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A Look At Intel ISEF 2004

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the building-better-brains dept.

Education 69

crl620 writes "Just this past Friday marked the end of the 2004 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). This year's ISEF took place in Portland, Oregon with more than 1,200 participants. Over $3 million was given out and three grand winners left with $50,000. Winning projects include a homemade Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) and a brain-computer interface for the muscularly disabled. My picture diary of this huge event can be found here."

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damn (4, Funny)

fresh27 (736896) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192435)

i made battery out of a lemon and some pennies, but i didn't get past the first round.

Re:damn (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192456)

i made battery out of a lemon and some pennies

It's all in the presentatation. Think of the scientific mileage Pons & Fleischman could have milked out of that lemon.

Re:damn (2, Funny)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192501)

Milk and lemon, think of all the cool curdling that would go on!

Re:damn (3, Funny)

J1VE TURK3Y PUNK (781022) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192467)

Then I went to the Reed College Nuclear Reactor which was a neat open-pool reactor. We got to see the core and also see a SCRAM where they drive control rods into the core.
I hope he was wearing his metal cup shielding

WAKE UP AMERICA! BUSH LIED! NO WMDS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192521)

REGIME CHANGE STARTS AT HOME...

PLANT BUSH BACK IN TEXAS!

damn (Score:3, Funny)
by fresh27 (736896) on Tuesday May 18, @11:47PM (#9192435)
(http://www.fresh27.net/)
i made battery out of a lemon and some pennies, but i didn't get past the first round.

damn (Score:3, Funny)
by fresh27 (736896) on Tuesday May 18, @11:47PM (#9192435)
(http://www.fresh27.net/)
i made battery out of a lemon and some pennies, but i didn't get past the first round.

damn (Score:3, Funny)
by fresh27 (736896) on Tuesday May 18, @11:47PM (#9192435)
(http://www.fresh27.net/)
i made battery out of a lemon and some pennies, but i didn't get past the first round.

Re:damn (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192538)

Actually, I recently considered what it would take to build a go kart for the sky. My idea was to take a basic frame (like that of a go-kart), add blimp-like "pontoons" to the sides, and attach a lightweight propeller to the back. I figured that if I could get it to lift a few hundred pounds, I'd have myself a new way of getting to work. The problem came in when I did the actual calculations.

To lift one kilogram of weight, I need about .4 kilograms of helium. This didn't sound so bad until I found out that the .4 kilograms of helium takes up about 1 cubic meter of space. I then assumed two gasbags, each one cylindrical, about one meter in diameter, and 4.9 meters in length. This worked out to about 8 cubic meters. (.5^2 * 3.14 * 4.9 * 2 = 7.693 m^3) 8 cubic meters would only give me 8 kilograms of lift! I then did the figures to lift 250kg of weight, and found that I'd need a gasbag the size of my living room to lift it.

Ah well, another idea bites the dust.

Re:damn (4, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192580)

Did you consider compressing the helium? Compressed gasses take up less space, so you would have needed a much smaller envelope.

Re:damn (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192604)

Did you consider compressing the helium? Compressed gasses take up less space, so you would have needed a much smaller envelope.

I'm not completely up to speed on airship technology, but my understanding is that this presents two problems:

1. To compress the helium, you need a stronger gasbag structure. Making the gasbag stronger makes it heavier, thus defeating the purpose of compressing it.

2. Compressing the gas simply adds more gas for the same amount of displacement. Thus you've actually made the blimp or rigid airship heavier instead of lighter.

Keep in mind that airships work by displacing air like boats displace water. The only reason that helium helps generate lift is that it adds structural integrity to the airframe/gasbag while being lighter than if it had been filled with air. The absolute BEST airframe is a complete vacuum. However, an absolute vacuum would require much stronger materials (1-1.5 atmospheres of pressure on the materials vs. a pressure of .01 atmospheres in a standard blimp). These stronger materials would of course be heavier and thus defeat any gains you would get by creating a vacuum.

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192785)

1. Stronger doesn't necessarily mean heavier, naturally.
2. True dat.

Re:damn (1)

The_K4 (627653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9194853)

Did you think about have the "airbags" be "vacume bags" and no not like the kind that you clean the floor with. Have them be EMPTY (all air/gases removed). That would make it even more bouyant!

