A 23-years-old Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski has already become one of the most well-known physics phenomena who have built her first airplane when she was only 12 years old.

 

About Sabrina

Pasterski’s love for science was born in school. Visiting Chicago Public Schools’ Edison Regional Gifted Center, the girl became fascinated with space and even planned a mission to Mars.

Sabina had her first flight when she was 9-years-old. She told her teacher at her public high school about this experience and the teacher replied: “That’s nice, but what have you done lately?” “That’s become my mantra ever since,” Pasterski shares “That’s nice, but what have you done lately?”

When she was 12, she began building a single-engine airplane from a kit in her father’s garage. It took two years to complete.

In 2010, she graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. After that Sabrina applied for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Despite her impressive resume, Pasterski was placed in the waiting list. Thanks to Professors Allen Haggerty and Earll Murman, who had seen a video of the girl building her airplane on YouTube, Sabina was accepted. “Our mouths were hanging open after we looked at it,” Haggerty says. “Her potential is off the charts.”

At age 16, Pasterski piloted the aircraft herself over Lake Michigan, becoming the youngest person ever to fly their own plane. “I couldn’t believe it,” recalls Peggy Udden, an executive secretary at MIT. “Not only because she was so young, but a girl.”

Sabina graduated from MIT with a grade average of 5.00, the school’s highest score possible. Now she is now working toward her doctorate at Harvard University with full academic freedom. It means that she can pursue her own study on her own terms without staff interference.

Pasterski is no longer building airplanes, but this experience gave her a hands-on understanding of physics. “Years of pushing the bounds of what I could achieve led me to physics,” – she explains. At Harvard, she is studying black holes, gravity, and the relationship between space and time, which can help us to understand the universe.

 

Social life

It’s surprising, but Sabrina doesn’t have media accounts like most of her peers. Pasterski is not a social media fan and does not have Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram accounts.She has never had a boyfriend, smoked a cigarette or drunk an alcoholic beverage. “I’d rather stay alert, and hopefully I’m known for what I do and not what I don’t do,” – Sabina says.

The only link to the Internet is her website, where Sabrina shares her plans and achievements. Perhaps not being distracted by social media explains why she graduated from MIT with the highest possible grade.

Works

Her work in the physics community has led to standing job offers from brightest working at NASA,   Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com and aerospace developer and manufacturer Blue Origin, who’s promised her a job whenever she’s ready. Asked by e-mail recently whether his offer still stands, Bezos said: “God, yes!”

Though Pasterski herself is a standout, her interest is part of a larger trend of millennials, especially women, graduating with degrees in physics.

In 2015 alone, she was cited in January by Forbes as one of the “30 under 30 in Science” and was granted in April academic freedom at Harvard. In the same month, the Hertz Foundation gave her a $250,000 (AUD$363,550) fellowship, while in the previous month, Pasterski was given a $150,000 (AUD$218,200) fellowship through 2020. Previous years listed a number of academic papers she wrote and published.

Future plans

Now, when it’s been more than eight 11 years since Sabrina have built her first airplane, a lot things have changed. 23-year-old Pasterski has already had great experience. Sabrina is a MIT graduate and Harvard Ph.D. candidate who has the world of physics abuzz.

She’s exploring some of the most challenging and complex issues in physics, much as Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein (whose theory of relativity just turned 100 years old) did early in their careers. Her research delves into black holes, the nature of gravity and spacetime. A particular focus is trying to better understand “quantum gravity,” which seeks to explain the phenomenon of gravity within the context of quantum mechanics. Discoveries in that area could dramatically change our understanding of the workings of the universe.

Sharing her experience, Sabrina gives advice to all young people, who want to find their North Star:  “Be optimistic about what you believe you can do. When you’re little, you say a lot of things about what you’ll do or be when you’re older—I think it’s important not to lose sight of those dreams.”

So, maybe we should be attentive to worlds of Sabrina, the person who can become the next Einstein according to Harvard.

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