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Maryland Teen Wins World's Largest Science Fair

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the wonders-of-evaporation dept.

Intel 193

Velcroman1 writes "A Maryland student was awarded the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on Friday for developing a urine and blood test that detects pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy. Jack Andraka, 15, claimed the $75,000 prize for his test, which is roughly 28 times cheaper and faster, and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. Each year, approximately 7 million high school students around the globe develop original research projects and present their work at local science fairs with the hope of winning."

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Congratulations. (2, Interesting)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067829)

Bright kid.

Re:Congratulations. (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067967)

Maybe, but it would be nice if there were more details. I remember reading a slashdot news story about another teen science fair winner with some awesome result, but someone pointed out that he essentially copied someone else's PhD dissertation. Kinda made me skeptical about amazing science fair results. In this case, was he a chemical engineer? How did he even get access to pancreatic cancer urine samples?

Is the 90% accurate, faster, and far cheaper than current tests maybe because it's just a strip of paper that will always give a "You do not have pancreatic cancer" result? That sounds like it would be a lot cheaper, faster, and at least 90% accurate if you weren't selectively testing people you thought had pancreatic cancer...

Re:Congratulations. (2, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068085)

You're expecting scientific details from Fox News?

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068153)

Heck, isn't mention of something vaguely scientific at all a step in the right direction for Fox "News"?

(I expect this to be modded Troll.. I am even on the conservative end on many issues, but can't stand them.)

Re:Congratulations. (5, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068243)

I remember reading a slashdot news story about another teen science fair winner with some awesome result, but someone pointed out that he essentially copied someone else's PhD dissertation. Kinda made me skeptical about amazing science fair results. In this case, was he a chemical engineer? How did he even get access to pancreatic cancer urine samples?

I participated in ISEF from 7th grade until 12th, with varying levels of success. I did very well, but never as well as this kid, but I dated a girl for 4 years who basically won the same place. This competition is very high stakes, as the winners basically get to choose their school from the top schools in the country. I attribute my acceptance into CMU more to ISEF than anything else I did in Highschool.

With such high stakes, there is a lot of parental support, especially from parents who are scientists and engineers. A friend of mine had unlimited access through her family to a MRI machine. She did very well and went on to MIT. Another friend had access to vast quantities of microbial data through her mom. Other people had their parents design and supervise the experiments, while others still performed extensive and impressive statistical tests well beyond the skill of a 14 year old, thanks to their parents. After dating my girlfriend for some time, who again placed as well as the kid in the story, she revealed to me her father basically did all the work.

None of this is ever disclosed at the fair, and all work is always presented by the students to be their own original research. I'm not saying the kids in question were dumb... quite the opposite they were brilliant. But they also had a great deal of extra help from highly educated people to "guide" their research. I'm also not saying this was the case for the winner this year, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was.

Re:Congratulations. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068327)

So in other words, the "best and brightest" are plagiarist? Makes sense to me. Actually that would explain a lot...

Re:Congratulations. (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068387)

More like the "best and the brightest" aren't necessarily any better and brighter than anyone else, but had certain resources that made their work more impressive.

Re:Congratulations. (5, Insightful)

Loosifur (954968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068491)

My wife is pursuing her doctorate in science education, and this comes up continually. Equity in education is a huge, huge issue, especially in STEM, and the theme that consistently shows up is that having parents who are educated, who are in the upper middle class, and/or who are in a professional field gives you a huge leg up. It doesn't mean that these kids work less, or aren't as smart, or aren't as deserving as kids from poorer backgrounds, but it does mean that they start out with larger reserves of educational capital than other kids. I mean, you could be a genius, but if your parents are working two full-time landscaping jobs and barely speak English, you're going to be at a disadvantage compared to a kid who has a parent who can spend an hour a day helping with homework.

Re:Congratulations. (4, Informative)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068775)

It's one thing to pull yourself up from the bootstraps if you're born uppermiddle class. It's another if you're born lower class. There's a strong argument that it's easier today to move up the social ladder in Europe than the United States. [huffingtonpost.com] This is appalling.

Re:Congratulations. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40069077)

It would be quite counter-intuitive if the US had more social mobility than socialist countries. In the US you receive little assistance from the state, so it won't be helping the poor up the ladder, while the state also doesn't impose much of a burden on the rich, so it won't be pulling them down the ladder either. In a socialist country, the poor receive more assistance and there are more demands on the rich. Obviously the latter is more conducive to social mobility, so I don't know why you state it as if this was some sort of strange idea that might even be true. Why wouldn't the US have poor social mobility?

Re:Congratulations. (2)

olau (314197) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069255)

According to this TED talk [youtube.com] , if you want to live the American dream, statistically the best place to do it is Denmark with our relatively high taxation level and state-funded education (you get paid to study at university), health care, unemployment safety net etc.

Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069343)

There's a strong argument that it's easier today to move up the social ladder in Europe than the United States

I've always thought that this is very widely accepted fact. Where I live, higher education is free (and in fact, you get social security of 500 euros ($640) a month, lower rent, government-backed loans, etc. if you're a student) and university admissions are based on objective tests to select the best students (everyone who finishes Highschool will participate in national testing. Grades come from bell curve and graders don't know whose paper they're grading... or even the highschool of the student). It seems obvious to me that a system like this will result in more social justice and less inequality (Nearly everyone who has the will and skill can climb the social ladder regardless of who their parents where) but people in USA decided that the gain is simply not worth the price (=more taxes, less personal liberty, more nannystate...).

This is appalling.

Why so? Again, I assumed this had always been both well-known and intentional but if it isn't... is there something that makes Europe especially appalling in this regard or is it just so appalling to hear that USA isn't at the top?

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068611)

Sorry this is completely untrue at least this year - can't speak to previous years: "None of this is ever disclosed at the fair, and all work is always presented by the students to be their own original research. "

I was a judge in the computer science category this year (literally just last week) and all entrants have to make clear up front what their contribution to their project was, how much help they had from others etc. This is taken into account during the judging process. I interviewed the kids on 13 projects and they were all very smart.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068779)

Which part of "None of this is ever disclosed" did you misunderstand? As a judge you're literally the last person in the world someone doing this would want to tell. It's nice that you believe that everyone is fully upfront about this kind of thing, but with the stakes so high I really doubt it.

Re:Congratulations. (4, Interesting)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068871)

all entrants have to make clear up front what their contribution to their project was, how much help they had from others etc.

Yeah of course they have to. That's the way it was back when I was in the fair. But this is not what happens. My highschool had a very large science program and we sent about 90-100 kids a year to regional fairs. For some reason it was the kids who had researcher/professor/PhD/engineer parents who always made it to the international fair. After competing in these fairs year after year, you get to know the crowd, who's legit, and what kind of nonsense is going on.

If you really talk to these kids on a peer level (which you'll never be able to do at this point) you can see right through them. The judges are about the last people who have a grasp on the true character of some of these kids. I personally know a kid who completely faked his entire project year after year and never got caught. He was really good at faking work... probably was more effort than it would have taken to actually to the project. He won several high profile special awards from the military and armed forces for his "research."

Re:Congratulations. (3, Informative)

Chazerizer (934553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069295)

Actually, all of this is disclosed at the fair. Any student working in a high-end research lab (or frankly, any place more advanced than your standard high school lab) is required to submit forms signed by the head of said institutions and detail the size and scope of the involvement of the lab. This includes graduate student mentors, access to equipment, and other information.

Re:Congratulations. (4, Informative)

pkinetics (549289) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068617)

Science News Arcticle [sciencenews.org]

Searching for a better detector for mesothelin, Andraka coated paper with tiny tubes of atom-thick carbon. Antibodies stuck to the carbon nanotubes can grab the telltale protein and spread the tubes apart. The carbon’s resistance to the flow of electricity drops measurably as more protein attaches. Tests of the paper using blood samples from 100 people with cancer at different stages of the disease identified the presence of cancer every time, Andraka reported.

Re:Congratulations. (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068655)

How did he even get access to pancreatic cancer urine samples?

Jack Andraka is a high school research intern at The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. The lab of Anirban Maitra, Associate Professor of Pathology and Oncology. Four students honored at INBT research symposium [jhu.edu] [NanoBioTechnology]

A MathMovesU Middle School Scholarship winner, Jack Andraka of Crownsville, Md., rode his way to a $1,000 campership courtesy of Raytheon to camp Awesome Math, where he can hone his problem-solving skills with students from around the world. Jack wrote about his love of mountain biking for Raytheon's MathMovesU Middle School Scholarship and Grant Program, which honors students and teachers who are passionate about science, technology, engineering and math.

Jack Andraka: Math and Mountain Biking Create Eureka Moment [raytheon.com]

I-SWEEEP 2010 Special Awards [isweeep.org] [Certificate of Achievement and Office of Naval Research Medallion]

Re:Congratulations. (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068863)

I remember reading a slashdot news story about another teen science fair winner with some awesome result, but someone pointed out that he essentially copied someone else's PhD

When I was in school, all the kids who won science fairs were the kids whose parents "helped" them the most. For the best projects if was obvious that the parents had basically done them entirely. This really pissed me off because I didn't have parents who could help me out. So basically, I would work my ass off and lose to some kid whose electrical engineer dad had built them a goddamned working robot.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

hackula (2596247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069391)

Ha, this. I remember a kid who "built" a working hovercraft in middle school. Considering the kid was not even allowed to ride it, it was pretty obvious that his dad did not just let him take apart a lawnmower, modify the engine, and weld it to the frame (all equally if not more dangerous than riding the damn thing for a 13 year old).

