- Dr. Georgios Ch. Sirakoulis - http://gsirak.ee.duth.gr -

Five Contests That Recognize The Science Achievements of the Everyman

Posted By admin On December 14, 2010 @ 7:55 am In Uncategorized | Comments Disabled

Reported by Rebecca Boyle [1] in Popular Science [2], 12.13.2010.

You Won’t Get Merit Badges For Winning These Contests, But You Will Get Money Pixelgarden.com [3]

There’s a long tradition of offering big cash prizes to entice talented and creative individuals to solve problems that have stymied industry and governments for decades. For example, in 1810, French cook Nicolas Appert won a 12,000-franc government prize for a food preservation method to help feed Napoleon’s army. His demonstration of putting food in airtight glass jars and sterilizing them with heat led to canning techniques that are still used today. Recently, such contests have blossomed, with many geared toward particle physicists and backyard tinkerers alike. Each year now, innovators are awarded some 30,000 prizes, worth in total about $1 billion. Here are our picks for the five most accessible.

Postcode Lottery Green Challenge


Postcode Lottery Green Challenge: Develop a marketable technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Pixelgarden.com

The Challenge:

Create a marketable, user-friendly technology to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. To win the Dutch lottery’s prize, your invention should be refined enough to implement within two years. Judges favor creativity, sustainability and entrepreneurship.

The Payoff:

First place: about $700,000; second: about $275,000

The Competition:

A 25-year-old engineer, Scot Frank, won this year for a portable solar concentrator. The runner-up, rainforest researcher Jason Aramburu, also 25, submitted a kiln for people in developing nations to turn waste into carbon-capturing charcoal. greenchallenge.info [5]



N-Prize: Create a small, inexpensive satellite that can be launched into orbit, circling the Earth at least nine times. Pixelgarden.com

The Challenge:

Launch a satellite weighing between 0.35 and 0.70 ounces into low-Earth orbit by September 19, 2011. According to the prize’s sponsor, biologist Paul Dear, the launch must cost less than $1,600 and the satellite must circle the planet nine times.

The Payoff:

One-shot launching system: about $16,000; reusable one: about $16,000.

The Competition:

This prize is geared toward basement engineers around the world. The 26 teams that have signed up so far include both professional aerospace engineers and amateurs with no rocket-science background at all. n-prize.com [7]

Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition


Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition: Power a chopper with only your own muscles and hover higher and longer than anyone before. Pixelgarden.com

The Challenge:

Hover at least 9.8 feet off the ground for 60 seconds, using only human power and no energy-storage devices. The Sikorsky Aircraft and American Helicopter Society’s contest rules stipulate that lighter-than-air gases such as helium are not allowed.

The Payoff:

$250,000 (and a serious cardio workout).

The Competition:

Only two human-powered copters have ever flown. California State Polytechnic students hovered at eight inches for about eight seconds in 1989. A team from Nihon University in Japan set the current world record in 1994, at the same height for nearly 20 seconds. vtol.org/awards/hph.html [9]

Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge


Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge: Save the world's oceans from destruction with a more efficient, environmentally-friendly way to clean up after oil spills. Pixelgarden.com

The Challenge:

Clean up oil spills better than current methods, and without any negative environmental effects. Teams selected by the X Prize Foundation will compete head-to-head for the quickest and most efficient cleanup on a test spill next summer.

The Payoff:

First place: $1 million; second: $300,000; third: $100,000

The Competition:

The X Prize Foundation hasn’t yet announced teams, but the Deepwater Horizon disaster has already proved that great ideas can come from anyone, such as the oil-tanker captain who invented a mesh sieve that snags tar balls from the ocean. iprizecleanoceans.org [11]

Rolex Awards For Enterprise


Rolex Awards For Enterprise: Construct an innovative prototype of "world-changing technology" in one of many categories. Pixelgarden.com

The Challenge:

Build a working prototype of a “world-changing technology.” Categories include Science and Health, Environment, Exploration and Discovery, and Applied Technology. Representatives for the watch company judge entries on originality, impact and feasibility.

The Payoff:

First place: $100,000 and a gold Rolex; runners-up: $50,000 and a steel-and-gold Rolex.

The Competition:

Past winning projects were an acoustic whale-detector to protect the animals from ships, and a stove powered by discarded rice husks. Winners have included academics, professionals, entrepreneurs and students. rolexawards.com [13]

Article printed from Dr. Georgios Ch. Sirakoulis: http://gsirak.ee.duth.gr

URL to article: http://gsirak.ee.duth.gr/index.php/archives/340

URLs in this post:

[1] Rebecca Boyle: http://www.popsci.com/category/popsci-authors/rebecca-boyle

[2] Popular Science: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-11/five-science-contests-everyman

[3] Pixelgarden.com: http://pixelgarden.com/

[4] Image:

[5] greenchallenge.info: http://greenchallenge.info/

[6] Image:

[7] n-prize.com: http://n-prize.com/

[8] Image:

[9] vtol.org/awards/hph.html: http://vtol.org/awards/hph.html

[10] Image:

[11] iprizecleanoceans.org: http://iprizecleanoceans.org/Page/Home

[12] Image:

[13] rolexawards.com: http://rolexawards.com/

Copyright © 2011 Dr. Georgios Ch. Sirakoulis. All rights reserved.