Kids really are the best scientists. Their sense of unflappable curiosity hasn’t been eroded away by the expectations of being an adult in an increasingly rat race-like world. They often ask the most cutting-edge, pertinent questions – and, as demonstrated by a young wunderkind, they often tell the most memorable stories.
An 18-year-old from the Philippines by the name of Hillary Diane Andales recently explained part of Einstein’s theories of relativity in a short video clip. For her efforts, she’s won the highly-coveted 2017 Breakthrough Junior Challenge; consequently bagging $400,000 in education-related prize money, including $250,000 in scholarship funds.
The Breakthrough Prize, sometimes dubbed the Oscars of Science, aims to award those working in the fields of physics, life sciences, and mathematics. The initiative was founded back in 2012, and was co-founded and sponsored by a range of entrepreneurs and science aficionados across the globe, including Mark Zuckerberg.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge asks young people across the planet to conjure up creative, science-themed videos aimed at stoking the fact-based fires of people’s imaginations.
As noted in an emailed press release, Andales also entered the 2016 competition and won the popular public vote. Although she didn’t take the top accolade home back then, this year, Andales rose head and shoulders above the 11,000 other competitors.
Rather touchingly, her victory will also award $50,000 to the science teacher who originally inspired her. The remaining funds will go toward a bespoke, state-of-the-art research laboratory.
Her video focuses on a famously difficult scientific topic, one that even the best science communicators out there struggle to explain to non-scientists.
She explains, using a particularly eloquent narrative and some funky animations, that time isn't uniform for everyone; instead, it depends on your frame of reference, which denotes how you perceive the universe depending on where you are observing it from.
Starting off with sound waves, she quickly and effortlessly leaps into how time is perceived depending on where the observer is. Ultimately, this explains how moving clocks run slower than stationary ones – but to find out exactly how this works, we’d suggest watching the genuinely inspirational master herself do her thing.
Andales is capable of telling a very complex story in a very succinct way, so it’s no surprise that she won this year’s prize. We’d always argue that science tells the very best stories, but unless you have incredible storytellers, it’ll always fall on deaf ears.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you do in life, as long as you remain curious, see the world, and write whatever story of your choosing. If – as exemplified by Andales – that story happens to be one of science, though, then let us just say thank you, and good luck. It’ll be one hell of an adventure.