A 16 year old Shouryya Ray has got both academics and the media abuzz by solving two “unsolvable” particle dynamics problems first posed by Isaac Newton 350 years ago. He worked out how to calculate exactly the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance.
16 years old!!! How did he do it? Shouryya simply said:
“When it was explained to us that the problems had no solutions, I thought to myself, ‘well, there’s no harm in trying…”
Generations of scientists and mathematicians had tried their hand unsuccessfully at solving Newton’s problem (for the technically minded, the problem was coming up with a mathematical formula to predict the fluid dynamics of a flying object taking into account the combination of forces including gravity and air friction). That was until Indian-born Shouryya was on a school trip to Dresden University, and heard the professors mention the problem, and saying it was unsolvable.
Hearing this, Shouryya said “Why not? I didn’t believe there couldn’t be a solution.” So he got to work on it, and simply wouldn’t give up until he had solved it and published his work. Does he think it was genius that got him there? No. In fact, almost the opposite: “I think it was just schoolboy naivety. I didn’t believe there couldn’t be a solution.”
What in your industry, your profession or your life have you or others written off as ‘impossible’? Pull something back out of the ‘impossible’ drawer and get it back out in front of you.
If a 16 year old can solve something that stumped Isaac Newton, then for each of us to make something impossible possible can hardly be, well .. impossible.