Young scientist competition winner foils intruders

Winning system tracks intruders in 3D space; runner-ups are new method for studying schizophrenia and technique to restore fertility.

young scientists 88.298 (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
young scientists 88.298
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
An 18-year-old Jerusalem high school pupil, Rafael Uzan, won a NIS 10,000 academic scholarship from Intel-Israel on Wednesday for his first-prize win of ninth annual Young Scientists Competition at Jerusalem's Bloomfield Museum. His development of a system to identify the movement of an intruder, track him and calculate his location in three dimensions was cited by the judges as a "significant development in the field of computerized vision that makes possible many applications." Uzan, a graduate of Boys Town who was recently inducted into the Israel Defense Forces, received his prize from President Moshe Katsav at Beit Hanassi after being chosen by a panel of judges from among 61 finalists who worked on 40 projects. His work, explained on a computerized wall display in the museum rather than a printed poster because it was so complex, can be used to develop more autonomous robots, automatically aimed weapons, following movement on the battlefield and other security and military applications. The smart system Uzan developed and built is comprised of two Internet cameras positioned at the distance of the two eyes in a man's head. Directed by video, it discovers the intruder by his movement and tracks him in real time. In addition, a robot operates in coordination with the cameras, issues laser light that points to the suspect's body and follows where he is going. Second prize, worth a NIS 7,500 academic scholarship from Intel, was shared by Esther Postalnik of the Jerusalem Academy of Sciences and the Arts, and Na'ama Lemberg of the same school. Postalnik studied conceptual delusions as a research tool for studying schizophrenia, while Lemberg's work was aimed at developing a reliable technique to restore fertility to women who undergo chemotherapy for cancer by transplanting unharmed ovarian tissue back into their bodies. She found that inserting the tissue into an intentionally caused wound that is rich in blood vessels and adding the antioxidant vitamin E increases the chances of the ovarian tissue being accepted by the body. Third prize, worth a NIS 5,000 scholarship, was shared by Bruria Mundri of Jerusalem's Gymnasia High School and Yonatan Gutel of the Hartman Yeshiva High School for their examination of a new drug for Type II diabetes; Matan Peled of the Aleh Science High School in Lod for building a computer program that logically completes sentences using an algorhithm that "learns" and speeds up typing; Shifa'a Mahamid, a pupil at the Um el Fahm Comprehensive High School studied how to set the age of water in underground aquifers; and Doron Levin of the Amit Comprehensive High School in Beersheba who examined a logic puzzle in mathematics. The top winners will represent Israel in the international Intel competition in May and the European Union's young scientist competition in September. The competition was organized with help from the Bloomfield Museum and the Education Ministry.