Re:Congratulations. (4, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069221)

Is the 90% accurate, faster, and far cheaper than current tests maybe because it's just a strip of paper that will always give a "You do not have pancreatic cancer" result?

I can do better than that. A strip of paper that says "you have pancreatic cancer," stuffed into fortune cookie laced with U-235.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069381)

Isn't it obvious? He found a way to create pancreatic cancer. Obviously, those results on causing pancratic cancer will be presented at the mad science fair next week.

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068013)

Yeah wonderful, fantastic, great... another teenager that makes me feel like a complete waste of human life. :p

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068033)

Bright kid.

Pfft. Obvious hoax is obvious. Like we on Slashdot can believe someone from America did anything involving science. Can you guys believe this? They're trying to get us to believe someone in America developed something! Yeah, other than religious fundamentalists and breeder-stock reality TV contestants!

Oh, no, don't worry, 'Merkins, this doesn't concern you. You can go back to playing with your funny boomsticks, talking to your magic man in the sky, and making laws around those really really loud moving pictures that you all seem so fascinated with.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Tmann72 (2473512) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068141)

You must be right. Because America clearly has never made a single scientific contribution ever. -_-

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068693)

This is the internet. What everyone says must be true, since everyone says it so often. And "zomg we haet those damn 'Murkins!" is one of the most-said things on the internet, making it the most true.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

xerxesVII (707232) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068705)

+5, interesting?

The mods must be just dying to get rid of their points today.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068851)

When I was younger, I use to get jealous towards kids like that. I though if only I was in an environment that allowed me to do this type of stuff I can get famous for being that kid... As I got older, I am more satisfied with my lot in life, and I am happy to see kids coming up with new cheaper and better ways to do things, it keeps me more optimistic towards the future.

Science needs more kids, as we get older we become more institutionalized and experienced, this isn't bad, there is a lot to say about experience... However we sometimes need someone who doesn't have the experience to try something different because our approach is based on following the old procedure. The worst thing you can tell a kid, is don't do it that way, you can however say, I tried that a while back with these tools and this is what happened back then. Now the kid may know of newer or better tools or have the ability to do things you couldn't do back then.

Outside of Medical science just in terms of programming.

Back when I started programming, Software was very buggy and crashed all the time, so you couldn't really trust your program for months until you got all the kinks out... But today it is much easier to make a solid running program, why because our tools for programming have improved.
We no longer need to manipulate strings with a CHAR *NAME array, we have a solid string class. We have a wide set of common libraries that does a lot of the heavy work for us... So that experiment that you did back 10 years ago that failed miserable because it was too slow or just never worked, may be valid now with the new tool set and faster computers. So if that young kid is willing to try a similar Idea, he will either succeed or fail. If he fails he has gained experience, if he succeeds then that is good too. Saying you shouldn't do that because it is wrong, the kid will learn nothing.

Re:Congratulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40069409)

"Back when I started programming, Software was very buggy and crashed all the time, so you couldn't really trust your program for months until you got all the kinks out...." ...then I used MyCleanPC and everything was OK...no?

Maybe (1)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069427)

I agree but then disagree also. We as adults learn to fear a legal system that will force us in to stone age poverty if we step on one of those patents in the inventing mind field. Kids don't have that worry, and are often immune to the legal system. Medicine is a late entry to the patent system compared to information technology, so we'll see how something like this goes in a few years. You never know, you may see a headline in a few days about a patent suit against a science fair winner.

Have the additions to the libraries helped tremendously in the age of programming? I think so. We no need any longer to write your own string processing and most of it is uniform from system to system. I'm not sure how that has made programming in general much easier, and wonder about the implications to educating younger programmers. Our old libraries were how we started learning to code. We learned to be portable and stock pile code for re-use in college or we missed deadlines.

[required /. sarcasm]"Java and C# have fixed all of our computer programming problems!" Not by a long shot, and in many cases it makes advanced programming that much more difficult because of how easily someone can mess up the use of libraries. It is nice that people can learn higher level functions and start use with things we found difficult to come up with. I'm sure it helps them do more, but I often want to slap people that don't understand the basic concepts and wonder how they even get a degree. My favorites are the programmers that see memory allocation failures and ask you to add more disks or "Why can't I allocate 1Tb of memory on a 256G sysem?".

So maybe programming now is easier, but I find debugging is now much more complex.

Re:Congratulations. (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069263)

Parents did it for them. Obviously.

Good and all but... (1)

pwnyxpress (2597273) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067871)

when will we see wide-spread usage in regular medical practice?

Re:Good and all but... (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067959)

when will we see wide-spread usage in regular medical practice?

When insurance companies and hospital administration boards find a way to make it ridiculously expensive.

Not ridiculously expensive... (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068051)

but ridiculously profitable. I would imagine charging 1/4 current rates would be about right, considering that the cost is 28 times cheaper.

