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Students' experiments to play out in space

23 march 2012, 18:44
0
©AFP
©AFP
Science experiments devised by teenage students, one from Egypt and two from the United States, will be conducted in space as part of a move by YouTube and Lenovo to inspire young minds, AFP reports.

Winners of a global YouTube Space Lab competition were announced Thursday, with 18-year-old Amr Mohamed of Egypt taking the honor for older students while Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma was deemed top submission in a younger group.

"Humanity's future relies on moving beyond Earth," renowned scientist and professor Stephen Hawking said in a release revealing the winners of the competition coordinated by Chinese computer giant Lenovo and Google's YouTube.

"YouTube Space Lab is a wonderful initiative that helps inspire young minds around the world to take a greater interest in science and the future of space exploration."

Space Lab partners include NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Experiments proposed by the students will be conducted by astronauts aboard the International Space Station and streamed live on video-sharing website YouTube using Lenovo laptop computers.

Mohamed suggested studying how microgravity effects the way zebra spiders catch prey and whether the arachnids would adapt to that environment.

"The idea of sending an experiment into space is the most exciting thing I have ever heard in my life," Mohamed said.

Chen and Ma, both 16 years old, wondered whether "alien superbugs" bred in space could cure diseases on Earth.

Bacteria would be given varying nutrients and compounds to see whether they could be turned into weapons against germs, according to YouTube.

"The idea that something that is your experiment being sent up into space and actually becoming a reality is incredible," Ma said.

Prizes for the students included a "zero-G" flight that simulates being weightless.

The students will also get to choose between trips to Japan to watch the launch of the rocket carrying the experiments or a "one-of-a-kind astronaut training experience" at a Russian cosmonaut facility.

"Our goal with YouTube Space Lab has always been to encourage more kids to put their hands up in the classroom, to study and be inspired by space," said Google marketing executive Zahaan Bharmal, who dreamed up the competition.

"I think we have shown that through this, the world's largest classroom, kids around the world are excited by science."

More information was available online at youtube.com/spacelab. Videos at the website had logged a combined total of more than 51 million views as of Thursday.

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