Alexander Kendrick, 16, won the 2009 International Science Fair for inventing this cave-texting device. The award got the teen from Los Alamos, N.M., a new computer, a trip to Switzerland and $12,000.
A cave radio that allows you to beam data to the surface rather than visiting it in person can be extremely valuable. It could save the cave.
- Diana Northup
I wanted to find out why this thing was such a big deal. The next thing I knew, I was hanging from a rope in the bowels of the Earth and groaning under my breath.
I was with a team of cavers in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, heading 1,000 feet underground to test Kendrick's invention.
The device is something like a computer attached to a ham radio. It transmits data using low-frequency radio waves that can penetrate rock more easily than high-frequency transmissions, like those in FM broadcasts.
If this test succeeded, it would be the deepest known underground digital communication ever to take place in the United States.