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News Alert
Winners of the 19th European Union Contest for Young Scientists

14 promising young scientists receive European prizes.

Valencia, 18 September 2007

Teams from Germany, Hungary and Ireland have won the three first prizes of €5000 each at the 19 th European Union Contest for Young Scientists, held this year in Valencia, Spain. The projects, which analysed flashing water drops (e.g. falling from stalactites), how plants defend themselves against pests, and RSA encryption, were selected from among 81 entries by an international jury of 15 experts. Other top prizes went to projects from Austria, the Czech Republic, France and Israel. The contestants in the projects aged in range from 14 to 20 and represented 30 countries from across Europe, as well as China and the US, and covered a wide range of disciplines. To be eligible to enter, the team has to win a national science competition. (See Annex 1 for details of all prize-winners.)

"If there are two crucial elements of Europe’s future, it’s our young people and our research ability,” said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “So it’s very heartening to see the interest from around the world in this Contest for Young Scientists, as well as the many innovative ideas on display. My warmest congratulations to all of you who have taken part. I hope that your success in being selected for this contest will encourage you to continue on your journey of invention and discovery.”

The 81 projects competing in the Contest covered a wide range of scientific disciplines, from astronomy and earth sciences to biology, medicine and social sciences. The standard of entries is consistently high, and several past participants have achieved major scientific breakthroughs, or set up businesses to market the ideas developed for the Contest.

The European Union Contest for Young Scientists is part of the EU's Science in Society programme. Its aim is to encourage young people to pursue their interest in science and embark on scientific careers. This year the prizes were awarded by the European Commission's Director-General of Research, José Manuel Silva Rodríguez .

More information about the EU Young Scientists Competition, including photos, success stories, biographical details of the jury and descriptions of all entries can be found at:
http://ec.europa.eu/research/youngscientists/valencia/press-centre_en.htm

Download: Press release and annexes ( information on the winners of the YSC 2007, the jury, success stories and information on all participating projects in the YSC 2007) (PDF 341KB )

Contacts

Stephen P. Gosden, Directorate-General for Research, European Commission
Tel: +32.2.2960079, Fax: +32.2.2958220, E-mail: stephen.gosden@ec.europa.eu

Robert Soltyk: +32 2 296 16 19, +32 498/96 16 19 – robert.soltyk@ec.europa.eu

Sophie Andersson: +32 2 295 02 08, +32 498 95 02 08 – sophie.andersson@ec.europa.eu


ANNEX 1

 

Prize-winners

19th European Contest for Young Scientists

FIRST PRIZES (€5 000 per project)
Country: Germany
Contestants: Florian Ostermaier (19), Henrike Wilms (20) 
Field: Physics

Project title: Flashing Water Drops

Visiting a stalactite cave last summer, one of us made a strange observation: Every time a drop fell down from the top it seemed as if it would flash at a certain height. We didn't know the explanation for this, so we tried to reproduce the phenomenon at home. Our first idea was to use the drops falling down from the water tap. Quite accidentally we found out, that the effect only occurred when we put a light source in a very special position towards the observer and the falling drop. Fascinated by this mystery we started doing some research on the strange flash in the air. During our work we found out the relevant factors and we can now exactly say, under which conditions these flashes occur. In addition to that we succeeded in describing the phenomenon mathematically and we know now, that the light reflections within a falling droplet change because the droplet itself oscillates. We also found out that this can be observed everywhere a drop detaches from anything like in the shower, at a water tap or raindrops falling down from gutters. With our research we found a completely new phenomenon that, as far as we know, has never been analyzed by anyone else so far.

 

 

Country: Hungary
Contestant: Márton Spohn (18)
Field: Chemistry
Project title: Examination of the Plants’ Self-Defence Against Pests
  Some plants, especially members of the mint family can defend themselves against their pests on a special manner: they emit scents that attract natural predators of the pests. This phenomenon was studied by biologists and chemists, but a contradiction remained unnoticed: chemicals that are held responsible directly for this effect cannot evaporate. My project was aimed at finding the reaction pathways taking place in the plant during an attack to convert the furanoterpenoides (chemicals responsible for self-defence) into volatile compounds. Experiments were made with plant extracts which mainly involved chromatographic methods to discover possible pathways. The experiment based effect mechanism model of furanoterpenoids can explain the rapid reaction of the plant to an attack despite of the fact that furanoterpenoide is produced very slowly. By discovering more details of floral self-defence, more environment-friendly pesticides may be developed.

 

Country: Ireland
Contestant: Abdusalam Abubakar (16)
Field: Mathematics
Project title: An Extension of Wiener’s Attack on RSA Encryption
  In 1990 Wiener showed that if RSA is used with a small decryption exponent it can be successfully attacked. He based his attack on the properties of continued fractions, in particular on a very well-known theorem of Legendre concerning the approximation of irrational numbers by simple continued fractions. In 2004 Hinek proved that if a very large decryption exponent is used, the RSA system can be successfully attacked. Using a small decryption exponent, d, has the advantage of allowing rapid decipherment. It might be thought that this advantage could be retained by increasing d just beyond the range vulnerable to Wiener’s attack. In attacks of the Wiener and Hinek types the condition must be obeyed for the success of the attack to be guaranteed. I shall refer to this condition as the "n1/4 barrier". In this project I investigate attacks beyond the "n1/4  barrier".

