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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Dubai wonder boy has the universe at his feet

Whizzkid Pritvik Sinhadc, 14, is the only person from Middle East selected as a World Science Scholar

Pritvik Sinhadc, 14, will represent the Middle East as a World Science Scholar. Antonie Robertson/The National
Pritvik Sinhadc, 14, will represent the Middle East as a World Science Scholar. Antonie Robertson/The National

A teenage mathematics marvel who battled back from adversity to complete a university course from his hospital bed has found the formula for success again - after scooping a prestigious global accolade.

Pritvik Sinhadc has been named a World Science Scholar - the only representative from the Middle East - despite being too young to even apply.

But the precocious 14-year-old, who lives in Dubai, impressed judges so much he booked his place among 45 mathematics students aged 15 to 17 at the World Science Fair in New York next summer.

It is just the latest in a roll call of achievements for the youngster - at an age when many people are more busy playing video games and taking selfies.

He published his first book on paleontology, entitled When Dinosaurs Roamed The Earth, when he was just seven, and has had two more books published since.

His success is all the more impressive due to the fact he was born with 50 per cent kidney failure and had to undergo a critical surgery to remove four tumours from his arm last year.

That setback did not deter him, however.

He completed an online university course from his hospital bed in six days.

“My right arm was cut in four places and a 3kg platinum fixator was screwed in to eight holes to hold my arm together,” he said.

Unable to use his right hand, Pritvik said his brain became his biggest asset as he absorbed new concepts in mathematics such as geometry, matrices, complex numbers, topology, calculus and advanced algebra.

“Studying new discoveries in mathematics became the best medicine to survive the pain as I was not allowed to take any painkillers because of my failing kidneys.

“Mathematics, which was already my passion, became super-close to my heart as I found myself immersed in it completely.”

Pritvik had to keep the fixator on his arm for seven months but that did not stop him from becoming engrossed in his studies.

“Even from my hospital bed, I continued shouldering my responsibilities as a member of Dubai College Math Society and leader of Palaeontology Society and Astrophysics Club.”

“I survived pretty well with this metallic friend for seven long months, until, right in in the middle of the third school term, I went in for another surgery to remove it from my arm.”

The teenager is currently studying for his GCSES at Dubai College, while also taking university level courses that would leave most people baffled.

“Being a World Science Scholar means I shall be studying university-level math content and participating in lectures by world-renowned experts using online resources,” he said.

“I shall also be brainstorming on a group project, where the collaborative learning experiences will allow me to examine how applied mathematics can help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

As a World Science Scholar, Pritvik is currently taking a course titled A Beautiful Universe: Black Holes, String Theory, and the Laws of Nature as Mathematical Puzzles with the world-renowned Professor Cumrun Vafa, from Harvard University.

He is also undertaking a special boot camp by Professor Brian Greene, Columbia University, on physics and reality.

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Read more:

Stephen Hawking: A man of mind-boggling achievements and defiance

Maths whizzkids compete to answer 200 questions in eight minutes

Kids show their brain skills at mental arithmetic competition in Dubai

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He has three more books in the pipeline as well. They cover the topics of rare dinosaurs, the world of paleo-science and the origins of the universe.

Pritvik said his ultimate goal is to further his research on “developing a theory that unifies all fundamental forces and matter”.

“If cosmologists could somehow witness the earliest point of the universe or see a naked singularity, they could easily harvest the quantum data to derive the theory of everything,” said the pupil, who moved with his family from India to Dubai when he was two-years-old.

“I am also interested in black holes and how they can be linked to white holes. I shall, therefore be using, working and breathing mathematics throughout my entire career.”

Pritvik’s passion for learning has come at a cost though, as his mother explains.

“We are running out of space to put all these books,” she said, gesturing to the huge amount of tomes that take up most of the living room in their Jumeirah Village Circle home.

These are not the type of tales that you would expect a 14-year-old boy to be interested in either. A biography of J Robert Oppenheimer, the man regarded as the father of the atomic bomb, is top of a pile of books that includes work from authors such as Brian Cox and Leonard Susskind.

“He usually can read a book in one just day so it is really hard to keep him supplied,” said his mother Indira Dharchaudhuri, 45.

“He goes to the Kinokuniya book shop in Dubai Mall and buys a pile of books each time. He goes so often that the staff know him on a first name basis.

“I am worried he is going to bankrupt us someday!”