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 +

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lost Property in Singapore: Ainan style.

Finding lost property is ever a difficult matter, especially if no-one knows what it is, and so is never likely to know to whom to hand it in.

Yesterday, Ainan lost something unusual on a bus. It was a container filled with silver nanoparticles which he had made. The question is: would anyone ever know what they had found, if they found it? It is extremely doubtful.

At least, we think he lost it on the bus. We went in search of his lost property, early yesterday evening, retracing his path from the bus-stop to our home. As a family, we walked, heads down, scanning left to right, seeking a very strange object. It was of aluminium foil, in a cup shape, containing silver nanoparticles trapped in a polymer. To the untrained eye it would, of course, look like a glistening mess in a cup. Despite the attention of ten eyes, trained together on the ground, we couldn't find it. At the bus-stop, I checked the bins, like some hungry vagrant. Onlookers must have thought I was a very odd expat indeed. (Expats have a reputation for being rich - and so it must have puzzled them why I was looking in the bins, so intently.)

It was nowhere to be seen. So we concluded that, somewhere in Singapore, sitting on a bus was a vessel filled with silver nanoparticles, just waiting for some incomprehending soul to find it, and throw it away.

I imagined trying to claim Ainan's lost property from the bus service. I envisaged myself calling up and saying: "I would like to report some lost silver nanoparticles." Just imagining it was enough to ensure that I didn't do it. It would be utterly pointless. Understanding "Hello" is about the limit of most customer service employees - so grasping exactly what it was I was seeking would be quite beyond my capacity to communicate.

So, perhaps this makes Ainan the first seven year old to lose his own vessel of silver nanoparticles. In the annals of lost property, this must be a matter of some distinction.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eleven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and four months, and Tiarnan, twenty-one 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 @ 10:59 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is hilarious!

It reminds me of a time when I had to take an HPLC column with me on an airplane. The gentleman inspecting my carry-on bag pulled me aside and asked, "What is this?" English was not his first language, but even if it was, it is doubtful he would have understood the answer.

"It is an HPLC column," I told him.


"I use it in my work," I said.

"Oh, okay." And he let me go on. Of couse now in the United States I would probably be arrested or at least removed from the airport.

Anyway, that's my story.

Thank you for your blog, it's fascinating.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your own anecdote: it, too, is funny.

Science is a world of its own and, in a way, it is quite impossible to communicate it effectively to those outside of it. The only thing that can be communicated is generalities - the specifics, being too technical, can only ever be lost.

I am glad you enjoy my blog. It is good to hear.

1:07 PM  

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