Best Inventions of 2008 from Intel Science Search
Our guest blogger Levi D. Davis is a freelance writer who is finishing his gradutate work at NYU, where he is writing about innovation. He wanted to share the latest news about talented inventors with the readers of InventorSpot.com.
Here's his article:
* * * * *
The Intel (formerly Westinghouse) Science Talent Search is on us again. The 40 finalists from around the country gathered in Washington D.C. on March 11 to take part in the distribution of $1.25 million in scholarships and prizes.
The Talent Search is the most prestigious pre-college science and technology competition in the United States and its contestants will soon fill the campuses of some of America's finest universities. Each finalist received an Intel Core 2 Duo processor laptop and a scholarship of at least $5,000, with the winner receiving a scholarship for $100,000.
Most of the entries fall under the chemistry, biology, and, increasingly, social science categories, and the winner will probably be a project based on a multi-syllable concept that most of the world cannot understand. However, five finalists submitted entries that are of particular interest to the inventing world:
Talent Search Winner: Prosthetic Hands
Jeremy Evan Blum, 17, of Armonk, N.Y., has developed a method for using sensors mounted in a cast around the residual arm to move prosthetic hands. The sensors sense bulge in the muscles and a microprocessor moves the hand. Blum hopes his model will lead to a cheaper, non-invasive prosthetic in the near future.
The method of activating prosthetic hands today involves implanting expensive myoelectrodes in the arm that detect electrical activity in the muscles and move the prosthetic. It is an expensive procedure, and largely unavailable to many who have insufficient medical insurance. It also is largely out of reach for those living in the developing world, and who are particularly susceptible to industrial and agricultural accidents that cause the loss of limb.
You can see his video here:
Talent Search Winner: Microbial Fuel Cells
Timothy Zuchi Chang, 16, of Rego Park, N.Y., entered the Talent Search with an environmental science project. He designed and constructed microbial fuel cells that concert the bacteria in ordinary wastewater into electricity.
The usefulness of this invention speaks for itself. Chang's fuel cells not only release electrons trapped in the sludge, that are then captured and stored, but also cleans the water. If the fuels cells are developed and become widely available they could make a big difference in a growing world where fossil fuel is becoming scarce, as well as industrializing nations that are discovering how much clean water is needed to compete economically.
You can watch his video here:
Talent Search Winner:Atomic Clocks
Nathaniel Edward Hipsman, 18, of Marietta, Ga., entered a project studying atomic clocks. Hipsman studied 2-spin and 3-spin combinations of quantum mechanical particles. He found that 3-spin models were significantly more accurate than two spin and adding more spins would likely further increase accuracy.
Existing atomic clocks are the most accurate timekeeping devices known, but more accurate ones, accurate down to the nanosecond, could improve the performance of GPS devices, data transmission, and time sensitive scientific experiments.
Talent Search Winner:Solar Cells
Brian Davis McCarthy, 18, of Hillsboro, Ore., has developed a solar cell that uses plant-like materials to generate electricity. Davis used combinations of porhyrins and phthalocyanines. Both are plant-like materials that occur in nature, and are photoactive and photoconducting, qualities of energy producing solar cells. His cells responded electrically to light, indicating that they can be used as solar cells. They could one day be a cheaper and more efficient replacement for today's silicon-based solar cells.
You can watch his video here:
Talent Search Winner:Laser Tweezers:
Hamsa Sridhar, 18, of Kings Park, N.Y., has developed a pair of low-cost optical tweezers. She built her tweezers using about $1,000 worth of materials. Equivalent optical tweezers on the market cost around $100,000.
Sridhar's tweezers use laser light to trap and suspend microscopic particles. She developed a simple single lens mode converter, that demonstrated quicker alignment, decreased sensitivity to sample deviations, and minimal power loss compared to other optical tweezers currently available.
A photo from the website for the invention is here:
Congratulations to these remarkable young individuals.
Levi D. Davis