If you like ancient history and puzzles, then you might want to try the Vesuvius Challenge. All you need to do to complete it is to decipher an ancient scroll that was fused together during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Once done, you will be entitled to $1 million in cash. Sounds simple? Well, far from it.
Vesuvius Challenge was devised by Nat Friedman, former CEO of GitHub, and a team of scientists in an attempt to uncover the secrets of scrolls found in the library of the ancient town of Herculaneum. After Mount Vesuvius erupted, the scrolls were carbonized by the heat from the volcano debris and now look like a piece of coal.
Opening the scrolls would destroy them, but thanks to advanced technology, their content can be potentially read without this step. The scientists behind the project have already “virtually unrolled” the scrolls and made the scans available to the public. The hope is now that someone can now use Artificial Intelligence to find out what’s written in them.
The team or an individual that manages to read the scroll by December 31st, 2023, will get a grand prize of $700,000. An additional $300,000 is up for grabs for completing other tasks related to the challenge.
“The purpose of progress prizes is to encourage contestants to solve important subproblems and release their work,” Vesuvius Challenge’s website states. “We also hope that they attract more participants who are interested in starting with a narrower task and then go on to try to win the Grand Prize.”