Re:Not ridiculously expensive... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068097)

but ridiculously profitable. I would imagine charging 1/4 current rates would be about right, considering that the cost is 28 times cheaper.

Considering that these are the same greedy assholes that charge $100+ for the Sharpie markers they use in the OR*, I expect at least 1/2 the current rate, if not more.


* No bullshit. Make sure you get an itemized bill for your next surgical procedure, it'll piss you off what they charge for some of this shit.

Re:Not ridiculously expensive... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068575)

Have you ever noticed the "greedy asshole" lawyers who are constantly suing the hospitals? If you want to NOT pay $100 for a Sharpie or $25 for a band-aid (not a joke, I'm afraid) then you need to get the bloodsuckers from taking a chunk out of our budget. You're paying the lawyers, not the administration! (A good friend of mine left working in the OR to become an electrician. He makes about 40% less money than he did, but because he isn't paying for all of the extra insurance, he takes home more money at the end of the day.)

Re:Not ridiculously expensive... (3, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069323)

but ridiculously profitable. I would imagine charging 1/4 current rates would be about right, considering that the cost is 28 times cheaper.

Considering that these are the same greedy assholes that charge $100+ for the Sharpie markers they use in the OR*, I expect at least 1/2 the current rate, if not more. * No bullshit. Make sure you get an itemized bill for your next surgical procedure, it'll piss you off what they charge for some of this shit.

Ha! Clearly you both are underestimating the level of greed and corruption in big pharma. You forgot to consider that this test is now likely more accurate than the current test. In 6 months time, the small handful of the populace who barely remembers "28 times cheaper" won't matter, for this "new and improved" test will hit the market at 2x the current price.

If anything, the cost will go UP, not down. This will be marketed as a "better" product, not a "cheaper" one.

Re:Good and all but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40067971)

Google "Bayes Theorem clinical tests" on why a 90 percent hit rate isn't nearly good enough for prime time.

Re:Good and all but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068089)

Or, read the summary!

...and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.

Re:Good and all but... (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068285)

We'd need to know a lot more than "90 percent accuracy" - a basically meaningless statistic in this context without breaking it down to the rates of false positives and false negatives. But, if we assume both rates are 10%, then a randomly chosen person with a positive test result has about a 0.1% chance of actually having pancreatic cancer (based on disease prevalence of 12.1 per 100,000). Such a test can be useful, but only in conjunction with another form of independent test.

Still, pretty impressive for a 15-year old, but probably a long ways from a useful test.

Re:Good and all but... (2)

moehoward (668736) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069327)

You would follow up with an ERCP, which is expensive.

The current CA19-9 blood test is not reliable in many individuals, but is a relatively inexpensive blood test to check for pancreatic cancer. If you baseline with CA19-9 and use the test on a regular basis, it seems pretty good right now. I guess I can't see this kid's test being 28 times cheaper than a CA19-9 test, but I could see it being 28 times cheaper than an ERCP.

Moe

More Engineering Than Science? (1)

MankyD (567984) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067873)

Sounds like an awesome result, but isn't this more a feat of engineering than science? Not that I am complaining per se, but I feel that it's important that people recognize the difference.

Engineering and Science (2)

bazald (886779) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067937)

If all he did was get a specification from a client and build something to that specification, I'd agree with you. Seeing as he both developed the test and did a scientific evaluation, I think this qualifies as a healthy mixture of both engineering and science.

Re:More Engineering Than Science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40067949)

Perhaps that is why it is called "Intel International Science and Engineering Fair" and not "Intel International Science Fair" .-)

Re:More Engineering Than Science? (1)

MankyD (567984) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067979)

You're right! I read the title of the article, not the title of the fair when I was thinking this. Doh!

Re:More Engineering Than Science? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068021)

Sounds like an awesome result, but isn't this more a feat of engineering than science?

Depends; did the student:

- Develop a hypothesis?
- Test the hypothesis (i.e. experiment)?
- Record results?
- "Rise and repeat?"

If the answer is "yes" to all of the above, than yes, it is science.

Unless the term is defined as something other than the method by which it is achieved?

Re:More Engineering Than Science? (0)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068507)

You forgot: - Was he considered to be a Creationist? In that case, all the other questions go out the window even if they were all followed to a T.

Re:More Engineering Than Science? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068633)

You forgot: - Was he considered to be a Creationist? In that case, all the other questions go out the window even if they were all followed to a T.

Oh, right - I forgot that if a person disagrees with another person's ideology, the other person is obviously a fraud, regardless of the validity of his experiments and results.

How silly of me :P

Re:More Engineering Than Science? (1)

Caratted (806506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068119)

Sounds like an awesome result, but isn't this more a feat of engineering than science? Not that I am complaining per se, but I feel that it's important that people recognize the difference.

