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 +

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do you want to live forever?

Who wants to live forever? Do you? If people are honest with themselves, most people would answer "yes" to my question. Yet, since time immemorial this wish has co-existed with its hopelessness. To live forever, has been, for all this time, an absolute impossibility. Indeed, for most of the history of Mankind, to live to adulthood was unlikely enough, since most didn't achieve it. So, why do I ask this question, then? I do so, because we live in a time of change...a time in which it may soon, indeed, be possible to live forever.

At this point, I may have lost half of my readers. Well, to the half that remains, I would like to say this: thank you for being open-minded enough to read this far.

Now, as long term readers of my blog will know, I never broach a topic without much thought upon it and justification for my views. Today is no exception. You see what makes living forever less of an impossibility these days is the considerable progress made in understanding aging, the considerable proofs that it is possible to extend life (in a huge range of laboratory animals) and the nearness of drugs to achieve just that. Something else has changed too, in some quarters of the anti-aging world: the philosophy of how to approach the issue of preventing aging, debility and death. One such change is the proposals of Aubrey de Grey, a Cambridge University scientist, formerly a computer scientist, latterly a self-taught biologist with a PhD to prove it. Aubrey de Grey is, by the way, a most appropriate name, I think, for a man concerned almost solely with the prevention of aging! How serendipitous to find himself so named and so preoccupied! Anyway, Aubrey de Grey has proposed an approach to end the tyranny of aging and death. He calls this, quite attractively, SENS, (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence). What this means is, quite simply, the ways and means to stop you getting old...ever. His strategy is revolutionary in that it doesn't seek to understand aging, in the way almost all gerontological scientists are trying to do. No. He seeks, instead, to REPAIR THE DAMAGE done by aging. His contention is that it is much easier to repair the effects of aging, than to understand the underlying causes of aging and its mechanisms so as to be able to intervene to stop them in the first place. That problem, he admits, is far harder. By repairing the damage, rather than preventing it in the first place, Aubrey de Grey envisages a world in which periodic treatments would prevent people from getting old. They would, potentially, live not for seventy or eighty years, but for thousands of years. That is right, we could live for millenia. Some people indeed would never die. (There is a non-zero change of someone literally living forever if the safety of the environment increases and risk of death lowers over time, according to Aubrey de Grey's work).

Unfortunately, for us all, Aubrey de Grey's work needs funding. The SENS initiative is fairly radical and, in this world, radical ideas are slow to attract the funds they need, since most funding bodies prefer near term, safer options. However, there is something you can do, today to help. There is a competition running between SENS and a rival. They are in competition to see who can secure the most comments on a site. The winner receives $5,000 US dollars as a prize which will be used for research. The money doesn't sound like much...but it could be enough for a researcher to try out an idea and to put one more brick in the edifice that is SENS. A step forward will have been made - so it is worth it. The other side of it is that if enough people post comments in support of SENS (please try to think of something interesting to say...but it is OK if you don't...the comment itself is helpful), then other funding bodies may see that the cause is popular and come forward to support it.

To help research into stopping aging and help us all live longer, all you have to do is to go to this link and either sign in to the site and then comment - or, sign in to your GOOGLE account (the one that comes with GMAIL) and then register a comment. The latter is probably easier for many people.;

Please help SENS win this competition. You never know, it might be the step that prevents your own aging and gives you a much longer life...

Ask your friends to sign in and comment, too. Why not post the initiative on your facebook pages and get other people to sign in, too and comment. Let them all understand that it is a way to raise money for anti-aging research. It costs them nothing...but could benefit everyone.

Please let me know in the comments below, if you have made the effort to comment at SENS (and perhaps you could copy your comment below, to let me know how it is going). It would help me to know if this kind of initiative is of interest to my readers, since there are other things I could write about this area, in future, if people like it.

Thanks, in advance, for your help in supporting SENS rejuvenation research.

P.S: There is a time limit to the competition and I don't know when that hurry. If I have posted too late...sorry, but I tried. Thanks.

(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.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals.If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, (which will probably take several months before they are accepted) please go to: As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 6:32 PM 


Blogger Demel said...

Because I'm in a lazy mood today, haha:

You haven't said anything about the rival group. I haven't clicked the link yet, but apart from what SENS is trying to achieve, is there any particular push factor that would lead me to want to comment for them rather than the rival?

8:52 PM  
Blogger Demel said...

Addendum: I mean, I'd probably think pretty hard about who to comment if they were trying to cure cancer and all, right. >_>

8:53 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You have raised a good point Demel. The link above takes to a page listing the 50 causes that are up for this prize. Only one of them is concerned with the end of death. The others are concerned with a huge range of charitable causes. The most fundamental one, however, is SENS, the provision of which would help everyone. Many of the other projects are very localized...such as the second in the running, which is a LA based housing project of some kind...that would only affect a very small number of people. So, the push factor, as it were, would be that an end to aging helps all humans - all the other charities are aimed at only a small minority of people and have limited benefits therefore.

