3 Indian teens among 15 finalists in global science challenge

Washington: Three Indian students have made it to the finals of the prestigious annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science competition for teenagers to share their passion for mathematics and science. The three Indian students are among 15 finalists of more than 12,000 original registrants from around the world who submitted engaging and imaginative videos to demonstrate difficult scientific concepts and theories in the physical or life sciences.

The Indian teenagers are Samay Godika, 16, and Nikhiya Shamsher, 16, from Bengaluru and Kavya Negi, 18, from Delhi. The winner will be announced on November 4 in Silicon Valley and get a USD 250,000 college scholarship. The winner’s school will also receive a state-of-the-art science lab worth USD 100,000.Nikhiya was the top scorer in the popular vote contest with more than 25,000 likes, shares and positive reactions for her video on spacetime and gravity posted on the Breakthrough Facebook page. Nikhiya will receive automatic entry into the final round of judging.Kavya from Delhi believes that her video about Hawking Radiation might stand a chance to win because it showcase in depth dive to the concept.

Hawking Radiation is a very feeble emission of particles near the event horizon of a black hole caused when virtual particles (created near the event horizon) escape, she said. Samay, an 11th grader, in his project has explored various aspects of Circadian Rhythm. Samay wants to pursue a formal programme in neuroscience. “Our brain seems to be the most complex system in this world and the least understood. I am interested in building a solid foundation in this area. In parallel, I would also like to pursue a programme that allows me to formally learn Data Sciences,” he said.“This skill will equip me to model complex problems.

A combination of neuroscience and data science skills could enable me to devise solutions for some of the most debilitating diseases faced by mankind,” Samay said.Since its launch, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge has reached 190 countries, and the 2018 installment of the global competition attracted more than 12,000 registrants, a media release said.The contest is designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics, and mathematics.

 The field was reduced to 29 semifinalists, which represented the top submissions after two rounds of judging: first, a mandatory peer review, followed by an evaluation panel of judges, Breakthrough said.The 15 finalist videos were chosen by the Selection Committee, comprising among others: Salman Khan, CEO, Founder, Khan Academy; author and educator Lucy Hawking; Mae Jemison, science literacy expert, former astronaut, and Principal, 100 Year Starship; retired NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly; Nima Arkani-Hamed, Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study and Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Laureate; and Rachel Crane, Space and Science Correspondent, CNN.

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