(Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

As you may recall, we’ve been promoting a #MysteryExperiment at TED.

Today we can share with you a few more details. It’s unusual and, potentially, really significant.

With funding from an anonymous donor couple in the TED community and under advisement from leading university researchers, we are giving away $2 million in the form of gifts to select applicants to the experiment — up to $10,000 per participant. They are allowed to spend the money however they wish: on personal needs or dreams, or by paying some or all of it forward to others. All they have to do is report back to us how and when they spend the money over the next three months. 

One group of applicants is being encouraged to share the discussion about how to spend the money with their followers on Twitter. You can follow their journey with the hashtag #MysteryExperiment.

There’s never been an experiment quite like this at this scale, and we’re excited that TED has been given the chance to oversee it. We are following informed consent, privacy and best industry practices based on academic standards to conduct this project. We won’t be publishing the results for at least six months, and until then we can’t say too much more about all this without potentially biasing the experiment. So for now, please just think of this as an imaginative project that we hope will contribute to social science in significant ways. We look forward to sharing more with you before long!