Re:damn (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9194901)

Did you READ my post? I did say:

The absolute BEST airframe is a complete vacuum. However, an absolute vacuum would require much stronger materials (1-1.5 atmospheres of pressure on the materials vs. a pressure of .01 atmospheres in a standard blimp). These stronger materials would of course be heavier and thus defeat any gains you would get by creating a vacuum.

Re:damn (1)

The_K4 (627653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9195912)

DOH. That what I get for haveing read this on my PDA. I'm sorry I totally missed that before.

Re:damn (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9195968)

It's okay. It just came after a long string of people putting words in my mouth. Just yesterday, I had one guy complain about my use of "most" when I said "many", and another tell me that Diesel was more energy dense than gasoline when I had said "petroleum". I must be doing something wrong here...

Re:damn (1)

The_K4 (627653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9196711)

Some days are just like that around here.

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9195245)

Thanks for explaining the joke. Much funnier now.

Re:damn (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192610)

You are kidding, right? Trolling for a response?

It is all about floating the blimp, the bouyancy of the envelope. The difference in density is what gives you lift in a blimp (or a boat).

I assume you are kidding, you never know. I ran into a cashier at KFC that did't know how many were in a dozen, she insisted it was 6 in a dozen...

Re:damn (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192626)

It's a common mistake. People tend to have the idea in their heads that helium is a magic anti-gravity substance. Once you point out their error to them, they tend to realize that they'd never really considered how it worked in the first place.

In short, cut the guy some slack will ya?

Re:damn (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9195214)

You know, the joke is much funnier now that it's been explained. Thanks!

Re:damn (4, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192667)

Did you consider compressing the helium? Compressed gasses take up less space, so you would have needed a much smaller envelope.

Even more efficient than helium, a really light particle, is a total vacuum which has no particles. To make an efficient lifting device, you can figure out the amount of total vacuum you would need to lift 250kg. Essentially, you would need the equivalent amount as the displacement of 250kg of air. For sake of argument, let's say this is 250 cubic meters. The beauty of this is that a vacuum, having no particles, compresses down to nothing. In fact, you could compress 250 cubic meters of vacuum down to nothing and store it inside the object you are trying to lift!

This amazing technology was used by the Egyptians in building the pyramids and by whomever built Stonehenge. The object itself thus becomes its own lifting mechanism. Ever wonder why modern man has been unable to reproduce such engineering feats? They've been unable to harvest the power of compressible vacuums to move great masses. However, I have shared this new secret technology with you in the hopes that you too will build marvels of the Earth.

The trick, of course, is not to store too much compressed vacuum inside an object or it'll just float away forever. King Tut was really pissed when the engineers first made that mistake!

Re:damn (1)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192722)

So YOUR'RE the guy that came up with that lossess compression technique for randome data!

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9193383)

*sigh* it happens every time.

In case anyone was wondering, I can in fact spell.
I just can't preview.

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192772)

+1 Informative? Oh, dear Lord...

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9193726)

Something doesn't compute here. As far as I know, the ancients did not have either vacuum pumps to create the vacuums, or hydraulic compressors to compress the huge vacuums they would need to lift big rocks. Or did they use some clever tricks to solve both of these problems?

Re:damn (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#9193756)

Something doesn't compute here. As far as I know, the ancients did not have either vacuum pumps to create the vacuums, or hydraulic compressors to compress the huge vacuums they would need to lift big rocks. Or did they use some clever tricks to solve both of these problems?

I think this is where the aliens come into the picture. A strong, flexible tube running from Egypt into orbit would allow them to suck the air out of anything.

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9194795)

Use Hydrogen , it's lighter, and is a hell of a lot safer than...er

Re:damn (3, Funny)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192763)

Some lame-o actually did this!! look at this kid's photo (second one down) of the project which he clearly marked "uncool" http://isef.syndetics.net/projects/ [syndetics.net] . The person clearly didn't even understand simple oxidation/reduction potentials of metals. How dreadfully embarrassing when juxtaposed with >a href=http://isef.syndetics.net/projects/C%20-%20La st%20Years%20Winner.JPG>this.

