Sunday, March 21, 2010

Efficient space navigation

Erika DeBenedictis took the top prize (and $100K) in the Intel Science Talent Search.

Her project appears to be primarily based on a computational problem -- efficient navigation through the solar system using gravitational interactions:
Working at home and building on existing research, Erika developed an original optimizing search algorithm that discovers energy minimizing routes in specified regions of space and would allow a spacecraft to adjust its flight path en route. She believes her novel single-step method of repeated orbit refinement could work with essentially autonomous spacecraft, and may be a practical step forward in space exploration.
Many of the other finalists and top prizes also went to computational projects, including Yale Fan
...demonstrated the power of quantum computing in solving challenging "NP-complete" (NPC) problems. His work may offer scientists another tool for exploring theoretical physics.
Thomas Friedman's take on attending the awards dinner was that legal immigration should be encouraged:
America's Real Dream Team

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