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, August 11, 2007

Can Britain survive trash culture?

I am constantly amazed at the way expat British people, recently moved to Singapore, speak of the country I grew up in. It is not what it was, by a long way.

It is saddening to be told that all those forces that were just beginning to take hold when I was in school, have now triumphed, and become the dominant culture. A nation once known for breeding sophisticated "gentlemen", is now best known for the abundance of its yobs, or "Chavs" as they are now known.

Let me explain. The Chav represents all that was once regarded as base in the human. They revel in stupidity, actively hate all who are intellectual, have no respect for the law, for education, for employment (they often live on benefits and petty crime), or for anything that once was remotely considered a social value. Yet, this moronic creed is now the dominant culture in Britain: it is the nature of the "masses".

I left Britain almost eight years ago. It is now clear that, though I have often wanted to, I can never return. That is, the place that once I knew, is no more. Britain of today, does not resemble the Britain of only a few years ago.

The problem is only just beginning. The next generation of British kids are showing shocking signs of being subnormal, compared to the kids of only fifteen years before. There is a twenty-five per cent drop in intellectual function of the average British child compared to 1990 (according to a study of 10,000 children by Michael Shayler of King's College London). That means that, in a few short years, these rather intellectually impaired children (by recent historical standards) are going to become adults. They will add to the dumbing down of British culture. They in turn will become parents, and so the problem will grow, over time. Unless something effective - and rather major - is done, Britain promises to be a country without a future.

An insight into the minds of the people of each nation can be garnered from the kinds of comments they leave on my site. This morning, I found a handful of posts from the same person, from Lambeth, London. None of the posts were publishable. Some of them lacked capitalization and punctuation. None could be classified as sentences. But that wasn't what struck me. What struck me was their coarseness. Two comments consisted of nothing but expletives. That was the sum total of their ability to contribute to the debate of ideas that the internet - and blogging - should be about.

On reading them, and recalling what my colleagues recently arrived from the UK had told me, I was moved to write of the declining situation, in the UK - and to do a little research.

I found something, in my search that should appal all who have ever been a parent. I found the story of one "chav" who had won 9.7 million pounds in the lottery. He set about living "large", in a rather grotesque manner (for instance he appears to have bought 30 vehicles, so that they could be smashed to pieces in a demolition derby in his spacious garden). That, though crass, wasn't what worried me. My concern was his proud boast about his two year old daughter: "Her first words were f*** and s***." He thought it was great.

England was once a nation of refined and cultivated gentlemen, renowned throughout the world for their manners, wit and "breeding". Now, they have become a moronic breed who delight that their babies' first words (and therefore, implicitly, the words they had heard most frequently) should be two expletives. What hope is there of such a child growing up to be an adult of wit, manners and "breeding"?

How long can Britain hold its position in the world, when the quality of its people - in a very real sense - is in such decline?

Britain is a nation that once possessed a rich intellectual tradition. It produced world-class thinkers by the bundle. Its universities were among the best in the world. But now, it is a nation that loathes all that is intellectual. Thinking has become socially unacceptable. To sit in a pub, and speak intelligently, is to court a jeer at best, or a beer glass (broken), at worst. Only stupidity and vacuity are now socially permissible. The intellectual is on the run - and lives in perpetual hiding, marginalized in society, daring not to raise a voice, lest they be denounced and set upon.

Once a society has marginalized its thinkers, it cannot be long before such a civilization collapses. Britain has taken that step of marginalizing its best people. Not even mediocrities have taken their place. It is the idiots who have taken the reigns - it is they whose voice shouts loudly. Britain, is now a land of the lout.

I don't believe that anyone in a society should be marginalized - but if any class of people had to be marginalized - it should be the louts, not the thinkers.

Britain needs to step back from this particular abyss. It needs to discourage loutishness, to subdue the creed of the moron, encourage intellectual activity, reward brilliance, foster thinking. It needs, in short, to be what it used to be: a great nation, brimming with great people who dedicated their lives to serious endeavour (or at least, enough of them did so, to make it the leading nation it once was). It is time to shrug off this attack of idiocy - and return to the values and sophistication of yesteryear.

