Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

2004's Science Talent Search Winners Are In

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the smart-cookies-solving-problems dept.

Education 128

Slate is running an article about this year's Science Talent Search (concentrating on things like whether the participants are "weirdos"); there are better descriptions of the top entrants' projects at this results page. Congratulations to the winners!

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wieros? (-1, Offtopic)

Facekhan (445017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623300)

Weirdos? Me

First post

speaking of weirdos... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623447)

look at this fuckin' wierdo []

Re:speaking of weirdos... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623594)

True... but what about him [] ?

Beware my fate! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623303)

I won my senior year in high school and now all I do is post on /.

Re:Beware my fate! (4, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623527)

I feel for you, brother! When I was in kindergarden, I invented and patented the magneto-ionic shaving rotisserie. Not only do you get closer shaves, your chicken is moist and tender. But that's not all. In grade school I experimented with human pheromone technology, but I had to move on to other research after my English teacher got pregnant. In high school, I invented a graphic user interface and windowing system for PCs, though my research notes mysteriously disappeared. My good pal Bill Gates helped me search for them but then had to go off to college at Harvard. Out of high school, I decided to take a year off before moving on to university. In my first job, at Tasty Freeze, I invented the banana split. I am now fabulously wealthy and do not need Science Talent Searches. But I have advice for all you youngers and future winners reading Slashdot. And that advice is: Get a Life.

Re:Beware my fate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624466)

no offense but your advice is shit. go back to your OS monkey admin job or coding maintenance whore job. let these kids contribute to society and evolve us. There is nothing I hate more than a dumb admin (you can smell them a mile away) thinking they know something about life. Get a clue. If the world was full of guys like you we would all be sitting in a cave fucking each other around a fire. These kids wake u up and bash you with a shovel you fucking lamer. Go fix your pc, boot your linux distro or add that user to the file server you monkey boy

Re:Beware my fate! (1)

dnobel (716850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624563)

My advice for you: plastics.

hmmm. (4, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623305)

I wonder how many of them had help from their parents...

Re:hmmm. (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623346)


Most of the kids are smarter than their parents and know more about the subject.

Re:hmmm. (2, Informative)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623357)

if you read the results page, all of the first 3 winners' paragraphs mention one or two of their parents at the end.

Help from parents... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623349)

I remember a PBS (Nova?) article about the
old Westinghouse science competition years
ago. The one thing that connected all the kids
was their PhD parents. Usually two.

Breeding will out.

-- ac at home (not my real name)

Re:Help from parents... (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623377)

Breeding will out.

Maybe not. Try a test with twins. One raised by PhDs, the other raised in a trailer park by Family Feud rejects.

Re:hmmm. (5, Interesting)

cklin (175912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623380)

I was a finalist in the Westinghouse STS in 1995. The only help I got from my parents was their encouragement because they sure as hell didn't understand the work I was doing.

Some people have an advantage due to their parents, but some do it on their own. It'd be kinder to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Re:hmmm. (2, Insightful)

saden1 (581102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623482)

I think it is the environment they are in more so than their parents directly helping them with the projects. One advantage all these kids seem to have is they have smart, loving, and nurturing parents (not that I said parents and not parent). I think we should all strive to provide that type of environment for our kids.

Re:hmmm. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623567)

You misspelled "I was a finalist in The World's Smallest Penis 1995".

Re:hmmm. (4, Interesting)

dfung (68701) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623663)

I volunteered as a judge a couple of years ago when the Intel STS had their finals in San Jose. As you interview all the candidates, you can definitely see that some of the students are coached in the area of expertise of a parent, some are directed by university staff that they study under, and some of these guys are just so smart that it's absolutely scary.

In that first category, there was an interesting coincidence that I knew and had indirectly worked with the father of one of the students. His project was related to image compression technology which is what his father did. He was conversant in the area, but you really got the feeling that his research had been very closely directed by his father.

You don't see the second type so much in computer science, but in areas like biology, you find that many of the students are working in college labs assisting researchers. This is about the only way that a high school student can study things like protein synthesis or recombinant DNA techniques - no high school would have the equipment or expertise. I guess nobody told them that they were too young to be working on their Ph.D, and that's good.

One of the outstanding projects in our year was a kid whose project had to do with modelling the chemical processes that are involved in doping semiconductors in fab. One of the other judges who had specific experience in this area was blown away by his work, and it was clear to everybody that interviewed him that he loved the topic, loved researching it, loved constructing the experiment, and clearly had gotten no help from anyone. He got high marks from all the judges (must have been about 80 judges in Computer Science alone, all professionals or college-level professors, no high-school teachers), but ultimately didn't advance because it was clear that his project was miscatagorized into computer science because it was a simulation when it probably should have been in Chemical Engineering or some sort of Materials Science.

If you ever get a chance to participate as a judge, or better yet as a mentor/sponsor, do it!

Also, just a note - this contest is sponsored by Intel now, but is the same contest that Westinghouse sponsored for many years.

Re:hmmm. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623397)

Very few, if any, had substantial help from their parents in their research, which is clearly what you are insinuating.

