Teenager reportedly finds solution to 350 year old math and physics problem

May 29, 2012 by Bob Yirka weblog

(Phys.org) -- In Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica published in 1687, the man many consider the most brilliant mathematician of all time used a mathematical formula to describe the path taken by an object when it is thrown through the air from one point to the next, i.e. an arc based on several factors such as the angle it is thrown at, velocity, etc. At the time, Newton explained that to get it completely right though, air resistance would need to be taken into account, though he could not figure out himself how to factor that in. Now, it appears a 16 year old immigrant to Germany has done just that, and to top off his work, he’s also apparently come up with an equation that describes the motion of an object when it strikes an immobile surface such as a wall, and bounces back.

Shouryya Ray, a modest student who just four years ago was living in Calcuta, has been on an accelerated learning course and is taking his Abitur exams two years early. His math equations won him first place in a state science competition and second place in the national Math and IT section at finals. He’s told the press that figuring out how to come up with his formulas was more due to school-boy naivety than genius, which the German press has been suggesting.

Ray moved with his family to Germany when his father landed a job as a research assistant at the Technical University of Freiburg. He has apparently shown great aptitude for math from an early age, learning calculus from his dad when he was still just six years old. He’s told the press that he got the idea of trying to develop the two formulas after visiting Dresden University on a field trip where he was told that no one had been able to come up with equations to describe the two dynamics theories.

Ray’s story has generated a lot of press around the world, highlighting the young lad’s ability to come up with a math formula that not even the great could find, despite the fact that no one other than a few local people have seen the formulas he’s created; thus, in the math and physics world there remains a great deal of skepticism regarding what he’s actually accomplished and most are holding off judgment until the formulas are published and reviewed.

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