US science superfan has Christmas wish granted with visit to YouTube hero

An 8-year-old science fan from California had his Christmas wish come true when he met his science hero and YouTube star Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff.

Ajay Sawant and his family took a 12 hour detour en route from California to Mumbai to visit family in India especially to pay Ajay’s hero a visit on Monday at the School of Chemistry ,home to the Periodic Table of Videos.

In the true spirit of the season Ajay and Sir Martyn exchanged gifts before getting involved in some of the experiments featured in the videos. Colleagues Dr Samantha Tang, Public Awareness Scientist in the School of Chemistry and Dr Debbie Kays, Associate Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, who are part of the Periodic Table of Videos team, joined Martyn to show Ajay how to make his very own glowstick and created impressive reactions using dry ice.

Dream come true

Ajay’s mum Anjli said: “Meeting Sir Martyn is really a dream come true for Ajay. He has a voracious appetite for learning and has been devouring the videos - he worships Sir Martyn! Ajay can’t stop talking chemistry to anyone who will listen and surprises them with how much he has learned from the videos. When we asked him what was on his Christmas wish list, Ajay said he would love to visit and wish Sir Martyn a happy birthday! We are so grateful and excited we could make this Christmas wish come true for him.”

Since its launch in 2008, the Periodic Table of Videos has attracted over 1.1 million subscribers and has chalked up more than 190 million views. The fun videos focus on each chemical element on the periodic table, as well as others covering science news and interesting molecules.For tens of thousands of fans world-wide Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff is the face of the Periodic Table.

The brainchild of video journalist Brady Haran and fronted by unlikely internet sensation Nottingham’s Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff , members of the team have travelled the globe — including Everest basecamp and Sydney’s Bondi beach — to bring each of the elements to life.

Passion for science

Ajay has been interested in science from a young age, making a presentation on the life cycle of a star at the age of 5. It was there he started to learn about the elements and since then his passion for science and in particular the Periodic Table has grown and he is even planning to try to break the world record for reciting the Periodic Table elements in the fastest time!

Martyn said: “It was wonderful to meet Ajay and his family and to see such passion for Chemistry in someone so young - he is clearly a scientist in the making!

Chemistry is by its very nature both fascinating and exciting and knowing that the videos which we are making are helping to inspire people across the world to find out more about this amazing subject gives us a real buzz and makes it all worthwhile.”

Ajay is not the first fan to drop in to visit the Periodic Table of Videos team — in 2012 10-year-old Edoardo Bandieri from Modena in Italy travelled to Nottingham to meet Sir Martyn and contributors from the Periodic Table of Video’s sister channels Sixty Symbols and Numberphile have also hosted visits from enthusiastic young followers. And in 2014 another US fan Adele Rouse from North Carolina paid the Periodic Videos team a visit.


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