I say this as a former STS Top 10 awardee, and as someone who personally knows several of this year's Top 10 awardees.

Re:hmmm. (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623410)

come on people, i was making a joke.

this comment should be modded 'funny,' not insightful, though i'll take insightful if you wish.

think... what do all the parents complain about in middle-school/junior highschool science fairs? the other kids getting help from their parents.

anyway, i know all these kids must be geniuses or close to it, or just dedicated workers, and are most, if not all very deserving of what they are getting.

Re:hmmm. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623837)

You're really annoying, fucktard. I hope you and your gay ass calculator site die. You're almost as annoying as a damn nigger. Go to hell. Asshole.

Re:hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623425)

Usually these kinds of people work in a neaby lab, supervised by some professor.
Their parents are around for support, but not much else.

Re:hmmm. (2, Insightful)

Meneudo (661337) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623439)

I assume it all boils down to how much money these parents have, and who they know. I wish I had these kind of opportunities. But I'm stuck in a place where education is valued less than the size of your truck.

Re:hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623612)

I come from Montgomery Blair High School, and as you can see from the results, one of our students won the competition. Two of our students made finalist, and 13 of our students made semifinalist. As a student from this school I can assure you that money and political power had very little influence on the process. At least it held very influence for us, I can't speak for any other schools.

Here's exactly what we did:
1) E-mail potential mentors at various institutions (i.e. NIST, NIH, NASA, etc.) requesting an internship position
2) Complete a summer project with this mentor
3) Write a paper
4) Submit to Intel

Where does money and power come in? Heck, even I had a shot at entering this competition, and my parents barely break $40,000 a year in a family of six. I can also guarentee that my family has absolutely no political power as I am the first generation in the United States.

Anyone can do it if they put some effort into it. You just gotta try.

Re:hmmm. (3, Informative)

bran6don (693931) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623477)

I'm glad you asked that question.
I went to the same school as one of the winners (the one from Oregon), and I went through the same science program. It's a good one, focused on research. Some of the kids do get lots of help from their parents-they're usually easy to spot. What's even funnier is that many of the parents work for Intel, to begin with. (Intel has a semi-major campus in Hillsboro, just outside of Portland).
Not all the projects are done by parents, though. There were many kids that did surprisingly good work for high school;)

Re:hmmm. (4, Informative)

umofomia (639418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623507)

I was a STS finalist back in 98 (back when it was still Westinghouse and not Intel) and can say with confidence that anyone who gets to that stage did not get help from their parents. The application and judging process is extremely rigorous.

Once you're a finalist, in order to determine whether you should be in the top 10, they take you through a somewhat intimidating interview process, where you sit speak in front of 3 other scientists at a time (I don't remember anymore, but I think I had 3 or 4 of these types of interviews)... and they don't even ask you about your project. They basically grill you on basic science concepts to see if you know what you are talking about.

BTW, to explain the high New York finalist ratio, this is due to the fact that a lot of New York high schools have 2-3 year programs especially designed to get students to do this competition. They never directly help your with your particular research project, but they do encourage you to go out to local universities and talk to professors in fields that you are interested in. They also help you enter other smaller science competitions in order for you to get more experience. If it hadn't been for one of these programs in my high school, I don't think I would have had the motivation/courage to do this on my own.

Many of the finalists do come from magnet schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, but plenty of NY public schools have this program too. It's basically a way for them to get prestige. I don't know why other states don't do the same, though I guess money is always an issue.

Re:hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623899)

say with confidence that anyone who gets to that stage did not get help from their parents

Aha. I see that your experience taught you a valuable lesson: how to lie with confidence. Please visit our website [] and submit your resume!

Re:hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623633)

I was at STS '03 and I would be extremely surprised if anyone got help from their parents with their projects. With that said, I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of the top math/science students in the country have parents in academia.

At the finalist stage, at least, help from parents probably doesn't matter. Unlike at what is now the Siemens-Westinghouse competition, the results at Intel re based mostly on judging interviews, which are basically tests of general science knowledge plus subfield knowledge.

Re:hmmm. (2, Interesting)

atomicdragon (619181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624417)

I was not in the Intel STS, but did attend the International Science and Engineering Fair a few years ago. People that have help from their parents tend to stand out when you actually talk to them about their project. I can't say every one of them gets weeded out, especially at the more local competitions. But by that level the judging is done pretty well. Some of them that won and had help from the parents might still actually know their stuff and still deserve something. It can't really be judged without talking to them in person.

The one thing the annoyed me early on was not the help from parents, but instead the help from universities. I grew up far from a major university and without a school science program like some of the other high schools have, so I didn't have access to a lot of the equipment some did (but they at least don't have the experience of setting the garage on fire). Some of these people seem to work completely in the shadow of a professor, although as with the help from the parents, most of them get weeded out if the student doesn't know what they are doing. At least my experience of using a very tight budget and common equipment has carried over into my research now and keeps my boss happy for not spending much.

