It's a temptation to say that for Kurt Thorn, of Wading River, N.Y., an interest in science was worth a lot of clams--after all, Thorn won $40,000 by becoming the top award winner in the 1992 Westinghouse Science Talent Search.

In fact, though, it was clams that Thorn used to win the award. Clam shells, actually.

"The basic idea is that clam shells produce daily growth lines," says Thorn, 16, a senior at Shoreham-Wading River High School. "The interest in the scientific community is in using these lines as a time line to measure pollution."

Thorn did most of his research at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, where his father works, and some at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. For getting him involved in his research project, entitled "Elemental Distributions in Marine Bivalves as Measured by Synchrotron X-Ray Fluorescence," Thorn cites his physics teacher, Bob Saville, and another...

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