Pittsford student recognized in prestigious science competition

Jan 22, 2020

Simon Narang
Credit CL!X Photography

A Pittsford Sutherland High School student is getting national recognition for his nuclear fusion project.

Simon Narang, 17, was named a top 300 scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. 

The prestigious competition recognizes promising young scientists who are developing ideas that could solve society's most urgent problems.

As an intern at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, Narang worked on software designed to help develop greater energy production in nuclear fusion.

"The eventual goal is to achieve this idea of ignition," he explained, "and if that's achieved, nuclear fusion can be used with resources that cost less than 1% of what it costs to operate coal energy."

Narang said nuclear fusion, if it's achieved in time, could help alleviate climate change by providing a safer alternative to nuclear fission, the process used to create energy at existing nuclear power plants.  

Narang's project is called "Modeling for Direct Drive Fusion Implosions: Cryogenic Target Filling at Arbitrary Viewing Angles and Yield Prediction." That's a mouthful, and it essentially means Narang studied a way to fill balls of hydrogen, called targets, with liquid before they are frozen. Freezing the targets allows for a higher density of hydrogen, resulting in greater energy production if implosion occurs.

He said working on a project with the potential to address climate change is  both "exciting and meaningful" to him.

Narang, who is awaiting word on his college applications, is interested in block chain technology, artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurship.  

He and each of the top 300 scholars were awarded $2,000 per scholar and $2,000 for their schools to be used for STEM-related activities.

The Society for Science and the Public, which operates the program, says past winners went on to world-changing careers in STEM fields and earn esteemed honors, including the Nobel Prize and the MacArthur Genius grant.