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Meet the Science in Action Finalists, Part 1: Preventing damage from earthquakes, modular house plan for water conservation, and a frictionless electricity generator


On August 6, the winner of the third 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 students behind the projects to describe their work and themselves. First up, a trio of teens from India, Singapore and Indonesia.

Name: Dev Shaurya Singhal
Age: 14
Country: India
Project: A Modular House Incorporating a MFC and MEC to Initiate Efficient Usage of Resources

Who are your scientific inspirations and why?
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who rose from a humble background as a fisherman’s son who had to walk 10 kilometers to go to school, and who eventually became the ‘Missile Man of India’ and later the President of India. His zeal for science and innovation inspired me and made me realize that the only thing you need to help make a change in the scientific field is the passion for science.

How does your project help the community you grew up in?
The country I live in, India, faces a rising and acute shortage of natural resources as a result of its extremely high population. My project is one of several small yet important steps that can be taken to deal with this shortage and ensure sustainable development for not just my generation but also the generations to come.

Do you have a favorite sports team?
Manchester United (United forever).

Name: Chi Kin Andrew Tung
Age: 17
Country: Singapore
Project: Determining the Ideal Pendulum Tuned Mass Damper Length for Optimal Reduction of Building Earthquake Resonance

How does your project help the community you grew up in?
Although Singapore is fortunate enough not to experience earthquakes, tremors from earthquakes in neighboring countries are still able to reach Singapore, which places buildings built on reclaimed land at risk. My research will hopefully enable better prevention of damage caused by earthquakes, not just in Singapore, but in any country that experiences earthquakes.


What do you think was the most revolutionary invention of the past 100 years, and why? The past 10 years?
3-D printing! I am amazed by the endless possibilities that it offers, from medical purposes to leisure and artistic endeavors. I was especially amazed when I read the news in March about a woman from the Netherlands who had a 3-D-printed skull implant to replace the top part of her skull, which had thickened due to a chronic bone disorder.

In the last 10 years, I think the most revolutionary invention has to be the iPhone. It really propelled the smartphone industry into to what it is today, with many competing phone makers all trying to do better than the rest.

What is your favorite color?
Green! It has been my favorite color since I was a child. Looking at the trees and plants around me never fails to rejuvenate and refresh me whenever I feel tired.


Name: Samuel Alexander
Age: 14
Country: Indonesia
Project: Frictionless Pedal Power Electromagnetic Induction Generator (for USB Devices)

Why did you decide to enter the Google Science Fair?
At first I got the idea for my project from something really crazy–from the movie Monsters, Inc., where children’s screams, cries and laughs are stored and converted into an energy source. In the real world we see a lot of excess energy produced, but not reused. For example, we can see people exercising at the fitness center using a static bicycle while also using their gadgets, which require electricity. So I started to think how I could use this idea for my project.

For the Google Science Fair 2014, the slogan “It’s your time to change the world” really grabbed my attention, so I said to myself, “Why not?”

If you could travel through time, what one invention or discovery would you want to introduce 100 years ahead of schedule, and why?
The Internet! Imagine if Henry Ford did a Google search and found Nikola Tesla’s electric motor technology and used it to make an electromagnetic car. Maybe today, cars would have no wheels. Imagine if Einstein, Marie Curie and Thomas Edison collaborated with an Internet-based social network. Maybe we could have a cleaner and more efficient energy power source. And we wouldn’t need to worry about fossil fuel prices and pollution. So the impact of the Internet is big for me.


If you could have dinner with any three scientists throughout time, whom would you choose?
1. Nikola Tesla
I choose Nikola Tesla because I want to discuss my project with him. I want to learn more about his electromagnetic induction theory; I’m also interested in his idea about wireless energy distribution.

2. Elon Musk
I am really fascinated with Elon Musk’s hyperloop concept. I also want to talk about renewable energy sources, rockets and electric cars

3. Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper)
Actually Jim Parsons is not a scientist, but he plays a physicist Sheldon Cooper on the TV series The Big Bang Theory. His sense of humor makes me believe that science can be fun.


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

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