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Measuring Ultraviolet radiation, improving crop yield via electric currents and creating electricity from traffic: Meet the Science in Action Finalists, Part 2

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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On June 27, the winner of the second annual $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award, powered by the Google Science Fair, will be announced. In this blog series we ask the finalists to describe their projects and themselves. Meet three innovative students from Australia, Belarus and India.

Name (Age): Ethan Butson (17)

Country: Australia

Project: Save the Skin You’re In

Ethan Butson

Summary: To avoid both skin cancers and vitamin D deficiencies, the UV-optimizing “Opti-D Package” measures UV exposure with a dosimeter combined with an exposure-time calculator in a smartphone app.

How does your project affect the community you grew up in?
Two out of three Australians will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. The major contributing factor is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, one in three Australians is now also vitamin D deficient. The major cause is UV underexposure. Diseases related to vitamin D deficiency include, but are not limited to, cancer, heart disease, depression and bone degeneration. It’s the colossal solar UV paradox: too much or too little are both detrimental to your health.

If you could have dinner with any three scientists throughout time, whom would you choose?
Well, I like a lively and fun conversation at dinner, so probably Michael Faraday, because he would be a real buzz (okay, it’s not the best joke!), Schrödinger (and he could bring his cat), and then I’d round the table off with Peter Parker—Spiderman—to tie the whole party together.

What do you think was the most revolutionary invention of the past 100 years, and why?
I would have to go with computers. They have changed the world in so many ways. They not only make the world a smaller place but they speed up just about every process we have in modern life. Medicine, health, energy, technology, manufacturing are just a few areas that have been completely revolutionized by computers.

What is your favorite color?
Ultraviolet of course (seen by the Opti-D)

Name (Age): Evgeniy Pavelko (16)

Country: Belarus

Project Name: The Impact of Electric Current on Plants as a Way to Improve Yield Productivity

Summary: In an effort to improve plant productivity, a weak current was applied to seeds of such plants as beans to test whether it improves the rate of germination, growth rate and plant quality.

Evgeniy Pavelko

What is your scientific inspiration?
I am inspired by life. It is fascinating to know all of the processes that occur in both plants and animals. Understanding the world around me inspires me and my ideas.

If you could have dinner with any three scientists throughout time, whom would you choose?
It would be pleasure to have dinner with the following scientists: Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev, Hippocrates and Albert Einstein. These people had unique ideas, and I could learn quite a lot from them.

Do you have a favorite band or song?
Most of all I prefer rock. I really enjoy the following songs: White Stripes’s “Seven Nation Army” and “Fell in Love with a Girl”; Rock Mafia’s “The Big Bang”; and Hurt’s “Happiness” and “Mother Nature.”

Project: Electricity from Traffic

Name (Age): Sagnik Chakraborty (17)

Country: India

Summary: Sagnik’s project converts the force exerted by automobiles moving on the road surface into useable electrical energy, creating an alternative source of energy as well as reducing environmental pollution for the sustainable development of mankind.

Sagnik Chakraborty

How does your project affect the community you grew up in?
Diseases related to environmental pollution are increasing. At the same time nonrenewable resources are getting exhausted. I think my project can work as a solution to these problems. My project shows how we can generate electricity, which is the most important energy source in modern life, with minimum investment and maintenance cost.

Who are your scientific inspirations, and why?
Steve Jobs and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam are my scientific inspirations. Their optimistic views towards life, total dedication to science, innovation and curiosity, and their simple lifestyles inspire me.

If you could travel through time, what one invention or discovery would you want to introduce 100 years ahead of schedule, and why?
I would like to introduce an invention that would allow us to control the forces of nature for the benefit of human civilization. This invention would enable us to stop the loss of innocent lives from natural calamities, like earthquakes, tsunami, storms etcetera.

What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is boiled rice, potato fries and fried fish (especially hilsha fish).

Rachel Scheer About the Author: Rachel Scheer is the Corporate PR Manager for Nature Publishing Group. She handles the PR efforts for Scientific American including writing press releases, facilitating partnerships and organizing media opportunities for the editorial team.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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