For most teens, texting is a way to keep up with gossip and annoy their parents. For Alexander Kendrick, it’s a way to save the lives of researchers who get trapped in caves deep underground.
It can often take days to rescue a missing spelunker because rescuers have no way of staying in touch with the trapped researchers — ordinary radio transmitters and mobile phone signals have trouble penetrating large amounts of solid rock. So when Kendrick was 16, he invented an electronic texting device that uses low-frequency radio waves that can penetrate rock more easily. It can successfully transmit messages up to 1,000 feet underground.
Since the device can transmit electronic data beneath the earth at such a distance, experts believe that the device may even allow researchers to collect information about caves without having to physically send researchers down — making cave research less dangerous for humans and less environmentally invasive.
Kendrick’s invention won him first prize at the 2009 International Science Fair, NPR reports.
Next Look, Ma! No Hands!