Maltese scientist hits Google's map
At just 18, Melvin Zammit can boast having made a name for himself at the Google Headquarters in California, but he doesn’t, because the whiz kid keeps himself rooted thanks to the unyielding support of his family and loved ones.
Melvin jogs his memory by taking di-ve.com through his timeline of fortunate events.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love science. It’s something I was born with,” he says of his ever present inclination to science, which led him to explore and whip up his 3D display project.
Melvin developed three working prototypes of 3D display that give an image a hologram quality similar to that seen in sci-fi movies. Using the principle of persistence of vision, if an array of LEDs are spun in a circle and switched on and off accordingly, the semblance of an image forms by illusion, leaving a virtually transparent background. Layers of the same LED array can be added one after another to create a 3D canvas on which 3D objects can be drawn.
This project could have an infinite number of possible applications, including air traffic control, 3D movies, 3D games, terrain analysis, 3D telephony, CT scans and other applications that require a realistic 3D display.
The practicality of his project led him to win the NSTF-MCST Contest for Young Scientists, a special award for research at the European Contest for Young Scientists in Helsinki, Finland, and to then participate in the Intel ISEF 2012 Competition. “From one fair to another, I kept improving my projects and building new prototypes,” Melvin told di-ve.com.
He then became one of the finalists of the Google Science Competition, and as a result of that, was invited to the 2012 Google Science Fair at the Google Headquarters in California last month.
“The exhibition at the Google Headquarters in California was amazing. I learned many new things that I previously thought were impossible. Most of the technology there is not yet on the market, so it’s really unique to experience new technology before it is even revealed to the public,” he said, brimming with excitement.
Melvin took advantage of that opportunity and eyed the other contestants’ entries to get a better idea of what he was up against. Among his favourite projects, there was Jonah Kohn’s “Good Vibrations”, a project that enables the deaf to enjoy music by giving them vibrations in their fingers. The winning entry, however, turned out to be Brittany Wenger, who came up with the idea of making a computer programme that could be used to detect breast cancer.
Melvin also recounts his meeting with Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the internet, Pixel QI founder Mary Lou Jepsen and a couple of Nobel Prize winners. “Knowing these people is really valuable for a scientist; it helps us get peer reviews and improve our work,” he pointed out.
Melvin is currently developing some Android apps and has other project ideas in mind waiting to be evolved along with the constant support of his family, who “are the ones that saw potential in my project before I even entered any science fair,” he said.