It won't be easy. It won't take place overnight. But if Britain is to survive as a nation worthy of the term, it must fight the decline of its people. It must urge them to better themselves, as people, and not just as economic units. If nothing is done, many of us will live to see the "decline and fall" of a once great nation.

The land that produced William Shakespeare, also produced the barbaric poster of expletives on my site. Would it not be a better nation, if it fostered more geniuses and less loutishness?

I hope, one day, to see, comments of wit, and brilliance, from the British Isles, as once might have been written. We will see just how long I have to wait.

(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:47 PM  4 comments

Friday, August 10, 2007

Genetic determination of all giftedness

Genes are the foundation of all our attributes. This may seem like an obvious statement for many - but for some, it is controversial. This is the core of the nature-nurture debate: are we born or made?

From everything I have read, seen and understood in life, I am firmly on the side of nature. I have seen so many instances of people with abilities and attributes that show familial inheritance, that it could not be otherwise. The gene is all: at least, it is most of the story.

I have posted elsewhere about the remarkably strong relationship between the IQ of the parents and the IQ of the children, once they become adults (a correlation of 0.8). Intelligence is not the only strongly inherited characteristic - our height, our health, our immune systems...everything is there, in the genome. Though many may dislike it, we are very much a product of our genes (though these genes interact with their environment).

I am moved to write about this, today, because of my recent encounter with a supercentenarian. Many react to such a person by asking: "What is their secret?" They believe that there is some environmental quirk which led to such a long life. Well, I have to disappoint you. Teresa Hsu, is presently reputed to be 110 years old. That is interesting and amazing in itself - but what do you think about its cause when I tell you that her mother lived to 104? It begins to look rather like another case of genetic inheritance, doesn't it? Well, how about this: her mother's grandmother lived to 103. Thus Teresa Hsu, far from being possessed of some behavioural secret, is the product of a long-line of female centenarians, in her family. It is an attribute of her family, as much as blue eyes are the attribute of other families. It is a genetic inheritance.

All human giftedness, in my opinion, backed by both observation, and reading of much scientific literature, is founded in the genome. This applies to all ways in which one person may be special compared to another. If you look at them closely enough, you will almost always be able to pinpoint a familial cause: they are the product of their inherited genes.

We should not be concerned that so much of what we are is genetically based. That actually is a cause for celebration - for everyone of us is unique (barring twins etc) - and possess a set of attributes and dispositions, given to us by our genes, that no other person in history has ever possessed or will ever possess. We are all, by genetic definition, completely unique. I find that refreshing.

(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, and Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, genetics, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:52 PM  0 comments

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A life of achievement

I live far across the world from where I used to. A couple of days ago, I spoke to my mother in England of our recent doings, here in Singapore.

I mentioned that we had met Singapore's oldest living person, Teresa Hsu, who is reportedly 110 years old - a supercentenarian (according to Channel News Asia and herself).

My mother didn't seem very impressed. "Oh, we had one of those here, too, recently: 108, she was."

"They are very rare." I pointed out, to her, perhaps hoping to elicit an enthusiastic response. "We brought Ainan.", I went on, exposing my wish to let her know that I was trying to provide interesting experiences for him, as a father. She appeared not to notice my intent.

"Yeh, but a lot of them are very ordinary people...they don't do much."

Now, I understood. My mother did not think that the length of a life conferred any merit on the person - only what they had done with their life, had the power to do that. My mother measures the value of a life by what is achieved, not by how long it is lived. For her, the life of achievement signifies that you have striven, overcome and excelled: that you have, in fact, "done something".

This called to mind, my childhood, in a parental home that only measured results. By this I mean, the only thing that mattered was how well you did. This attitude is one that has advantages and disadvantages, which I am not going to go into. Yet, it was revealing for me, to see the same attitude applied to the life of a centenarian. To my mother, if the centenarian had not ALSO achieved something remarkable in her long life, then the long life, itself, is not to be considered remarkable. Simply living long has no value for her.