The one thing the surprised me in the end though, was how amazingly noncompetitive the competition itself ended up. I know that all of the people from my area that were going got all psyched up beforehand and ready to kick butt. But once you get there, that all seems to fade away and instead you have a good time talking to all of the other students about their projects. The ones that get too much help on their projects tend to miss out on this part, since they may lack the interest and/or knowledge to keep up with all of the people. It would have been nice to win more money (financial aid has me covered anyways), but what I will remember most about it was all the students I met from all over the world and all the cool stuff every one did.

dammit. (5, Funny)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623310)

Now i feel old AND stupid. Thanks a lot you insensitive clod!

Re:dammit. (1)

dont_think_twice (731805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623506)

Now i feel old AND stupid. Thanks a lot you insensitive clod!

If you are posting to slashdot, you can add dorky too. Luckily, today is a weekend, so you don't have to add lazy.

Damn, overlooked again : ( (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623313)

I guess fart lighting is too controversial for the judges

Awesome (3, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623318)

One of My friends was an Intel Semi Finalist, He worked on his project for about 6 months. Lucky guy now got into MIT.

Say what? (4, Funny)

Caedar (635764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623328)

"Like any company eager to burnish its brand, Intel had produced a brochure with the finalists' bios and a description of their projects--from Boris Alexeev of Athens, Ga. ("Minimal Deterministic Finite Automata--DFAs--for Testing Divisibility"), to Ning Zhou of Plymouth, Minn. ("Quantitative Trait Loci Modulating Corpus Callosum Size in the Mouse Brain")." Did they supply a dictionary with that brochure, as well?

Clifford Stoll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623334)

concentrating on things like whether the participants are "weirdos"

And the winner -- for the 10th consecutive year -- is... Clifford Stoll! []

Come on up Cliffy, and give us another spaz^H^H^H^Hspeech!

Re:Clifford Stoll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623351)

I wondered why all those tanker trucks of vanilla extract were parked out back.

Re:Clifford Stoll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623359)

Ooooo... this is a hard one. And... And...... no, I don't get it.

Talent Search, Eh? ]] (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623340)

<British Accent>
Oh, that is bloody fucking terrible. This is the worst -- you are the worst scientist I have ever seen. Listen, do the world a favor and keep this... this thing away from us all. Kill yourself. Move far, far away and just hurl yourself off a cliff. Your parents ought to be ashamed of having you. Just... just take this 'cure for cancer' and get the hell out of my studio!

Now, where's the hot scientists?
</British Accent>

Ugly photos (5, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623348)

The photos of those kids are ugly. Not because the kids are ugly... but whoever ran their pictures through whatever JPEG compressor they used obviously knows as much about photo manipulation as I do about brain surgery.

That said, looks like some rather spiffy stuff there.

Re:Ugly photos (3, Interesting)

another_henry (570767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623450)

Actually it's just poor webpage design - the images are enlarged slightly within the IMG tag. If you go directly to the url of the JPEGs they come out fine.

Re:Ugly photos (1)

FractusMan (711004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623597)

No - They're actually very ugly.

yeah but have those kids ever... (1, Insightful)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623374)

egged cars, or lit shit on people's door steps. As bright as these young people are, I think it's unfortunate that they have missed out on some of the more enjoyable things in their adolescents, especially the home schooled kids. If they truly enjoy it though, more power to them.

Re:yeah but have those kids ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623421)

Many of those blurbs mentioned normal hobbies that these young adults have -- rock climbing, fencing, aikido, robotics, whatever. None of them looked like a stereotypical super-geek.

I think many people try to protect their sense of self when they see others doing well. Does it really make you feel better to pretend that lighting sh** on someone's doorstep is "normal"?

Doggin (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623383)

You nerds are not welcome here []

Insulting (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623386)

The Slate article is insulting. There is no other way to put it. The starting assumption that these kids would be so-called weirdos is silly, though perhaps unfounded. The stated "corollary" that "The more homegrown a young researcher, the more humdrum (by Intel standards) his or her enterprise--and the more exotic the kids' names, the more esoteric their topics" and the associated analysis of project titles is equally silly. Intel project titles are shaped by the conflicting influences of showing scientific merit (thus specific, and probably incomprehensible for people outside of the field of research, titles) versus appealing to a lay audience (such as the author of this article?).

The author later implies that these kids "may get short shrift from their popular peers" -- the standard "nerd" with no social skills stereotype. While, without a doubt, some of these kids fall into that mold, it is far from true for some, and in fact most, of them.

Lastly, the conclusion, in addition to perhaps being at odds with the earlier analysis of names, states that "the premium this year ... was on American ingenuity -- useful applications rather than elegant speculations." The story about the first prize winner's project, if anything, could perhaps reflect some politics in Intel's judging. The listed applications for the other projects are just that -- applications. When you do a theoretical project, you're forced into a position of "selling it." People will come up to you and ask you why what you did matters, and for the majority of them it will not suffice to extoll the value of intellectual development for its own sake. Very few STS finalists would be willing to say "this was just interesting theoretical work, with no immediate applications" (even if that is the complete truth). Am I devaluing their work? Absolutely not! I'm currently working on my mathematics degree, and I'm very much leaning towards pure math -- the more theoretical the better. If anything, I'd like to point out the viewpoint that "useful applications" are important is very dangerous. You can't always be looking at the short term, or significant advances won't happen.

