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Schoolboy cracks age-old maths problem

The Local · 23 May 2012, 07:03

Published: 23 May 2012 07:03 GMT+02:00

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Shouryya Ray, who moved to Germany from India with his family at the age of 12, has baffled scientists and mathematicians by solving two fundamental particle dynamics problems posed by Sir Isaac Newton over 350 years ago, Die Welt newspaper reported on Monday.

Ray’s solutions make it possible to now calculate not only the flight path of a ball, but also predict how it will hit and bounce off a wall. Previously it had only been possible to estimate this using a computer, wrote the paper.

Ray first came across the old problem when his secondary school, which specializes in science, set all their year-11 pupils a research project.

On a visit to the Technical University in Dresden pupils received raw data to evaluate a direct numerical simulation – which can be used to describe the trajectory of a ball when it is thrown.

When he realised the current method could not get an exact result, Ray decided to have a go at solving it. He puts the whole thing down to “schoolboy naivety” - he just refused to accept there was no answer to the problem.

“I asked myself: why can’t it work?” he told the paper.

Ray has been fascinated by what he calls the “intrinsic beauty“ of maths since an early age, according to the report. The boy was inspired by his engineer father who began setting him arithmetic problems at the age of six.

He recently won a youth science competition at the state level in Saxony and won second place in the Maths and IT section at the national final.

Originally from Calcutta, Ray couldn’t speak a word of German when he came to Dresden four years ago – but now he is fluent. Since then, he was moved up two classes in school and is currently sitting his Abitur exams two years early.

Story continues below…

But Ray doesn’t think he’s a genius, and told the paper he has weak points as a mathematician, as well as in sports and social sciences.

Ray, whose recent breakthrough may have earned him a paragraph in the schoolbooks of the future, is currently deciding whether to study maths or physics at university.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

07:40 May 23, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Video games are about to get better.
09:08 May 23, 2012 by ChrisRea
Indians are smart.
09:15 May 23, 2012 by euan.dykes
Good Man! It goes to show you what potential a young man can achieve when he has the full mentoring support of his father.
09:26 May 23, 2012 by maxmuxx
Cheers buddy..!! Keep Going..!!!
10:09 May 23, 2012 by wood artist
Clearly this young man is very bright, and very capable. There is one other thing I think he acknowledges, and it may be very important.

Too often we fail to solve problems because, given our experience, we start out in a given direction, assuming it will lead us to an answer. It's probably the same road traveled by many before us, and leads only to a cul-de-sac. Youth, however, don't let these things block them. They ask, as he did, "why can't I go THAT way?" While we...older people...automatically scratch possibilities because they don't seem logical, youth is smart enough to try the path less traveled...and it looks like it paid off here.

Ah to be young and not blinded by "experience." Nice job, young man.

10:31 May 23, 2012 by Sastry.M
Such rare phenomena do occur but their manifestations appear startling. It goes to prove the sub conscious activity of human mind which continues beyond temporal limitations of reckoned age and spatial limitations of physical life cycles of individual human beings to solve any problem that confronted challengingly at an earlier period of age.

.Continued Education Program (C.E.P) courses are similar in application devised at present.
12:44 May 23, 2012 by V28
Wow! Indians are pretty amazing.
14:52 May 23, 2012 by freads
He maybe a genius guy from India and maybe his genius is opened by Germans. In Indian school there is not much opportunities to do stuff like solving an unsolved puzzle because the teachers themselves discourage and there is no good competition for school students to participate actively and learn out of curriculum, the college scene is also similar, no creativity and poor coordination in colleges makes Indian colleges the worst in the world, except IITs, NITs and BITS-Pilani, the colleges in Germany are very good in terms of standard but they too still need improvement and meet the standards of USA, as USA has the best higher education programs, so a lot is needed to be done.
15:05 May 23, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
As mentioned, "youth" are generally more creative because they do not have "experience" to discourage them. Hence they have Gates, Zucker, Jobs, etc. in the USA becoming billionaires in their 20s.

Big problem for Europe because they are not having enough babies i.e., "youth" and are slowly becoming extinct. No youth means no "creating," thus causing a stagnation in economic growth.

Department of Defence will hire him first.
16:14 May 23, 2012 by rlabeyrie
Am I the only one bothered by the fact that this article gives so little details about the actual problems and the way they were solved that it is impossible to find it on Google?