It doesn't really explain the methods he used to develop his dip-stick lithmus sensor test thing. I would submit that his solution encompasses both - the scientific method established his hypothesis (it should be easy to test for mesothelin in blood/urine) and engineering to create a repeatable, testable solution to the problem. I think some more science is probably present in the indicators present on the stick, where you need to develop a flag while controlling for everything else present in blood or urine.

My guess is he won out over the other contestants due, in no small part, to the cohesive solution involving both science and engineering, where the runner-ups focused on one or the other (micro-sifting search engine: engineering - quantum theory regarding data transmission via entanglement: physical sciences).

What a fucking loser! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40067891)

If he kept his mouth shut and patented the fucking thing he could've been a millionaire!

No, he wanted to win some dipshit contest that exploits young talented minds.

Moron.

You can bet he won't get into Business school!

Re:What a fucking loser! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40067989)

Humankind needs more people like him, and less dickheads that go into finance.

Re:What a fucking loser! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068053)

What had you accomplished by age 15? Hairy palms and premature blindness?

Something tells me one of the smartest adolescents in the world (who happens to be $75,000 richer than you) doesn't really give a fuck what you think.

Re:What a fucking loser! (3, Informative)

Caratted (806506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068179)

FTFA:

His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy and showed his patent-pending sensor to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.

Moron.

Re:What a fucking loser! (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068209)

He just won an international level science competition, he is going to have job and scholarship offers coming out his ass.

If he had done this privately and tried to monetize it the business school graduates would have fucked him over.

Re:What a fucking loser! (3, Funny)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068557)

he is going to have job and scholarship offers coming out his ass

Sounds painful, do you suppose he might develop a test for this condition?

Help (5, Interesting)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067953)

How much of the work supposedly done by this individual were actually done by the child? What about the others considered for the award? Science fairs have become a huge joke, and I'm sorry if this child actually did this on his own. Even HS fairs have no credibility.

Re:Help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068091)

Just look at what took third. If you've read any /. over the past couple of years you could have done the same it looks like. Although it looks as though the science writer doesn't know that you can't transmit information via quantum entanglement or that the student doesn't. Cause if he's discovered a way then by far it would have been the top prize.

Re:Help (1)

michaelwigle (822387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068297)

Actually, it looks like it has been accomplished in some real-world testing already by the Chinese [slashdot.org] . However, it does seem odd to me that a high school student could have access to the kind of equipment necessary to prove such theories. Perhaps it's a theory that's been around for a bit but only became field proven recently. Still, it then makes me wonder about a previous comment about the students stealing PhD thesis and using it as their own project.

Re:Help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068593)

Yes and no. If you look at the article you'll see that a classical communication channel is still needed so you are not getting instantaneous, FTL communication via this method.

It sounds as if the student just copied some research that was done a long time ago and/or yeah had access to parents work.

Re:Help (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068163)

When it comes to stories like this one, "impossibly young child achieves new scientific breakthrough!", there is almost always a PhD parent working behind the scenes. Chances are the kids are more of a laboratory assistant than the principal contributor.

baking soda volcano (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067973)

Meanwhile, here [buzzfeed.com] are some of the approximately 6,999,999 losers.

Re:baking soda volcano (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068121)

What do my farts smell like? They smell yummy!

I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw that one.

Re:baking soda volcano (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068237)

I personally like the "Elemr's Glue and Play-Doh Part of a Healthy Diet?" the level of presentation he did, it really shows how the world thinks. It doesn't mater what it is, if you can present it in the right way you can convince people of anything.

I wonder... (2)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40067987)

How many contestants entered in with volcanoes and solar system dioramas.

Re:I wonder... (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068073)

The yellow one is the sun.

Re:I wonder... (2)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068369)

I call it "cup of dirt" [youtube.com]

Re:I wonder... (1)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068077)

Better yet, solar system dioramas WITH volcanoes.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068207)

How many contestants entered in with volcanoes and solar system dioramas.

Far fewer ever since IAU killed Pluto and shipped its corpse to Sedna.

Re:I wonder... (1)

Chazerizer (934553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069257)

Having judged at this fair, I can tell you the answer is none. I'm not saying there weren't projects that failed to live up to the expectations that the judges had, but nearly all of the projects were innovative in some way.

At the risk of sounding negative ... (2)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068037)

.. from what I have seen of these fairs where kids invent/discover things seemingly beyond their mental, physical or financial means, they are inevitably "guided" by parents who are professionals. In the case of Andraka, his mother appears to be an anaesthetist at a hospital and his father might be an engineer ...

It's nevertheless a commendable result.

Re:At the risk of sounding negative ... (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068401)

the way of the world dude. contest or no contest this is how shit works out. rarely is your genius mathematician from the favelas of rio or the mean streets of compton. they're usually the son or daughter of two other recognized geniuses. your average kid will bust out the baking soda volcano. genetics and environment are not fair for everyone. if they were there'd be no purpose for evolution.

