$250,000 for a High School Science Student
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$250,000 for a High School Science Student


By the end of this video, one of these three high school seniors will be awarded two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for their original scientific research now the way this went down was, Regeneron the sponsor of this video, invited me out to Washington DC for the awards gala of the Regeneron Science Talent Search this is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors founded and produced by Society for Science & the Public Here the 40 finalists were honored and the top 10 winners announced now they couldn’t tell me who was going to win because not even they knew beforehand and that’s because the students are judged not only on the strength of their projects but also on interviews where they are asked very challenging questions about a wide range of scientific topics so I selected three students to follow and find out more about their projects just to be clear these were not the top three place winners they are students I picked in advance but it just so happened that I picked the winner so can you pick the winner? let’s meet the candidates Ronak Roy redesigned the Phoroptor that’s the device used to determine eyeglass prescriptions it contains dozens of precision glass lenses making it bulky, heavy, expensive and a design that hasn’t really changed in two hundred years I wanted to make something that you know could could fit the greater than half the Earth’s population who you know can’t just you know drive down to an optometrist office and just get a prescription so can we see it? oh yeah absolutely so this is this is my child here this is this is the portable Phoroptor as you can see it has the the liquid lens that is actually the one responsible for replacing the dozens of precisely machine lenses here so how does this liquid lens work Right. So it has a droplet of a polar substance like water And a droplet of a non-polar substance like like a mineral oil when you apply a voltage across of it the voltage will cause the polar substance to actually change its shape and go hug or repel the surfaces of the lens so by changing the shape of the bubble you change the way light refracts through it as it passes through that the two glass windows and therefore you know you’re changing the focal length of the lens you you made an app? yeah I did so the screen you’re looking at which is runs on an app on my smartphone displays a test chart and runs an algorithm to actually do the refraction I mean those are pretty small letters those three static glass lenses are able to make it so the light coming from the phone are projected to a virtual distance of that twenty feet so it’s basically simulating that that test room but you know optically instead so the way it works is there’s an algorithm running on the smartphone app that generates pairs of lens voltages for the patient to compare and in order to switch between the two lens voltages the patient can click a button on a pair of headphones so you can click once to toggle between the two and once you’ve found which of the two is the best okay that’s better all right so you can double click it and it will you know indicate to the algorithm that it indeed is the best and generate the next pair yeah I think it got worse yeah um so… And I’m gonna click? Uh.. Yeah Okay that’s better but it’s not the best I’ve seen the algorithm will basically cycle through this lens voltage pair generation process this is like night and day. Like, it’s not like it’s not even a question until it zeros in on on the one voltage that works the best for you okay okay that or… Oh yes Test complete all right awesome would you like to know I would love to know what my eyesight is like all right so I calculated negative 1.25 diopters um which is roughly in the range that most people with slight nearsightedness would have Ana Humphrey wanted to find hidden exoplanets with math the Kepler space telescope has been the most prolific planet finder to date detecting over 2,000 exoplanets by measuring a dip in their host stars brightness when they pass in front of it but what happens if the planet passes just above or just below the star Also, what if that planet is really small? those little tiny shadows are really hard to pull out and you’ve got a lot of noise a further challenge is that the Kepler mission only ran for four years that means our absolute limit is it’s really hard to find anything that takes longer than four years to orbit To identify planets Kepler might have missed, Ana looked at existing multi planetary systems and calculated whether additional planets could fit in between the ones we observed without disturbing their orbits I imagine that you already have some sort of planets here so we’re going to call this planet X so what are these two lines? this line here is the same as this outer line it’s how close your imaginary planet can get to your outer planet and this line here is your a-x-min so it’s how close your imaginary planet can get to your inner planet so it’s this line here we have this region of stability given the extremes of where we can put a planet and we have the maximum mass you can fit there and anything in this area here sort of shade around our label anything between these two graphs is a combination of a planet’s mass and a location of the planet that we could fit in between the two we know about and maintain a stable system cool yeah Now the question everyone will ask you is like what’s