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Science for the mind, music for the soul.

After fourth grade, Alia Sabur, of Northport, N.Y., went straight to college. Now 15, she's the youngest Ph.D. student in the U.S., doing research at Drexel University in Philadelphia through a Pentagon fellowship. She spoke to UPFRONT about her studies.

Do you ever feel different from people your age?

I don't talk about my academics with my friends. They all know about it, they're all used to it.... And, I mean, I don't go around saying "Ha, look, I'm in college and you're not." Who would want to be friends with me if I did that?

Tell me about the research you're working on.

It is a method of atom trapping, using hollow beams [cone-shaped beams of light, created with lasers], that is much simpler and cheaper than current methods.

Music is another important part of your life. Why?

I think the clarinet is the closest thing to a human voice that you can have in an instrument.... And you can just share things with people in music in a way that you can't with science. I like to say that science is for the mind and music is for the soul.

Do you ever get time to relax?

Actually, I have a lot of time to relax. The things I do, they do take up time, but I'm much less busy than my friends. They're in high school, and they work much harder than I do, which is actually kind of funny.
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Title Annotation:Q&A
Publication:New York Times Upfront
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 15, 2004
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