Teen Wins $250,000 Prize For Explaining Quantum Tunneling With A Video Game Hack


A Canadian teen won a $250,000 prize after being able to fluidly explain a super complex quantum physics theory called quantum tunneling. Maryam Tsegaye beat out over 5,000 other applicants from over 100 different countries.

Tsegaye won the prize at the sixth annual International Breakthrough Junior Challenge. This video competition gave teens the opportunity to show how well they understand complex scientific principles across varying different fields in the realm of science.

Maryam decided to liken the behavior of electrons to the way her brother use cheat codes in video games when playing online with his friends.

“So I was watching my brother play this video game and he used a cheat code that let his character do a walk-through-walls hack,” Maryam explains in the video, “He pushed himself against a barrier in the game, hit some buttons and boom, his character appeared on the other side.”

This prompted her to wonder, “Imagine if you could walk through walls in real life…” She goes on to explain that it’s possible. “It turns out you can, at a quantum level,” she said.

After the judges saw her impressive video, she was announced the winner on December 3. “It was really crazy, I didn’t believe it at all when I found out,” Tsegaye told CTV News.

She also explained to CTV News why she decided to pick this topic. “I picked quantum tunneling because it’s a quantum phenomenon that I’d never heard of until I was researching for the competition, and I was completely taken away with the whole topic and fell down a spiral of articles and everything,” Tsegaye said.

The grand prize included $250,000 for Maryam’s schooling along with $50,000 for her science teacher and $100,000 for a science lab in her high school.

“The door is wide open now,” Maryam’s father said in an interview video about her winning, “and she can go anywhere.”

Lead image: screenshot via YouTube.

Moises Mendez II

Written by Moises Mendez II