In recent years the phrase ‘indigo-children’ has become a buzz-word for those youngsters whose intellectual potential significantly surpasses that of most adult scientists. While many remain skeptical towards the idea of the ‘genius youth’, one can hardly ignore the growing number of teenagers endowed with exceptional and often unprecedented talents in various spheres of science and humanities.
The recent innovation exhibition for the young adults of pre-university age organized by Bauman Moscow State Technical University (MSTU) presented Russian scientists with an opportunity to ‘witness the miracle’ and get to see the creations of gifted children. Leading experts were positively shocked by such exhibits as energy-efficient home suitable for severe climate conditions of Siberia and a robot rover constructed on the basis of Tolchin’s inertioid.
Bauman MSTU has long become a synonym for technological innovation and change. Ever since its foundation in 1763 by the order of Russian Empress Catherine II the institution has become the home of greatest scientific minds. The walls of this most renowned Russian technical university have witnessed the inventions of such revolutionary apparatuses as the very first oil cracking machine and a swash plate, which subsequently allowed building helicopters with extraordinary steadiness and controllability characteristics. However, never before has the university contemplated that remarkable scientific breakthroughs can be made by young adults who are yet to receive higher education.
Every year the university organizes ‘Step to the Future’ – an innovation exhibition for pre-university teenagers to uncover the potential of the Russian youth and motivate the most gifted youngsters to pursue a career in technology. Over the years, the university professors and leading experts who oversee the exhibition have already become used to creative and unusual technological solutions proposed by the Russian youth. Nonetheless, the exhibits of December 2012 have come as a shock even to those scientists who were accustomed to ‘usual unusualnesses’ of the exposition.
Eleventh grade student Anya Shvetsova from the city of Noginsk, Moscow Region, has captured the audience with her robot rover. Her exhibition stand is always crowded with Russian leading scientists who marvel at Anya’s creation and try to figure out how it works. Noisily creeping on the floor, the machine is reminiscent of either a UFO or a silver bowl. When Anya toggles the switches on her hand-made console the plate immediately changes the course and starts crawling across the floor in the opposite direction.
The girl calls her invention “an autonomous landing vehicle” and suggests that should her idea be realized under the sponsorship of the Russian Space Agency the robot rover will be able to land even on Venus. When asked about the technical characteristics of the machine, Anya habitually answers that “the apparatus’ main engine is constructed on the basis of Tolchin’s inertioid”. In plain language, it means that the vehicle’s propulsion depends on the movement of two asymmetrical tooth-wheels that are put in motion by electricity or solar energy. While the mechanism seems to be quite straightforward, the way how the rotation of the two tooth-gears drives the whole apparatus remains a mystery even for the most renowned experts.
When asked about her plans and future projects Anya sets her standards very high. In the very near future the girl aims to teach her robot to surmount ramps with the gradient of more than 15 degrees and to change the material of the rover in order to make it heat-resistant. Anya also hopes to make her rover work up to 12 times longer than all other existing landing vehicles, which is a very audacious plan.
Three years younger than Anya, Danil Bibnev from Usolye-Sibirskoe town, Irkutsk region, has presented the public with a similarly ambitious invention. In just two years Danil has constructed a house which is suitable for severe weather conditions of Siberia – its highly efficient heating system is able to conserve heat for the whole duration of long and extremely cold Siberian winters. The key component of Danil’s design is the vortex heater which is remarkable for its ability to spend less amount of energy on heating the water than the amount of energy subsequently derived from water’s heat. While the house is fully operational, modern scientists find it difficult to understand how the vortex heater works since its logic undermines the fundamental law of thermodynamics. This law, which is usually referred to as the energy conservation rule, dictates that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time. Thus, Danil’s use of the vortex heater in his energy-efficient house has a potential to be become a cardinal breakthrough in modern physics.
Another innovative element in Danil’s project is the use of ‘matrioshka principle’ which he used while deciding how and where to place heating pipes. Positioning the pipes along the building’s pedestal, the boy placed the hot water pipes in empty pipes with greater diameter so that the heat from water transferred to the air thereby creating a hot air cushion.
Danil dreams to continue his education in Bauman MSTU. While the family does not have sufficient funds to sponsor Danil’s higher education, the boy hopes that he will get a governmental grant. These grants – often called the ‘indigo-grants’ – are due to be realized in two years, exactly when Danil graduates from school.