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, April 12, 2008

A world without the smell of flowers

There is much beauty in the world. Yet, this beauty may not endure. The world of my youth, is not the world of today - and so it shall be for my children, too. The natural world is slowly fading away.

Researchers at the University of Virginia have uncovered a startling and rather disturbing phenomenon: flowers are losing their smell.

All of us have, at one time or another, enjoyed the enchanting aroma of flowers on a summer's day. We may have walked in fields amidst their multi-coloured splendour - yet, a walk in such a field today is not what it once was. These researchers have calculated that the scent of flowers would have wafted some 1,000 to 1,200 metres in the 1800s. Today, in the modern world, flower scent has a range of just 200 to 300 metres in the vicinity of cities.

What is happening? Well the scent molecules are interacting with air pollutants such as ozone and being neutralized: they literally no longer smell anymore.

Why should we be concerned? Well, apart from dulling one of the sensory experiences of the beauty of nature - this does something more: it makes it difficult for bees to find their food. When flowers no longer smell as they used to, bees must search longer and further to find them, relying more on sight. This is not easy - and so they starve. Bee populations in places as far apart as California and the Netherlands are in decline.

Why does this matter? Well, bees are pollinators of flowers. If they can't find the flowers, they won't find food - but also the flowers won't be pollinated - result: no more flowers.

Here we can see how pollution has effects far beyond what we might expect. It leads directly to the decline of bees and flowers alike. We are suffocating the natural world.

I usually write about giftedness - but I feel, at times, a need to write about the environment. It is not really off-topic for one clear reason: anyone who has young children needs to think about the future world they will live in. What kind of world will they have to enjoy or endure? The signs are not looking good.

Do what you can, when you can, to preserve the environment: make it one of your regular considerations. If enough people think about it, perhaps we can do something collectively, to improve it.

As for the flowers: it seems sad that children now live in a world in which not even the flowers smell as they used to. They will not have the sensory memories that prior generations enjoyed of simply witnessing the natural world in its multi-sensory splendour: it is fading and dying all around us.

I only hope that there is time to intervene, before it is too late. I only hope that there is time for nature to recover from what we are doing to it.

(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 @ 8:42 PM 


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