Some kids pull the wings off of flies. Others incinerate ants under magnifying lenses. Amr Mohamed wants to take things one step further — he wants to send spiders into space. Zebra spiders, to be precise.
This is not evidence of a chemical imbalance on his part, or a sadistic sense of humor, but rather “curiosity” he explains with a shrug. While some may laugh off the 18-year-old’s ambitious proposal, and the matter-of-fact nature with which he discusses it, there’s a good chance that in a few months’ time, a team of arachnid astronauts will be grappling with the effects of weightlessness — and they’ll have the young Egyptian to thank for it.
Last month, Amr emerged as the regional finalist in the YouTube SpaceLab, a global science competition that challenges 14- to 18-year-olds to design an experiment specifically to be performed in space. The only Egyptian out of the 2,000-plus applicants who responded to the call, Amr’s proposed experiment took him through the selection process and the following elimination round, which slashed the 60 finalists down to just six, split between two age groups (14- to 16-year-olds and 17- to 18-year-olds) and three regions (the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe/Middle-East/Africa).
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