The past seven days have seen some serious action on PPX. First, the three "Labor Day stocks," TRANSF, HIGAS and SUBPC, all closed at POP$0. Then on September 5, Apple announced the iPod Touch, which signaled a payout of POP$100 for the NEWIPOD stock.
Today, an unexpected announcement by the National Snow and Ice Data Center prompted the close of NOICE, with a payout of POP$100. The proposition stated that the stock would pay out if Arctic ice levels dropped to a level below 4.25 million square kilometers before October 15, and according to a new study by the NSIDC, the ice level has now dropped to an unprecedented 4.24 million square kilometers.
The striking thing about this payout is that the stock was trading at only $46.75 at the time of close— meaning that the market believed there was only a 46.75 percent chance that Arctic ice would drop to this new low by October. Thus far, every stock that has closed on PPX has carried a price that reflects an accurate prediction on the part of the market. So what was different about NOICE? Did the politically-charged issue of global warming play into the way traders bought and shorted this stock? Were we all unpleasantly surprised by how rapidly Arctic ice is actually melting? The upshot is that today's news was a rude awakening not only for environmentalists and the scientists working to slow down global warming, but also for all the PPX traders who lost POP$ by shorting this stock. —Megan Miller
With Appple's announcement today of the new iPod Touch—just as we and many others suspected, an "iPhone without the phone"—the conditions of the NEWIPOD prop on PPX have officially been met. The stock was halted shortly after the announcement at POP$81.00, meaning the market had the probability of the announcement coming before the end of this month at 81%—not too shabby. NEWIPOD will begin to pay out at POP$100 per share immediately.
It's interesting, the picture of Apple painted by NEWIPOD and another proposition that closed recently, SUBPC—which proposed a new Apple sub-portable computer before Labor Day (which obviously didn't happen). Clearly, Apple has shifted a huge amount of their engineering resources to their consumer electronics division, focusing on what has become their specialty in the 21st century: slick, beautifully designed consumer gadgets that are a joy to use no matter what kind of computer you have on your desk at home. So while die-hard Apple users may be clamoring for a compact, UMPC-like Mac, their numbers pale in comparison to the number of folks currently carrying an iPod (and drooling over today's upgraded versions).
When one thinks of a typical Apple user these days, it's not the basement-dwelling, beard-wearing, PC-hating zealot that we all have come to know, love and appreciate. No, the typical Apple product user today is, well, pretty much anyone. Much to Apple's delight, purchasing and using their products no longer feels like being a member of your high school's A/V club—now, it's like being one of the cool (and well-off) kids. Ah, how things change. —John Mahoney
Three PPX propositions had an end date over the holiday weekend, and none of their criteria were met—all were delisted at POP$0:
TRANSF: This prop's bargain basement price (rarely did it top POP$1 in the last few weeks) was an indication that it was doomed to fail. Both Spiderman 3 and Shrek the Third has larger U.S. grosses this summer.
HIGAS: At the beginning of the summer, it seemed like we were headed toward this prop's projected $3.50 mark for an average gallon of gas in the U.S. But since its peak at $3.18 in mid-May, abundant supplies of crude oil have kept prices down. The latest Lundberg survey, on August 24, put the average at $2.75 per gallon. HIGAS was halted with a value of POP$33.50, indicating some held on to the bitter end.
SUBPC: Apple's focus on the iPhone apparently left little time for developing a rumored ultra-mobile sub-notebook. The prop was halted at POP$25.75. The rumor mills are blazing with news of a touchscreen iPod, though. Will it happen?
A number of propositions (SUBPC, HIGAS and TRANSF) have end dates this holiday weekend. Trading will halt on the specific date mentioned within each prop, and payouts will be processed on Tuesday, September 4th. Enjoy the weekend!
There have been some lively discussions in the forums lately regarding the details of the PPX antimanipulation regulations. Today we amended the rules with some clear language about these issues.
PPX was created to gather information about the PopSci audience's opinions on the likelihood that given science and technology predictions will come to pass. To maintain the integrity of that information, and to keep the game fun for the thousands of people who have become PPX members, we've tightened up the rules to put the emphasis on individual, human decision-making. Operating two or more accounts in conjunction is not allowed; nor is using a script to log in and/or make trades for you. Please read the revised rules, in the About section of the site. Questions? Contact email@example.com, or ask Yog-Sothroth in the forums. —PPX Admin
You may have noticed that, as of Friday, there are a few new additions to the rules in the About section of PPX. We posted to the forums about the rules change, but we wanted to post here as well, to make sure all users are aware of the new policies.
