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Autism and the love of equations…


“I am sitting at the back of a university physics class while the students cluster in small groups around the whiteboards…ready to tackle the day’s equation… I see my nine-year-old son at the front of the room, chatting easily with the professor. Finally, my son pulls a chair over to a whiteboard and steps up on it.

This is his first encounter with the equation,… but he doesn’t pause to deliberate. Instead, the numbers flow fast and fluently from his pen. Before long, everyone in the room is watching. In a matter of minutes, all of the students at the front of the auditorium have gathered around my little boy. When he points out a trick he’s found in the equation, he bounces on the balls of his feet in delight. A bearded student calls out a question. I glance over at the professor, who is leaning against the wall with a smile on his face.

Now that they get the problem, the college students rejoin their own groups, and their markers begin to move as well, but the tension in their body language is unmistakable: No one in the room loves the equation like my son.

Class is dismissed, and the auditorium empties.

Jake3My name is Kristine Barnett, and my son Jake is considered to be a prodigy in math and science. He began taking college-level courses in math, astronomy, and physics at age eight and was accepted to university at nine. Not long after, he began work on an original theory in the field of relativity. The equations were so long they spilled over from his gigantic whiteboard onto the windows of our home.

Uncertain how to help…a renowned physicist I contacted on Jake’s behalf generously agreed to review an early iteration. He confirmed that Jake was indeed working on an original theory and also said that if the theory held, it would put him in line for a Nobel Prize.

That summer, at age twelve, Jake was hired as a paid researcher in physics at the university. It was his first summer job. By the third week, he had solved an open problem in lattice theory, work that was later published in a top-tier journal.

A few months earlier, in the spring of that year, a tiny article had appeared in a small local newspaper about a small charity my husband, Michael, and I had founded. Unexpectedly, that piece led to a story about Jake in a larger newspaper. The next thing we knew, camera crews were camped out on our lawn. Our phone rang off the hook with film people, talk shows, national news outlets, talent agencies, publishers, elite universities-the reporters and producers all desperate to interview Jake.

These typical things in Jake’s life are, to us, the most extraordinary. So when the media descended, we were utterly baffled…

You see, what those reporters didn’t understand was that Jake’s improbable mind is all the more remarkable for the fact that it was almost lost. When the media showed up on our lawn, we were still living inside the diagnosis of autism Jake had received when he was two. We had helplessly looked on as our vibrant, precocious baby boy gradually stopped talking, disappearing before our eyes into a world of his own. His prognosis quickly went from gloomy to downright grim. When he was three, the goal the experts set for him was the hope that he’d be able to tie his own shoes at sixteen.” Read more of this remarkable story here.

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10 x 9 x 8 + (7 + 6) x 5 x 4 x (3 + 2) x 1 = 2020

NCEA Level 2 Algebra Problem. Using the information given, the shaded area = 9, that is:
y(y-8) = 9 –> y.y – 8y – 9 =0
–> (y-9)(y+1) = 0, therefore y = 9 (can’t have a distance of – 1 for the other solution for y)
Using the top and bottom of the rectangle,
x = (y-8)(y+2) = (9-8)(9+2) = 11
but, the left side = (x-4) = 11-4 = 7, but rhs = y+? = 9+?, which is greater than the value of the opp. side??
[I think that the left had side was a mistake and should have read (x+4)?]

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