At least give us a link of some sort, I want to read more about this.
17:29 May 23, 2012 by dp_darmstadt

Did you study in India? If yes, where?. If no, how the hell do you know that Indian colleges are the worst in the world.
18:42 May 23, 2012 by joysonabraham

How the hell you know this? Did you ever live and study there. I wish you just go on and make a count of Indians who studied in India and working in silicon valley (e.g)and became some of the best in their chosen fields.

In fact in India due to the horrifying number of applicants(we are billions in number by the way) , those who pass the entrance exams and make it to the colleges are some of best in millions. Its a fact that those who go outside India to do their bachelors are those who failed to pass the entrance exams. I wont say all of them but majority are.
15:57 May 24, 2012 by V28

Your ignorance precedes you. Just google toughest+engineering+entrance+exam or anything close to that, and you might overcome the ignorance barrier. Read the article once again to find out who "opened" his eyes ROFL. Hint: The person is related by blood.
19:18 May 24, 2012 by Sastry.M
Among Europeans the Germans are accredited with fertile minds of deep thinking as well as means of devising methods for practical actualization. May be they were therefore exploited as 'technical' merceries by other colonial European powers, esp. in taming the Wild American West. Also it is the Germans who really appreciated Indian Scriptural Wisdom as extolled by Pundit Max Mueller as "where human thought reached its pinnacle I point to India".

However where subtle thoughts find practical application into physical contraptions in a methodical manner, the Western intellectual Genius counts to the full. The tutorial type of education introduced earlier by the colonial British continues in India even today in contrast to continental German methods of teaching,standing testimony to the host of pioneers in all technical and engineering fields not to speak of music and fine arts.

A discussion of European creative genius can be found in "The Inventor and his World": by Stafford.H.Hatfield.

23:50 May 24, 2012 by parografik
I believe the correct term is "mathes"
07:55 May 25, 2012 by Laura897
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:51 May 25, 2012 by aruntutu
Once again another Indian keeping our flag flying high!! :) God knows we need a lot more of them in this world and to come from a 16-year old: I see a great future for the world! :D
10:31 May 25, 2012 by minga
I think the comment from freads is spot on. It was not about India bashing and higher education. It was about early (school) education where it is still lagging behind.
15:44 May 25, 2012 by ErnestPayne
Congratulations. My distant ancestor would be proud of you. With luck there is a "Chair" waiting for you in England.
21:09 May 25, 2012 by henry1544
Can someone crack this math-problem? India has 1.2 billion people. 600 million of these live without a running toilet. That means that they poop in a bag, on the streets or other places of convinience.

How can they also produce such a genius? Why isn't India a super-duper high tech country that leaves Europe and the US behind in superior living?

The world is weird.
21:49 May 25, 2012 by Bruno53
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:29 May 26, 2012 by V28
@Bruno53: ummm.. doesn't that make you less intelligent if you've been doing that all your life or is it just an excuse? "Become lazy and reject thinking seriously" - LMAO. Somebody give this joke an award for voicing out one of the best comments thus far *sarcasm*. Learn to give credit where credit is due.

@henry1544: I bet you wouldn't be saying that in a few decades. They poop in a bag? How insensitive and ignorant can a person get, even after considering India's history. I'm sure an educated person would have not made that comment.
13:26 May 26, 2012 by henry1544

But it's TRUE! Google India + ganghes river or India + street children. Also see or read about how couples have sex/sleep/poop in the middle of the street. The poverty down there is incomprehensible! They have super-intelligent people, but at the same time, half the population doesn't even have a toilet!

India's history? What does that have to do with anything. We live in the year 2012.

Your use of words like "ignorant" or "uneducated" are therefore insignificant.
22:27 May 26, 2012 by Amit Sarkar
To all proud Indians who brag about IIT, BITS and othesr; how come IITs did not produce a single Nobel laureate in science? Whereas MIT alone produced several dozen. I studied both in India and USA and I know the difference. Indian education system does not encourage critical thinking, let alone developing cognitive skill at an early age of development. It¦#39;s all brute force method of memorization without cognitive development. The education is structured around rigorous examination systems. That may produce some good engineers who can solve some analytical problems not scientists who think out of the box.

Just wondering why Indians always excel outside India? Bengalis are very gifted and talented people and that place would have produced many such Shouryya Rays if the communist had not ruined the state for 34 years

NRIs earned tremendous respects wherever they went. They shaped the economies of many countries. The combined income of 15 million NRIs is more than the GDP of India. When 15 million NRI given the right opportunities, they excel in every walks of life. Just imagine if 1.2 billion Indians get the same opportunities, what the world will look like!