to say that this planet really exists as opposed to you just making up stuff? So the assumption that I made going into my research was that systems are going to try to have as many planets packed in as possible this is called the packed planetary system hypothesis there are 560 locations where we could fit additional planets so quite a few how might we go about actually finding them? One of the ways you could go about doing this is by doing something called folding the data so let’s say we figure out that a planet should have an orbital period of about one month we have a year’s worth of data and we fold that data in twelve and get it to line up just right we can get it so those transit signals actually layer on top of each other and then we get a larger signal as a that you know we can find as opposed to the really small signals that sort of get lost in the noise Do you want to introduce yourself? What’s your name, what do you do? Sure Yeah. My name is Anjali Chadha. I am a senior at DuPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky What is.. this? That Anjali was concerned with dangerous contaminants in drinking water this is a prototype of my arsenic sensor so you want to load a water sample right here in this compartment the whole process starts with an automated chemical reaction so there are a bunch of chemical reagents that sit in this compartment above the water sample so the first reagent is tartaric acid next is a combination of salts it’s called mono potassium sulfate and the third is zinc Arsenic is an element that’s never found freely but it’s always bound to other elements so basically that chemical reaction will help to free up all of the arsenic and then the arsenic content changes into a gaseous form of arsine gas and that’s the best detectable form of arsenic basically so what happens after that gas is formed is that there is a test strip and it’s covered in mercury bromide which oxidizes in response to the arsenic and then changes color So it’s actually on a gradient scale. If there’s very little arsenic content then it just changes to a light color and if there’s a lot changes a dark color and everything in between right so what I then did was write an image processing algorithm using some embedded electronic devices specifically this device called an ArduCAM it’s just an embedded camera and essentially the camera takes a picture of that test strip after it’s changed color it then pulls out all of the color values of the test strip and converts them into concentration data so I wrote some mathematical models that kind of made that conversion and then the last kind of piece of the puzzle is that there is this device it’s a microcontroller called a particle electron and it’s connected to this cellular antenna so that the data is instantaneously transmitted to the cloud the real advantages of that is that several people would be able to access the data collected from one sensor whether it’s people in the same community who want to kind of have that information and knowledge about their water sources or whether it’s people in research organizations who are trying to really learn more learn what to test learn what to improve and what sites to really work on so those are kind of the reasons why I chose to do that So now the moment of truth which one of these high school students will win two hundred and fifty thousand dollars? now I should point out that all 40 finalists each receive at least $25,000, the top ten receiving more than that the first-place winner and recipient of a 250 thousand dollar award… from TC Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia Ana Humphrey congratulations to Ana Humphrey on winning this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search if you know any bright American high school students please consider sending them this video it could be their turn next up on that stage and if you are an American high school student, think about these numbers: around 3.6 million students graduate high school in the US each year but only 2,000 or so applied the Regeneron Science Talent Search that means if you enter your science research project you have a 1 in 50 shot of winning at least $25,000 I mean when else in high school do you get the opportunity to get such a financial boost and receive recognition for your ability in science and math this opportunity could literally be life-changing so take the next step click the link in the description and sign up to receive updates about the competition entries are open to all American high school seniors for next year starting June 1st and good luck Now a little epilogue about Ana you know I asked her what inspired her to pursue this research in the first place and she told me researchers at Caltech had predicted this ninth planet do you know what the researchers names were? Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin. I always mess up his last name So I took her work and showed it to Konstantin Batygin when i first looked at this, I was blown away by the fact that this was a high school student Right, I mean this is this is done at the very least at the level of a senior undergraduate maybe a graduate level student Right? I mean, it’s a PhD level student and finally when I was watching the black hole press conference the other morning, we have seen and taken a picture of a black hole who should be in the audience asking a question? Ana Humphrey. It’s like science is in her blood. I expect to see much more in the future from this very talented young scientist Congrats again, Ana