Is she right? Is it more important to achieve much, than exist long? I suppose, in one sense, for sure, she is correct. The lives of many geniuses of the past, were not long - but their reach through time, by their influence on mankind, is long indeed. They changed things. They "made a difference". Such people did not become remarkable by their tally of years, but were remarkable by what they achieved in the, often short, time allotted to them.

My mother, though she has probably not thought the thoughts of the paragraph above, being, as I believe, not interested in geniuses, she has thought the global one that what matters is what gets done - how "successful" you are - in whatever way success is measured.

Very few of us will ever be able to look back on a 110 years of life. As I have noted before, there are only 78 verified such people alive today. So, in that sense, supercentenarian status is rarer than genius (at least, I hope it is, otherwise there is not much hope for us on the genius front.)

Even though a genius may not live as long, their actions will have much more effect upon the world, than a supercentenarian - unless that Methuselah is also a genius - or gifted in some way. The ideal, of course, would be for a genius to also be long-lived - for then their body of work would be all the greater and the benefit to mankind, so much enlarged.

My mother wasn't talking about geniuses though. She was talking about the everyday efforts of people who strive and become, achieve and do. She was talking about professionals and businessmen - about the doers of the world. Those are her ideal. Yet, her remark applies to all kinds of achievement.

The long-lived person contributes in many ways that a shorter-lived one cannot. They may educate the generations that come after them - if they were foresighted enough to have children - or the young of others, if they were not. They provide perspective on the modern world, which no history book can do so vividly (for they are often surprisingly clear of mind and early memory). If they had a life-long purpose, or project, or organization that they were involved in, they can contribute so much the longer and so much the better for their experience and wisdom. There are certain things that it takes a long lifetime, with its global perspective, to truly understand.

As my mother pointed out, however, many long-lived people have lived quiet lives. Their contributions seem of a modest kind. It is these that she does not respect. Perhaps she feels that they have wasted their privilege and opportunity in having thirty or forty - or more years - than other people generally have.

I would agree with her, that it is a pity to have lived so long and not made the greatest contribution that one can. Yet, this might be assuming too much. People vary in their gifts. Perhaps that modest looking contribution IS the greatest contribution they could have made. We should not, therefore, take a stance of censure.

The lesson here, is that one should strive for a life of achievement, no matter how long one is fated to live. If one aims for such a state, then the life that results will be of merit and worth - no matter how long and short it turns out to be. That would be a life lived well.

None of us know how much time we have - whether it be long or short - so make the most of it and do something worthwhile, with every year of it. Be, as my mother would wish, "an achiever".

Best wishes all.

(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:12 AM  4 comments

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Blogger display failure: help wanted.

First of all, I am sorry if the display looks strange. Everything is NOT meant to be in one vertical column with the sidebars beneath the posting text. I did not put it that way and have no idea why it is that way. So, I have a request: if you do know how these things work and have some advice regarding how to restore my formatting to its usual self, please advise me in a comment post or email so that I can correct it.

Note that before this re-formatting occurred, I did nothing to change it. All I did was post - and note the alteration.

Thanks very much for your help in advance.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:31 AM  2 comments

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ainan's love of abstruse chemicals

Ainan, 7, loves Chemistry. For him, its abstractions, concepts and arcana are all playthings. He enjoys them in a way that other children enjoy Playstation or football.

