Teen Explains Relativity With Popcorn, Nabs $400K

Meet the winner of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2015 12:11 PM CST

To most people who aren't physicists, Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is probably just a vague concept that somehow explains why Matthew McConaughey doesn't age in Interstellar. But to 18-year-old Ryan Chester, it's easy to explain—which is exactly what he's done in a seven-minute video that's earned him $400,000, reports the Daily Dot. His intention with his video is to explain "why traveling at a very fast speed can cause you to age more slowly relative to someone on Earth." (At one point, he uses a bowl of popcorn inside a moving SUV to illustrate the laws of physics.) And as CBS News puts it, "The most amazing part? You walk away actually getting it."

For submitting the winning entry to the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a new branch of the Breakthrough Prize (the brainchild of the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, and Jack Ma, among others) the Ohio teen will get a $250,000 scholarship; $50,000 will go to his physics teacher, and $100,000 will fund a new science lab at his North Royalton High School. How the idea came to him: "Time dilation has been in science TV shows and movies like Interstellar so often that I've just accepted it without understanding why it was true. So when this challenge came around I thought this area was a great one to dig into." Motherboard notes that his submission rose to the top of a pile of 2,000; there were 15 finalists, and Chester's win was announced Sunday. Learn a little something from Chester in the video. (More Theory of Relativity stories.)

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