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61 thoughts on “$250,000 for a High School Science Student

  1. ummmm, is it possible to get rid of any particular molecule on a global scale…   with a system complex enough to exchange information through a field that includes every point in and around the earth?…   Using scalar dimensional relativity and inducing quantum energy exchange,   if we could understand the harmonic balance between our relative dimensions and the quantum dimensions- the ones that make the quarks and protons and atoms and such-   we could vacuum up all the radioactive particles right back into quantum energy space.  differentials at every relative dimensional boundary.

  2. First guy….fuking Indian nigga ……these smart asses r everywhere….taking over everything…fuk

  3. Wow this is awesome! I had no idea young people were so bright. When I was in high school everyone was focused on taking drugs, drinking, and having sex, not the betterment of humankind. Congratulations to everyone in the video, they were all great ideas

  4. The first kid should copyright his idea, that could literally make him millions of not billions

  5. At first I also thought the eye guy would win.

    But observe what happens when Ana is shown: Veritasium introduces Ana and cuts to a small segment on Kepler. He then cuts to her talking about the work she did, interlacing it with commentary on his own. She explains it clearly and tackles his questions with no flash and no fuss.

    Basically a it suddenly feels like a normal Veritasium video. Now, ask yourself who the star of said video tends to be: some senior scientist or other.

  6. Great, now we can see more useless planets that do nothing for us and we will never be able to visit.
    WooooooO

    Don't get me wrong, shes a genius and deserves recognition. I just don't like the pointless amounts of money being spent on space exploration.

  7. And two of them are from India ….i mean there name is Indian but are raised and gained knowledge in foreign countries.

  8. If that diopter-test (vision test) has a accurate and consistent result, the guy would easily become a millionaire.

  9. we like to move it move it
    she likes to move it move it.
    they like to move it move it

    i like to ……

    move it move it

  10. Its too easy to like something that is giving instant results as opposed to a mathemetics equation but the truth is that the eye scanner thing will probably get outdated in 50 years at the max but the equation Anna made will help scientists till the end of time unless proven wrong.

  11. I just watched this video and i feel like my life is completely insignificant and worthless because everybody say I'm smart and talented but I'm unable to contribute anything for the betterment of society or myself.

  12. i'd buy myself that new mazda miata for 27,000.00 with that prize money! don't need 1st play to get my miata!

  13. I knew the second person is the winner, she's a genius eventhough I don't understand a single thing she said lol

  14. Ok, great, so let's give the money to someone who invented something that while is interesting and clever is practically useless for helping those here on our planet today. Eyesight and water purity are two critical things required for basic quality of life and survival, put the money where it can best help people.

  15. the humprhey girl's math was so rudimentary tho lmfao, but still to find a new way to make use of it, great job!

  16. Congratulations to Anna. Now I if only I could understand anything she described. BTW, It's not her fault I don't understand.
    Eyesight device. Fantastic.
    Arsenic detection device. Fantastic.
    Congratulations to all.
    Considering that my science project in '68 was actually the vulcano thing…………I am blown away by the intelligence of some of today's "kids".

  17. I swear i had a similar idea to the glasses prescription thing(I don't know how to spell it in english) and the liquid lens, but I was just starting middle school so I didn't have the resources. Congratulations to the winner.

  18. I guessed right. The reason is that the first and last were engineering innovations and not science innovations.
    Simple fix is to have two different contests because engineering solutions are worth celebrating.

    It is a common mistake. The difference between science and engineering should be part of common popular knowledge.

    With science you have a theory that is new and you have a plan to falsify. You gain from it knowledge that can be used as a stepping stone to aquire more knowledge
    In engineering you are taking scientific knowledge that is established to improve the livelihood or lifestyle of humanity ( or destroy it in the case of weapons).

  19. Always great to keep seeing videos with geniuses to make you feel more and more worthless. And I don't even have the right to complain because If I hadn't wasted my time I could have been like this too. I wish so freaking hard that I could go back 10 years. I'll just do what I do now and try to improve on that. Maybe and just maybe I will be able to become someone with a worth of at least 1/10000th of these people.

  20. Why did the girl with the seemingly incomplete theory get the prize?!
    Maybe it's because I don't know enough about solar systems and planetary orbits, but I have a lot of questions. Such as: What about elliptical orbits? What about (elliptical) orbits that never cross their sun from our perspective/angle?
    If anything, it looks to me like her result was a mathematical way to show the flaws in this "stuffed solar system hypothesis". Maybe that was the point? It's useful for sure, but the other projects show things we can put to use.

    The guy with the optics had a fully realized model of that can be bought and put into production immediately. If this money was supposed to go to an idea that needed to be thought out more, I would understand. If anything, they need the money. While the guy with the optics probably just had to suck it up and take the millions offered from optics companies instead.

    Maybe I'm just going full paranoia here but:
    Unless the reason those heavy things are still around is because said companies make a lot of money from them, and this idea, though superior, will lose them money. In which case it looks like some people payed these guys to let the solar girl win in order to avoid the new idea from getting out. Which wouldn't be the first time.
    (See the fake studies on lead being safe so the companies could keep selling it. And 2 people (Herbert Needleman and Clair Cameron Patterson) who were accused by lead companies of scientific misconduct so as to prevent the fact that their lead was poisoning people from getting out. )

    ..I watch too much John Oliver..

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