For decades, scientists have endeavored to resolve the paradox of Pakistani Test cricketer Shahid Afridi, in stubborn and insolent contravention of the laws of physics and biology, refusing to age a day beyond 18 years, 3 months and 21 days ever since his ODI debut on October 2, 1996.
Attempts by physicists and mathematicians to rationalize the Afridi conundrum, as it is now referred to in scientific circles, within one of the standard theoretical frameworks of physics, whether it be String Theory, Newtonian Mechanics, Relativistic Physics, the theory of Electromagnetism or Quantum Mechanics, have been in vain. Biologist’s attempts to explain the phenomenon have also met with the same fate.
“The Afridi conundrum continues to confound and frustrate the scientific community, like a jagged piece that just refuses to fit into the otherwise perfect jigsaw puzzle. It’s almost as though Shahid bhai were mocking us for failing to explain his agelessness even after throwing the kitchen sink of science and math at it. We tried every technique, man, including modeling Shahid’s biological evolution as a stochastic differential equation that was solved using MIT’s supercomputer but always ended up with a lemon for our labours,” lamented leading MIT based theoretical physicist, Leonard Bertsimas, who has been at the forefront of efforts to resolve the Afridi conundrum.
However, physicists can breathe easy henceforth. A budding mathematics student from IIT Kharagpur, Tarun Vector, may have a simple yet elegant explanation, for the so called Afridi conundrum.
Tharun posits that Afridi performs an arithmetic hack to convince himself that he’s forever 18. The simple hack goes like this:
- Till he turned 18, Afridi was like any other teenager. But upon turning 19, the fiery Pathan abandoned the decimal number system in favour of the base 11 system which ensured that his age regressed back to 18.
- Next year, he switched to the base 12 system to remain 18; then progressed to base 13 numbers the subsequent year and so on.
- To show that repeating the procedure every year would keep his age range-bound within 18 years is left as an exercise for the readers.
Although questions arise about Afridi’s arithmetic skills to be able to perform such a hack, this seems to be the most plausible explanation of his constant age, thus obviating the need to revisit the theoretical foundations of physics or biology.
Yale University has offered Tarun Vector a fellowship to study Mathematical Psychology for this gem of a discovery about one of the unsolved mysteries of aging.
(Reported by special correspondent, Anoop Dixith)