So, please go to the SENS link and write a comment to support the future of REJUVENATION research...this is about the reversal of aging and not just its postponement.

Thank you.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Living longer in the Singapore context is just not worth it...longer reservist obligations, probably longer regular NS obligations, longer loan periods for that miserable piece of property floating in the air on the 12 floor or something etc etc.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The underlying meaning of what you have written, Joshua, is that you would rather be dead, than live in Singapore. Well, I suggest that is a very strong argument for relocating, why don't you?

Life must be bad, in a place, when you prefer an early death, to extended life within it.

You are not the only unhappy Singaporean I have had comment on my blog. I think the situation speaks for itself.

Good luck on finding a better way to live.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Cawley

Joshua's situation is like this:-

IF he re-locates to Perth, he is labelled as "a Singaporean who can't make it". (This fatwa was issued by our top civil servant, Mr. Phillip Yeo, the former head of A*Star - the one who threatened to sue the blog owner of Acid Flask, a graduate student in UIUC, USA.)

IF he re-locates to any other country, he is labelled as a "quitter". (This fatwa was issued by SM Goh Chok Tong.)

IF he remains in Singapore, he is a "digit" (fatwa by MM Lee Kuan Yew) and a "lesser mortal" (fatwa by MP Charles Chong) despite his contributions during NS and reservist duties, AND his contributions towards the million dollar salaries of the ministers.

Singapore is such a lovely place, isn't it? Damned if you do it, damned if you don't.

The best thing to do is to damn the labels and use the longer life span (if available) to work towards re-locating to and building a new, happy life in a another place.


2:38 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Clunies-Ross,

As an outsider, I see one thing clearly. Singapore would not have a problem leaving, if it was the best place to be. No-one would leave if it was a great place. Clearly, it isn't, on some levels, at least. If Singapore were fair to all, and offered good and equal opportunities to all its citizens and none felt marginalized for reason of race, age or sex...then people would not leave, they would stay. People leave because Singapore has deep flaws. It is a cold society, from my perspective. It is an unsupportive, begrudging, unfriendly society, which can wear people down after all - and the leaders of Singapore seem to hold its people (from the remarks you quoted) in contempt. To be a Singaporean is to be a serf, to inhuman overlords. At least, that is how it appears to an outsider. Of course, given this, Singapore has one of the highest emigration rates in the entire world. I, personally, don't think the people who leave are "quitters" or "can't make it"...they are people who just won't stand for being abused, and so they leave. They are, probably, more courageous, more determined and more individualistic than those who stay behind. It is likely that far from being the dregs of Singapore, they may very well be the best of Singapore.

I have heard many tales of people...Malays for instance...who could not get good jobs in Singapore, for unexplained reasons. Yet, when they emigrated to Canada or Australia or the US etc. they suddenly found themselves appreciated and they thrived. Now, why is it that they can thrive overseas but not in Singapore? Well, for a starter, the other societies are more open...and the other reasons should be fairly obvious.

Yes. A longer life should be used to seek freedom for oneself and one's family. Singaporeans should only stay in Singapore as long as Singapore is a human, warm, supportive, nurturing, REWARDING place to be. If it is not that, then why should they stay?

I find it very interesting that Singapore's leaders blame those who leave. Perhaps they should take a look at the country they have built and start to BLAME THEMSELVES FOR WHAT THEY HAVE BUILT. If they had built a good society, NO-ONE WOULD WANT TO LEAVE. The fact that tens of thousands (at least) of Singaporeans leave every year, mostly never to return, shows, very clearly, indeed, undeniably so, that something is wrong with Singapore.

From what I have seen, Singapore doesn't take care of its of course its people don't take care of Singapore. To my eyes, Singapore neglects its people, in important of course they feel weak ties to it and drift off.

It is laughable, in some ways, what has been happening recently with all this immigration. With so many PRCs, here, Singapore is losing any identity it once had. You might as well call this place a southern province of China. For that is what it has become. I wonder when it is going to merge with the "Motherland"?

Singapore is changing fast. It is very different from the place I first saw in 1999. Indeed, it is becoming unrecognizable.

I wonder how many Singaporeans are going to say, enough with these is time to go? Certainly, quite a few already seem to be saying this...for they are leaving.

I wonder whether this nation can actually hold together, long term, at all...or will it just become a stomping ground for PRCs looking for some work experience?

4:34 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I meant: "wouldn't have a problem with people leaving..."

4:35 PM  

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