Overall, the Slate article displays a certain viewpoint and tint that I find very distasteful (just look at the cartoon they chose to have accompany the article!).
With that, I'd like to congratulate the current crop of finalists. I hope they enjoy their time in the limelight, so to speak. It should be truly a wonderful experience. I personally know several of them and know that they most definitely deserve it.

Truth-in-commenting Addendum: I say the above as a former STS Top 10 awardee, so I'm not entirely impartial here ;)

Re:Insulting (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623390)

yeah, some of the intel semi finalist's from my school(Bronx High School Of Science) are really cool people actually. Saying that they are wierdos, is just wrong.

Re:Insulting (2, Insightful)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623492)

Insulting - that's probably the most applicable term. Most everyone I remember from STS 95 was, while usually a bit geeky (myself definitely included), at least functionally socially adept. Most quite so - well adjusted, smart, funny, wonderful individuals. However, it's downright distasteful that rather than discussing the effort that goes into something like this and the personalities behind it, the author focuses on whether these people fit the stereotypes of nerdiness. It seems as if he did his abject best to trivialize these students and their work.

As far as pure science vs. applied science... I was one of the finalists while it was still the old Westinghouse STS (1995, to be exact). That year, there was a great amount of theoretical or pure science, with very little engineering-type research projects. Pure science did quite well that year, as I recall.

Any other former STSers out there slacking on /. ?

Nathan D. Holmes, STS Finalist 1995

Dude it's Saturday Night.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623549)

..and instead of getting ready to hit the clubs and sexing up a few chicks, maybe get in a fight and eat a cold takeaway you are inside posting on /. ?

yes you are a weirdo :p.

Re:Dude it's Saturday Night.. (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623708)

Silly troll... Some of us are mature enough for real relationships with real women - you know, the ones that come with engineering degree, second salary, and sports car included? ;)

Re:Insulting (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623572)

The article is also not accurate. The author says that the Intel Science Talent Search is 62 years old. That would mean Intel existed in 1942.

The reality is that the Westinghouse Science Talent Search existed for decades, then Intel took over sponsorship much later. So much for fact checking by journalists and accuracy in description.

Re:Insulting (1)

Avihson (689950) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623635)

What do you expect from Slate?

The tone of the hit piece sounded like they wanted some kid named Bubba Gump from Bumpus Mills Tennessee to win a science contest for a new way of kicking field-goals.

Students who have neither the ambition nor the IQ to compete in something like the STS go to Liberal Arts Jr Colleges and end up writing tripe for Slate!

I'm glad that the link to the STS site was included, so we can read about the real acomplishments of these kids,

Well Done, you deserve the praise and envy of the geeks here.

Read between the lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623729)

Clearly for all the smarts you claim, you can't read between the lines. Homegrown = kid's own work. Normal name = relatively normal kid. Exotic name = little darling of pushy parents. Exotic topic = A postdoc in Dad's lab had the idea originally. Get a clue. And further more as an aspiring young scientist yourself you need to open your eyes slightly to the nature of corporate funding. It explains a lot in this case. To put it another way, the NIH etc. aren't nearly as gullible as Intel are. And you need to realise that as early as possible.

Re:Insulting indeed (2, Funny)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623849)

here here! On top of that, she spelled the first place winner's name incorrectly!! It's supposed to be Herbert Mason Hedberg [] . Her perseveration on issues of name pronounceability and it's supposed correlation with project title comprehensibility(idiotic) seemed to border on being almost racist. And the section where she says "It had blank pages at the back, labeled "Notes," and I scribbled, though not very scientifically: "nice pants suit," "acne," "looks like she's got a real stage mother," "storytelling champion!!!!"" is an absolute joke and completely discredits her as a journalist. Those kinds of comments about kids coming from a supposed adult are juvenile, irrelevant and insulting, as you note. This woman is supposed to be an expert on raising kids [] ? ha!

Perhaps the reason it's so insulting... (2, Insightful)

kevinatilusa (620125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625039) who Slate chose as the author of the article. Looking at the "by the same author" at the end of the article, it seems like Slate decided to assign its 'Parenting' columnist instead of any sort of science writer. Is it surprising that she then decided to focus on the "nerdiness" and "looks like a jock" aspects rather than the projects themselves?

Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623400)

This is quite depressing, I am as old as the oldest of them and what have I done, nothing remotely that cool.

Maybe its time to finally accept this fact and settle into a night of Jerry Springer :p

I wish... (4, Funny)

Lakedemon (761375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623402)

... that somebody would give me between 20.000 and 100.000 $ for each theorem I proved. These kids are lucky...

