Welcome to Alchemania, the land of alchemists, where the various guilds and subguilds can turn just about anything into gold, silver, or bronze and then turn these metals into just about anything else. The apprentices often get into all kinds of mischief, but the masters try to divert their exuberance into projects that are, if not always useful, at least not dangerous and often quite a bit of fun. This year the Lighter-Than-Air Division of the Psychopneumatic Guild is collaborating with the Subliminal Propulsion League to sponsor a Blimp Derby. As always, the true objective of the masters is to find a way to use the excess metals produced during alchemical practice, and every bit that's transmuted to lift, propel, or steer the blimps will be turned into a non-polluting, gluten-free, dolphin-safe ether. We guarantee it.
So much excess metal is available that the Derby has been opened to anyone; simply use the form at the bottom of this page to describe your blimp, which will be powered by medals won during the 2016 Olympic Games. You choose which countries will supply gold, silver, or bronze; the crack contest team at Laughton.org does the rest! We'll construct your blimp and manage it for you, and if yours should travel the farthest on the combination of medals you've chosen, we'll even deliver a prize of memorably insignificant value.
How to Play
This is a fantasy sports competition, but with a twist. As in all contests at Laughton.org, instead of simply predicting winners, participants engage in a little mental prestidigitation by constructing an otherwise meaningless list to utilize an arbitrary and capricious scoring formula devised by the contest staff. Who wins any Olympic event is almost irrelevant; it's the distribution of medals that counts here.
What, you know nothing about the likely winners in Rio? No problem! Unlike other fantasy sports leagues in which familiarity with the athletes and events involved is an advantage, expertise in Olympic Games is of little use in this contest. As always, a little knowledge of mathematics and statistics can be a boon. The most important skill, of course, is an ability to predict the future. We hope you've been practicing!
Use the Official Entry Form to enter a blimp into the Derby. As the player entering the blimp in the competition, you will be designated its captain, and your first duty is to choose from which countries you want to collect medals and which kind of medal - gold, silver, or bronze - from each. As detailed below, you'll need all three kinds to propel your blimp. Once you've submitted your entry, the Laughton.org contest staff will do the rest: they'll update this page regularly with the latest scores and standings during the Olympic Games, and at the end they'll declare the winner and award a prize.
A Quick Guide to Alchemanian Blimponautics
Each blimp is powered by gold, silver, and bronze medals won by countries in the 2016 Olympics. Gold provides thrust, the primary source of forward motion. Silver provides lift, and while there's less resistance everywhere at higher altitudes, in Alchemania the magnitude of this effect is startling. Bronze provides spare parts, lubricants, tools, food, coins for the soda machine, and everything else necessary to satisfy the needs and cravings of the motley but hardworking crew. A happy crew is a fast crew!
The winner is the captain whose blimp travels the farthest distance during the course of the Olympic Games. The distance a blimp will cover during the competition is defined by this simple formula in which G = gold medals, S = silver medals, B = bronze medals, and D = distance in meters:
The captain of each blimp decides which 30 countries will supply medals to power his blimp and which kind of medal to collect from each country. Only the selected kind contributes to the blimp's propulsion. Thus if a captain chooses to collect gold from the USA, all gold medals won by the USA will add to his gold total, but any silver or bronze medals won by the USA will have no effect. The captain makes such a selection for each of 30 countries; the country and medal selections remain in effect for the entire competition and cannot be changed once the Games have started.
No country may appear twice on the same entry form. Duplicating a country selection will result in immediate disqualification. It won't necessarily result in immediate notification. We'll send you a rejection message when we're not too busy doing something else. You should probably just be really careful and avoid this mistake altogether.
In addition to choosing countries and medals, each captain will provide a prediction for the winning time of the men's marathon. In the event of a tie according to the scoring formula above, the winner will be the player whose prediction is closest to the actual time, regardless of whether the prediction is higher or lower than the winning time. In the highly improbable event that a tie remains after the tiebreaker is considered, the player whose entry was received earlier by Laughton.org will be the winner.
The time must be in hh:mm:ss form. To assist you in making your prediction, here are the winning times of recent men's Olympic marathons:
Use the Official Entry Form below to submit your entry no later than midnight (US Eastern Time) on August 2, 2016. No late entries will be accepted.
Your e-mail address will be the unique identifier for your entry. It will only be used to contact you to confirm acceptance of your entry, to notify you if your entry is rejected, or to contact you regarding prize delivery should you be so lucky. It will not appear anywhere on this website or be used for any other purpose. If you want to change your entry after submitting it, simply submit another using the same address; the new entry will overwrite the previous one as long as it is submitted before the deadline.