Re:At the risk of sounding negative ... (1)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069349)

Well, I'm not talking about eugenics ... hence my use of the quotes around the word guided. I am not insinuating that this is what has happened here with Andraka, but it's definitely a possibility that the parents of kids in science fairs provide a lot of assistance beyond moral support and a suitable environment.

Ironically the price of this will stay the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068055)

The student will see no more money. Consumers will pay the same price. And some executive will increase his income 15-20x! Go Technology!

Who did the work? (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068063)

A Maryland student was awarded the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on Friday for developing a urine and blood test that detects pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy.

Who did the work? I'm not thinking the kid did. He may have "developed" it in the same sense that modern americans talk about how they are "building a house" when they really mean cutting a check for someone else to build it.

I'm thinking most of the list is "This is what my dad does at work and this is what they did while I watched them".

Plausible projects that could actually be done by kids would be:

"Euglena: The Solution to Nanosilver Pollution" Nothing too unobtainable here, nothing requiring a weird environment, clearly possible in a basement, or in my basement anyway.

"Design and Creation of Small Wind-Power Engines for Low Wind Speeds Based on Magnus Effect" Totally designable and buildable by a kid, key word being "small" and "low speed"

"Repelling Effect of Plant Extracts on Bees-A Study on Preventing Bees from Pesticide Toxicity" Plenty of normal civilians keep bees, at least in rural areas, coincidentally same place plants to extract and pesticides to sample also reside. Totally believable that a smart hard working kid could do this alone.

"Effect of Food Types on Quantity and Nutritional Quality of Weaver Ant". Ants, we got em. Food, we got it too. Can we count? Yes we can. Sounds like good science doable by an actual kid.

Implausible projects that could not have been done by kids:

"A Study of the Endogenous Activity Rhythms of the Marine Isopod Exosphaeroma truncatitelson" Where does a kid get that and the testing environment necessary?

"Analysis of Photon-Mediated Entanglement between Distinguishable Matter Qubits" Oh come on. Well I'll head on over to home depot and get a can of qubits on the way home from school, and then...

"DNA Repair Mechanisms: Investigations of Base Excision Repair Pathway in Differentiated and Proliferative Neuronal CAD Cells" Oh come on. How big was the lab that did this work? 50 people and 10 million bucks of gear maybe?

"Synthesis of Trimethylguanosine Cap Analogues with the Potential Use in Gene Therapy" Oh come on

"Synthesis of Triazene Compounds and Their Application in Spectrophotometric Determination of Cadmium" Nobody's doing cadmium work outside a lab, at least without turning the basement into a "radioactive boyscout" situation. I would promote this to "possible" if and only if it were done as independent study at a high school chem lab.

Re:Who did the work? (4, Insightful)

swx2 (2632091) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068381)

Quoting from the winning project's abstract:
"Optimal layering was determined using a scanning electron microscope."

Ok what? How does a high school student get access to one of those? I highly doubt most HS in this country has one of those for their students to use...

Re:Who did the work? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068475)

How does a high school student get access to one of those?

Essentially, the kid didn't win anything, the local taxpayers and the local science teacher won while the kid was watching them.

I'm about 1e9 times more impressed with the kid who probably bought live euglena from carolina.com for $25 and probably made his own colloidal silver in his basement using some silver coins and a electronics hobbyist power supply, dumped it into petrie dishes under some lights, then did some cell counts in a microscope. I'm impressed because the kid probably paid for it himself and did all/most of the work himself. That kid actually did science and earned his money (unless he made his brother do all the work or something... point being he Could have done all the work, at least)

The electron microscope kid just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Bleh.

Re:Who did the work? (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069493)

How does a high school student get access to one of those?

When I was a teenager, my dad could have gotten me some time on one where he worked - I suspect something along those lines happened here.

Of course my high school "science fair projects" were "analysis of security holes in the telephone system" and "exothermic reactions of common household chemicals" if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge...

Re:Who did the work? (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068463)

I have to say, I was rather curious myself when I first read this. I went on to look at the (unfortunately very sparsely-detailed) article and the bit about the second place winner doing work on qubits made me go... Wait, what?

As a disclaimer, I did not do much investigation on this, but the article seemed to detail something that's been known for years: that you can use entanglement to teleport qubits from one place to another. Unless the article entirely left out what innovation/discovery was made here, I don't really understand. Not only is this kind of work well outside the resources of an 18 year old kid (bar well-connected parents who do most of the work, of course!), it's nothing new.

WAPO Article on this Kid and another from MD (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068837)

HERE [washingtonpost.com] HERE [washingtonpost.com]

Does Happen At High School Fairs (4, Interesting)

mx+b (2078162) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068577)

An anecdote: I judged at a middle and high school science/engineering fair myself once, a few years ago now. It was an ... interesting experience. Before the judging began, we held a meeting in which the lead judge reminded jurors to "pick winners based on creativity and hard work of the CHILD, not the parents". Whenever possible, we tried to interview the kids to see if they had any inkling of the project contents; this was usually the best way to determine if the parents did the project or not.