(OT) periods instead of commas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623485)

What's the deal with the periods instead of commas? I've seen lots of people from england do this, so I can only assume that it's some kind of standard convention in the rest of the world (I'm from the US). I'm wondering, when you want to express a number, such as 20,000.003, how would you write that using only periods?

Re:(OT) periods instead of commas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623498)

Why would you write it using only periods? The , is the only acceptable decimal marker IMHO.

Re:(OT) periods instead of commas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623518)

So you are saying it would be 20.000,003? I wonder how the US ended up reversing the two punctuation symols...anyway, thanks for clearing that up.

Re:(OT) periods instead of commas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623569)

Don't listen to that guy. The English use the same system as the Americans, the number would be 20000.003 or 20,000.003 . People who use periods in place of commas are just undereducated.

Between 2 answers, I always choose the third... (1)

Lakedemon (761375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623586)

In france, we use comma as a decimal marker...
In the us, you use the period...
Well, I think neither are right or wrong but maybee we should make up another ponctuation symbol for the decimal marker as it would be measier to type lists of decimal numbers....
2.01, 3.14, 5.27.
2,01, 3,14, 5.27.
2#01, 3#14, 5#27.
Well, the third choice looks more logical... though it'ld be a pain in the ass to create a new symbol and force people to use it...
We better stay the way we are...american...and french ^_^

Re:(OT) periods instead of commas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623662)

It would be 20000,003 though often people will write 20 000,3 to make it easyer to read.

On computers though, I prefer to use dots instead of commas because that seems like the normal way to do it. (I'd never use commas to seperate thousands, millions, miljards, etc. though) This probably has much to do with calculators and programming languages all using dots. In fact, one of the most annoying features is that localised versions of it require you to use commas and will not accept dots. This annoyance can be slightly lowered when the num-pad's dot behaviour is changed to insert commas, although that still sucks sometimes.

Re:I wish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624360)

nobody is going to give you $1 for your monkey OS or HSL sk1llz. These kids are innovating and doing something real, not mastering win98 or a l33t linux distro. you monkeys are all alike. you have no clue what computer science is. go back to impressing street lamers with your leet kernel debugging skill4ge

MSN article surely isn't the best... (4, Informative)

ericandrade (686380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623404)

Top of the Top 40: Search tool for a cancer cure places first in national science competition [] is a better, shorter, take on the same event. There are probably many others.

Why the MSN article gets choosed for /., with it's lame analysis of subject titles and physical attributes of the contestants, is beyond me.

Re:MSN article surely isn't the best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623650)

well, remember that science news and sts are run by the same company, Science Service.

pictures = bad (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623412)

Geez. Too bad these kids didn't work on the science of photography. Could they have gotten worse pictures?

All the smart people are on the East Coast... (-1, Offtopic)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623413)

...then they wise up and move out west.

Real Story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623417)

Herbert Mason Hedberg [] , 17, of North Attleboro, beat up Andrei Munteanu [] , 18, of Washington, D.C., despite his pleas for mercy. Hedberg proceeded to steal his "Plans A through G" leaving Munteanu with his dreaded "Plan H."

Hedberg also gave "Plan B" to his mother, who posed as Linda Brown Westrick [] , 18, of Mechanicsville. The locations of plans C - G are unknown, though suspected to result in misfortune for a dean somewhere.

"I just realized: these nerds are getting popularity amongst their nerd friends. Now, that may not be great popularity, but hey, it's something. We can't let them be liked by each other. So I figure, beat one up, take his glory from his nerd friends and later beat them up, too. Everybody wins, really," commented Hedberg as he bludgeoned his opponent's faces with his trophy.

Boris Alexeev [] , 17, of Athens could not be reached for comment as he was reportedly hiding from Hedberg using his patented invisible makeup.

Re:Real Story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623551)

Linda Brown Westrick is totally doable. So is Jayne Frances Wolfson. Come to think of it so is Ann Chi.

They are fair game once they turn 18, unless you are in Utah where anyone is fair game.

Ladies, I'm smart too. Went to Cornell even.

Re:Real Story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623585)

Hang, Chi and Wolfson can do my homework any night of the week! AWOOOGA!

As impressive as this is... (1, Interesting)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623423)

I really would like to know how much each competitor was helped by parents/people in the field. Neither of my parents have any college education (and one didn't make it through high school), so I can speak from experience that not having a scientist/engineering background makes life a whole lot tougher when you get into the field. Were these awards picked simply on end results? Or did they "normalize" the field by throwing out those who had two PhD's for parents?

Re:As impressive as this is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623479)

Having PhD's for parents probably does help. People with that level of education are more likely to push their kids to learn more at a younger age, etc.

However, I doubt that there is much parental involvement in most of the projects. As for people in the field or mentors, the Intel application form has several questions aimed at both the student at the mentor to try to ascertain what was done by the student and what by the mentor.

