Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Of Cures, Fixes, and Multi-Billion Dollar Ideas

In Ottawa, they recently held the National Research Council's 2011 Biotalent Challenge Awards. In essence, it's an ordinary high school science competition, but the competitors in this particular competition were anything but ordinary.

Here's what the top 5 competitors did:

1st Place - Found a cure for cystic fibrosis. Did this on his off time after finishing homework, by logging in to the SCINET supercomputer to run simulations. Even tested the cure on real cell cultures. What do you know! It worked.

2nd Place - Developed a food additive that will be worth billions of dollars. They found a way to take gelatin out of sorbet, replacing it with a compound that is a) cheaper, and b) opens the up the market for sorbet to vegetarians around the world who avoid gelatin as it is derived from animals.

3rd Place - Discovered a bacteria that inhibits the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Basically, it boils down to a way of helping the prevent the death of millions when our antibiotics start failing to deal with super-bacteria that laughs at our paltry medicine.

4th Place - Discovered how pregnancy hormones can help prevent multiple sclerosis. It seems these hormones protect neurons from iron accumulation.

5th Place - Discovered a better way to treat cancers like leukemia. So... basically this high school student found a better cancer cure. I guess they needed something to do while waiting for the next Twilight movie to come out.

All of this, from high schoolers in Canada. High schoolers. You know, the twitter-headed computer addicts who are supposedly the leading edge in the dumbing down of the human race.

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