Only one entry per e-mail address will be accepted. If you have more than one address, you may submit an entry from each.
The Official Entry Form provides fields for 30 country names and a medal selection for each. For your convenience, the contest staff has already filled in the top 30 medal-winning countries from the 2012 Olympics. It's not a bad list of countries for this competition, and you may do well without changing it. However, if you've done some research and have come up with a better list of your own, you can easily change any country name by clicking on it and choosing a different one from the menu.
All countries are by default set to provide gold medals. Since a zero for silver or bronze will result in a score of zero (see scoring formula above), you will definitely want to change some of these values. Simply click on the button in the appropriate column to collect silver or bronze medals instead.
Only an address, a name for the blimp, country/medal selections, and a tiebreaker prediction are required to enter. However, the contest staff encourages contestants to provide some comments. Perhaps you'd like to describe the construction, purpose, or history of your blimp. Or maybe you have some observations on blimp racing in general you'd like to share. Tell us about your corporate sponsors, your crew, or some special preparations you've made to give you an edge in this competition. But don't ramble endlessly; at about the 200-word mark the contest staff tends to start cutting. Here are a few examples to inspire you:
||The Carlo Ponzi
|Recently unearthed in Sussex, England, this blimp was constructed by Piltdown Man from stone and animal hide over 500,000 years ago. Scientists disagree on whether it ever actually flew; some speculate that the builders were waiting for a volcanic eruption to provide the necessary gas. With the possibility of Britain breaking up as a result of the Brexit vote, the time may finally be near for this blimp to rise.
||The crew of this blimp has discovered a remarkable way to augment lift. Gas near the top of the envelope has already lifted the blimp as far as it can, so a series of pipes recirculates this gas back to the bottom where it once again can push the vessel upward with greatest force. Engineers are also experimenting with methods for the crew to climb on top of the blimp and pull it up by straps affixed to the envelope.
||In the upcoming film Fly Hard, this blimp is the site of an hours-long struggle between Bruce Willis and Liam Neeson. Bruce plays a policeman who needs to fly west to save his wife, while Liam plays a security agent who needs to fly east to save his daughter. The blimp weaves back and forth across the Atlantic as each briefly gains the upper hand. Rumors from Hollywood say there'll be car crashes, explosions, and shootouts galore, and eventually the blimp transforms into some kind of robot.
A roster of blimps with medal selections and captain's comments will be added to this page before the opening ceremonies begin in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. Scores and standings will be posted on this page and updated frequently during the Olympic competition. Only the final tally will count for winning prizes and acquiring the eternal bragging rights associated with victory in a contest at Laughton.org, but intermediate results may confer some fleeting opportunities for one-upmanship at your local watering hole.
As we advised you before the contest started, you are competing for glory, not merchandise.
However, there is always merchandise too at Laughton.org, so here are the prizes that will be awarded
to the top three finishers:
- First prize is a solar-powered light-up American flag with pole and spike for planting in
whatever surface the winner deems appropriate. When it lights up, you'll know that somewhere
somebody is winning something. Probably an American winning something made in China.
- Second prize is a Chinese wind-up dancing robot. You do the winding, it does the dancing.
What Laughton.org lacks in funds for prizes it more than compensates for with imagination!
- Third prize is a collapsible portable plastic vase. No, there's no rule that prizes have
to make sense. The winner can pack this vase on his or her next business trip and fill it with
flowers and water to brighten up an otherwise dreary night in some airport hotel. Or if flowers
don't brighten the time sufficiently, this vase will hold a considerable volume of beer or sangria.
Protests, Disqualifications, and Recounts
There'll be none of that nonsense here! The judgment of the contest staff is final. But the Olympic Games themselves are quite another matter. The contest staff will wait until 24 hours after the end of the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro to certify the results of this contest. Any official changes in medal counts made during these 24 hours will be reflected in the scores on this webpage. After that time, this contest will be closed, and the results will be etched on a palladium disc that will be attached to the next probe that NASA sends beyond the solar system.
All contests at Laughton.org are free and open to anyone with an e-mail address.
Illegible, irrational, or improperly formatted entries will be discarded. The Official Entry Form is designed to prevent erroneous entries, but we always expect the unexpected.
Comments (if any) supplied with the entry will appear next to the affiliated blimp in the entry roster that will appear on this page. Voluminous text may be edited, perhaps brutally. Much depends upon the mood of the contest staff when the entry arrives. Entries containing libelous, scurrilous, or scandalous text - which never fail to peeve the contest staff - will be discarded.
Anyone planning to do some research before submitting an entry may want to start at the official Rio Olympics website.