The sky is the limit

Young prodigy

The sky is the limit

Vishnu Anand has let his mind travel beyond the frontiers of space and his project stands testimony to this statement. A ninth standard student of Chaitanya Techno School, Uttarahalli; he has just navigated his way to success by winning the second prize in the NASA Space Settlement Design contest, 2015.

The contest, ‘SWARG- Mankind in Space’, invited students to design and submit an imagined space settlement where people can live in harmony and with the prototype of a spinning top at home, Vishnu unleashed the power of his imagination and sent in a project book of a world-class artificial outer-space settlement, one that orbits Mars.

“I submitted a book which explains my concept, design, the materials I would use for the settlement and the organisation of the model. It also includes a highlight page which proves the unique quality of my project. Some of the key highlights are the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor that produces energy in the space settlement and the laser beam which deflects energy to my settlement. The other highlight is the feature that deflects radiation. It’s quite complicated...,” he breaks off.

Cherishing the moment he saw his name on the website, Vishnu says that his first reaction was a swirl of joy and surprise. He recalls the moment as an “amazing” feeling. “I never thought that I would win this. It’s a dream-come-true.” 

The contest invites students globally every year, from classes 7 to 12. Vishnu decided to enter the contest when he first got the information from his school. It is by no means a mean feat. As his school would end only at 5 pm, Vishnu would devote his Sundays to science. He started the project on November 30 and completed it by the third week of February. He says that he referred to a lot of books about space for his research. He was also a part of the association which used to meet in Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium and discuss on science and astronomy. “I picked up a lot of ideas from the meetings,” he says.

Although it took time to organise the design and develop the concept, he says that the biggest challenge was researching on the project. “I made the internet my friend,” quips the 14-year-old. “NASA’s rule was that the students shouldn’t copy any model from the internet so I had to come up with something unique and creative.”

 He will now participate at the International Space Development Conference in Toronto, Canada where he will receive his prize and also hopes to talk about his project. He also would like to mentor a group of children for the same contest in 2016, help build their science project and make that as a winning one.
The whiz-kid hopes to be a part of NASA’s ‘discreet community’ in the future. Enjoying his summer holidays by “watching television” and “sleeping late”, he says, “Science is surely growing in India and there are a number of opportunities for budding scientists here. Most of the entries and the finalists for this contest are from India. There is a lot of scope here for growth and I would like to encourage many more students to participate in such projects,” he says.

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