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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