Ishana Kumar, 12, Wins Top Award For Research Into 'Imaginary Colors' There is a winner in one of the country's biggest middle school science competitions: the Broadcom MASTERS. Ishana Kumar looked into how retinal fatigue may play a role in seeing "imaginary colors."
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Ishana Kumar, 12, Wins Top Award For Research Into 'Imaginary Colors'

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Ishana Kumar, 12, Wins Top Award For Research Into 'Imaginary Colors'

Ishana Kumar, 12, Wins Top Award For Research Into 'Imaginary Colors'

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NOEL KING, HOST:

The Broadcom MASTERS is this big American middle school science competition. Yesterday, it announced a winner.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It is my pleasure to announce that the winner of the Samueli Foundation Prize and recipient of $25,000 educational award is Ishana Kumar.

ISHANA KUMAR: (Laughter) I kind of did black out. I was like, wait - did they just say my name?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Twelve-year-old Ishana Kumar got the top award for her research on something called imaginary colors.

KUMAR: Imaginary colors, or Fechner colors, are an illusion of color.

INSKEEP: Kumar was able to change how her research subjects saw those colors through something called retinal fatigue. Here's how she explains it.

KUMAR: Let's say I'm looking at a bright red object. I stare at it for a very, very long time. And then I look at, like, a white sheet of paper. I'll actually see the shape of the red object, but it won't be red. It will be green. And the reason this happens is because certain cells in our eyes called cones - the red cones, they detect or sort of perceive the color red. They trigger and trigger and trigger when looking at this red object. But they get so tired that the green cones, which sort of detect green, temporarily take over.

KING: Twelve years old (laughter). Kumar has a bigger goal. She says she wants to keep doing research and maybe someday help Alzheimer's patients.

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