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Monday, May 28, 2012

Shouryya Ray, boy genius

A sixteen year old student, Shouryya Ray, is the first person to solve a mathematical problem posed by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago.  The clever teen has also solved a second problem dealing with the collision of a body with a wall, posed in the 19th Century.

Due to his efforts, scientists can now calculate the flight path of a thrown ball and then predict how it will hit and bounce off a wall.  He has solved two theories physicists have previously been unable to calculate without the use of powerful computers.

Shouryya said his natural curiosity and schoolboy naivety helped him solve the problems.  When professors said the problems had no solutions, he thought he'd have a go.

Born in India, his father instilled in him a "hunger for mathematics" and taught him calculus at the age of  six.  His family moved to Germany when he was 12, after his father, an engineer, was offered employment at a technical college.  His father Subhashis said his son's mathematical  prowess quickly outstripped his own considerable knowledge and the maths involved in solving both problems were far beyond his capabilities.

Shouryya says he's no genius and wishes he were better at sports, particularly football.  But teachers were quick to recognize his superior intelligence and he was moved up two years in school and this week, he will sit Germany's high school leaving exams, two years ahead of his peers.

Countries around the world will be head-hunting this brilliant young man, who says he has always enjoyed the "intrinsic beauty" of maths.