"Space Elevators" reach for the sky in Technion creativity competition

An elevator for ferrying supplies and passengers to and from outer space may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but aerospace experts say the idea could become a reality in the not-so-distant future. Such is the inspiration behind this year's "Dr. Bob's Technobrain Competition," at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The finals of the annual student creativity contest will take place at 12:30 PM on Wednesday, June 18th on the Zielony Plaza Lawn (at the heart of the Technion campus).

The concept of a “space elevator” was first conceived of in 1895 as a tower reaching into space.  In 1957, Russian engineer Yuri Artsutanov proposed a more feasible plan for building such a device, with a geostationary satellite over a fixed point on the equator as a base from which to build.  A 22,000 mile-long cable would be lowered from the satellite to Earth, and connected to a platform at sea, with a counterweight extended from Earth. Artsutanov will be on hand as a judge for the competition.

Technobrain 2012
Participants taking part in a past (2012) Dr. Bob's Technobrain Competition

Competitors must build a device capable of climbing to the top of an 80-foot cable, set at an 80-degree angle to the ground.  The device must then slide back down, with its weight lifting an “elevator” carrying practical cargo from the other side of the pulley.  All of this must be accomplished without sources of energy that require combustion or open flame.

The winning entry will be the one that accomplishes these tasks in the least amount of time.  In addition to bragging rights for a year, the winner will receive approximately $1400.  Second prize is nearly $900.

Dr. Bob's Technobrain Competition is held annually in memory of the late Neev-Ya Durham, the promising engineering student and IDF officer who created it.  Durban was murdered in Tel Aviv in March 2003.  Dr. Robert Shillman of San Diego, Calif., who did his graduate work at the Technion, funds the competition and the prizes.  Yuri Artsutanov’s visit to the Technion is supported by the Technion Dean of Students Office and the Technion Norman and Helen Asher Space Research Institute.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute is a vital component of Cornell NYC Tech, and a model for graduate applied science education that is expected to transform New York City’s economy.

American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion—more than $1.9 billion since its inception in 1940. Based in New York City, the ATS and its network of chapters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more.


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