Today, I wandered into the computer room and caught him searching for something on the internet. I was somewhat bemused when I noted the length of the character string that he was using in his search. It was 1,913 characters long. It is comprised 267 amino acids. This is a huge molecule. It is in fact the protein, Tryptophan Synthetase (to give it an abbreviated name). The full name that he was searching with is, as follows:

methionylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamylserylleucylphenylalanylalanylglutaminylleucyllysylglutamylarginyl lysylglutamylglycylalanylphenylalanylvalylprolylphenylalanylvalylthreonylleucylglycylaspartylprolylglycylisol eucylglutamylglutaminylserylleucyllysylisoleucylaspartylthreonylleucylisoleucylglutamylalanylglycylalanylaspartyl alanylleucylglutamylleucylglycylisoleucylprolylphenylalanylserylaspartylprolylleucylalanylaspartylglycylprolyl threonylisoleucylglutaminylasparaginylalanylthreonylleucylarginylalanylphenylalanylalanylalanylglycylvalylthreonyl prolylalanylglutaminylcysteinylphenylalanylglutamylmethionylleucylalanylleucylisoleucylarginylglutaminyllysyl histidylprolylthreonylisoleucylprolylisoleucylglycylleucylleucylmethionyltyrosylalanylasparaginylleucylvalylphenyl alanylasparaginyllysylglycylisoleucylaspartylglutamylphenylalanyltyrosylalanylglutaminylcysteinylglutamyllysylvalyl glycylvalylaspartylserylvalylleucylvalylalanylaspartylvalylprolylvalylglutaminylglutamylserylalanylprolylphenylalanyl arginylglutaminylalanylalanylleucylarginylhistidylasparaginylvalylalanylprolylisoleucylphenylalanylisoleucylcysteinyl prolylprolylaspartylalanylaspartylaspartylaspartylleucylleucylarginylglutaminylisoleucylalanylseryltyrosylglycyl arginylglycyltyrosylthreonyltyrosylleucylleucylserylarginylalanylglycylvalylthreonylglycylalanylglutamylasparaginyl arginylalanylalanylleucylprolylleucylasparaginylhistidylleucylvalylalanyllysylleucyllysylglutamyltyrosylasparaginyl alanylalanylprolylprolylleucylglutaminylglycylphenylalanylglycylisoleucylserylalanylprolylaspartylglutaminylvalyllysyl alanylalanylisoleucylaspartylalanylglycylalanylalanylglycylalanylisoleucylserylglycylserylalanylisoleucylvalyllysylisol eucylisoleucylglutamylglutaminylhistidylasparaginylisoleucylglutamylprolylglutamyllysylmethionylleucylalanylalanylleucyl lysylvalylphenylalanylvalylglutaminylprolylmethionyllysyl alanylalanylthreonylarginylserine

Do you know what really amazed me? He actually found references to this chemical on the internet! This protein is actually the longest chemical ever named in a scientific journal - so it is a molecule of some distinction. Trust Ainan to be interested in it.

(If you would like to know more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 7, a scientific child prodigy, seven years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, aged four years and one month, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:00 PM  2 comments

Of Genius, Wealth and Poverty

We live in a world that worships money - and accords both respect and awe to those able to accumulate vast quantities of this magical stuff. Many, indeed, confuse "wealthy", with "brilliant". Yet, is this conflation a necessary truth?

There are many ways to become wealthy and not all of them involve great brilliance - in fact, most of them involve little more than doing what someone else has done, before, with a better marketing plan in place. I could say, "Look at Microsoft.", but I won't. In short, being rich does not mean being a genius. Nor does its corrollary apply: being poor does not mean one is dumb.

This latter point is essential to grasp. You see, I have recently received a letter from an American pointing out that, in her country, the poor are discounted on the issue of giftedness: no-one believes that a gifted child could emerge from a poor family - and so they are often overlooked. This is a very odd take on the issue of giftedness and shows that those who think so are unaware that wealth and IQ are not strongly correlated. There are rich bright people, yes - but there are also dumb rich people - and poor bright people - and poor dumb people (perhaps not the best combination, that one).

Giftedness is not a measure of wealth - it is a measure of mind - and great minds may emerge in the most unpromising of circumstances. History can teach us much here. I have already written of Carl Friedrich Gauss - a great child prodigy and a great genius level mathematician. What I did not stress enough, perhaps, was that his family were a very poor one. His father was a stone mason - a manual worker - and had the limited resources one expects of manual workers in most societies. Yet, this did not stop the young Gauss from being born a prodigy, and turning out to be the "greatest mathematician of his Age", according to many of his peers.

