Extraordinary People

Watch teen’s genius video of how we can walk through walls (sort of)

Maryam Tsegaye, 17, wins $250k at top science competition

There’s a ‘For Dummies’ book series to help kids learn about tricky topics, and most of us will have definitely watched the movie instead of reading the literature once upon a time.

However, if Maryam Tsegaye was a teacher, we think she would have young people coming back for more and more while never growing bored from learning.

For this teen has a knack for explaining complex subjects in simple terms. So much so, that she nabbed a $250k (£184k) scholarship for her genius explanation of quantum tunnelling.

Good for her, we hear you say. But WTF is quantum tunnelling?

Well, it is the phenomenon whereby particles can pass through a barrier they classically shouldn’t be able to move through.

Quantum tunnelling is traditionally used for nuclear fusion, and while little elementary particles can walk through walls in this field, regrettably humans cannot walk through walls (yet).

This is because our bodies are made up of more than a quadrillion of these quantum objects and the odds of all of them tunnelling through the wall at once is practically impossible. Yet where humans stumble, fictional characters step in.

And that’s how Maryam, 17, broke the definition down into its simplest format, by comparing quantum tunnelling to her brother’s video games.

[Credit: Instagram]

The Canadian teen, based in Fort McMurray, filmed herself likening the behaviour of electrons to how her sibling cheats while playing online.

Maryam said: “So, I was watching my brother play this video game and he used a cheat code that let his character do a walk-through-walls hack.

“He pushed himself against a barrier in the game, hit some buttons and boom, his character appeared on the other side.”

[Credit: Maryam Tsegaye]

She added: “Imagine if you could walk through walls in real life – and it turns out you can, at a quantum level.”

The footage was entered into the international Breakthrough Junior Challenge – a science video competition where young people showcase their knowledge of scientific principles in various fields – and earned her the impressive top prize.

Not only did she nab the dollar for herself, which will fund studying in higher education, she also won $50k (£37k) for her science teacher and a $100k (£74k) science lab for her school.

What an absolute boss.

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