Monroe whiz kid is semifinalist in national science competition

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:55

    MONROE-Do you know what the quantum tunneling of electron bubbles generated by neutrino scattering in LHe is? If not, just ask Vedant Misra, the 16 year-old Monroe-Woodbury High School student who has been named one of 300 semi-finalists in Intel's national science talent search. Misra's findings and research from his project, which he submitted to the talent search, is currently being used at the United States of America Energy Department's Brookhaven National laboratory on Long Island. Misra already has won $1,000 for his project and another $1,000 has been given to his high school by Intel to further the school's math and science programs. Intel, the chip maker, will provide a grand prize of $100,000 to the winner of the competition. Misra said that the money would "be able to cover all expenses and costs of college." On Jan. 26, 40 finalists from the 300 will be chosen and awarded a prize which is often considered to be the "junior Nobel Prize." Over the last six decades, alumni of the award have gone on to receive the most prestigious science and math honors including Nobel Prizes, National Medals of Science, MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and Fields Medals. Misra hopes to add his name to that list and have a positive impact on the world in some way. "I hope to one day be able to make a difference in science and be able to answer questions which humans ask every day," he said. Misra also is optimistic about the future and says that innovations and developments in science will help the future world in a big way. "Many miracles from science will one day come," he said. He offered an example: "Fifty, sixty years ago, physicists were focused on the universe as a whole. Now, tiny things are focused on, instead if everything as one," he said. The Intel Science award is a way in which the technology company believes contributes to the future of math and science in America. "As a U.S. citizen, I am troubled by the performance of typical American students in science and mathematics when compared to their peers around the world," Intel CE, Craig Barrett in a press release said. "But each year at the Intel STS, we have the opportunity to discover and celebrate the accomplishments of 300 bright young students from across the country." Misra is one of those students and says he is proud of that fact. "I take pride that after hard work and dedication, my work was honored," he said. "It also makes me more confident in myself." His project, "Quantum tunneling of electron bubbles generated by neutrino scattering in LHe," has furthered the science which will one day, Misra hopes, lead to answers regarding how stars were formed and the condition of the universe seconds after the "big bang" occurred, which is how the Earth is believed to have been formed. "I am very confident in science and believe that my little part has contributed to that science. But I hope to do more," he said. Misra's project, in layman's terms, maps out an easier way to detect small neutrinos which are produced by the sun in the trillions and are among us everyday. "If scientists were to be able to see how the neutrinos interact and scatter, they would be able to find out more about the evolution theory of stars," he said. His plan for a detector uses helium at low temperatures and strives to learn more about the little neutrinos which hold so much information about the past but are too small to catch and observe. His mentor is Columbia University physics professor, Dr. Bill Willis, who has helped him with physics research since ninth grade and, since last year, with his project itself, The two used an advanced computer to graph what prior research had previously explained. After the experiment Misra saw "that the two graphs were almost identical, and which meant that my project succeeded." Misra will be waiting for the Jan. 26th announcement of the finalists but he says he is happy win or loose. "I am proud to have gotten this far, which is an accomplishment and achievement," he said, "The final 40 have a lot of promise. I am in no position to judge. I don't know the people. "But the project is not about the money. It was for me and others to learn and show an interest in science."