David Bauer, a 17-year-old senior at New York's Hunter College High School, devised a way of exploiting quantum dots, which are florescent crystals, to identify an enzyme that is found in all neurotoxins and, ideally, to reduce or eliminate exposure to people. Similar research projects are under way at and start-ups like Quantum Dot. Bauer is also a member of his school's varsity fencing team and the founder of a group that raises money for social justice in Liberia.
And if you aren't regretting your squandered youth just yet, second place went to Timothy Credo, 17, of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Highland Park, Ill., for developing a more precise method of measuring the time, in trillionths of a second, that it takes for secondary particles of light--such as pions, kaons and protons--to travel across a plate.
Kelley Harris, a 17-year old from McClatchy High School in Sacramento, Calif., took third place for a study on the way Z-DNA proteins may play a role in responding to certain viruses. She has also won awards for Scottish Highlands dancing.
Started by Westinghouse more than 60 years ago, the Science Talent Search is the oldest, and generally most prestigious, national science competition for high-school students. Past winners include five Nobel laureates, two recipients of the Fields Medal, a number of MacArthur Foundation grant winners and, one of the co-inventors of the microprocessor.
Intel took over the competition in 1998 as part of its overall effort to promote. An international competition takes place in May.
The top prize consists of a $100,000 four-year scholarship, while the second- and third-place finalists receive, respectively, $75,000 and $50,000.
Students taking fourth, fifth and sixth places get $25,000, while those ranking seventh through 10th receive $20,000.
Forty students make the finals. Plucked from 300 semifinalists, finalist projects in this year's contest range from an examination of interaction of acoustic waves on the motion of mesobubbles (Joline Marie Fan of Ohio's Upper Arlington High School) to the discovery of a water vapor