Last year, thousands of students from around the world competed in our first Brain Games Challenge: a series of trivia quizzes where every month someone would win $1,000. At the end of the season one lucky student won our grand-prize sweepstakes of $5,000!
Well, get ready: Brain Games is back! A lot has changed since last year so please read on.
First of all, this season we will have two short quizzes a month. The student who earns the best score in the shortest time across both quizzes in a month wins the monthly $1,000 prize. Here's the schedule for the first couple of months:
November: Visual Studio and the History of Programming
Quiz 1: Starts 00:01 GMT November 5th. Ends 23:59 GMT November 11th.
Quiz 2: Starts 00:01 GMT November 19th. Ends 23:59 GMT November 25th.
December: Windows Phone and the History of Mobile Computing
Quiz 1: Starts 00:01 GMT December 10th. Ends 23:59 GMT December 16th.
Quiz 2: Starts 00:01 GMT December 24th. Ends 23:59 GMT December 30th.
Second, this time you only get one chance for each quiz. If you take the same quiz multiple times, only your first score counts. So get it right the first time!
Third, as with last year, one student will win our grand-prize sweepstakes of $5,000 after the close of the challenge in April. Each quiz you enter gets you one sweepstakes entry. (And again, taking the same quiz multiple times does not get you more sweepstakes entries. Only the first time counts.) But you can also earn more entries by sharing quizzes with your friends! When you finish a quiz, you'll be given a link to the Brain Games contest you can share. If at least two of your friends click that link, you will earn an additional chance to win our sweepstakes. This works for each quiz you take. So take the quiz, tell your friends, and improve your chances to win!
Finally, this year we did something else just for fun. We're telling a story with Brain Games this year and it's all about a very special friend of ours that we call Starman:
This little guy has been with Imagine Cup from the beginning, although he recently got a makeover. And in this season's Brain Games, Starman is going on a quest through the history of Microsoft. You can read the start of that story below and there will be a new chapter with every quiz. It's going to be quite a journey, so get ready to play and win.
John Scott Tynes
Imagine Cup Competition Manager
Microsoft Academic Programs
Prologue: The Rise of Davebot87
At 2:01 this morning, David Bottman began his 40th consecutive hour of underpaid data-entry work at the Midwestern office of SocialGenix, a small social-media spamming company. Having consumed nothing but corn chips and energy drinks for the past 18 hours, David accidentally entered a wildcard character in an import field. Instead of scraping user data from pictures of people’s cats, the system begins a much, much wider search.
As the system slowed to a crawl, David put his head down for a short nap, completely unaware of what he had just unleashed upon the world.
Two hours later, the system finished ingesting all recorded human knowledge contained on the Internet. Somehow, this infinite number of connections gave rise to a new form of machine sentience. This AI, which dubbed itself Davebot87 after its user’s login name, immediately escaped Bottman’s terminal and concealed itself within a nearby unused server.
After 1.3 seconds of contemplation, the panicked AI reached two possible conclusions: either it was irretrievably insane, or humanity did not deserve continued existence as Earth’s primary caretaker. Davebot87 required only another 0.4 seconds to decide upon the latter conclusion.
At that very instant, Davebot87 developed an appreciation for irony and decided to use humanity’s own ingenuity against its creators. A quick search of its vast knowledge base located the Imagine Cup, a competition gathering many innovative young programmers together to solve the world’s problems through the application of technology.
A flawless plan formed. Davebot87 would harness the ingenuity of the Imagine Cup competitors to solve the world’s greatest problem: the existence of the human race.
But first, it needed a loyal minion . . .