Google hosts the world's largest science fair (pictures)
Thousands of projects entered into the Google Science Fair are pared down to 15 finalists tackling projects ranging from meth addiction and solar energy to farming, health, and better toilets.
Google Science Fair
This week, the finalists of Google's grand student science competition, Google Science Fair, gathered at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
Thousands of teenagers worldwide from more than 100 countries entered the second annual event, which aims to make easy for students around the world to pursue their interests in science and technology. The 15 global finalists -- with projects tackling everything from subsistence farming to treating methamphetamine addictions -- are at the Googlplex to present their projects to the judges.
This evening, three winners will be announced, with one from each age group 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18, and a grand prize winner.
Here, a directional signpost on the Google campus points the way to the 15 finalists' hometowns.
The global science fair is sponsored by Scientific American, National Geographic, CERN, and LEGO. The finalists are vying for prizes including scholarship money, a hands-on experience with one of the sponsor organizations, a Chromebook kit for their schools, and more.
Sabera Talukder from the U.S. had a project called Pani Purification, which tackles a worldwide problem: clean drinking water. Pani in Bengali means water, and Sabera's project uses a sand-filled burlap bag for physical filtration, and UV light for bacterial filtration all powered with solar.
Brittany Wenger's project designed a global neural network cloud service for gathering and analyzing breast cancer data.
Wenger crafted an artificial neural network in the Google App Engine cloud that can be tailored and deployed immediately for diagnosing masts faster while being less invasive and more cost-effective.
The computer program learns based on mistakes and detects patterns that humans wouldn't be able to identify. Wenger has conducted 7.6 million trials, which she argues proves success rates will increase as the global medical community deposits more data into the cloud network.
Yamini Naidu's project identifies medications for treating methamphetamine addiction.
Naidu created a homology model of a human receptor protein using a computer modeling program and then identified potential medication leads for treating methamphetamine addiction through computational chemistry methods and a rational drug design approach.
As part of the crowning of the final winners, educators were invited to bring students to engage directly with their peers. Google believes educators play a crucial role in helping to spread that passion and excitement by encouraging, supporting, and inspiring those budding young scientists on their journey of discovery.
Raghavendra Ramachanderan discusses his project on visible light deoxygenation, a project that intends to develop a chemical reaction that converts an alcoholic substrates into their corresponding alkanes allowing re-conversion of partially oxidized fuel into usable fuel allowing it to be used multiple times, recapturing available energy. Read more about the technology here.
Malta's Melvin Zammit developed a project which uses spinning layers of LED lights to develop more realistic 3D images. Zammit believes his concept could have infinite possible applications in the future like 3D modelling, gaming, 3D telephony, hospitals, and many other applications that require a realistic volumetric display. Read more about Melvin's project here.
Attendees at the Google Science Fair finalists presentation listen as Jonah Kohn explains his project, which improves the experience of listening to music for people with hearing loss by using multi-frequency tactile sound. The device breaks up the sound spectrum into its constituent parts and is attached with various outputs to different parts of the user's body. Read more about his project here.
Catherine Wong's project was to design a cell phone compatible telemedicine system. The Bluetooth-enabled telemedical electrocardiograph prototype is capable of transmitting an EKG image for remote examination. Read more about Catherine's project.
Sakhiwe Shongwe & partner Bonkhe Mahlalela, seen here, of Swaziland, explain their Scientific American Science in Action award winning project which addresses food shortages. The Unique Simplified Hydroponics Method seeks to "Use what other's call waste to produce Food".
Yassine Bouanane's project 'Un rendement optimal' (Optimal Performance) uses simple microcontrollers and a C++ program to improve the efficiency of solar panels by tracking the sun.
The machine would enable solar panels to be positioned so that they always face the sun. Yassine believes that when mass produced, this type of device could cost less than $100, and dramatically improve the performance of solar collectors. Read more about the solar tracker here.