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Teen gets supercomputer challenge top prize
[May 04, 2011]

Teen gets supercomputer challenge top prize


LOS ALAMOS, May 03, 2011 (Albuquerque Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Cole Kendrick would have had a long wait to track the rotation of an entire galaxy, so he used Python code to write a computer program that condensed 1 billion years into about 15 days.



But that was also too long to wait, so he learned the faster C code language, and turned 1 billion years into 20 hours.

Kendrick is 13, a seventhgrader at Los Alamos Middle School, and he was named first-place winner at the 21st New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory.


The contest pits hundreds of elementary through high school students against one another in a kind of science fair intended to teach them how to use computers to analyze, model and solve realworld problems.

Kendrick won $1,000 for his project, titled "Computer Simulation of Dark Matter Effects on Galaxy Rotation." He also won the $100 Crowd Favorite award.

A soccer, basketball and viola player as well as a computer whiz, Kendrick said he took an interest in his subject because he and his father, Brian, a theoretical physicist at the lab, enjoy astronomy.

Kendrick wrote a program that models a galaxy with its rotation, and then added the mysterious dark matter mass, which made stars rotate faster. The result, he said, matched experimental data scientists have measured previously.

He said his project was meant to help people understand "what's really going on in the universe." Second prize went to Los Alamos High School students Peter Ahrens, Dustin Tauxe and Stephanie Djidjev, whose project "BrilliAnts" developed algorithms based on ant foraging behavior to determine which ant optimizations work best.

Third place was a tie between a team from Eldorado and La Cueva high schools in Albuquerque and another from Desert Academy in Santa Fe.

To see more of the Albuquerque Journal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.abqjournal.com. Copyright (c) 2011, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com.

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