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, October 13, 2007

Malaysia's First Astronaut in Space

A 35-year-old Muslim doctor, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, is aboard the International Space Station for an 11 day visit. He is not only the first Malaysian in space, but the first Muslim to celebrate Ramadan in orbit.

It feels strange to write those words above, because I am living in Singapore. Of the two nations, Malaysia and Singapore, the latter has always prided itself on being the more advanced, the more modern, the more "together" of the two - yet it is a Malaysian who is in space, today, not a Singaporean. This is one first that Singapore will never, now, be able to claim. Perhaps, one day, there will be a Singaporean in space. It would be good to see. Who knows, maybe Singapore will have its own space authority, one day. However, today is Malaysia's triumph - and the Malays'.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, who is an ortopaedic surgeon and University lecturer, took off from Baikonur space station, in Kazakstan with two other astronauts, US Commander Peggy Whitson and Russian Yuri Malenchenko, both space veterans. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor was selected from an amazing 11,000 candidates, in a deal with Russia over a $1billion purchase of jets. The canny Malays bargained their way into space as part of the purchase deal. That bit of political manouevering has won them a place in Space history, as far as South-East Asia and the Muslim world are concerned.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor's colleagues will be staying in space for a full six month stint. His words prior to lift off echoed Irish American astronaut Neil Armstrong's when he said: "It is a small step for me, but a giant leap for Malaysia". He promised to share his experience with all Malaysians - and Muslims - on his return.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and ten months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and three months, and Tiarnan, twenty months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:24 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a Malaysian, I think it's a horrible waste of the taxpayers' contributions, which could have been put to MUCH better use.


1:52 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I understand your sentiment, Joanne, there being so many good public uses of government money - but I disagree. You see, the future of Man lies in Space - for if it does not, then Man has no long term future. We have to find other worlds to populate and grow in, for this one's resources are limited and we are fast using them up. Furthermore, a Mankind that lives on but one world, is a Mankind susceptible to extinction. Only if we are on at least two worlds can we reduce that chance to virtually nothing.

So, it is a good step that Malaysia has won, for itself, some experience in space: without that experience, Malaysia could play no part in the long term future of Man. Do you really want them to be excluded from that?

I wouldn't.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your point about space being possibly the next frontier and I agree with it.
However, honestly, what vast experience does Malaysia gain from sending 1 astronaut into space for all of 6 days with no means for sustainability of a space programme or even continued involvement in space exploration.
Nations need to work within their means.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I think it is a start. Remember that America once was in a lesser position with respect to space ie. that of sending an astronaut into orbit for the first time and wondering whether he would survive.

Certainly, Malaysia will learn something directly from the experience. They are not as poor a country as people assume and have the resources to do major projects when they feel like it. (Have a look at the Petronas Towers someday). I don't doubt, however, that an actual space programme would be an expensive endeavour. Yet, that expense is declining with every passing decade as the technology improves. The day may come when even a nation like Malaysia can afford a space programme. Not today, perhaps, but on a not too distant tomorrow, I would not be surprised to see it so.

Best wishes

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Valentine,
I am the same poster who posted the above 2 comments and I presume nothing. I am Malaysian, born and bred, and know full well the state of the country's financial affairs (I'm not even going to begin about its dire political affairs).
This is, plain and simple, another example of Malaysia biting off more than it can chew to boast that it has bitten off much.
It can certainly wait for tomorrow to venture forth into a space programme if that is when it can afford one.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I do not have intimate knowledge of Malaysia's finances - but I accept that you have. If they are over-stretched, then why have they just bought $1 billion of Russian jets? Clearly, they have defense issues that they think over-ride other concerns (like where did that $1 billion go?).

It is evident that Malaysia has high ambitions - and that is not a bad thing. From what you have said, it also appears to be impatient about them.

That being said, I am supportive of those who strive ahead. It is just that in the case of a country, financial prudence is important too...

Best wishes to you in Malaysia.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I no longer live in Malaysia for many reasons, including the one I've cited.

"Clearly, they have defense issues that they think over-ride other concerns (like where did that $1 billion go?)."

Well, the above statement presumes that those in the Malaysian government actually "think". Most Malaysians would have a good laugh at that (no offence meant - this is simply a fact).
At least, you ARE thinking by asking where the $1 billion went - that is a key question taxpayers in Malaysia would be delighted to know the answer to.

Best wishes.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am not too familiar with Malaysia's internal issues...but it seems, from what you are saying, that these are problematic.

Are there any Malaysians who would do a good job, if they were in power?

Best wishes

9:55 AM  

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