Re:damn (1)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192790)

whoops here's the proper link here [syndetics.net]

Re:damn (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 10 years ago | (#9193299)

My STS project was a morning-after pill. I didn't place in the competition, but the sex made up for it.

Something is wrong with the site... (2, Informative)

gatzke (2977) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192459)

I went to the site and opened 20-30 tabs to load the various images in the photo journal, but for some reason very few of the images have loaded. The ones that did load so far do look pretty nice, but boring...

OMG, They all loaded eventually. Amazing.

Netcraft says Apache on Linux:
OS, Web Server and Hosting History for
isef.syndetics.net
isef.syndetics.net was running Apache on Linux
when last queried at 19-May-2004 03:51:12 GMT

Re:Something is wrong with the site... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192495)

The ones that did load so far do look pretty nice, but boring...

Agreed. I'm a two-time ISEF loser myself from back in the 80s, and I'd have liked to see a better job of, well, scientific photojournalism. Instead, all I could find were various shots of fried eggs, Intel badges, and oscilloscopes. Are there any good links to photographs and summaries of the projects themselves?

Re:Something is wrong with the site... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192641)

First off get broadband. Every single page loaded instantly on my cable modem, and this is a good 30 minutes after you posted so I don't know what you problems are. Second this a science fair, what did you expect? Booth babes and explosions? This guys blog was meant to just show what some of the project were, not be an informative guide to them. Give him a break already.

Re:Something is wrong with the site... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192670)

Second this a science fair, what did you expect? Booth babes and explosions? This guys blog was meant to just show what some of the project were, not be an informative guide to them. Give him a break already.

No, he was quite right. The pictures *are* boring. I would have expected to see things like hovercraft and pocket nuclear reactors. Instead we're treated to images of this guy's plane ride, his Starbucks purchase, a laser light intro that's only interesting while it's moving, and a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Since most of us either already know what's on the MSDS or simply don't care, his photojournal ends up being useless.

Brain-Computer interface? (1, Funny)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192474)

Tinfoil hat time

A brain-computer interface for the muscularly disabled, this can only lead to bad bad things in the long term, especially with Intel owning the technology. At first it will allow disabled people to do stuff, then when disabled people are forced to contribute to society more they will be programmed to do more...

Don't the Borg use a brain-computer interface to network their people together to become one?

Re:Brain-Computer interface? (4, Funny)

gandalphthegreen (751209) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192490)

Don't the Borg use a brain-computer interface to network their people together to become one?

The Borg aren't real. Yes I know you know that, but I think it's worth pointing out to put the tin-foil-hat arguement in perspective.

Re:Brain-Computer interface? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192492)

Score: +1, Paranoid

Re:Brain-Computer interface? (2, Funny)

3) profit!!! (773340) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192503)

And imagine what would happen when somebody found an exploit...

Re:Brain-Computer interface? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192529)

Ever seen a crap horror movie with a bunch of zombies chasing the lead character?

Well, replace those zombies with a load of Downs Syndrome and wheelchair bound people and it will be the future. The bonus with Downs people is that they are expendable, wheelchairs cost money. j/k

Strange coincidence? (2, Interesting)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192475)

One of my clients called today asking me about home-brew STMs. There's a site that we found that covers where to find research papers on building them for around $2K...

Rich kids and their fancy projects (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192483)

Woo hoo! Go rich kids! Way to show how you're better than everyone else.

Re:Rich kids and their fancy projects (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192517)

Parent isn't a troll, more of a bitter loser really...

Re:Rich kids and their fancy projects (1)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192614)

I went to the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy in Michigan. When I went there, we averaged three entries a year that qualified for the ISEF. Saginaw's idea of "rich" is if your house has a second floor AND a basement.

Re:Rich kids and their fancy projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9196148)

Pardon me if I'm wrong, please, but don't only two projects go to ISEF from each region? My school always gets these spots in my particular region, but it is incredibly hard to pull of THREE projects going to ISEF from the same school (unless of course a third project somehow wins the state fair as well). I'm a little sketchy on the details.