Another great mathematician, born in poverty, was Srinavasa Ramanujan. Born in 1887 in abject circumstances, he nursed a brilliance for mathematics by his own private efforts. He only emerged into prominence on writing a letter to G.H Hardy, the Cambridge mathematician, enclosing 120 mathematical statements of his own devising. Hardy, rather open-mindedly, invited him to Cambridge and the great young genius, was recognized. We all have something to thank him for. His work (the partition theory) is behind the operations of automatic teller machines (ATMs) and without his ideas, we would not be able to get a hold of our funds, so readily.

Both of these great men, were born poor - and both became great mathematical geniuses. Their poverty did not prevent them from being great. There are many such cases throughout history. Poverty does not connote stupidity - and wealth does not connote genius (I could bore you with cases of stupid, rich people but the living ones would sue and the dead ones are too uninteresting to bother with.)

So, to my American reader, I would like to send assurance that gifted people can, do and have emerged from poor backgrounds - and would like to urge those in America, who seek to identify gifted people, to be more open-minded in their pursuit of them. Do not assume intelligence in a rich kid - or dumbness in a poor one. Have an open mind when evaluating each and every one. For intelligence, creativity and genius, may emerge from any background, rich or poor.

(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, and Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:02 PM  2 comments

Monday, August 06, 2007

Teresa Hsu, Singaporean Supercentenarian

Yesterday, my wife Syahidah, my son Ainan, 7, and I, went to meet the oldest living Singaporean.

It was a curious meeting. Teresa Hsu has a stated age of 110 years old. Officially, there are only 78 such people in the world. 71 of them are women and 7 of them are men. I do not know whether she is one of those officially listed. She herself says she came from an era before documentation, so we are reliant on her, for verification.

She is an alert, witty and apparently amiable person. Throughout the talk she laughed frequently and I found myself laughing, too, at her unexpected jokes. That she could have retained such a strong sense of humour so long was refreshing to witness. Ainan was very interested in seeing her - for he is not unaware of the rarity of one of such an age. However, he kept fairly quiet throughout and just listened to the adults speak.

She was of modest height, her skin was relatively unwrinkled, being less so than many aged people I have met - and she had a full head of silver hair, which she showed no signs of losing. She did not seem so old as one might expect, looking perhaps no more than 80, or so. I have seen younger people, who looked older.

Her memory for her early life was very clear, being able to tell stories of her childhood and early working days, with clarity and ease. What, however, was also clear, was that her memory for recent events was not so fresh: she had seen a friend of mine the previous day, but evidently struggled to remember the details of the meeting, somewhat. That, however, was not surprising, given her age. In general, she was very together, and responsive and able to discourse at length and interest about her life.

She was born in China to a poor family. At 16, her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her - but, so opposed to this was Teresa Hsu, that she ran away from home, to live in Hong Kong. There she made a living cleaning floors while, in the evening, she studied secretarial skills, becoming a stenographer in due course.

In time, she made her way to Singapore where she acquired a primary school level education at a Convent school at the age of 27. Later on, in her forties, she moved to the United Kingdom, where she trained and practised as a nurse. In her sixties, her sister gave her a large sum of money, which she used to found a home for the Aged (next to which she lives to this day) - and purchase some flats for the elderly to live in.

She has since worked to help the elderly poor have a better life, raising funds for them - and assisting them with food donations.

What secrets of longevity does she have? Well, I would say that key to her continued health this past century, is her ever present laughter. She laughed many times throughout our meeting, finding humour in most things. Then again, she confessed a love of ice-cream - which points to taking pleasure in the senses. Indeed, when asked whether she had ever had children, she remarked: "No. You see if I had had four children, I would have had to share my ice-cream five ways.", she then laughed.

We talked for two hours in a room surrounded by books of all kinds. There are over 2,000 books on those burdened shelves. Her recent reading has included Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie - as well as Dan Brown's entire oeuvre including the Da Vinci Code. She particularly enjoyed that - and was unable to put it down until she had finished it.

