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 +

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A partial eclipse of the Sun.

We took our three sons to see a partial eclipse of the Sun, on Tuesday 27th January 2009.

From about 4.30 pm the Sun, in Singapore, began to be partially occluded. For the occasion, we went to the Science Centre, with the intention of viewing it through the telescopes, there, at the on-site Observatory.

Before viewing the eclipse, we went around the Science Centre with the boys. They were very excited and the three of them showed each other the exhibits, with great enthusiasm, interacting with them, curiously. It was their sense of excitement that impressed me. For them, the whole Science Centre is a kind of adventure, filled with strange experiences. They ran around seeking the most interesting exhibits, Tiarnan, in particular, and rather sweetly, climbing up onto them for a better look.

Tiarnan has been asking to go the Science centre for some time - which is quite an unusual request for the two year old he was, to start making. He was most keen on the idea. Finally, we took him, on the day of the eclipse.

When it came time to go to the Observatory, our eyes were met with the most unexpected queue, considering that it was Chinese New Year. The large room adjacent to the telescopes was filled with people eager to catch a glimpse of the eclipse, through the telescopes. There were three scopes and hundreds of people - so, seeing that, we abandoned the idea of viewing the Sun in that way at all.

Syahidah had been given special dark glasses ("optical density 5") for viewing the Sun directly, but I didn't want the boys to risk using them, in case they were tempted to take them off, while viewing (or they slipped). Luckily, there was a projection screen set up with a feed from the largest scope.

There was no need to look through the scopes at all. Our view would be just as good in front of the screen - and that is where we sat on the concrete steps, as if in some Roman auditorium.

By the time we arrived, the Moon was already partially covering the Sun. About a fifth of it was gone, as if a giant with very close set teeth had taken a bite out of it.

We explained to Tiarnan and Fintan that it was an eclipse and how it worked.

Tiarnan stood up and pointed at the projection screen: "This is the Sun." he said, turning to me, as if lecturing and "This is the Moon."

He understood alright.

The boys were very interested at first, sitting, studying the screen and watching the Moon slowly progressing across the Sun, covering more and more.

Ainan pointed out what appeared to be sunspots. They were darker blotches on the face of the Sun. Now, whether they were sunspots or not, I do not know - but they did look like them.

Syahidah sneaked out to look directly at the Sun, through her glasses.

"It is very small.", she observed, somewhat surprised, on her return. I didn't do the same, but stayed with the kids.

Ainan sat throughout, beside me, watching as the Sun was gobbled up. By 5.49 pm, it had reached a maximum eclipse of 80 % or so.

Fintan and Tiarnan divided their time between sitting with us and watching for a few minutes at a time, and running around the auditorium, treating it as an impromptu playground.

It was a good day. The best part of it was seeing how well the brothers worked together in their explorations and how excited they were to do so. I think all of them found it an interesting experience.

As for the partial eclipse, I think it made an impression on them all - even little Tiarnan.

It is not the only eclipse Ainan has experienced - he once was present at a total eclipse - but that is a whole other story (and a lot more funny). Perhaps I will write of it another day, or in another place.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:08 PM 


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