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National Gallery recognizes seven award-winning inventors     By Paul Niemann

[NOV. 26, 2004]  The patent files include so much technical language that it's practically impossible for anyone to understand them. Patents are written in a foreign language known as "lawyer-esque," which is something that only the lawyers can enjoy.

The National Gallery, part of the Partnership for America's Future, recently presented awards to seven outstanding inventors for their work. Here, then, are the seven inventors and their inventions:

Ms. Hyeyeon Choi of Dix Hills, N.Y., invented THE EFFECT OF SUPERFICIAL FLUIDS ON POLYMER THIN FILMS.

Joline Marie Fan of Columbus, Ohio, invented HEAT TRANSFER ENHANCEMENT OF DRAG-REDUCING SURFACTANTS.

Then there's Elena Glassman of Pipersville, Minn. She invented the BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACE FOR THE MUSCULARLY DISABLED.

Vaishali Grover of Miami, Fla., invented an ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY ENZYME-BASED ANTI-FOULING PAINT.

Other than their high-tech capabilities, can you figure out what these award-winning inventors have in common? At first glance it appears that the common denominator is the fact that they're all women.

But then the list includes Sean Mehra and Jeff Reitman of Jericho, N.Y., who teamed up to invent a process of USING NANOPARTICLES TO ENHANCE POLYMER PROPERTIES FOR IMPROVED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS.

Rounding out these seven award-winning inventors is Chandler Macocha of Oxford, Mich., who invented the WHEELCHAIR BACKPACK HELPER. Finally, an invention that us non-geniuses can figure out (or would that be non-geniui?).

What was Chandler's problem? Was he inventing with one hand tied behind his back?

Actually, the problem may have been his age, since Chandler was three or four years younger than the other inventors. He was only in the eighth grade, while the others were in the 11th and 12th grades.

For most people, myself included, the words in capital letters above are just plain hard to understand. Let's take a look at the inventors' backgrounds, which are more interesting than the technical descriptions of their inventions.

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Hyeyeon Choi was born in Korea and moved to the United States with her family at age 12. She's an accomplished violinist, pianist and drummer who plans to study chemical engineering in college and do research after graduation.

Invention seems to run in Joline Marie Fan's family. Her mom is a chemist and her dad teaches chemical engineering. Typical underachieving family! Joline was named after Marie Curie, while her brother, Jonathan Albert Fan, was named after Albert Einstein. She plans to become a medical researcher, a surgeon or an engineer.

Elena Glassman first used the family computer when she was only 18 months old. She was inspired to invent her brain-computer interface after seeing a paralyzed man use his hands to pick up objects from a table. Elena plans to follow in her father's footsteps and become an electrical engineer.

Vaishali Grover was only 2 years old when she learned to read. Now she envisions her anti-fouling paint being used to prevent barnacles from building up on ships. She hopes to become a documentary filmmaker someday.

Best friends Sean Mehra and Jeff Reitman have both been accepted to Yale, where they plan to study medicine. Sean can speak Hindi, Punjabi and French, while Jeff was recently chosen to be the U.S. ambassador for the Third Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Youth Science Festival.

Chandler Macocha, who once made a paper model of the Titanic for his grandmother, plans to become either a flight director for NASA or an engineer at Disney World.

Each of their inventions is either patented (mildly difficult to do), won a national invention competition (more difficult to do) or is marketed nationwide (most difficult to do). Each one of these young Einsteins achieved this before graduating from high school.

[Paul Niemann]

Invention Mysteries is written each week by Paul Niemann. He can be reached at niemann7@aol.com.

Copyright Paul Niemann 2004

 

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