She has no truck with the modern world. She cannot use a computer. She does not watch television. She uses no modern electronic devices, referring to them as "boxes".

When I asked her about what life was like before the airplane, she said: "Simpler", but then was interrupted by her constant companion, Sharana Rao, before she could expand. He had the loudest bass voice I have encountered in my life and would repeat everything we said, so that she could understand, being as she is, rather hard of hearing. (The lower frequencies would tend to dull last - the higher frequencies being lost first, so this makes sense.)

She has practiced Yoga, for much of her life (about the last forty years or so) and, indeed, Sharana is a Yoga teacher and osteopath, himself. He looked rather biblical with a long flowing white beard - and spoke with great intensity. In all they made an interesting pair.

Ainan enthusiastically relayed news of his meeting to his brothers: "110..." he began, as he entered the house, explaining his visit to them. To a 7 year old, I suppose, such a number seems vast indeed. To me, though her life is long, it is not eternal. Even 110 seems too short a life, to me!

One day, perhaps, 110 will become a common age but at this time, the ratio of non-supercentenarians, to official supercentenarians, is 77 million to one. Those are long odds for anyone aspiring to live for 110 years or more.

It was a strange meeting. For Ainan is a rare scientific child prodigy - and she is a rare centenarian. Both are exceptional in different ways. Ainan is the youngest of his kind - and she is the oldest. There is a kind of poetry in that.

I hope Ainan remembers the day he met the oldest living Singaporean - and that it gives him a better perspective on life and its possibilities.

I think it was a rich lesson for him, to meet someone reputedly born in the 19th century. The time for when such meetings are possible is rapidly passing. By the time Ainan is adult, there will be no more representatives of that era, remaining. Yet, when Ainan is an adult, he will be able to recall the day he met such a one - and listened to her jokes.

It was a worthwhile visit - and we are thankful to Teresa Hsu and Sharana Rao, for affording us - and Ainan the privilege.

Long may she live.

(If you are interested in learning more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged 7 years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:01 PM  0 comments

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mira Sorvino and scientific fame.

Bizarre as it might seem, Mira Sorvino is famous in the scientific world.

Now, you might wonder how on Earth a Hollywood actress could become known in certain quarters of the scientific community, in a scientific context. What did she discover, you might wonder? When did she find the time to fit a PhD in, in between all those films? How does her film-set schedule allow for laboratory experimentation and profound theorizing?

Well, it doesn't. You see Mira Sorvino having become famous in Hollywood, has been acknowledged by the scientific community in a way which gives her a strange kind of fame. You see, Ainan, 7, pointed out to me, yesterday, that a newly discovered chemical has recently been christened Mirasorvone.

Ainan is fond of filling his mind with rare and obscure scientific information - and this chemical fact is just one nugget. I am informed that there is a beetle called Thermonectus Marmoratus. This beetle uses the newly noted Mirasorvone as a chemical defense (so it is not, actually a very nice chemical!). The common name for this beetle is the "Sunburst Diving Beetle".

The chemical was discovered by researchers at Cornell University. These fans of Mira Sorvino decided to honour her, by naming it after her, owing to her appearance in the film Mimic, which has a strong connection to insects. Curiously, they didn't name the chemical after her character, Dr. Susan Tyler, in the film - but after the actress herself. I suppose Mira should be thankful for that - otherwise she would have missed out on a kind of fame which never dies.

It is my guess that Mira Sorvino will now be known, by some scientists, for as long as there are scientists to know anything. In this way, her scientific fame, modest though it is, being restricted to one chemical name, is certain to outlast any Hollywood fame, she accumulates. Long after all her films have crumbled away, and no-one even remembers what Hollywood was - or, perhaps even, what America was - the chemical name will persist in scientific records - and Mira Sorvino's fame, will endure - even if it is as a nasty chemical. What a strange thought that is.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, who brought Mirasorvone to my attention, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:11 AM  0 comments

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