Fun With Ferrofluids: Q&A with YouTube Space Lab Finalist Sachin

Sachin Kukke dreams of becoming an astronaut. He’s not there yet but lately he’s gotten awfully close to space for an unassuming 18-year-old.

The Bangalore, India native is one of six finalists in YouTube Space Lab, the inspiring competition (powered by Lenovo) that challenged teenagers all over the planet to dream up science experiments that could be performed in space. His impressive proposed experiment on ferrofluids really turned our judges’ heads.

On the eve of Sachin’s trip to Washington for the announcement of the Space Lab global winners, we asked him a few questions about his young life in science.

How old were you when you first realized you had a passion for science and technology? What was it specifically that sparked your interest?
When I was 10 years old, for the first time I saw the moon and the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars through a telescope. I was really fascinated by the view of the planets. That was the moment that sparked my interest in space science.

Describe the moment when you came up with your Space Lab experiment idea. What did it feel like, and what did you do next?
I was excited when I came up with my Space Lab idea and I was also in a hurry to submit my idea as it was only two weeks from the deadline. It felt great to be participating in such a big competition. The next thing I did was to prepare myself to make the video.

Tell us about your biggest moment of frustration while developing your experiment idea. How did you overcome the obstacle?
The biggest moment of frustration was when I had to make a video of my experiment. I am a person with stage fear, so I had problems facing the camera as I was very nervous. I overcame this obstacle by making a slideshow video.

Describe the moment when you found out you’d been chosen as a Space Lab finalist. Were you surprised? What was the first thing you did after hearing the news?
I was very happy and so excited when I found out that I had been chosen as one of the Space Lab finalists. I was really surprised because the competition was open for both Physics and Biology ideas. I am interested in Physics but have less knowledge in Biology; as a result, I didn't know the standards of ideas related to Biology. So I had hopes of emerging as a finalist but was not sure. The first thing I did was to inform my parents about my selection.

What role does technology—and especially your laptop or desktop PC—play in your day-to-day life and how did you use technology to develop your experiment?
Technology and my PC definitely play an important role in my day-to-day life. I gain knowledge about space science on the internet through my PC. It helps me to take part in various online science projects and lets me follow my passion for space. I did almost 90% of the work on my Space Lab idea on my PC. In fact I came to know about Space Lab on the internet when I was browsing some space videos on YouTube. So, without the right technology, it would have been impossible for me to be a regional winner.

Why do you think people all over the world should support scientific efforts in space?
I think that knowing space is knowing what is around us. Scientific efforts in space leads to innovations and development of advanced technology which can help future deep space explorations and discoveries in astrophysics. It can even get us a step closer towards achieving the dream of space colonization. So, people all over the world should support scientific efforts in space.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about this experience?
I would like to thank YouTube, Lenovo and Space Adventures for organizing the YouTube Space Lab competition. It is a wonderful initiative which gives students a chance to showcase their talent in space science. The journey so far in this competition from a participant to a regional winner has been wonderful and exciting. I would also like to thank the official judging committee for considering my idea as a regional winning entry. YouTube Space Lab is the best competition in this world with some amazing prizes, and I am really proud to be a regional winner. THANK YOU.

Gavin O’Hara is Global Publisher for Lenovo Social Media.