Google offers $50,000 prize in search for young Einsteins

Future Einsteins of the world, Google needs you. The California internet giant already has a reputation for progressive employment policies with its bean-bag culture, lava-lamp filled offices and insistence that engineers spend 20 per cent of their year working on something that interests them personally.

Now it is looking for a new breed of employee: teenage geniuses. Google has announced the launch on an online global science fair allowing any student with an internet connection and a Google account to enter a competition with a $50,000 (£32,000) prize.

Billed as the "first global online science competition", the Google Science Fair is open to anyone aged between 13 and 18. Students are encouraged to submit an idea for a scientific experiment by 4 April, with the winners being flown out to California to pitch their idea to some of the world's leading scientific luminaries.

In a blog post announcing the competition, the company said that scientifically gifted youths should be encouraged to display their talents: "How many ideas are lost because people don't have the right forum for their talents to be discovered?"

However, a baking soda volcano is unlikely to pass muster here. To give an idea about the kind of talent they are after, Google posted an example submission from a high school senior from Oregon who claims to have written an algorithm that could enable a robot to negotiate its way through a hospital carrying linen sheets.

The competition is being supported by leading scientific outlets including the magazines National Geographic and Scientific American, as well as the CERN institute in Geneva, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

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