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Editorials

May 31, 2014

Editorial: AU professor’s trip to Google X awakens science nerd in all of us

Secret labs. Non-disclosure agreements. Scientists working on out-of-this-world projects.

Sounds like the plot of the latest SyFy channel movie. Or the fruit of a youngster’s active imagination.

But it’s reality, at least for Scott Kennedy, a professor of chemistry and physics at Anderson University.

Kennedy, who has a doctorate in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts, will spend 13 weeks this summer at Google X, the company’s secretive lab at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. He’s there now, hard at work on what he once thought impossible.

There’s only one word for that … COOL!

Honestly, most of us wouldn’t know A from B when it comes to the projects Kennedy might be researching there. His specialty here, something called “hydrogels,” is just as mysterious.

But that doesn’t diminish the fact he’ll be working on some of the most forward-thinking research being conducted in this country. Google X is all about “moonshots,” revolutionary technological advances that no one thought were possible … and might not be!

We’re talking about a facility that’s produced the next generation of communication in Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. Its scientists also have developed contact lenses that monitor your glucose levels and high-altitude balloons that can provide Wi-Fi. And just this week, Google announced it’s working on driverless cars, which will be operated by computer without steering wheels or pedals.

This is the stuff science dreams are made of. And it’s a feather in the cap of AU’s science and engineering departments.

The university may not be known for its science prowess, but Kennedy’s work at Google will no doubt raise the department’s profile with aspiring science students. And current students will assuredly benefit from his experience, maybe even getting a peek at the projects Kennedy took part in. (On the down-low, of course.)

Hopefully, when Kennedy returns from his adventure, he’ll have the OK to share some of what he worked on with the world. The little science nerd in all of us — the one who built baking soda volcanoes and dumped Mentos into soda — is dying to find out.

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