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 +

Monday, January 28, 2008

Luck of the Half-Irish

Sometimes, Ainan seems to be a lucky boy. Not lucky in the sense you might think - but in another sense altogether.

Today, Ainan was flipping a coin - just an average, real-life one dollar Singaporean coin. For those who don't know, this is a small, thick golden coloured coin, just over 2 centimetres in diameter.

He designated one side of the coin as "heads", the other as "tails". He flipped the coin. It came up heads. He flipped again. It came up heads. He flipped again. It came up heads. He flipped again. It came up heads. In fact, it came up heads eleven times in a row.

What are the chances of 11 heads in a row? Well, that is 2 to the power 11 or one in 2,048. Now, that seems pretty lucky - and not something you could repeat in a hurry. But then he went and tried again.

He flipped the coin. It came up heads. He flipped it again. It came up heads. In fact, he managed to get 20 heads in a row before it came up tails.

Now, that is really lucky. The chances of 20 heads in a row are one in 2 to the power 20, or one in 1,048,576. That is one in one million, forty-eight thousand, five hundred and seventy-six.

I really wish I could have videoed him doing it. Sadly, we have a Sony videocamera - which in my experience means a machine that doesn't work. We have repaired it three times since we bought it, at at least a couple of hundred dollars a time - and each time it has failed again. The last time it failed less than two weeks after "repair". So, the next camera we buy won't be a Sony. The Sony "videocamera" (for in reality it is actually an expensive paperweight), has been out of action for longer than it has actually worked.

So, perhaps if we had bought a more reliable brand, we would have been able to video Ainan's remarkable feat.

As it is, he is showing distinct signs of the Luck of the Irish, even if he is only half-Irish.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, 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 @ 3:45 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to find out if the particular coin he used was unevenly weighted.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might it have something to do with this?

6:45 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, I did wonder about that, so I gave it a try myself. I tried it a few times and never got more than two in a row the same. It didn't take long to show that it didn't demonstrate any weighting bias when I tried it.

The matter remains unexplained, beyond an unusual degree of luck.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I had a look at the links...they were interesting and I was quite surprised that people could do that. However, I don't think it applies to Ainan's effort. My son would not use any kind of sleight of hand to trick me. He simply tossed the coin and it came up eleven times in a row, before being broken...then the second time he tried it, it was 20 times in a row, before being broken.

I tried it. I got twice in a row before being broken - so it sure wasn't the coin.

It is, however, impressive what those guys can do (if true, of course.)

Thanks for the suggestion.

12:36 AM  

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