It¦#39;s a shame that India is losing such talents in thousands every year. Ever since I have become an entrepreneur I have been struggling to convince Indian officials about the opportunities we are losing every second.

Now I am more focused to grow my operation in USA than in India and I am not alone.

When will India shed the chalta hai (it¦#39;s ok dude; life goes on) attitude?

Hmmm! Wondering even GOD knows that answer.

Get real dude!
13:49 May 27, 2012 by skaloc
It just shows how much a parent involved in the education of the child and the challenging by a school can produce young people such as this.

In the United States they make sure that the children "feel" that they learned something ... I remember when I switched form German schools in Seigelbach to American schools in Illesheim (3rd grade -- Army brat). The other kids were brutal to me because I knew how to multiply and divide so I got out early for recess all the time... I had so many fights due to my temper ....
15:57 May 27, 2012 by kiran777
I just wanted the readers to this amazing facts and articles of Indian and German relationship through history.




Please let me know if you know more such history.

17:01 May 27, 2012 by Sastry.M

Thanks for the excellent web references. Given the present chaotic inflationary conditions in India I feel whether we Indians can ever realize who are our real western well wishers of spiritual consonance whose exploratory works on all things Indian stand testimony to underlying mutual friendship, and those who are double- speak/standard dodgers, who keep us ever dependent on them economically and remain unsettled politically.
19:12 May 27, 2012 by paulspookys
What is generally forgotten is that the population of India is 15 times more than that of Germany. Even if we consider that half of the 1.2 bil is well to do, that itself is much more (2,5 times) than the total population of Europe (around 500 mil).
03:23 May 28, 2012 by Orthorim
I dont think it matters at all where he was born, how many Indians there are etc. Youre just projecting your own prejudices and insecurities onto this matter.

He obviously has a great gift, I am looking forward to hearing more from him. I was the best in math in our school and it turned out in later life that this ability is one in a thousand. This guy is probably more like one in a million! Who knows what he'll discover! Its exciting!
03:42 May 28, 2012 by Joho
"We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made." - Albert Einstein
07:24 May 28, 2012 by paulspookys
Mark Twain said: India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history,the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most constructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.

"Many of the advances in the sciences

that we consider today to have been made in Europe

were in fact made in India centuries ago."

- Grant Duff

British Historian of India
17:07 May 28, 2012 by Wayne Borean
Rather miserable article. It doesn't include copies of his work, or even a link to copies. This makes it impossible to evaluate what he has done.

Get with it.

19:26 May 28, 2012 by paulspookys
India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta.

The World's first university was established in Takshila in 700BC. more than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.

Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today Ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.

The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindh 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit 'Nou'.

Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart.; Time taken by earth to orbit the sun: (5th century) 365.258756484 days.

The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century long before the European mathematicians.

Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India; Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th Century;The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 10**6(10 to the power of 6) whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 10**53(10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early

as 5000 BCE during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera 10**12(10 to the power of 12).

Chess (Shataranja or AshtaPada) was invented in India.

Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted complicated surgeries like cesareans, cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, urinary stones and even plastic surgery and brain surgery.Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India.

The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC
14:57 May 29, 2012 by venkyfra
@paulspookys, thats a impressive list.

But remember there was nothing called as India before 1947. So all these happened in tiny little kingdoms across the Indian subcontinent.


Can you list out such invention/discovery in last 60 yrs pls.

This kid probably has a good parent & probably had a conducive environment.

The fact that he is or was a Indian has zero role in this story.

Remember he was not educated in Indian education system.

India is the only country in this world which legally discriminates people in the name of reservation because of their birth.

Such a shame. In rest of the world its called crime against humanity.

If this kid happened to be in India and by any remote chance he happened to be so called forward cast he probably would be just memorizing his text book and fighting very hard to get into universities ie., in short doomed!!
18:00 May 29, 2012 by paulspookys
@venkyfra: Its true that India did not exist before 1947, but what existed for the last 10 thousand years is Bharat (before it was renamed). The provinces were under various empires (Asokas Maurya empire: ca. 265 BC, Gupta empire: 320 to 550 CE, Pala empire: 750­1174 CE) .

Yes there are problems in the society, like in all societies in the world, which can be and should be rectified.

