"You know he is going to do some important things."
When US President Barack Obama says that about someone, you know he's got to be pretty special.
Pranav Sivakumar, a 15-year-old Indian American young adult, has the unique distinction of being a Global Finalist at the Google Science Fair not once but twice. On Monday when the White House hosted its second ever Astronomy Night (the first was in 2009) Obama lauded Sivakumar's extraordinary achievements.
Sivakumar is researching quasars – bright astronomical objects that get their energy from black holes – at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Illinois. Besides his two-time selection at the Google Science Fair, he also has won the Virgin Galactic Pioneer Award at the 2015 Fair.
The young man's laurels keep multiplying. He has been a runner-up in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, won the Astronomical League's National Young Astronomer Award, and has been named a semifinalist twice at the National Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.
Addressing the gathering at "Astronomy Night" in the White House where Pranav was also present, Obama said, "When Pranav Sivakumar was six years old, he found an encyclopaedia about famous scientists lying around the house. At least he thinks it was lying around there. Actually, his parents probably were setting it out hoping he was going to run into it.
"And he's 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'."
"That is not what I was thinking about at his age," the US president added.
Sivakumar hopes to contribute to our understanding of dark matter and dark energy. He talks about his project in the video below, ending with the philosophically and scientifically rich words of the French artist, Paul Gauguin, "D'ou Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous – Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"