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 31, 2011

Predicting race car performance.

A month or two ago, Ainan explained to me one of his little projects.

“I have written an equation to predict the theoretical best performance for a car, around the Nurburgring race track.”

“Really? How does it work?”

“Well it uses the skid pan lateral g test results; the power to weight ratio – so you need the power and the weight; the 0 to 60 mph time, the 0 to 100 mph time and the braking time, of 100 mph to 0 mph. You just enter these values into the equation and it will give a good estimate of the best possible time around the track.”

“Have you tested it against real world cases?”, I prompted.

“Yes. I tested it for the Pagani Zonda R. My estimate was 1 second quicker than the best actual recorded lap, by a real driver.”

“That is pretty close to the perfect result. The driver must have been pretty good.”

“Yes.”, he paused, momentarily, “but I tried it for the Bugatti Veyron, and my theoretical result is much better than actual driver performance.”

“They probably brake too hard.”

For those who don’t know, the Bugatti Veyron has particularly powerful brakes, which can lead to the driver slowing too much for corners than is really necessary.
He nodded, his agreement.

“I am mainly using it to predict the performance of future cars.”, he explained.

“So, just from the car’s specs you would be able to work out how well it would do around the Nurburgring, with an ideal driver and an ideal lap?”


This kind of exchange is pretty typical with Ainan. He likes to invent his own tools to achieve his aims. The form these tools take, depend very much on his interests of the time. However, I see in this the experimental and theoretical sides of a scientist – both are evident in the way he constructs his projects and his understandings. For now, of course, his theories and experiments are centred around his personal interests and guided by his stage in life – that of a prodigious child. Later on, he will, no doubt, turn to bigger problems and more significant projects, as he enters the adult world and working life. Yet, he will, I am sure, take with him the young theoretician and experimenter, that he has already become: the same mental proclivities will, no doubt, inform his future work, too.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:48 PM 


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