Do not forget that Bharat was one of the richest country when the Brits came. It is remarkable and should be appreciated that within a short span of 60 yrs the Bharatiyas have recovered thenselves from the pathetic stage at which the Brits left them after plundering the state for over 200 yrs.
21:26 May 29, 2012 by jamesbondking
@paulspookys .. absolutely correct .

the problem is british took 300 years to plunder indias wealth .

till the 1600 , india had the worlds largest gdp , and just after the british left it slipped down a long way . check the below site and arrange by the respective year


till the 1700 it was all fine , then british plundered and looted all the wealth of india

now after 65 years of independence , india as a nation has achieved a lot , still there is a long way to go

it took 400 years to plunder india . india is on track and it will be successful in the coming years .
23:06 May 29, 2012 by venkyfra

All the empires that you are talking about didnt include south India. Bharat derived from Bharata is vedic name of Indian subcontinent(which has no relevance to todays Indian subcontinent). It was not a country but a continental plate(as per Rig veda and vishu purana) Which by the way includes todays Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Are you going to cliam those countries? So dont confuse facts. FYI.. today's south India and srilanka were part of 'Kumari Kandam'. Its was a huge continent which went under water. There is a great archive of videos in History channel. If you have time check that out!!

@jamesbondking, agreed. But you cant keep blaming others. In 1945 Japan went through horror. Another example Germany. Look at them today. India was never bombed. No one stopped the leaders for 65 years to transform the society. World order changed with industrialization. India was sleeping for best part of time. Bigger portion of country still is. Religious rubbish and ridiculous quota rules(haunts) the country. If all those experts from vedic era like Budhayana ever had a chance to visit today's India they would get depressed and would run away in less than 24hrs!!

Today's India -> India bond has credit rating of BBB-(with negative outlook) that is one step away from categorizing as junk!! Indian currency has depriciated 202% in last 10 yrs. India has highest external deficit for the economy of this size. 164 districts are under maoist control!! 700 million people dont have access sanitary facilities. Every river is polluted. Population is growing out of control. You must be stoned to say "india as a nation has achieved a lot"
07:10 May 30, 2012 by paulspookys
@venkyfra: Bharat and bharatiyata was truely much larger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_India
11:03 May 30, 2012 by venkyfra
@paulspookys, dead wrong again. Did you even read the wikipedia page completely? It very clearly says not to be confused with Akhanda Bharat!! Bharat or Bharatiya is idea of religious fanatics. Its nothing but a myth!!

Get over with.

South asian nation were colonised by these kings, looted, force bred, converted to their religion!! If you need proof read history..

Not very different that what british did!!

There is nothing to be proud off!! Accept the reality and get back to work.. :)
18:06 May 30, 2012 by zameenzad
Smart SouthAsians.
07:51 May 31, 2012 by paulspookys
@venkyfra: Hinduism never converted any, as other religions did. You can only be born as a Hindu. In fact hinduism is not even a religion, it is rather a cultural practice that was relevant thoughout south-asia or that what is is called bharatiyata. Southern part was also following the the same ideology and beliefs. Ram and the concept of Ram was relevant htoroughout the subcontinent. Ravana was infact a worshipper of the Hindu gods. During the early ages there was no discrimination of Brahmins and others. This was a product of a corrupt society.

This Bharatiyata was existed for thousands of years untill it was destroyed first by the imperial kingdoms and later on by the muslim invaders over hundreds of years. The nail in the coffin was put in by the brits.

All the developments of the western world are within a very short time window of few hundreds of years, as compared to at least 6-7 thousand years of Bharatiya cinvilization. Before around 500 years, there was nothing like the west.

A true comparison should be made over a wider time window.
13:32 May 31, 2012 by Sastry.M

Well said. Indeed there is no Hindu-ism, the way all isms are interpreted and understood in the West. Hindu is related to Dharma as Hindu Dharma. "Dharma" means explaining ever changing phenomenal world by means of broadly defined parametric constants. They are: Desh=Place (spatial or terrestrial) , Kaal= Time (temporally defined reckoning), Maan= Measure( as scalar numbers or otherwise defined units of quantity measurements, and Paristhiti= circumstantial or contextual implications.

The above parameters remain constant in general human awareness but form the basis for applied relativistic definitions. Thus Dharma is that which 'bears' the phenomenal creation and Hindu is one who should imbibe and practice Dharma with skilful discrimination between the Ephemeral and Eternal, according to Scriptural injunctions.

