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Author Topic: Bean is real!
akhockey
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I didn't see if anybody else had posted on this, but it looks like we have a real-life Bean! Well, an American one...let's hope he discovers the buggers before he's too old to figure out a way to stop them.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110329/ts_yblog_thelookout/for-12-year-old-astrophysics-prodigy-the-skys-the-limit

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Raymond Arnold
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That's pretty awesome.
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rivka
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To quote a physicist I know, "I don’t want to hire him but I do want to hire whoever does his PR."

Is this kid cool? You bet.

Is he nearly as cool as his press indicates? Not likely.

Is he on par with Bean? Heck, no.

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PSI Teleport
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And way too old to play him in the movie, anyway.
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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You know, funnily enough, I had the same question he had about the acceleration of light around his age. I couldn't articulate it in mathematical terms nor comprehend the calculus involved, but I remember my dad talking about how gravity alters the trajectory of light and thinking that that should imply that light would accelerate toward a massive object. Except the speed of light is constant. And I was never able to come up with a good explanation for that. So why DOES light's acceleration vector work perpendicular to its trajectory, but not if there's a parallel component?
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Rawrain
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We need prodigies for the energy dep. /:

You know time travel is impossible, not only would your body be obliterated, but the chances of a blackhole popping up in said spot is garenteed, so I leave it to Billy to finish this off.
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Also I thought the point of astrophysics was to not be limited by the sky........

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King of Men
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quote:
So why DOES light's acceleration vector work perpendicular to its trajectory, but not if there's a parallel component?
If you have a light beam going straight towards a massive object, it remains at the same speed but 'accelerates' by gaining energy; its frequency becomes higher. Conversely if it is going away from a massive object its frequency and energy decrease.
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airmanfour
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
So why DOES light's acceleration vector work perpendicular to its trajectory, but not if there's a parallel component?
If you have a light beam going straight towards a massive object, it remains at the same speed but 'accelerates' by gaining energy; its frequency becomes higher. Conversely if it is going away from a massive object its frequency and energy decrease.
You are cool. This made me happy.
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Teshi
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I teach the top set of a year 5 maths class, containing kids aged 9 and 10. None of them are geniuses*, but some of them are pretty intelligent and easily taking in secondary-school concepts that many adults never fully get to understand.

*Well, that depends on your definition of genius. There are some mighty astonishing kids at the school I teach at.

With focused study, I could see the top level of them (let's say 4 out of 17) being able to comprehend and engage with issues like the acceleration of light at 14 or 15.

Given the proper education and opportunities, I would have thought that we as a society could produce a kid with similar capabilities** to this in every 1000 kids or so.

**Although this kid is on a different track because of his Asperger's Syndrome.

What worries me about this kid and the subsequent media storm (and especially the comments under the video) is the apparent belief that geniuses (only) spring out of the ground. Or that only geniuses can grapple with this kind of material. This is not at all true. Like I said, the top 4 of the 45 person year 5 class would be capable of dealing this issue as young teenagers, if not sooner. The majority of the class, would be able to pursue this issue productively at the doctorate level, plus others in the other classes, if they so wished.

We don't need child prodigies; Einstein wasn't a child prodigy any more than those top 4 kids in my year 5 maths class who are the top of their year.

What we need are children who are exposed to ideas that spark their mathematical and scientific (and all other areas too) interest and from an early age.

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Jenny Gardener
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Teshi is wise in these matters.
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Belle
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Teshi that is easily one of the best posts I've read on this subject in a long time. Jenny is right - you are very wise.

Too many of our kids look at math and science as the "hard subjects" and have an aversion to them. Many of the things we do to try and correct this I think only make it worse. Science and math should be an everyday part of life - we all use concepts from both every day, but instead we try to build it up and celebrate it with programs like the one in my state called GEMS (Girls Engaged in Math and Science) and make a big production out of it. The result is only the kids who are generally successful in school participate in these programs, and then we make a big deal out of it and the "average" kid is once more receiving the message that science and math are only for "smart kids." Or that he does have to be a genius in order to be successful in math or science. Totally the wrong message!

