Irish Independent| 8 Jan 2020 | Mícheál Ó Scannáil
FROM examining the environmental fallout of the devastating Australian bushfires to using quantum computers to cure diseases, competitors at this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition are ready to show their scientific prowess.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar officially opens the exhibition at Dublin’s RDS this afternoon, with more than 1,000 pupils taking part – who were busy yesterday putting the finishing touches to their stands.
Projects on display at the 56th instalment of the event encompass all areas of science, technology and maths.
Inspired by fellow student
Greta Thunberg, there is a large contingent of students with environmental projects at this year’s exhibition.
One such student, 17-year-old Joshua Butler, is “ahead of the game” in terms of quantifying plant destruction as a result of the Australian bushfires.
The fifth-year student from Templeogue College in Dublin uses special cameras to monitor the level of infrared light absorption and red light reflection in an area of dense plant life.
Joshua has been working on the project for three years and was chosen for a programme whereby photographs were taken from the international space station for his project.
“I was able to quantify the level of plant destruction in the Amazon rainforest due to the fires there, as well as the Australian bushfires,” he said.
“With Australia, I would be ahead of the game but it has been done on the ground in Brazil. But this is a much easier way to analyse the amount of vegetation in an area compared to some of the stuff that’s out there.”
There is also a great buzz around another student, Ayush Tambde (14), who attends Stratford College in Dublin.
Despite only being in third year, he is revolutionising the way artificial information is “trained” using something called quantum computers.
“In regular computers there are bits, so they can be 0 or 1,” Ayush explained. “In a quantum computer they can be both 0 and 1 at the same time.
“So I’m using that to combine all the training data into one and training the AI at once, quicker and more effectively.”
He hopes to use his algorithms to help find cures to diseases more quickly in the future.