In addition, the judging is to a large degree not based on the project. The Intel STS claims to try to judge based on "promise as a scientist" or some equally abstract quality which really can't be judged. A large part of the judging is in the form of four 15 minute interviews, each with a group of three judges, that are meant to test your general knowledge and perhaps more importantly thinking skills. While the questions are taylored for your field of interest to some degree (that is, the math judges would give harder questions to people who did math projects versus biology projects), you still get asked questions that are definitely outside your field. Even the very top contestants get questions that they don't know the answer to in this process, and this is to a large degree not just testing your background. Background helps, but some of the questions are either too specific or rely entirely strongly on your ability to synthesize past knowledge with analytical thought.

Some example questions asked last year that were quite fun:
1. What would happen if you increased the mass of all the electrons in your body tenfold?
2. What would happen if you were put on an IV of ammonium chloride? (Don't quibble on the dosages. If the IV element disturbs you, just adjust the dosage down in your mind. As a hint: It's used in cough drops.)

Re:As impressive as this is... (1)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623521)

did they "normalize" the field by throwing out those who had two PhD's for parents?

What an efficent way to hurt those who's parents both have PhDs and are honest people.

-Colin []

Re:As impressive as this is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623541)

If you want to place highly in this thing you are actively encouraged to seek out a professional scientist in the field you want to do a project in to advise you, help you find a topic, etc. So figure pretty much anyone who wins this thing either had parents who were experts in it, or some other mentor to work with.

Re:As impressive as this is... (2, Informative)

umofomia (639418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623563)

I did not have parents who were PhDs or had a rigorous science background, but I was still named a STS finalist the year that I did it.

However, what did make the difference was a program in my high school specifically designed to encourage students to enter these types of competitions. Over three years, the program cultivated my interests and helped me get the courage to go to a local university and seek a professor to help me on my project. I don't know if I would have known to do that otherwise.

The application process is fairly rigorous too... they try to make sure you didn't get help in your project from your parents and that the work was done mostly independently with one or two adult mentors. I talk more about it in my other comment here [] .

East Coasters (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623464)

Any one else notice that 8 of the top 10 are from the East Coast, 4 of those are from the mid-atlantic (DC, Maryland and Virginia) and the absolutely none are from California or anywhere near silicon valley?

I've always had my doubts about intelligence behind some of the things I hear from California. ;)

Re:East Coasters (1)

spam_bank (694845) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623577)

Speaking as a former semifinalist from the silicon valley, the reason why California doesn't have the kind of showing that states like NY have is that basically, no one, not the students, teachers, nor the potential mentors in the local universities (i.e. Stanford & Berkeley) know about or care about the competition.

nah thats not why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624301)

nice try dummy. go back on the beach and leave the real work to new england. enjoy your tan you fucking monkey while we compute under the shadows of our skyscrapers you fucking eloy

Re:East Coasters (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624438)

East cost is representing!

It's pretty sad when everything west of the Missisippi is bested by a West Virginian, and an Alleganey Co. student (right next to WV).

Not cutting on the students, but the annual bughet of those school districts is small, WV is the poorest state in the union, and A. Co. isn't much better. The best schools in MD are in Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties, with Montgomery having a budget an order of magnitude more than the rest.

Considering another angle, it could be that these places are so rural there is nothing better to do. I's the same reason why Linus started Linux...

Why New York dominates Intel Talent Search (2, Funny)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624556)

Here's a slightly rewritten version of a posting I made on Slate's Fray forum about the article in question.


Although I never competed myself, I did graduate from Bronx Science [] , one of the several schools--Stuyvesant and lately Ward Melville on Long Island are the others--that have historically dominated the Intel (formerly Westinghouse) Science Talent Search.

New York State dominates the contest because of two key reasons:
  • Awareness. Most of the country outside the New York metro area is barely aware of the Intel contest, although it is unquestionably the closest thing to a Nobel Prize or Rhodes Scholarship for high school students. That includes the most competitive non-New York City public schools around, such as Palo Alto and Gunn High Schools (CA), Princeton HS (NJ), and Thomas Jefferson (VA). (Thanks to affirmative action, Boston Latin (MA) simply isn't as elite as it used to be.) Most of the non-New York metro schools represented this year won't have another entry for years, if ever; for example, the finalist this year from Redwood City CA (where I happen to live, actually), who didn't finish in the top ten, is the first northern California finalist in three years! Science, Stuy, and (again, lately) Ward Melvile make sure they have solid competitors every single year.
  • Scale. Science and Stuy each have 2500-3000 students. The elite Northeastern and other private schools--whose student bodies are perhaps of the Science/Stuy caliber--are by comparison simply far too small to consistently produce competitive entries; the Nightingale-Bamford (NY) Intel finalist of a few years back won't be repeated anytime soon. Also, many of them are located too far away from the research universities that often provide the necessary facilities and mentorship.

Science was the most competitive environment I've ever experienced, and that includes the Ivy League school I graduated from and the bulge bracket investment bank I joined after college. There's a reason why in a little more than 60 years it has produced five Nobel winners [] , more than most colleges.

My Obversations (0, Troll)

Bender_ (179208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623469)

1) Most of the finalists had obviously a lot of help from outside and sometimes access to people and equipment mere mortals do not. For example a FIB machines as used by one of the finalists is only owned by a few chosen universities.

