The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius
This will pretty much have to be the feel-good story of the year. The author’s son, Jacob, was relatively normal for the first fourteen months of his life, but then began to withdraw into himself. At age two he was diagnosed as autistic (specifically, Asperger’s syndrome) and the “experts” said that he would never read but might, perhaps, learn to tie his own shoes by the time he was sixteen. His mother never gave up on him, however, and the story of her therapy for him is heartwarming. By the time he was eight he had left elementary school and was at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis taking advanced astrophysics classes. At age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics and co-authored a paper.*
In the midst of dealing with his autism, the family was beset with many other problems—health issues, financial setbacks, death in the family. All are dealt with by grit, determination, and love. Truly, the only sad part of the whole saga is trying to find out what he’s up to these days by googling his name and wading through the negative comments small minds are contributing to the discussions.
- Steve Lidkea
* For anyone interested, see Yogesh N. Joglekar, Jacob L. Barnett, "Origin of maximal symmetry breaking in even PT-symmetric lattices." The abstract is as follows:
By investigating a parity- and time-reversal- (PT-) symmetric, N-site lattice with impurities ±iγ and hopping amplitudes t0 (tb) for regions outside (between) the impurity locations, we probe the interimpurity-distance dependence of the critical impurity strength and the origin of maximal PT-symmetry breaking that occurs when the impurities are nearest neighbors. Through a simple and exact derivation, we prove that the critical impurity strength is equal to the hopping amplitude between the impurities, γc=tb, and the simultaneous emergence of N complex eigenvalues is a robust feature of any PT-symmetric hopping profile. Our results show that the threshold strength γc can be widely tuned by a small change in the global profile of the lattice and thus have experimental implications.
Check out Jacob's TEDxTeen talk: