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 +

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Recent UFO sighting in Singapore

UFOs. Believe in them or not, plenty of people claim to have seen them. This is, perhaps, not surprising, given its meaning: Unidentified Flying Object. If you don't know what it is, if it doesn't seem to be anything you know of human construction and it is flying, then that is, by definition, a UFO. So, it is not just the stuff of alien encounters then, though most people would equate a close encounter with a UFO and meeting an alien being (or their technology).

As ever, I have a reason for writing of something. It is always good to have one of those - otherwise, one shouldn't be writing.

Singapore is a very ordered place. It is a place in which not only does one not expect anything unexpected to happen - but, in fact, nothing unexpected ever does happen. Well, almost never.

Yesterday, Syahidah and I were walking between our house and her mother's house. It is not a long walk, but long enough to stretch those legs and feel that a little exercise has been had.

It was dark and Singapore was, as ever, quiet - in the sense of not much happening.

As we turned on to a road which backed onto some empty land (a rare commodity in Singapore) we saw it - actually, them.

It was very dark up ahead and we could not see any object to determine scale but there, perhaps a hundred metres in front of us, were some relatively fast moving, illuminated objects, going back and forth and up and down in graceful curves. They had blue, white and red lights on them, which seemed to shift colours. I theorized that the colours shifted when they shifted directions, but it might just have been confusion over where they were and what they were doing that gave this impression.

I didn't know what they were. At first I thought that they were cars, in the distance, travelling on a winding road, at high speed. But then, I didn't remember the road up ahead, going up a hill that wasn't there, and winding in a way that would not be necessary - because there was no hill to wind up. There were two of them and, after a while, it seemed that they were chasing each other about. After dismissing the idea that they might be cars and looking at their varied and circuitous paths, I realized that they were flying. Yet, they travelled back and forth and turned about much more often, and quickly, than any plane I had seen would do. Why would a plane take such a path through the sky?

Then, of course, came the thought that many people must have. This, I thought, must be what it feels like to encounter a "UFO". Up ahead, something was flying, but I didn't know what. I looked at the light pattern. It was not that of a plane. The spacing of the lights could not possibly describe the perimeter of a plane. It could, however, describe the perimeter of a more circular craft - though not a circle.

The darkness prevented an estimate of scale and distance, but logically, I realized that they couldn't be as far as they might be - because there was a forested area ahead of us and, to be seen, they must be ahead of the forest.

I thought, then, of the time, long ago, when I was a child, when my parents saw something they didn't understand, and could not explain, in the skies above our rural home. They had called for me to come down - but I had not yielded up the book I was immersed in. Indeed, I did not hear them. So, as I read, something passed by the house, that my parents could not understand or explain - and I never got a chance to see it.

Today, was my chance, then. Up ahead was something I did not understand, and could not explain. It was flying, it was not identified, therefore it was a UFO. Of course, I didn't believe it could be a UFO - it had to be something else.

Then there was the silence. These things flew through the sky, turned in sharp turns and made not a sound. They just flew, with great agility. Sometimes they appeared to land, sit on the ground momentarily, then take off again. These were UFOs with the minds of insects - flitting about, at seeming random, with God knows what purpose in mind.

We walked closer. My wife wasn't so keen on the idea. For, what if they were as they seemed? Would that be so funny? It would be a situation that no human is truly prepared to face: a close encounter with a UFO (and their alien occupants?).

They didn't look like planes. They looked like "UFOs" - yet I conceived the idea that they could be some kind of model aircraft. The only problem with that was that they didn't have wings - and they were almost circular: strange "planes", then.

There in the darkness up ahead was a lighter patch.

"There's someone there.", said Syahidah, interpreting the patch.

It looked like a patch, to me. A column that didn't move, a single brush stroke of deep grey, on a painting of pure blackness: apart from the brightly lit, almost circular "UFOs".

We walked closer, driven by curiosity.

The wild chase of the "UFOs" continued, around and around. Still, given the darkness we had no idea of scale.

Then we saw them. Two men standing in the darkness. Model planes they must be.

As we neared them, we could see what they were: "planes", with lights all around their unconventional, almost circular, circumference. One of the men turned one over to let us view what was beneath: a tangle of electronics. They were about 80 cm across.

"We made them ourselves.", he explained.

I was impressed. I don't think I could have done the same. At least, not without a lot of research, first. Some people have a practical gift - and these two chaps were clearly of that breed.

"They cost us three or four hundred dollars apiece, to make.", he continued.

It was an amiable close encounter, not with "aliens" but with model plane enthusiasts. In Singapore, such a thing seemed almost as strange as meeting true aliens - for very few people here actually make anything. To meet two young men, who actually made something themselves and did so not out of a motivation to make money, but to express some inner creative desire, was special indeed. It was almost as good as meeting actual aliens. It was, if you like, a close encounter of the friendly kind. As is the way of these things, it turned out that my wife recognized one of the men and knew which street on which he lived. So far from being an alien, he was a face she could place. Such is the small world of Singapore.

This funny experience makes me think, however, how many of those alien sightings (or alien "sitings", as they are often mispelt on the internet), come about. What if we had been too scared to investigate? What if we had hung back at a distance of 100 metres and watched those strange "alien" craft, circling and chasing each other with impossible agility in the night sky? What if we had convinced ourselves, after observation, that they could not be planes because of their almost circular shape? What if we had come to believe that they must be alien spacecraft - simply because we dared not to get close enough to determine that they were of homemade, terrestrial origin?

We, too, might have become tellers of alien tales. We might have spoken, for the rest of our days, of how we had had a "close encounter with a ufo", while walking one day, on a Singapore night. However, we haven't because we had the curiosity and the courage to investigate. So, foolhardy as it may seem, if you ever see a "UFO", try to get closer, try to see for yourself what it is you are actually seeing. I would say that it is more than likely that the mystery will resolve itself once you are close enough, really close enough, to have a "close encounter with a UFO". At that distance, it is more than likely that your "UFO" becomes a very identifiable flying object.

Happy sky watching.

(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 @ 9:38 AM 


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