Look Ma, no gears - and a very speedy way to improve your IQ

Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 00:00

A young scientist from Mayo may have developed the next new thing in automotive technology.

Hugh Logue has devised a novel electric motor that provides a driving force but also features a “gearbox” that doesn’t include any gears.

Explaining his invention at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, under way at the RDS, he said: “I was trying to develop a mechanism that can combine the features of an electric motor and a gearbox in one,” says Hugh, of St Gerald’s College in Mayo. “It is far simpler, more energy efficient and cheaper to build than existing motors.”

Typically electric motors provide a force and gears are then used to vary the amount of force delivered to the wheels. This is why you don’t pull out a car in fourth gear and drive at highway speeds in first.

Cars of future

While the design doesn’t need a gearbox, it has an integrated variable system that allows speed to increase smoothly as the electricity applied to the motor increases.

Like any electric motor the design is dependent on the use of electromagnets, but Hugh’s design is radically different. “It could be used to power electric cars in the future. It would make electric cars more efficient.” While an obvious use is in electric cars it could be used in any application where an electric motor and gearing were needed. His next goal is to build a prototype motor, something he hopes to tackle for the 2014 young scientist.

When it comes to motivation Aina Hannisa is more interested in Sudoku. The fifth year from Regina Mundi College Cork enjoys the logic game and wondered whether it might provide a way to boost mathematical literacy and logic skills in students.


She set up a trial with test subjects and controls to see if solving one Sudoku a day over three weeks could change IQ. She gave all subjects a short IQ test at the start and finish of the three weeks and compared the results of the two groups.

Those who did the Sudoku saw an improvement in their IQ test scores, while the controls saw only minimal change. “The IQ increased quite significantly compared to the control group.”

A good working memory was central to having a good “fluid intelligence”, she said and IQ tests are a good measure of fluid intelligence. And 56 per cent of the Sudoku users declared themselves afterwards as more comfortable dealing with numbers. The young scientist for 2013 will be announced at about 7pm today.