SECOND PRIZES (€3 000 per project)

Country Name of contestant Age Field Title
Austria

Martina HAFNER

19 Environmental science Energy from maize straw
France Anne-Laure DELAYE 17 Physics Can we walk on water?

Aude LATRIVE

17
Astrid VERPEAUX 17
Israel Yael Amarilyo 17 Biological science Molecular Identification and Characterization of Phytoplasma Bacteria in Grapevines – Another Milestone Saving the Wine Industry

THIRD PRIZES (€1 500 per project))

Country Name of contestant Age Field Title
Austria Julian GLECHNER 17 Engineering Latent heat storage system (Salt crystals as a new energy storage technology)
Werner POLLHAMMER 17

David STOCKINGER

17

Czech Republic

Eva Černohorská

20

Mathematics

Generalization of method of tiling in triangular and hexagonal grid

Germany

Florian Schnös

19

Engineering

SmartCam – Development of a universal 3D-Camera

 

HONORARY AWARDS

Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar 2007
to attend the 2007 Nobel Prize ceremonies, meet the Nobel Laureates and take part in a series of other scientific/cultural activities during the week.

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Germany

Florian Ostermaier

19

Physics

Flashing Water Drops

Henrike Wilms

20

Hungary

Márton SPOHN

18

Chemistry

Examination of the plants’ self-defence against pests

 

London International Youth Science Forum 2008
to
meet young scientists from around the world and take part in the annual two-week intensive summer science festival during July-August 2008.

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Austria

Martina HAFNER

19

Environmental science

Energy from maize straw

Ireland

Abdusalam Abubakar

16

Mathematics

An Extension of Wiener’s Attack on RSA Encryption

Israel

Yael Amarilyo

17

Biological science

Molecular Identification and Characterization of Phytoplasma Bacteria in Grapevines – Another Milestone Saving the Wine Industry

DONATED PRIZES

There are ten special donated prizes: a five-day visit of a technical and cultural nature to the European Patent Office in Munich, a visit to one of the centres of CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas): a one-week stay at the University of Valencia's Cavanilles Institute of biodiversity and evolutionary biology, and a one-week stay at each of the seven members of EIROforum[1]:

  • CERN: The European Laboratory for Particle Physics
  • EFDA: The European Fusion Development Agreement
  • EMBL: The European Molecular Biology Laboratory
  • ESA: The European Space Agency
  • ESO: The European Southern Observatory
  • ESRF: The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
  • ILL: The Institut Laue-Langevin

The European Patent Office, Munich, Germany
A five-day visit of a technical and cultural nature to the European Patent Office in Munich

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Austria

Julian GLECHNER

17

Engineering

Latent heat storage system (Salt crystals as a new energy storage technology)

Werner POLLHAMMER

17

David STOCKINGER

17

Bulgaria

Slaveya Angelova Angelska

17

Social science

Possibilities of people with hearing loss
to perceive sounds

Hungary

Dániel István BUZA

14

Information / Computer Science

Recognition of movement pattern by means of computer

Ministry of Education and Science special prize
a visit to Centro National de Biotecnología (Madrid)

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Poland

Dominik Cysewski

19

Chemistry

Bi-functional cross-linking reagents as a means of establishing spatial protein structure

Pawel Gniewek

20

Host Organization Special Donated Prize
A one-week placement offered by the Universitat de València’s Cavanilles Institute of biodiversity and evolutionary biology.

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Estonia

Hillar Liiv

18

Biological science

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret) – a new bird-species in Estonia

Sweden

Johan Jensen

Biological science

Rapid evolution in bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus)

 

EIROforum prizes

CERN: The European Laboratory for Particle Physics

Country Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

United Kingdom

Galen Brown

17

Engineering

FSC11 – The flexible TV standby controller

EFDA: The European Fusion Development Agreement

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Turkey

Mustafa Hamidoglu

16

Mathematics

The Integer Values Of Algebraic Expressions And Some New Properties Of Binomial Coefficients

EMBL: The European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Austria

Philipp Zagar

18

Chemistry

Synthesis of a linker molecule for self-assembled monolayers (SAM)

ESA: The European Space Agency

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Germany

Raphael Errani

17

Physics (Astronomy)

Impact Probability of Asteroids on Earth

ESO: The European Southern Observatory

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Slovakia

Ľubomír Urbančok

17

Physics (Astronomy)

The study of symbiotic star BF Cygni

ILL: The Institut Laue-Langevin - ESRF: The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

Country

Name of contestant

Age

Field

Title

Lithuania

Milda Jurénaité

19

Chemistry

Zinc and zinc alloys galvanic coatings: structure homogeneity determines resistance to corrosion

Rasa Briedyté

19

 

[1] EIROforum is a collaboration between seven European intergovernmental research organisations. As world leaders within their respective fields of science, the member organisations of the EIROforum constitute the vanguard of European science, enabling European scientists to engage in truly cutting-edge research and be competitive on a global scale.