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Teenage Boy Wins $400,000 for Explaining the Theory of Relativity

And people say that science doesn’t pay

Einstein’s theory of relativity is something that doesn’t appear often in everyday conversation, even though it should. And even when it does, chances are that most have no real idea of what it is, or have a simple explanation for it. After all, the easier it is for you to explain something to someone who has no idea of the subject, the more you know about it in the first place.

Ryan Chester poses with the Breakthrough Junior Challenge award at the 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony on November 8, 2015 in Mountain View, California.

Ryan Chester poses with the Breakthrough Junior Challenge award at the 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony on November 8, 2015 in Mountain View, California.

And this is something which 18-year-old Ryan Chester managed to do in a Youtube video. As part of a competition held by Breakthrough Prizes, the teenager was able to secure the first place in 2015. This competition was created a few years back by Google’s Sergey Brin and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, in the hopes of celebrating and perpetuating the importance of science in the fields of physics, math, and biology. Among other things, Breakthrough Prizes also offer a $100,000 reward for promising early-career achievements, as well as $3 million for scientists who made fundamental discoveries in their fields.

In any case, this teenage boy from Ohio was presented with the award in an Oscar-style setting by Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg’s wife, and fellow philanthropist, and the whole thing was broadcast live on the National Geographic Channel.

“With the Breakthrough Prize and Junior Challenge, we want to inspire more young people to study science and math, and pursue careers that change all our lives,” Chan said in a statement.

By making use of a bowl of popcorn, a minivan, some hand-drawn props and a camera, he was able to simply, yet beautifully, explain one of the fundamental rules of the universe; the theory of relativity.

“This is the kind of thing that we’re exposed to all the time in pop culture and films and science shows on TV, but in the video I use physical demonstrations that anyone can think through to have it make sense,” Chester said in an interview posted online.

The prize money  will come in the form of a $250,000 scholarship to the college of his choice, $50,000 will go to his physics teacher, Richard Nestoff, because he is inspiring. The other $100,000 will go to the school itself for a new science lab.

“Ryan is the perfect person to be involved in something like this,” Nestoff said in an interview. “He’s such a well-rounded kid. He’s so pleasant.”