PPX was established for two purposes: 1) to let PopSci readers and other interested players actively participate in making predictions about the future of science and technology and 2) to generate the most accurate data possible about these predictions. We hoped to accomplish these two goals without imposing too many rules and restrictions on the market, but weve observed trading behaviors that make it clear that a more explicit anti-manipulation policy is necessary for maintaining a fair and fun environment for all PPX members.Please read the About page for a summary of the revised rules. These rules are now being actively enforced. Thanks for your patience as we continue to grow and develop PPX. --The PPX Staff
Today is a special day for PPX—our first proposition has reached its endpoint. As screenshots, binaries and source code for the iPhone's "hello world" application surfaced late Sunday, the necessary verifications was there to finally confirm that the iPhone Dev team has indeed succeeded in running a simple third-party application. Trading is currently suspended on IPHACK, and pending final approval, the stock will officially delist sometime in the next 24-48 hours. Holders of IPHACK rejoice—you just made some money (POP$100 per share, to be exact). For the record, PPX called it from the beginning: the price reached POP$80 (80% probability) less than a week after the iPhone's release and didn't look back.
As you can see, the application doesn't do too much yet (other than display a greeting to "netkas," one of the hackers responsible - see more on his blog), but "hello world" is the necessary first step for any programming platform to grow. The door is open—now it's only a matter of time until more full-featured apps start to pop up.
The interesting question now is how will Apple respond? Will they attempt to plug the hole via a software update? Fully embrace the move and release an official software development kit for programmers? Or simply ignore it? My money, for now, is on the latter—with the iPod, anyway, Apple has been fairly tolerant, allowing the iPod Linux crew for instance to hack away in relative comfort. But the iPhone is a decidedly different beast, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Hmm, do I smell PPX prop potential? —John Mahoney
Just finished a great article from today's New York Times science section on the race to find evidence of the Higgs Boson, or "God particle" as it is often called. PPX players will want to take note—it's mandatory reading if you're following our BOSON proposition (check it out here for the current market price) which seeks to predict who will win the race to find the elusive particle.
In (incredibly) simplified terms, some physicists believe the Higgs boson is the key to understanding several mysteries of the universe's formation that current theoretical models have failed to define—namely, the origin of matter. Heavy stuff, for sure, requiring some equally heavy machinery to study—the likes of which can only be found at the world's top physics labs such as Fermilab in Illinois and CERN's Large Hadron Collider, a powerful particle accelerator currently under construction at CERN's laboratory facilities near Geneva, Switzerland (check out more amazing VR photos like the one at the top of this post).
The article also does a great job in illustrating just how competitive these physicists can get, and the role of their personal blogs, where rumors of findings are posted, re-posted and commented on—taking data previously familiar to only a few dozen hardcore particle physicists in a laboratory lunch room and hurling it into whirlwind of science blogs accessibly to anyone, scientist or not. The article points to Cosmic Variance, a blog maintained by several leading physicists that lives in many a PopSci staffer's favorites list, as well as countless others. Check them out for some delightfully geeky gossip. Oh, and watch that PPX prop! —John Mahoney
NYTimes: "At Fermilab, the Race Is on For the God Particle"PPX: BOSON
The race to hack the iPhone was taken up a notch today by the folks at the iPhone Dev Wiki (Google it, they still don't want links in to avoid crashing their servers), as one of the team's most dedicated members claims to have written, compiled and ran a "hello world" application—geek-speak for a test program that simply displays the text "hello world"—on the iPhone. Patrick Walton (or "Nightwatch"), who appears to either be a student or professor at the University of Chicago, is being credited with the break-through.
Once a video surfaces and others and/or others are able to confirm the process, we'll know for sure. Good work PPX traders, you called it: the proposition has been valued at POP$80 or above since the iPhone's release, and it's currently trading at POP$91 and climbing. —John Mahoney
We're sorry to report that PPX is temporarily out-of-service due to a network-wide problem. Our technical team is working hard to rectify the issue. We estimate that it will be back online in an hour or two, and we apologize for the inconvenience! —The PopSci.com Team