2) Many of them to be first or second generation immigrants (judging from name, style etc.) Again, this shows how lost the US would actually be without immigration.

The Talent Search's dirty little secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623542)

is that 99% of the projects are merely the result of a university research group that allowed, for one reason or another, the high-schooler to glom on to their work. Usually he/she is a son/daughter of a friend of a professor.

It borders on fraud.

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623476)

Not to steal the kids' glory or anything, but we've been using dialysis at work for that very purpose for well over two years. Nice try though.

I detect a trend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623480)

These are all Young Republicans... and have obviously been selected more for how they look than any academic merit!

Definite Intel bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623488)

1st prize goes to the brainiac that comes up with a method for determining and recovering from random floating-point errors.

Much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623497)

better article regarding these kids. []

first Ppost (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623534)

Best. Individuals bombsheel hit Standard5 should Fortunately, Linux developers. The

Patents Uber Alles (1, Insightful)

daina (651638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623543)

Quite a few of them have patents pending for their work. Now that's starting kids off right!

Get an idea and keep it to yourself, so you can make a lot of money, kids. Then you can afford the house with six bathrooms and the fucking SUV. Then you can bring some more Haitians and Venezuelans into your fat, rich suburban American neighborhoods to mow your lawn and cook your food.

This is not science. This is a bloody obscenity.

I was a semifinalist (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623564)

... And I don't think I really deserved the recognization. My project was basically a subset of my mentor's Ph. D thesis and I did some experiments which he supervised. No big deal really. I had to write a 20 page paper and that was stressful, but not worse than the stuff I faced in college. It's weird really... how do you expect someone to be an expert at something when he didn't even go through the material taught in college and grad school?

I went to a couple of science fairs after I finished my project and before finding out that I was a semi. And the author is correct; I was basically a display at a museum. Press a button and I'll talk. Don't expect me to say something that I hadn't rehearsed dozens of times before though. And please don't ask me questions in the related fields because I simply won't know.

I wasn't a very good student in High School. I basically did a project as a last ditch to get into a good college. Unfortunately/fortunately most college admission boards were smart enough to see through this and I did not get into the most competitive schools. I did end up at an okay engineering school though. But the whole experience left a sour taste in my mouth and I changed my studies to other fields when I got to college.

Now that I am about to graduate, I look at my college record and it's a mirror of my high school record -- mediocre. Except now I don't have anything similar to get me into grad school. So now I'm looking for a job and can't really find one. There really is no substitute for solid grades and good extracurricular activities. They are far better indicators of performance in college -- and in life.

I'm not saying that there aren't brilliant people in the finalist or even semifinalist group, but take it from me, they have had a lot of help getting there. The winner this year seems like he is genuinely smart, since he got into all the colleges he applied for.

Re:I was a semifinalist (2, Interesting)

sploxx (622853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623640)

Here in germany, we have "Jugend Forscht" which seems to be remotely similar to the STS. I got into the final round twice (no prizes though) and saw a lot of winning impostors and "mommy/daddy built/invented/proved it for me"-people.

This of course doesn't mean that there are no bright people at all, but if you get a look into these contests, you realize that these are still only humans.

Re:I was a semifinalist (2, Informative)

Bender_ (179208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623996)

Here in germany, we have "Jugend Forscht" which seems to be remotely similar to the STS

Actually I believe that Jugend Forscht (JF) is a bit more sane than the STS. First of all, most projects in JF are team efforts, while the STS seems to be for single participants only. Also the topics in JF are more down to earth, people are rather doing stuff like interesting presentations of known effects and demonstrate good methodology. It is not about finding (hype breakthrough) in (hype science).

After all science is about team work and methodology and not about presentation. I think the STS concentrates too much on the later..

I may be stupid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623571)

...but I look better in my photos than those losers. Except for #1, #6, and #10, but definitely better than #5. I still got that. Better photos than #5 all the way! Take that, number 5!

"Native" US Kids? (1, Flamebait)

Rostin (691447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623647)

Most of the winners were born in other countries and (presumably) immigrated with their parents. Is this because Intel specifically looked for that or because the only people whose parents really push them to excel are from outside of the US?

Re:"Native" US Kids? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624341)

its called H1B Visa -> perm citizenship. USA has been snatching the best talent from all over the world for the past few centuries. We are a magnet for nerds everywhere because of our high quality of life. This is why I laugh at trolls on slashdot complaining about H1Bs etc. We get hte best of the best. they make our country better, one desi at a time!! Thank god for immigration. white americans take shit for granted, they always did. now the world has eclipsed them and have taken over their own country. there is not much more beautiful than that

Re:"Native" US Kids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624368)

The U.S. is a haven for immigrants of all nations. It's a literal melting pot of cultures. Millions immigrate here every year. Half of the New York public school population was born in another country.

Well on the bright side... (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623676)

I understood what all the projects were... so I guess I don't feel entirely retarded.
"Quantitative Trait Loci Modulating Corpus Callosum Size in the Mouse Brain" - for understanding what this is I deserve a fricking medal.