Viewed from the above, Hindu Dharma has nothing to do conceptual -isms and religiously opinionated faiths. Within the broad parametric definitions of Dharma all virtuous practices are acceptable to Hindus including their own without coercion or indictment, conforming to the ultimate principle of non violence and un-harm as " Ahimsa paramo Dharmah".
11:14 June 1, 2012 by venkyfra
@paulspooky, Sastry.M, thats the theory. But do you care to explain how Hinduism was spread in Indonesia? Bali still practices it. They dont look, eat or speak like anyone in India. Dont give me akhanda bharat crap!! Hinduism was first spread to south asia by Tamil kings. They built temples and made the locals to worship there. Building temples there was the model of creating jobs. Thats why you see huge structures through out that landscape. I'm not giving BS you will find this in history. There were so many Buddhist in India before Sankaracharya era. Where did they do? Guess what they were converted. Sankaracharya adopted principles of Buddhism ie., ahimsa. He was the one who said Brahmins will not eat meat. He was the one who said cow will not be slaughtered. Read Baudhanya's scripts you will see he recommends all kind of animals to be slaughtered. He even recommends rhino to be slaughtered. Before Sankaracharya everyone was eating every damn animal. Infact your Ram was a avid meat eater(deer to be specific). pls remember in Tamilnadu you wont find many Ram temples. You will find tons of shiva temple. Before influx of so called Vishnavites Tamilnadu was pure shaivites. Me being from Tamilnadu has never been to a Ram temple or any vishavite temple till I was 18! Its like different religion to us!! Still we dont ever burn effigy of Ravan. Ravan is liked and worshipped. You will find idol of Indrajit in all through south-asia/srilanka and south tamil nadu. Your Bharat crap doesnt sell in Tamilnadu.

@Sastry.M, all those dharma and desh-kaal-maan is really wonderful. But its not restricted to Hinduism per-se. You will see that in all religion. Infact there was a research done on dharma part. If you happen to go to kanchipuram you can get to read in their kanchi-mutt library.
15:13 June 1, 2012 by Bruno53
I stand on my words: Asians and Hindus are studying far better than us. And those who refuse to see that raw truth will wake up in a very different world not so far in the future. Congratulation to that Hindu kid, and to hell those who criticized my given opinion concerning Western lack of intellectual interest. As the old saying goes, "truth really hurts!"
16:57 June 1, 2012 by raandy
Bruno53 I saw a study done in America some years ago concerning the amount of time a student studies, plays and achieves.

The Indian's, Asian's and Jewish students studied far longer and played much less and achieved at a higher level than their American,and European counterparts.
20:11 June 1, 2012 by paulspookys
@venkyfra: Trinity in Hinduism tries to view a very critical aspect of the universe and how it works. Starting from the basic tenet that every beginning has an end, every material thing in this world goes through a basic life cycle of creation, existence and destruction. So, in Hinduism trinity - Brahma is associated with creation or beginning, Vishnu is associated with life/existence/maintenance and finally Shiva is associated with end or destruction.

I think you are misguided. You have not understood what is the essence of being a hindu. Its much more than you north-south arguments.
06:58 June 4, 2012 by venkyfra
@paulspookys, Most of Tamils are shaivaites. You wont find Brahma and Vishnu in our temples. As per ancient script Brahma and Vishnu came and worshipped in our temple. We dont worship visitors!! We refer to principle called 'Aadhi Moolam' ie., eternal power. Before influx of Vishnavites there was no other idol other than linga. So linga was repersented in all forces of nature ie., water, air, fire etc.. You wont find such temples anywhere!!

We dont buy trinity arguement!! There is no such reference in our scripts!!

Hinduism is not one religion. As per supreme court of India its way of life not a religion. Today's Hinduism is grouping of practices across Indian subcontinent. Its not even called Hinduism before influx of Persians, its actually a persian word!!

Before it was Brahmnical religion(no its not todays Brahmin it refers to Brahmn as in veda).

I'm not making invalid arguement. All I'm saying its your way of life, belief is completely different from mine. So dont push yours on me!!

If you have doubt on whatever I said pls read.
12:26 June 4, 2012 by Sastry.M

Hindu Dharma= all of what you 'keep' as a conviction of personal outlook, 'say' as an exercise of personal freedom and 'do' as what is convincing to your personal interests PLUS the fact that you are created as a 'human being', whose ephemeral purpose of earthly existence is to fulfill your desires acting in an amicable manner without causing harm to yourself as well as others. Consider the present day world in all of its positive and negative aspects of 'human progress' both as scientific and environmental consequences, and try to realize what is at 'stake' and what is in the 'making'.
12:52 June 12, 2012 by APAP
For who are interested in knowing about the math problem mentioned in article..

I found below link.. it does not disucss solution but atleast good to understand the problem..

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