The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ainan invents optoelectronics

On the 12th November 2006, Ainan Celeste Cawley, aged six, independently invented the idea of optoelectronics.

Ainan was musing about the problem of electronic miniaturization. "How come chips are getting smaller, every year?" He began, with earnestness. "What happens when they get too small for electrons to pass through?"

With just a single beat for thought, he came up with an answer: "They should use light, instead." He observed, "But then you need to turn it back into electrons. So, you turn electrons into light, then light into electrons - and you pass the light along optical fibre."

Ainan was proposing beginning with an electronic signal, turning it into a photonic signal, calculating, then turning it back into an electronic signal. I don't know much about technology, but that sounds a lot like opto-electronics to me.

I asked him if this was his idea and he assured me that it was: all his ideas are...but I was just checking before I reported it.

In reporting Ainan Celeste Cawley's conversations, I am often left with a dilemma. Would it interest the readers of my blog to know how he speaks and thinks...or would it turn them off from its technical nature? I am left therefore to choose matters which are more accessible. Much of what he says is a rapid patter of scientific ideas, observations, facts, theories, propositions and matters to be explored. It is simply too abundant to report: each day's report would be thousands of words of scientific jargon...and I am sure that would be too much for all but the most technical/scientific of readers. So, instead, I report snapshots in digestible sizes.

Please give me some feedback as to your tolerance of scientific reporting: can I expand upon what Ainan says, more thoroughly...would it actually be of interest? I cannot know until you tell me. Thanks.

If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy and his creative thought, and gifted brothers, please go to: I also speak of child prodigy, child genius, savant, the creatively gifted and gifted children in general.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:57 PM 


Anonymous Anna Stanton said...

Hello Valentine.

I for one wouldn't at all mind if you expanded on Ainan's scientific speech. To understand as fully as I can about Ainan's true nature I think it necessary to see more into his thought process.
It would certainly be of interest to me.
I'm a seasoned listener of large volumes of complicated material. I grew up with a computer genius brother and i now have the task of keeping up with Jack's journey through the parts and functioning of the human body.

I regard it as a wonderful challenge to get my head around all this thinking and knowledge. It makes life very refreshing in this drizzly and polluted town.

Kind regards,
Anna Stanton

7:12 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Anna

It is good to hear from you again...and pleasant to receive a supportive comment, too.

Ainan's scientific speech presents several difficulties in communicating it. First there is the recording of it: it is very rapid and hard to follow at times and I often miss what he says, and find myself having to ask him to repeat it. Once recorded, there is the problem of its abundance: there is rather too much of it, to blog about.

Then there is the notation. My blog doesn't allow me to use scientific notation - and without it equations are a big mess. So I have to think carefully about how I am going to present it.

The other issue is originality. Sometimes I am fairly sure that his thoughts are original, in the sense of not having been had before. I can't really write that on a blog because it will be stolen in no time. Many people don't respect the originator of a thought, in the least.

So, I am left with the problem of how to convey a sense of who he is and what he says. I am working on it just let me see what can be done.

In them meantime, enjoy being Jack's mum, and help encourage him in whatever way you may. He sounds like either a budding doctor - or a human biologist of some variety. Splendid.

I used to live in London, as you know...and though England is drizzly - and polluted, it has many advantages over newer nations like Singapore: one of them is the depth of cultural activities available. So, although I enjoy the eternal sunshine here and life is very convenient in ways London just doesn't understand I miss London's diversity and culture.

It seems we can't have it all!

Take care Anna. Send my regards to Jack. Is he still enjoying his new class?

Kind regards

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anna Stanton said...

Hello again Valentine

I’ve no doubt you’ll find a solution to what is a difficult situation indeed. In regards to Jack I have asked him if he’s given any thought to what he wants to be when he grows up, he said that he’d like to do both medicine and research at some point in his life, which I have no doubt he’ll be able to do. Possibly at the same time as he pointed out that many doctors are involved in research as well.

I am certainly doing my best to encourage him. He has tomorrow off school (teacher training day) so we’re off to the Natural History Museum, which he’s very excited about (bouncing around in the background as I write this). As you say I’m grateful for the mass of cultural activities in this city, though I wish the sun would shine for just a little while!

