Brainy Quote of the Day

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friggatriskaidekaphobia-sounds like a long curse word on Battlestar Galactica...

Frigga-triska-ideka-phobia is an unreasonable fear of Friday-the-Thirteenth.

Yet, it was on Friday the 13th (yesterday), I met an American Hero.

I meant to post this on Friday the 13th in defiance of superstitions and dogma. However, I had to get ready to go bowling...yes, bowling with my wife and her company. Let's just say I have the physics down, but am in need of additional practice to get my average above 100! I did bowl one strike...

Anyway, I did meet a young man, since he's below the age of consent I cannot show or display his actual name.

The Raizen Group (Mark Raizen is the principle investigator; his wife Alicia) at the University of Texas were gracious enough to invite my wife and I as they gave a tour of their lab to this incredible young man.

He's in an International Baccalaureate program at his high school. Before that, he was taking AP classes. He plans to major in Aerospace Engineering in college. Not remarkable for one so brilliant.

What makes him an American Hero to me is that he's a paraplegic from birth. He has a wheelchair he guides with a sophisticated joystick. He has the spark of a teenager and the brilliance of someone more mature.

He's thinking of going away to college, much to the chagrin of his parents. He has medical needs that require round-the-clock attention, yet he sees no limitations, only opportunities. To take initially his AP and IB classes, he had to get a waiver at his school: he would not be able to graduate with any other distinction other than "regular" graduate because of a credit he obviously cannot attain: PE. Unfortunately, that waiver doesn't exist for the entire state of Texas. So, he's lobbying the state legislature to change the law on behalf of about 60,000 other teenagers in the state just like him.

He does not see obstacles: just stepping stones.

When he's a little older, and wins the Nobel Prize, I'll let you know his name.

As a birthday present to myself, I have adopted another intellectual avatar (other than Mark!).

He's my inspiration. He is my hero.

I have no fear of superstitions or limitations.

I see no obstacles, only stepping stones.

In terms of science and engineering, so should you.

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