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Einstein is still alive? 16-year-old boy solves Isaac Newton's 300-year-old riddle

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 30th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A German 16-year-old teenage boy, born in India but now living in Germany, has become the first person to solve a mathematical problem posed 300 years ago by Sir Isaac Newton. According to newspaper reports, Shouryya Ray worked out how to calculate exactly the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ray says he solved the problem that had stumped mathematicians for centuries while working on a school project.

He won a research award for his efforts and has been labeled a genius by the media, but has ascribed his success 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.

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

Ray's father, Subhashis, said his son's mathematical prowess quickly outdid his own knowledge. "He never discussed his project with me before it was finished and the mathematics he used is far beyond my reach," he said.

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

The problem as posed by Sir Isaac Newton, related to the movement of projectiles through the air, in the 17th century. Mathematicians had only been able to offer partial solutions until now.

Ray has also solved a second problem, dealing with the collision of a body with a wall, which was posed in the 19th century.

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

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