We also compartmentalize science so much - teaching only one part of it at a time. My son is very interested in space right now and when a science project was assigned in his class he asked if he could do a report on the international space station because he had seen stuff about it on one of our trips to the Huntsville Space and Rocket museum. He was told no, because they didn't cover astronomy this year - he would have to wait until the next school year to learn about that.

When we do things like this to kids in elementary school we squash their sense of wonder and inquiry - which is what studying science should be about. We tell kids no, you can't explore and find the answer to something you want to learn about because it's not on the course of study for this year.

Now, fortunately my son has parents that buy him books on any subject he is interested in exploring, take him to places like the Space and Rocket Museum, and buy him a telescope for Christmas when he asks for one. For every kid like mine that continues to be interested in science and math despite the system, how many are crushed by the system?

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
So why DOES light's acceleration vector work perpendicular to its trajectory, but not if there's a parallel component?
If you have a light beam going straight towards a massive object, it remains at the same speed but 'accelerates' by gaining energy; its frequency becomes higher. Conversely if it is going away from a massive object its frequency and energy decrease.
Ah,that's right. I forgot about the frequency shift. Thanks.
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CT
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rivka, Teshi, and Belle said most everything I would have, but much better.

It will be interesting to see what he does with the next decade or two of his life. I don't know how to pinpoint that sweet spot of effectiveness which balances native talent, hard work, appropriate training, and the ability to play well with others (to accept criticism, to identify what areas one is weak in, to make it through the gauntlet that is working with others/getting through the publication feedback gauntlet/staying stable enough that you don't set fire to the desk at the third faculty meeting in a week), etc.

He has a fascinating story and is doubtlessly a cool kid. What will come of that depends on a lot of factors -- as for all of us -- but I trust he has family that loves him dearly and has the respect of people who work with him.

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Destineer
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I'd be interested to see how badly out of context they took that quote from Tremaine. My guess would be: very.
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Destineer
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Also, the caption on the video is mistaken; he doesn't say anything about quantum theory in the clip, it's all relativity.
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Teshi
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From the comments thread:

quote:
Great to see we still can have these exceptional ones.
As if the American gene pool ("we") had become weakened because of the economic issues!

quote:
More kids like him need to come forward and form a sort of super team of minds and they may solve things even faster by combining their knowledge and skills. Put the kids in a classroom and let them attack many theories for the world...

quote:
Face it, any young person who asks questions is unique. Throughout our education we are told what to think, not taught how to think. So, anyone who actually thinks is extraordinary.
The most interesting thing about this is the general comment response.
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Destineer
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quote:
Face it, any young person who asks questions is unique. Throughout our education we are told what to think, not taught how to think. So, anyone who actually thinks is extraordinary.
Hilarious. This is actually the opposite of the truth. If anything, the American secondary ed system focuses a little over-much on critical thinking at the expense of learning facts.
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Tresopax
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I'd have to say my pre-college experience was a lot of the education I received was telling us what to think rather than teaching us how to think. There was a lot of focus on critical thinking, but it tended to end up more teaching how to articulate your opinions rather than how to actually think well. It varied a lot by class though.

Having said that, there's nothing unique about a young person asking questions. Regardless of what education teaches, young people inevitably ask questions.

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CT
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The Indianapolis Star has a more detailed story here. Sounds like he attends classes a few days a week through SPAN (Special Programs for Academic Nurtuing), IUPUI's early college entrance program -- typically for high school students who are allowed to take classes for college credit at the university while still doing other things before formal matriculation (traditional high school, homeschooling, etc.).

Then there's this:

quote:
"Indeed, it would not be in Jacob's best interest to force him to complete academic work that he has already mastered," clinical neurophysiologist Carl S. Hale, Merrillville, said in a report provided by the Barnetts.

"He needs work at an instructional level, which currently is a post college graduate level in mathematics, i.e., a post master's degree. In essence, his math skills are at the level found in someone who is working on a doctorate in math, physics, astronomy and astrophysics."

The Barnetts were blown away. They knew Jake was smart, but doctorate-level smart?

Hale's website is here. He seems to be an interesting fellow, too.
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The Rabbit
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Child prodigies are over rated. I can't think of a single famous scientist or mathematician that was a child prodigy. Mozart composed some wonderful things, but its hard to say he really exceeded others who bloomed a bit later in life. Child prodigies seem to mature mentally at an incredible rate but they plateau sooner. Many end up doing well as adults but not spectacularly well.