Re:Well on the bright side... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624394)

no you didnt lamer. shut your hole. go back to installing linux instead of thinking you know something real. put the floppy in monkey while these 17yr olds create the world you live in.
boot monkey boot

Dumbstruck (5, Insightful)

Sean Clifford (322444) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623761)

The AC who posted about the Slate article being insulting was right on the money. Obviously, they sent the wrong reporter to cover this story. Someone with a science background would have been able to say something meaningful about the Science Talent Search. I got far more from the synopsis [] than the Slate article.

I have to say, the work these young students have done is nothing short of amazing. Herbert Hedberg's work on analyzing telomerase inhibitors resulted in a tool that can run the analysis in 10 minutes compared to the standard method which takes 2 days. Imagine the potential impact that can have on the treatment of cancer patients, like his grandmother.

Boris Alexeev's work may yield this guy a visit from the NSA. With minimization of deterministic finite automata you have - as the article points out - a tool to reduce the memory and processing requirements of certain kinds of operations such as speech and optical character recognition - however, the article failed to point out another obvious application - signal processing with tons of applications in video and audio surveillance/recognition.

Ryna Karnik's work applies directly to processor manufacturing - using a focused ion beam instead of photolithorgraphy to etch wafers. I read about a similar technique, but using electron beams in a sub-.03 micron process.

Anyway, I was dumbstruck that these teenagers have produced such groundbreaking, original research. With encouragement and a suitable academic environment, teens can blossom - not just the gifted ones - and do amazing work that belies the stereotyping surrounding their age.

As gifted teens, I remember how few adults took me and my friends seriously, much less listen to our ideas. As a society, American really needs to invest more money, time, and expertise in our educational system to ensure that more of our youth can have futures as bright as these student-researchers.

Re:Dumbstruck (2, Interesting)

Bender_ (179208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623949)

I think some of your explanations are a bit far fetched..

Boris Alexeev's work may yield this guy a visit from the NSA. With minimization of deterministic finite automata you have - as the article points out - a tool to reduce the memory and processing requirements of certain kinds of operations such as speech and optical character recognition - however, the article failed to point out another obvious application - signal processing with tons of applications in video and audio surveillance/recognition.

I do not see the connection here, his method is probably not applicable to stochastics processes.

In general it is not mentioned what he was exactly doing. Minimization of state machines and many directly releated topics (BDD SAT prover, formal verification etc) are a very active field of research so it is more than questionable he had a breakthrough idea.

Nonetheless, this is a very abtract topic and some new conjectures and proofs are certainly impressive.

Ryna Karnik's work applies directly to processor manufacturing - using a focused ion beam instead of photolithorgraphy to etch wafers. I read about a similar technique, but using electron beams in a sub-.03 micron process.

In fact FIB (focussed ion beam) was invented to manipulate nanosized structures. I am not aware of any transistor build by that and I see some problems there, but it is certainly not far off.

Please note that this is not a batch method and will not enable manufacturing of circuits. Also the resolution is not as good as can be achieved with other methods.

More impressive here is that she actually had access to a FIB machine. These cost millions to buy and tens of thousands to operate. I am only aware of few universities that have these available.

Re:Dumbstruck (3, Insightful)

crushinghellhammer (727226) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623972)

In my opinion, what is really sad is that the author of the Slate article is so concerned about the names and ethnicities of the people participating. If this was a mere statistical note, one can understand, but desperately trying to fit kids into stereotypes, going by their names, is pathetic.

Whether a participant's name is Gaurav or Gary it shouldn't make an iota of difference on how a science project, or the person, is judged. The only thing that matters in a competition of this nature is MERIT.

While the author and many of her ilk are likely to be worried about whether the kids are "weirdos", what they seem to fail to understand, or want to ignore, is the fact that these kids are very good at what've they attempted to do, and have made the effort.

It's sad that most of us Americans are so quick to attach labels such as "geek" and "nerd" to talented students.

In February, I coached a fifth grader to take a series of tests pitched at the eighth grade level. These were for a course at Stanford University. The first question my friends asked me when I told them about this bright young boy was "So, is he the kind of kind everybody hates talking to?". THE FIRST QUESTION that popped into their minds was that. And I know for a fact that they are not alone in being captive to those thought processes.

The reason that Asian kids do so well in our schools is that education is placed at a premium in their homes. People encourage them to perform better at school. While it is also not true that American parents do not value education, it is definitely a fact that most of them are less likely to apply the pressure in the name of "keeping kids stress-free".

Unfair!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8623873)

What happened to the kid who did the mold on the bread project!! He should have won... (the way that i didn't)

This stuff is jaw-dropping (1)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624543)

This is some serious, next level science these kids are doing with only a high school education. The first and third place finishers, especially have industry revolutionizing breakthroughs to their name. This is stuff businesses and Universities toss hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D money at... and hobbyists came up with the solution, in between swim meets and cleaning out the stables and getting straight A's in highschool.

I'm seriously impressed.

SoupIsGood Food
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?