Two Penang boys to have an asteroid named after them

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — An asteroid will be named after two 16-year-old boys from a school in Penang, following their victory in an international science fair held in the US.

The Star reported Melwin Cheng Choon Lei and Tham Yong Shiang from SMJK Chung Ling had emerged as champions in the Chemistry category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 (Intel ISEF) for making crude cinnamon extract into a cost-effective and eco-friendly larvicide, that can be used to get rid of Aedes mosquito larvae.

Tham said there were 24 categories in the global event, where winners of the first and second place would get the chance to have their names among the celestial bodies.

“However, the naming of asteroids will have to go through some procedures and we might have to wait for another year before an asteroid is named after us,” Tham was reported to have said, stating that the procedure would have to abide by the guidelines set by the International Astronomical Union.

Discovering crude cinnamon to have pesticide characteristics, the Form Four students had converted the extract into larvicide, which they claimed was 90 per cent cheaper than commercial pesticides.

The duo were awaiting to have the research published before applying for a patent.

Cheng said the decision to create the eco-friendly larvicide was due to the alarming health issue in Malaysia caused by dengue.

“We are honoured to win the aware and have our names immortalised by having an asteroid named after us,” he said.

It was reported that Cheng and Tham had earned a spot at the Intel ISEF after winning the gold award at the National Science and Engineering Innovation Challenge (Pistek) in Kuala Lumpur last November.

The duo were the first Malaysians to win at the international event, after Faye Jong-Sow Fei from Sarawak had won the Environmental Management Award in 2015.

The world’s largest international pre-college science competition, Intel ISEF, was held from May 11 to 18 in Arizona, with 1,800 participating finalists from 80 countries.