Isaac Newton's 300-Year-Old Mathematical Riddles Finally Solved!

27 May, 2012 - It's a major scientific breakthrough. After 300 years, Sir Isaac Newton's mathematical riddle has finally been solved by an teenager!

Shouryya Ray, from Dresden, Germany is only 16 years, but his name will be well-known in the scientific world. The Indian born has succeeded with what many scientists considered to be almost impossible.

The young man has solved two particle dynamics theories which physicists have previously been able to calculate only by using powerful computers.

Shouryya Ray worked out how to calculate exactly the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

His solutions mean scientists can now calculate the flight path of a thrown ball and predict how it will hit and bounce off a wall. The puzzles were originally posed by Sir Isaac Newton.

The Indian-born teen said he solved the problem that had stumped mathematicians for centuries while working on a school project.

"I think it was just schoolboy na´vety. I didn't believe there couldn't be a solution," Shouryya said.

He began solving complicated equations as a six-year-old but says he's no genius. "There are other things I wish I was better at - football for one," he said.

Shouryya said he enjoys the "intrinsic beauty" of maths.

Mr Ray won a research award for his efforts and has been labeled a genius by the German media, but he put it down to "curiosity and schoolboy naivety".

Shouryya Ray has become the first person to solve a mathematical problem posed by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago.

"When it was explained to us that the problems had no solutions, I thought to myself, 'well, there's no harm in trying,'" he said.

Shouryya Ray moved to Germany when he was 12 years-old after his engineer father got a job at a technical college. He said his father instilled in him a "hunger for mathematics" and taught him calculus at the age of six.

Mr Ray's father, Subhashis, said his son's mathematical prowess quickly outstripped his own considerable knowledge.

"He never discussed his project with me before it was finished and the mathematics he used are far beyond my reach," he said.

Despite not speaking a word of German when he arrived, Mr Ray will this week sit Germany's high school leaving exams, two years ahead of his peers.

Newton posed the problem about 300 years ago, relating to the movement of projectiles through the air, in the 17th century. Brilliant minds have tried, but mathematicians had only been able to offer partial solutions until now.

If that wasn't enough of an achievement, Mr Ray has also solved a second problem, dealing with the collision of a body with a wall, that was posed in the 19th century.

Both problems Mr Ray resolved are from the field of dynamics and his solutions are expected to contribute to greater precision in areas such as ballistics.

What more scientific puzzles will Shouryya Ray solve in the near future? We can assume this is not the last time we have heard of him!


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