Laurent Simons looks at the computer screen and answers the video call with a happy “hello” and then clarifies and laughs, which is the only thing he can say in Spanish. He was 11 years old, a recipient of a prize and a degree in physics from the University of Antwerp, Belgium. It was a career that required three years of study, but the restrictions imposed by the virus and he finished it in one from his home. With the highest praise, With average grade 9.
In the future, he wants to produce artificial organs in the laboratory, because when natural ones fail, for a very simple reason: his grandparents have heart problems, and it seems to him that it will help other children to keep their elders for a long time. Call this “immortality”, It does not seem to him to be an imaginary project, but a definite quality, though he still does not know how to achieve it. You firmly believe that nothing is possible. Everything can be achieved and you have to try, for this you need to gather a lot of knowledge. In quantum physics, for example, this is the subject he plans to explore in the Master (two more years) and future doctoral dissertation.
Laurent, a fan of American comics superheroes released by Marvel, loves it too Supervisor Loki: Thor’s foster brother, sometimes his adversary, at other times anti-hero, played by British actor Tom Hiddleston in film and television. “I have seen Loki, TV series during epidemics and it’s very good, ”he says with a laugh, during a video conference from Antwerp where he lives with his parents, Lydia and Alexander. They are both dentists. They are in the same room during speech, but the child speaks on their own and they do not appear on the screen.
When it comes to his studies – designed to automatically follow the courses and then sit for exams – Laurent is with him Bachelor In Physics (the name given to their courses in Belgium) “You have a basic knowledge”. “But I want to explore quantum physics [rama de la ciencia que estudia el mundo de lo más pequeño, las moléculas, los átomos y sus componentes]”Explain. With a lot of knowledge,” he says, “you can find new things and ideas and incorporate them.” That’s what I want, “he adds.
When it comes to his friends, things change. They are his age, he does not talk to them about science. “We are dedicated to playing games on the computer, watching movies simultaneously, and having what we have. This is often done due to the corona virus“Because we can’t see each other in person,” he explains.
He loves science books for novels, and likes to do things outside, “Horseback riding and riding with a friend. Cart ”. The university and his personal circle are worlds that spread in parallel in his daily life. His friends are his own age and act like that. In the physics faculty he was in contact with professors and, if possible, he went to the lab for some experiments. Lack of classmates, Something that controlled the infection, and a type of treatment that he did not want to promote. “I am an 11-year-old boy, they are 18 or older. I don’t know how to communicate, so I want to work on my own, ”he explains. What does not affect him is the media attention he receives. He says it compliments him.
Electrical Engineering until 2019
The first part of Laurent’s academic career took place at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. There he studied Electrical Engineering until 2019, when a dispute between his parents and the Rector’s office led him to leave the center. He was the world’s number one at his age – about to graduate at the age of nine – but his teachers wanted to wait until mid-2020 because, “going so fast is not good for his intellectual development,” they said. His parents continued, the university said in a statement on its website: “We think so [Laurent] He will benefit from the sequel so that his special talent can grow well in the future, but the father decided not to accept that schedule and stopped him. We’re sorry. “
In an email sent after this interview with their son, Alexander and Lydia Simons claim to have left Eindhoven “out of desperation”. “We felt the center’s behavior had changed when we announced we were leaving, so Laurent could move elsewhere.” They add that this is a closed chapter, although they know that “false versions of what happened are in circulation.” Adding to the challenges of raising a talented son was a conflict of interest, and the situation at the University of Antwerp in Belgium was resolved. There, Dean of the Faculty of Physics Nick Schreiber recognizes over the phone that this is a very special case. “They solved it by choosing the courses he needed because he came from electronic engineering to see how the required information was provided. When he is ready, he takes the exam. “
Kovit-19 Belgian student people have been locked up in their homes and Laurent has not come to the classroom. Schreibers says he felt it was good to have a record of the classes reached by the rest of the students, and Schreiber agrees that he should think about what the postgraduate degree he is already preparing will look like. “This is the first time we have a young student like this. We are 17, maybe 16, but not young, and we hope that communication with other students may be appropriate for Laurent. He is very mature in his rational way, the age difference is obvious, but they can be related from the point of view of what they have learned, not on a significant scale, ”he points out.
For now, Laurent believes he is his parents Get the corona virus vaccine. “Let’s see if we can travel to Marbella where we have a house,” he says. Then he thinks of his grandparents and wants to pursue the “big puzzle with many pieces” he has to complete to achieve the “immortality” he seeks.