Re:Rich kids and their fancy projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9199342)

You can send two individual projects and one group project.

hmm.... (0, Troll)

terradyn (242947) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192488)

Damn... so you're telling me that actually clicking on a link [slashdot.org] on slashdot could have made me 50 grand.

Who knew???

Brain Interface (1)

nihilogos (87025) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192494)

I wouldn't mind one of them regardless of muscular disability.

Re:Brain Interface (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192724)

I am looking for a group of gay/bi-curious boys aged 12-15 to participate in a group sexual encounter which will hopefully widen the horizons of all involved and to help me install RedHat.

Re:Brain Interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9195576)

I wouldn't mind one of them regardless of muscular disability.
Moot point - if you got one of those, muscular disability wouldn't be too far behind.

uhoh... (0, Redundant)

Atmchicago (555403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192532)

They'd better be running that website on beefy servers - I mean come on, a direct link to 6 (!) pages of lots of 1600x1200 (!!!!) pictures... if this doesn't get /. in a few minutes I'll be amazed.

Pictures of Airport Computers? (2, Interesting)

bdigit (132070) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192536)

That doesn't seem like a smart idea to be doing. A kid walking around photographing the terminals, the ticket reader and among other things. Post 9/11 I am surprised a security guard didn't tackle him to the ground and then have the FBI come in and question him for 9 hours. Sure he was just harmless ly taking photos but not a good idea to be taking photos of the equipment like that.

Re:Pictures of Airport Computers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192628)

Are we sure he wasn't visiting an Airport Burger Concession Stand convention?

asdfd;salkfsaldkfjl;asdfk (0, Offtopic)

darlmcbride666 (777465) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192575)

Linux Fucking Sucks.

Browsing through the pics... (5, Funny)

Serk (17156) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192577)

Browsing through the pics I had one thought that kept going through my head:

Cool! Someone even geekier than myself!!

But than cold reality crept back, and pointed out that, while the taker of those picture might be geekier than myself, he isn't MUCH geekier than me...

This is a great, exciting experience. (4, Interesting)

Richard Mills (17522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192632)

I participated in two ISEF's (1994 and 1995) when I was in high school. I think that very few events I have participated in conveyed the excitement of doing science and participating in the scientific community like those ISEFs have. I'm just about finished with my Ph.D. now, and of course I've been to plenty of "real" scientific conferences, but none have captured the excitement that I experienced at those ISEF's.

If anyone involved in organizing the ISEF reads Slashdot, I hope they read this testimonial. Participating in ISEF was very important for me and many of the other students, and the experience really helped cement my decision to pursue a career in the sciences. Thanks!

Re:This is a great, exciting experience. (1)

Cyclotron_Boy (708254) | more than 10 years ago | (#9194806)

What were your projects in '94 and '95?
-F

Re:This is a great, exciting experience. (1)

Richard Mills (17522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9196186)

Hi, Fred. I remember meeting you at both of the ISEFs I attended. Your homebrewed cyclotron was definitely the most memorable project. My projects examined fractal elements in topographic features. The 1994 project wasn't that great but the '95 project was more sophisticated.

It's amusing that when I won my 1994 regional science fair (which enabled me to go to ISEF), I wasn't even there for the awards presentation. I wasn't really expecting anything, and anyway I was asleep, since I had stayed up for something like 36 hours to put the finishing touches on the project!

Re:This is a great, exciting experience. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9195254)

My children have participated in ISEF and regional fairs and are now in college. They are all in engineering. Exposure and excitement have a lot to do with getting people intersted and motivated in science and engineering. Unfortunately many of the schools are just trying to hold their own when it comes to basic math and science so it is important to have competitions like these to fill in the gaps.

Re:This is a great, exciting experience. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9195789)

I agree. I participated in the 97 and 2000 ISEFs, and they were both very exciting for me. I just finished my undergraduate and will be starting a Ph.D. program in the fall, but few of my experiences so far have been as exciting as the ISEF. Participating in the ISEF was also very important for me and many of the participants I know. My sister, who wasn't the best student in high school, did ISEF and got a full undergraduate education for free because of it. Science fair is a wonderful thing and I hope that Intel continues to sponsor this incredible experience.