Sadly, it seems not at all uncommon for child prodigies to burn up at an early age and have serious emotional or psychological problems as adults.

I hope this won't be the case for this kid.

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PSI Teleport
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quote:
Hilarious. This is actually the opposite of the truth. If anything, the American secondary ed system focuses a little over-much on critical thinking at the expense of learning facts.
I disagree. Out future is far too uncertain to guarantee that the knowledge of any facts, other than historical ones, will be useful for the next generation.

I'm of a mind that the most important thing kids need to learn is how to find information for themselves.

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Flying Fish
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My favorite child prodigy (true) story.....

And a little spoiler: he continued and continues to do very well.

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2048138,00.html

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
quote:
Hilarious. This is actually the opposite of the truth. If anything, the American secondary ed system focuses a little over-much on critical thinking at the expense of learning facts.
I disagree. Out future is far too uncertain to guarantee that the knowledge of any facts, other than historical ones, will be useful for the next generation.

I'm of a mind that the most important thing kids need to learn is how to find information for themselves.

We're both speaking at a level of generality where it's hard to make a meaningful point. I think critical thinking is very important, and we don't over-emphasize it by much. But a lot of students don't pick up good math and science skills, and those are things we know will be useful (to understanding the world around them, if not to their careers).
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Destineer
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I was mainly saying that the system doesn't fall short in teaching critical thinking.
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Teshi
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Destineer: Judging from the understanding in science and the ability to question what this young man is saying in the comment thread (and in the general population-- see the trouble with understanding climate change) , I would say that it's not actually taking, even if it's being taught in schools.
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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
but it tended to end up more teaching how to articulate your opinions rather than how to actually think well.

Some people need that. I myself would benefit greatly from an improvement in that area. I believe my thinking processes are just fine but I often struggle to explain them in a clear way. I am improving though.

For instance, there is the problem of static weight distribution in vehicle dynamics. Most people have it backwards. This is understandable as it is somewhat non-intuitive. I tried and tried and tried to explain it to people but they just didn't get it. I couldn't make them see it the way that I did.

Finally one day I decided to write a little article about it as it is often easier for me to express myself in writing. This article was only a few hundred words, yet I agonized over it for hours to get my descriptions as clear and simple as possible. Once completed, I posted it up on a message board and FINALLY, people understood me. It was such a relief to finally get the point across to so many people.

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Rawrain
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Wingracer I am jellous!
\\\\\\\\
As far as posting in this topic goes I am in complete agreement with The Rabit on the subject of child prodigies...
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Reading the article one of the first things I notice is "Asperger's syndrome", and this child prodigy immedietly lost all value.

[ April 01, 2011, 12:44 PM: Message edited by: Rawrain ]

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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by Rawrain:

As far as posting in this topic goes I am in complete agreement with The Rabit on the subject of child prodigies...

As am I. Sure there are some exceptions like Mozart but for the most part, they fail to exceed the abilities of older masters. The thing is, most child prodigies aren't better than the masters of their field, they just get to that master level much sooner.
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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by Rawrain:

Reading the article one of the first things I notice is "Asperger's syndrome", and this child prodigy immedietly lost all value.

I hope that's just phrased poorly?
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Rawrain
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The plataeu is where learning is replaced by creativity and ingenuity. All things after are new to everyone.
---------------------
Threads to excell in one area only to be sharply reduced in others, may sound like a good trade off, but only time will tell what this genetic misshap will make of this poor kid.

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CT
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People with Asperger syndrome are different in some ways from a typical person, and they are much like a typical person in other ways. Same as for each of us, really.

The reason why it is marked as a syndrome is that the differences from typical that are common to people with Asperger syndrome happen to cluster in a certain way. Thus they may be extraordinarily well-suited for some challenges in life, but not so much to others. Again, same as for each of us.

It's not a general genetic mishap. It's a genetic variance that is more suited to some situations than others. What that means in the broader sense has more to do with how societies and resources are set up than to do with the individual involved.

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rivka
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Well said, CT. Thank you.
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zgator
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I prefer thinking of my son as genetic variant than a genetic mishap. Thanks CT.
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rivka
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Ditto, to be sure.
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