From what I saw that day, I would say half at best did the work themselves. One kid even admitted that his dad was an engineer and came up with the design, and he more or less just watched and took down notes (the parents had walked off when I came to his booth, so I guess they weren't around to stop him from being an honest little kid). I didn't even get the impression that he liked it much; more that the parents pushed him to doing it.

I did not want to discourage interest in science, especially if the parents are really trying hard to encourage their kids, but at the end of the day I awarded my votes to the less visually impressive projects that were very obviously done by the kids. One was a simple experiment with growing plants in certain soil conditions. I can't remember exactly what the additive was. But nothing fancy. But here we got to the booth and the kid was beaming and excited to show off the plants, and demonstrated a decent grasp of scientific method (trying to control conditions, etc.). I gave her more points than the equivalent of the "quantum qubits" project.

I haven't tried doing it again since then because honestly it made me feel discouraged. There were very few students truly interested in doing a science project, that were able to find a project interesting to them. Most of the projects struck me as either "completely cobbled together last minute in order to prevent a failing grade in science class", or "forced to do a particular project by overbearing parents that want the most spectacular project possible". I can see where it is very hard to judge in that environment because the helicopter parents will demand 1st prize when their kids don't deserve it. The fact that I was allowed to be a "secret" judge helped a bit that particular time. I imagine most people just thought I was a curious parent wandering around asking basic questions.

Re:Does Happen At High School Fairs (4, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069031)

This is systemic in our culture. My 8 year old son was part of a 'Book Club' recently. It was sad because the other parents insisted that the books their child "chose" be well outside of the reading level for the group. While my son wanted to do the club, we insisted that he actually read all of the books. It was a lot of hard work for him, and it entailed discussions throughout the book since much subject matter was more suited to High School students or adults.

When the meetings came around, he was the only child that had actually read the books. The rest of the group were split in about thirds. 1/3 the parent read the book to the child and edited it as they did it to cut out any parts they didn't want their kid to hear. 1/3 just played the book on tape for the kid, and 1/3 just watched the movie adaptation when it was available.

Every one of them patted themselves on the back for giving their kid 'culture' and being involved with their education.

Re:Does Happen At High School Fairs (1)

RearNakedChoke (1102093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069301)

An anecdote: I judged at a middle and high school science/engineering fair myself once, a few years ago now. It was an ... interesting experience. Before the judging began, we held a meeting in which the lead judge reminded jurors to "pick winners based on creativity and hard work of the CHILD, not the parents". Whenever possible, we tried to interview the kids to see if they had any inkling of the project contents; this was usually the best way to determine if the parents did the project or not.

From what I saw that day, I would say half at best did the work themselves. One kid even admitted that his dad was an engineer and came up with the design, and he more or less just watched and took down notes (the parents had walked off when I came to his booth, so I guess they weren't around to stop him from being an honest little kid). I didn't even get the impression that he liked it much; more that the parents pushed him to doing it.

I did not want to discourage interest in science, especially if the parents are really trying hard to encourage their kids, but at the end of the day I awarded my votes to the less visually impressive projects that were very obviously done by the kids. One was a simple experiment with growing plants in certain soil conditions. I can't remember exactly what the additive was. But nothing fancy. But here we got to the booth and the kid was beaming and excited to show off the plants, and demonstrated a decent grasp of scientific method (trying to control conditions, etc.). I gave her more points than the equivalent of the "quantum qubits" project.

I haven't tried doing it again since then because honestly it made me feel discouraged. There were very few students truly interested in doing a science project, that were able to find a project interesting to them. Most of the projects struck me as either "completely cobbled together last minute in order to prevent a failing grade in science class", or "forced to do a particular project by overbearing parents that want the most spectacular project possible". I can see where it is very hard to judge in that environment because the helicopter parents will demand 1st prize when their kids don't deserve it. The fact that I was allowed to be a "secret" judge helped a bit that particular time. I imagine most people just thought I was a curious parent wandering around asking basic questions.

Parents living vicariously through their kids. What else is new? Sports, beauty pageants, science fairs. Its all the same. And it doesn't matter whether the parents are smart or dumb, PhDs or GEDs, we're all ruled by our emotions.

90% is useless (2)

andrews (12425) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068157)

If the test is only 90% accurate then it's useless.

A 10% error rate would generate a number of false results greater than the incidence of pancreatic cancer in the first place.

Re:90% is useless (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068261)

Only if it's applied as a global screening. If the number of individuals tested is pared down substantially, a 10% false positive rate can be good enough.

Even cheaper test with more than 90% accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068343)

If you only need a 90% accuracy, then all you have to do is just tell everybody that they don't have pancreatic cancer. You'll be right more than 90% of the time!

