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 +

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nobel Prizewinners and genetic giftedness

The Nobel Prize is, probably, the most prestigious of all awards. Each year, it is awarded in six categories: Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Peace, Literature and Economics. Yet, I have noted something startling in the prize awards: sometimes it seems to be inherited.

Now, what do I mean by this? Well, quite literally, there are winners whose children also won. This, in itself, provides a very strong argument for the genetic inheritance of genius. Out of the 787 Nobel Prize Winners there have ever been, I count 18 who were genetically related - sixteen of them by a parent child relationship, two of them as brothers.

The father-son pairings are William Bragg and Lawrence Bragg; Niels Bohr and Aage N. Bohr; Hans von Euler-Chelpin and Ulf von Euler; Arthur Kornberg and Roger D. Kornberg; Manne Siegbahn and Kai M. Siegbahn; J.J Thomson and George Paget Thomson.

The father-daughter pairing is: Pierre Curie and Irene-Juliot Curie.

The mother-daughter pairing is: Marie Curie and Irene-Juliot Curie.

The brothers were: Jan Tinbergen and Nikolaas Tinbergen.

There are married couples, too, who have won: four pairings - but I don't mention them - except for the implicit one above, because they are not blood-related (one would think, anyway!).

These instances are powerful evidence of the strong connection between genetic gift and the heights of human achievement - for their Nobel prizewinning achievements, across generations, signal something more important than the prize itself: the passing on of great gift between those generations, to bear fruit, once more.

I have a liking for continuity - and the thought that gifts are transmissible in this way is a nourishing one. It is not just great gifts that are transmissible, of course - but any gift, of any dimension.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:17 PM 


Anonymous TUG said...


First of all I'd like to applaud your regular updating of this blog. Must've been quite a balancing act!

I've been reading your blog with great interest and probably spent more than 7 hours reading this last Tues alone!(Come on, I MUST be the record holder, right!?)

I can deeply identify with many of the issues raised in this blog. I also believe that nurture plays a bigger role over nature when it comes to the full development of a gifted person.(more on this later, if I can find the time)

Your sons are so lucky to have such a supportive father. What are Ainan thoughts on being gifted? Does he fully comprehend what it is to be gifted? Or do you think it's important to protect this from him in case it gets, um, to his head? What are Tiarnan and Fintan's views on this? Do you observe signs of jealousy or the need to prove themselves this early (due to the attention showered to Ainan by other people and the media [as I believe, as parents, both you and your wife would be impartial])?

Keep up the inspiring work! Thank you.


1:23 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your kind words regarding my blog and its writing - yes it has required a lot of effort to be so consistent in posting: anyone who hasn't done it might not be appreciate what goes into it!

Ainan knows he is different, I think - but it has not "gone to his head".

Tiarnan thinks the media attention is funny, it seems - there is definitely some understanding of something there. Fintan is OK about it - I don't think it will be a big issue, though you are right to consider it as a possibility.

I will try to keep up the writing...

Best wishes

10:33 PM  

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