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Friday, May 17, 2013 - 2:42am

Ga. Students Working On Invisibility, Moon Concrete

In the popular Harry Potter series of novels, the boy wizard often uses an invisibility cloak he inherited from his farther. Atlanta high-school senior Julia Abelsky is working to make such vestments a reality.

NASA hopes to return Americans to the moon and eventually build a permanent colony. Junior Sergio Parra from Auburn is working to make that cheaper by making concrete from materials on the moon’s surface.

Both students are competing this week at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix. Judges will hand out $4 million in scholarships and awards Friday to the best of the students gathered at the fair.

Abelsky, who attends North Springs Charter High School in Sandy Springs, has developed a substance that manipulates light so that it doesn’t bounce back to the eye. That makes it invisible to the viewer.

“Right now, it’s in a liquid state, but the eventual idea is to synthesize it into a cloth and to create that invisibility cloak that everyone’s been fantasizing about,” Abelsky said.

The 18-year-old said she became fascinated with the idea of improving upon the materials we know today and creating new materials altogether.

“I really think I found a passion of mine and I found a field of interest, so going into college, I’ve got a declared major...and an idea for my future,” Abelsky said.

Parra’s career ambitions likewise inspired his science project. He said he wants to be an astronaut and has always been fascinated with space. That’s how he came to the idea of creating concrete using the dust, rocks and minerals covering the moon’s surface.

“You’re already saving money doing that by saving the $10,000-per-kilogram cost of sending things to the moon,” Parra said. “Because this concrete [turned] out to be lots stronger than terrestrial concrete, you can use less of it to sustain the same amount of weight. And then you haven’t even factored in the gravity on the moon yet.”

Parra goes to Mill Creek High School in Hoschton. He said several NASA scientists were among the judges he spoke to at the fair, and they expressed interest in his work.

Abelsky and Parra are among nearly two dozen Georgia students at the fair this year.

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