the Customer … Find Them If You Can!!

How would you solve this problem?


  1. There are 3.794 million square miles in the United States.
  2. You must find 10, 8′ red weather balloons (fully inflated) that have been hidden (placed), but in plain site, at various and random points in the U.S.
  3. You may start looking for them on the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the internet.
  4. A prize of $40,000.00 will be awarded to the winner.
  5. First to find all 10 will be declared the winner.
  6. There are no other instructions, hints, clues or rules available to the participants.

redballoon 2

Guess the Winning Time


How long did it  take the winning team, MIT Red Balloon Challenge team, to provide the sponsor with the latitude and longitude location of all 10 balloons.




9 Hours

Weather balloon challenge map


Map above shows the 10 balloon locations


How Did The MIT Team

Find The Balloons?

It’s all about, apparently, human behavior and decision theory. If you assemble a human dynamics team that has an understanding of:  computer power

  1. The behavioral and social sciences …
  2. Game theory …
  3.  Big data …
  4. ‘Connected’ people
  5. The concept of 6 degrees of separation … and
  6. Computer science/technology … then


you solve an apparently unsolvable problem in — 9 hours.

A human dynamics team, using new tools and techniques can take hard problems and make them easy while impossible problems are made to appear trivial.

If you are in retailing, consumer products, marketing, government or just an ordinary citizen, think a minute about the implications of the balloon hunt experiment.

Most of our marketing, advertising, and sales theory and practices are about to change as we enter the world of zetabyte data research.



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