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.

James Martin
1 of 18 James Martin/CNET

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.
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Science in Action

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.
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Fifteen finalists

Of the 15 finalists from thousands of entrants in more than 100 countries, seven are from the United States, three are from India, and one each from Canada, Spain, Malta, Swaziland, and the Ukraine.
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Water purification system

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.
Read more here.
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Global neural networks

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.
Read more about the neural network here.
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Posing for a photo

Against the backdrop of the Google Science Fair logo, a family of a project participant poses for a photo at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
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Modeling meth addiction

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.
Read more about her project here.
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Their future's so bright

Their future's so bright, they gotta wear Google shades. Meredith and Anne show off their Google Science Fair glasses on Monday July 23, 2012, at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
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Encouraging discovery

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.
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Google Science Fair LEGO men

A bucket full of Lego men with the Google Science Fair logo. Lego is one of the sponsors of the global scientific discovery event.
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Visible light deoxgygenation

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.
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3D using LEDs

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.
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Music for the deaf

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.
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A different kind of Google glasses

A different kind of Google glasses, the Google Science Fair shades with the event logo.
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Google mobile health

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.
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Use what other's call waste to produce food

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".
Read more here.
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Optimal solar performance

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.
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Encouraging interest in science and technology

The Google Science Fair 2012 winners will be announced later this evening. Check back here for the updated winners list.

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