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Indian-American kid gets a shout-out from Obama

Pranav Sivakumar, a 15-year-old Indian American, was praised by US President Barack Obama in his astronomy night speech at the White House for his original research in astrophysics.

tech Updated: Oct 28, 2015 14:52 IST
HT Correspondent
Pranav Sivakumar  during the finals of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Pranav Sivakumar during the finals of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.(AFP)

Pranav Sivakumar, a 15-year-old Indian American, was praised by US President Barack Obama in his astronomy night speech at the White House for his original research in astrophysics.

Sivakumar, a student at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, was mentioned by Obama in his speech last week for his research in ‘gravitational lensing of quasars’ which he undertook along with senior scientists in Fermilab which specialises in high-energy particle physics.

“When Pranav Sivakumar was six years old, he found an encyclopedia about famous scientists lying around the house. And he has been fascinated with outer space ever since. For years, every Saturday morning, his parents drove him an hour to an astrophysics lab for “Ask-A-Scientist” class. And before long, he teamed up with researchers he met there to study the gravitational lensing of quasars. Give him a big round of applause,” Obama told the audience.

Here is a full video of his 13-minute speech.

Earlier in the year, Sivakumar was given the Virgin Galactic Pioneer Award during the 2015 Google Science Fair for researching celestial objects called quasars that look very bright in the night sky.

Sivakumar designed two successful algorithms for discovering quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), expanding on the research that made him one of 15 Global Finalists in last year’s Google Science Fair.

Here is Sivakumar explaining his research:

In 2013, he came second in the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee competition. He is also the first person to become a finalist at the Google Science Fair twice.