I'll vote for anything that gets people thinking about science rather than Big Brother or Russell Grant's Guide To Astrology And Your Colon. Ladbrokes is now running a book on scientific discoveries, with the favourite being "Cosmic ray origins determined" at a mere 4/1. Gravity waves are next at 6/1 -- the bookies originally had these at 500/1, which was far too good a bargain for physicists -- with the outsider being life on Saturn's moon Titan. Plonk a quid on that and should Cassini photograph them waving back you'll collect ten grand.
I feel this system can usefully be extended to other realms. For example, Longhorn appearing before 2007? I'll give starting odds of 3/1 on it turning up without its filing system and 10/1 with. Video iPod before Christmas? 2/1. Ben Verwaayen, BT CEO, starts up blog and posts picture of cat? I won't take your money.
It might seem like just a bit of fun -- although not having seen the cat I can't be sure -- but as the US Department of Homeland Security realised, give people the chance to make money and they'll start to use information they wouldn't normally divulge. Betting, especially anonymous betting, is a good way to collate informed guesses: it might be bad taste to do this for terrorism, but I reckon we can get away with it in IT.
Not being a gambling man myself -- I tried it once, and someone took all my money away -- I'm unsure of nomenclature and the finer details of spreads, ticks, super tricasts and trixies. However, Scoop Wearden is the owner of a very fine virtual trilby and is skilled in the way of the wager: he'll be up for it, I'm sure.
And of course, the bookie never loses. In fact, I can see a way to get two bites at the cherry -- one by sticking it to the punters, and one by taking our results and turning them into research reports. Given the hit rates of many fine, well-heeled analysts, I reckon numbers gleaned from the betting shop floor will have a very good chance of proving impressively accurate. Anyone give me five to one on that?