Jack is still enjoying his new class. His teacher is doing a wonderful job making provision for him without fostering a sense of elitism in Jack. He’s even made a friend, something he found difficult in the other class.

Things are certainly looking up around here.


Anna Stanton

12:02 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Anna

I have some fond memories of the Natural History Museum when I was a child. There is no such facility in South-East Asia, as far as I am aware. I still recall a Blue Whale and the dinosaur skeletons.

It is interesting that he chooses the career path I thought would suit him (see my earlier posts). It seems one can discern a lot from a distance. That is good to know.

The cultural activities you have available are worth the penalty of the weather. In the end, they enrich life more than sunshine does I feel.

I am happy to hear that things are working well for him - and having found a friend in his new class, I think he is going to take on school and succeed.

By the way, the combination of medicine and research gives the greatest range of academic freedoms. Being a doctor really helps in certain areas: but don't forget to do research - just being a clinical practitioner is not a creative use of his mind, I don't think.

Have a great time at the Museum.

Kind regards

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, Valentine. I just discovered your blog yesterday and am fascinated. Your concern about unethical blog visitors is understandable. However, perhaps you could share the occasional, carefully-chosen recording? Anyway, well done!

1:09 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for your kind comment - and your interest.

I am new to using the internet and am gradually accustoming myself to its technologies and possibilities. A recording of Ainan? You could mean either an audio or a video...I don't know how to do either, on my blog, but I will endeavour to find out. That could be another way to show Ainan as he is. I will see what I can do - though it may take me some time to work out how to do such a thing.

Kind regards

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, wow that would be cool. That would make it REAL. Sounds like one of those experiences that could really have an impact on a person. Especially if I could hear the childlike voice speaking and saying those things... You could put a textual/graphical transcript of things that are hard to hear.

I dont know whether I have a good enough scientific/chemistry/technology background to grasp what he says either... but I might surprize myself. Im willing to give it a try. Im going to make a wild guess here and guess that most of your readers are probably pretty intelligent. That would indulge them, not alienate them. And to be fair to the readers that have difficulty understanding, you could just section off the complicated patch of text (make it a different color?) and make a note that there is a summary in plain english for them if they will scroll beyond the patch of text.

How to add scientific notations:

Get out your favorite graphics program (Or microsoft paint if thats all youve got) and type and/or draw the equations. Save them as either a jpg or a gif (for maxiumum compatibility with other computers) and upload them to the blog, positioning them in the appropriate places, just like you do with photos.

As for sound recordings:
You need a microphone. (Or headphones, you can actually use them and other sorts of speakers AS a microphone if you didnt know that). Plug them into the microphone jack on the back of the computer.

Go to: Start -> Programs -> Acessories -> Entertainment -> Sound Recorder.

Hit record. It will stop recording after a minute, but I THINK you can hit record again real quick, and start it recording again and just hit record every 60 seconds after that so that it records as long as you want. Then when you are done, hit save. You will have a .wav file. Wav is a pretty universal file type that should even work on old CD players, and Im assuming on Macs.

Of course if you are using something other than PC/Windows my instructions may not be useful... but I thought I would try.

- Kathy

7:49 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks Kathy for your instructions. I will have to look into it. I am not too "techie" myself...but I am gradually acquiring the necessary skills. Like many of my type of education, I have a science background, but not a technology background: the two are different.

You are right, it would add to the blog if I can incorporate such things...I am taking changes to it, one step at a time. It is evolving towards what I want it to be.


6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please notify me if you do upload a recording or transcript. That would be excellent! :D

- Kathy

10:57 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I will do so...if I can manage to do so!


9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, its really not hard. :) If you just do an experiment recording, maybe youll see that its actually very easy. After you find a microphone, the rest should only take a few minutes.

I went to college to learn web design, taught myself HTML, and I ran with the geek crowd online for a long time. So you can just try it and if it doesnt work, email me. Ill help you figure out how to get it done.

- Kathy

12:08 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the tips: we will see whether I can actually implement them sometime!

12:37 AM  

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