Wrongly arrested schoolboy Ahmed Mohamed has continued his victory lap of nerd glory with a visit to the annual Google Science Fair. Mohamed was invited to the event last week by Google, and according to a report from USA Today, received a warm welcome, touring the booths and taking pictures with finalists. "We learned about you in school!" one student from California told Mohamed, who even got a chance to hang out with Google's co-founder Sergey Brin.
In a blog post written by Mariette DiChristina, editor-in-chief at the Scientific American and head judge at the fair, Mohamed's attendance was noted as symbolic of the need to support and encourage young people. "We’re especially glad that Ahmed Mohamed — the 14-year-old clock maker from Texas — took us up on our invite to attend this year’s event," wrote DiChristina. "Curious young scientists, inventors, and builders like him should be encouraged and empowered."
Winners at this year's fair include Olivia Hallisey, who created an inexpensive method of detecting Ebola as a response to the epidemic in Africa; Deepika Kurup, who made a solar-powered silver solution for cleaning water; and Pranav Sivakumar, who coded a pair of algorithms that automatically detect gravitationally lensed quasars in astronomical data. Tens of thousands of dollars in prizes were given out, and the fair has also provided almost $1 million in scholarships over the years.
Mohamed himself has so far received invitations to the White House and Facebook, and has plans to transfer schools. Although some individuals (including biologist Richard Dawkins) have criticized the 14-year-old, and claimed that he in some way engineered his current situation, most reactions have been supportive of Mohamed and critical of the Islamophobia that may have contributed to his arrest. As Hillary Clinton tweeted last week: "Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe — they hold us back."