Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Genuine Genius! Or How We Can Make It the Rule, Rather than the Exception

And believe me, this kid is only getting started.

Actually, I have this theory. If we want fresh ideas in math and physics and the mechanical sciences in our society, we need to start teaching these subjects to our kids earlier.

Oh, you say, their brains can't handle that stuff when they're so young.

Oh yeah? How old were you when you learned geometry? Or TRIED to learn geometry? About 13, 14, maybe 15? It was pretty difficult, right? Maybe it was because you weren't paying much attention, what with puberty going on and all that. Okay, now when did you learn to add? To subtract? To multiply and divide? When you were 7, 8, 9? And this is rather difficult stuff too, right? No? Try to learn it when you are 13, 14, or 15. Hey, why not try to learn it at 21? I bet you that these simple math principles would be as difficult to learn at 21 as algebra and geometry are at 13.

Think about it this way. Playing the violin is pretty difficult too, but we know that kids who start young (like 4 or 5) have the advantage over kids who start at 10, 11, or 12. Think about the Suzuki school. Think about Mozart, who I am told, was WRITING sonatas when he was six. His father was a musician. His mother was a musician. His older sister was a musician. . . . I'm not saying that we can take anything away from his natural gift, but he was surrounded by music. Imagine what his contribution to the world of music would have been if he were surrounded by farmers, or graphic artists, or map makers, and he took his first piano or violin lesson at 13.

Let's try another example, language. If you want a bilingual child--a child who speaks that second language flawlessly and without an accent, what do you do? Immerse him/her in it real young--I mean like in infancy, like you do with his first language.

And furthermore, what do they teach you after you learn to do rudimentary arithmetic at the age of 7, 8, or 9? Pretty much . . . nothing. They simply repeat it again and again (they call it reinforcing instead of repeating) until you get to middle school--and puberty.

The point I'm trying to make is this: We only get a handful of kids good enough in the "hard" sciences at the end of this wasteful process, and that handful is indeed brilliant--but, I believe, limited in its vision. It is quite possible that some of the interesting ideas (notice I said "some," not "all") are wasted on those kids who don't qualify for M.I.T. or Cal Tech, because, frankly, they are not good enough in math and physics; so they major in the "soft" sciences like business, and law, and literature, and art. These GENIUSES major in business, and law, and literature, and art. And we know that they are geniuses because if we consider the level of difficulty of their processes--ah hell, let's go back to Leonardo da Vinci and people like that back in the the European renaissance and the age of enlightenment before the geniuses of art and science became divided into soft and hard.

What I'm trying to say is that if we taught our kids geometry, algebra, calculus, and physics young, when they've already learned the basics and they're churning, just repeating the same stuff over and over, I am quite sure that this child would not be the exception, but the rule. Furthermore, our M.I.T.'s and our Cal Tech's would be filled to the brim with budding scientist who have the same sensibilities and vision as our artists and other great thinkers. And we would be ushering in a new renaissance.

________________________________________________________________

German teen Shouryya Ray solves 300-year-old mathematical riddle posed by Sir Isaac Newton

From: NewsCore May 27, 2012 5:12PM

________________________________________________________________

A GERMAN 16-year-old has become the first person to solve a mathematical problem posed by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago.



Shouryya Ray worked out how to calculate exactly the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

The Indian-born teen said he solved the problem that had stumped mathematicians for centuries while working on a school project.

Mr Ray won a research award for his efforts and has been labeled a genius by the German media, but he put it down to "curiosity and schoolboy naivety".

"When it was explained to us that the problems had no solutions, I thought to myself, 'well, there's no harm in trying,'" he said.

Mr Ray's family moved to Germany when he was 12 after his engineer father got a job at a technical college. He said his father instilled in him a "hunger for mathematics" and taught him calculus at the age of six.

Mr Ray's father, Subhashis, said his son's mathematical prowess quickly outstripped his own considerable knowledge.

"He never discussed his project with me before it was finished and the mathematics he used are far beyond my reach," he said.

Despite not speaking a word of German when he arrived, Mr Ray will this week sit Germany's high school leaving exams, two years ahead of his peers.

Newton posed the problem, relating to the movement of projectiles through the air, in the 17th century. Mathematicians had only been able to offer partial solutions until now.

If that wasn't enough of an achievement, Mr Ray has also solved a second problem, dealing with the collision of a body with a wall, that was posed in the 19th century.

________________________________________________________________ Both problems Mr Ray resolved are from the field of dynamics and his solutions are expected to contribute to greater precision in areas such as ballistics.

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Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

World Series of Poker

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At Books and Books

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Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.