Re:This is a great, exciting experience. (1)

WizardOfZid (588739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9198653)

I've got myself roped into being a judge at next year's ISEF event in Phoenix. As I have been involved with the IEEE for many years and they have a $10,000 award budget, this is no typical science fair judging and I have a simple BSEE to my credit. Any guidance for my participation? Is the "gee wiz" factor a good measure or can the technical merits be the primary criteria?

I saw several of the finalists on Lou Dobbs show on Monday evening on CNN. One of the students on the show was a Freshman!! I doubt I could have even understood basic Calculus back in my 9th grade year. (Do understand it a bit now)

Visit Phoenix next Spring and see this event in person. It may make you a bit less worried about the next generation's technical abilities.

Sometimes less can be more (2, Insightful)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192663)

So many pictures, so few highlights, so little time.

Remember when photography took 24 hours and cost real money per click?

Re:Sometimes less can be more (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9193009)

I agree. I don't see why a person should think that others are really interested in recording what a person eats.

The photos of breakfast, coffee, mountain dew were pretty superfluous, and didn't have anything to do with the presentation itself.

immigrant domination (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192711)

first generation immigrants from india and china dominate this.

Is something wrong with how people are chosen? Prizes need to be given out fo creative direction not rectangle pushing.

Science: A look at my tiny little donglet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192714)

Nature or nurture? That is the question because although my father also has a very small penis which he used to stick in my mouth/ass at various times and locations, my mother also would beat my penis with a frying pan and attempted to shame it which may have caused it to shrink below its otherwise normal size.

FRIST PSOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192725)

The goodwill i8c.s3csup.org or look at the Users With Large

Additional ISEF Gallery (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9192815)

I, too, was at Intel ISEF 2004 and also went on the BPA tour! In fact, I think I know the kid who took these pics... Anyway, check out my gallery of the whole ISEF experience [nirv.net] .

Re:Additional ISEF Gallery (2, Interesting)

RogueScientist (575110) | more than 10 years ago | (#9192971)

Hey I was just reading wired today and saw the new AI lab that Frank Gehry designed. So cool, and this picture of you and Rod Brooks brought back some memories for me too. In 1992 I was at the ISEF engineering project entitled Computer Controlled Robotic Crane. At one point during my life I ended up at MIT at the AI lab and always had a keen interest in listening to Brook's philosophy on robotics, so analogous to a biological model :) Its very cool that things like the ISEF are still going strong and that people are still interested in science and willing to pursue it, and it looks like you got to do some pretty cool things too. The one lament I have is that I've only kept in touch with a few people from the ISEF, though one is my best friend, so I can't complain to much, but there were so many talented people there that its a shame to have not taken in more of the people around me then.

*whimper* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9193002)

Winning projects include a homemade Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM)

It's people like that who make you realize how little you've accomplished...

ISEF is amazing, anyone that can do it should try (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9194072)

I attented ISEF in 2002 and my team won grand prize for teams in 2003 at ISEF (BEACON) and we were awarded a free trip to europe to display our project at the EU science fair. (we coulden't compete, we are clearly not in the EU). This science compatition is an excellent way to get yourself on the map and get your foot in the door with many professors at many universities. It also is one of the best way to make friends and learn that most science nerds are not as nerdy as you think.

I loved the ISEF (2, Interesting)

Cyclotron_Boy (708254) | more than 10 years ago | (#9194754)

I participated in 93, 94 and 95. I actuall won Grand award in 94. Those were some of the most fun times I had growing up. The projects really did vary in quality and dedication, but overall the experience is usually wonderful for anyone that participates. I met a number of physicists, and actually got a job at Fermi National Accelerator Lab as a result of my projects and the interest they generated. I actually left my PhD program and now work in the real world, but the ISEF really did introduce me to science on the grand scale. I wouldn't have gone into physics if it hadn't been for the ISEF. I am also currently trying to get my company to sponsor special awards at the ISEF. I figure it is the least I can do to give back.
-F
My four projects are on my webpage [umich.edu]

Re:I loved the ISEF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9197446)

Dude, seriously, that is one of the ugliest web pages ever. Please, please, please get rid of that ever present eye-burning background image.
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