Re:90% is useless (3, Informative)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068727)

The point is not that it's a definitive test, the point that it's a reasonably accurate blood and urine test. As in, after discussing recent problems with your doctor, your doctor may then conclude that this would be a good time to stick you with a biopsy needle and test for pancreatic cancer.

But wait, this is invasive and potentially harmful, is there some way we can be a bit more sure about things before we confirm?

Why yes! This kid developed a blood and urine test which is 90% accurate!

The point is to potentially reduce the number of large, expensive needles stuck into someone's pancreas, not to serve as a standalone test.

It also matters WHY the test is inaccurate. If it's consistent with each individual "if I get a false positive, it will ALWAYS be a false positive" because of a lack of a certain protein or whatever, then it's less useful (unless you determine the conditions that make it work). If it's actually just a random 10% due to lack of precision for a particular measurement, then it can be refined, OR you could just run it five times and do some math to get a result with >90% accuracy.

Re:90% is useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40069117)

It really depends. If it is false positives then this could still provide useful as a test. You have cheap, easy and safe test that eliminates 90% of people. The remaining 10% can then be tested with something more accurate but more expensive, complex or dangerous. Since it is apparently testing for mesothelin levels I'm guessing that it is false positives due to some other condition causing high levels of mesothelin.

10% false negatives would make it much less useful tho for obvious reasons.

Re:90% is useless (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069485)

... his test, which is roughly 28 times cheaper and faster, and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests

our current tests are essentially useless. this is obviously much better, and a great stepping stone to getting greater accuracy.

What the Winner Did From the Contest Website (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068165)

Jack Andraka
Gordon E. Moore Award Winners

Jack Andraka, 15, of Crownsville, Maryland, was awarded the Gordon E. Moore Award for his development of a new method to detect pancreatic cancer. Using an approach similar to that of diabetic test strips, Jack created a simple dip-stick sensor to test the level of mesothelin, a pancreatic cancer biomarker, in blood or urine, to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy in detecting the presence of mesothelin. Further, his novel patent-pending sensor proved to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.

This is something easily done by a high-school student (the hard work is determining what to test for and that can be done by a literature search) and , yes he did apply for a patent.

Re:What the Winner Did From the Contest Website (3, Informative)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068565)

If you do a bit of digging, you can find the full abstract:
http://www.aacps.org/science/andraka.pdf [aacps.org]

The choice quote here is:
"Optimal layering was determined using a scanning electron microscope."

I'm sorry, but as a high school student, there's no way I'd have access to that kind of gear. Further, the rest of the abstract includes things which could only be performed with rather specific tools. Reading precision to the nmol/L? My high school barely had beakers.

I'm not saying the individual steps are impossible to do as a teenager, just that having all the tools available and the knowledge to perform the steps would be extremely improbable. As with most incredible claims, I always tend to be skeptical.

Re:What the Winner Did From the Contest Website (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068885)

It's possible he was attending advanced classes at a university that had an electron microscope. Many universities allow High School students to attend and they may have allowed him to utilize their equipment.

Just don't try... (2)

slippyblade (962288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068249)

to take your project home on the airplane. They might end up shutting down the airport for several hours, arresting you, and confiscating your project.

Re:Just don't try... (1)

Chazerizer (934553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069313)

Especially the particle accelerator and the fusion reactor. No, I'm not kidding. And those weren't top prize winners.

where? (1)

doomdoomdoom (2640917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068337)

My first thought when I read the headline was "where will he keep it?"

pancreatic cancer and diabetes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068357)

There are reports that suggest that many people get diagnosed with diabetes before they get diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, although the relationship between the two is unknown. If this kid's test is based on the diabetic test strips (which measure glucose in the urine/blood by estimating glucose oxidase activity through release of H2O2), then maybe it is making use of this fact.

Even more interesting IMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068431)

From TFA:

Dyckovsky investigated the science of quantum teleportation, and discovered that through a process of "entanglement" information from one atom will appear in another atom when the quantum state of the first is destroyed.

Doesn't this seem like a pretty important discovery?

Re:Even more interesting IMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40068715)

From TFA:

Dyckovsky investigated the science of quantum teleportation, and discovered that through a process of "entanglement" information from one atom will appear in another atom when the quantum state of the first is destroyed.

Doesn't this seem like a pretty important discovery?

No, not at least with the details given. This is just a rehash of the current knowledge of the field of study. No information can be transmitted at FTL speeds, it still needs a traditional communication channel. (unfortunately) Nothing new here, surprised he got 3rd.

I thought I should have won (4, Funny)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068447)

My project was a really cool baking soda volcano.

Re:I thought I should have won (2)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40068609)

What you did is 90% of the chemistry taught in high school these days.

Re:I thought I should have won (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40069509)

the other 10% was manufacturing rock candy, i mean, growing sugar crystals.
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