In the debate over IQ vs. hard work, there’s an ongoing discussion about how much perceived talent can be traced back to genetics. For most of the population, the line is blurry. But in some cases, it’s very clear that a child is a prodigy.We’ve compiled a list of 15 of the most famous child geniuses, some in recent history, and others who influenced our culture centuries ago.
At the age of eight, Jacob Barnett began attending Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
With an IQ of 170 -- higher than Albert Einstein's -- Barnett could be in line for a future Nobel Peace Prize, according to one of the world's leading scientists and the 13-year-old's professor at college.
His mother told the Indianapolis Star that her son tested out of algebra 1 and 2, geometry, trigonometry and calculus after two-weeks of studying on the front porch.
Barnett has not let Aspergers Syndrome, a mild form of autism, slow him down.
Since enrollment, Barnett has been taking advanced astrophysics classes and is working on expanding Einstein's theory of relativity. He is also working on challenging the Big Bang theory. He delivered a TEDxTeen talk in 2012, 'Forget What You Know.'
Colin Carlson taught himself how to read as a toddler and graduated from Stanford University Online High School by the age of 11.
At nine-years-old, he began taking college credit courses at the University of Connecticut and enrolled in the university full-time as a sophomore by the age of 12.
In 2011, Carlson held a 3.9 grade point average as a dual-degree honours student in ecology & evolutionary biology and environmental studies.
He recently filed an age discrimination complaint against the university when they denied his request to participate in field work that would require him to travel to South Africa.
The boy genius has interned with the Sierra Club, founded an environmental organisation and testified before the state legislature.
In 1997, Sufiah Yusof received her acceptance to St. Hilda's College, Oxford to study mathematics at the age of 13. A few years later, the Malaysian intellect disappeared from her flat after a final examination.
She was eventually found working as a waitress in an Internet café and claimed her parents' intense pressure on her to succeed led to the runaway.
Upon her return, Yusof lived with a foster family and gave her undergraduate degree another attempt in 2003. The following year, she married a lawyer from Oxford and never completed her program. The marriage lasted 13 months.
In 2007, it was discovered that the once child prodigy has since been working as a prostitute. The news was revealed days after her father was charged with sexually assaulting two 15-year-olds.
Yusof is now reported to be working as a social worker.
In 1999, at 10 years old Gregory Smith received a four-year scholarship to Randolph-Macon College worth approximately $70,000. The young boy eventually graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and minors in History and Biology.
Two years later, Smith added meeting with Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking in front of the United Nations, and being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize to his list of life achievements.
Smith has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times since then for his humanitarian work in East Timor, Sao Paolo, Rwanda and Kenya.
As a 16-year-old, Smith entered the University of Virginia to study for doctorates in mathematics, aerospace engineering, international relations and biomedical research.
At the age of three, Kim Ung-Yong began taking courses as a guest physics student at Hanyang University in South Korea. By the age of eight, he was invited by NASA to study in the United States.
Born in 1962, Kim Ung-Yong is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest IQ at 210.
The young prodigy began speaking at six months old and was able to read in Japanese, Korean, German and English by his third birthday.
As a 16-year-old, Kim left NASA and decided to attend college in Korea to earn a doctorate in civil engineering.
Kim has been an adjunct professor at Chungbuk University since 2007 and has published approximately 90 papers on hydraulics in scientific journals.
Kathleen Holtz started California State University, Los Angeles at the age of 10 and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in philosophy. As a 15-year-old, she started law school and became the youngest lawyer in California and, most likely, the nation at the age of 18 in 2007. The average age for individuals taking the bar exam in California is 30.
After passing the bar, Holtz worked for the law firm TroyGould.
In 2009, FOX was reportedly planning a television series based on Holtz' story starring Hilary Duff.
At age 10, Michael Kearney received a bachelor's degree from the University of South Alabama and at 17, he received his second graduate degree from Vanderbilt University.
Hawaiian-born, Kearney is listed as the world's youngest university graduate in the Guinness Book of World Records.
At 21, Kearney had collected four undergraduate degrees and a year later, he received his doctorate in chemistry.
In 2006, Kearney won $1 million in AOL's Gold Rush and $25,000 on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire in 2008.
He has had early aspirations to be a game show host. At a young age, Kearney was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
She hasn't even experienced proper schooling yet, but three-year-old Saffron Pledger already has an IQ score of 140 and might possibly become one of the youngest members of Mensa, an intellectual high IQ society with members in more than 100 countries.
In order to be a part of the scholarly society, members must score among the top two per cent of the world's IQ scores.
With her current score, Pledger is already 40 points above the national average and three points ahead of former President Bill Clinton.
The English-born Pledger is reported to be able to write, read, count up to 50 and solve simple mathematics.
She is the daughter of eight-time game show champion Danny Pledger, a 23-year-old web designer.
At the age of three, Wolfgang Mozart played the harpsichord and by six, he had written his first musical composition. This was followed by the first symphony at the age of eight and opera at 12.
The legendary composer's musical talents were quickly discovered shortly after his birth in Salzburg, Austria in 1756.
As a five-year-old, Mozart performed at the University of Salzburg with the piano and at the imperial court in Vienna the next year. At the age of 14, he set out to Italy to become an opera composer.
He died at the age of 35 and left behind more than 600 composed pieces.
Born in Spain in 1881, Pablo Picasso developed his skills early, producing complex pieces with the support of his artist father and by the age of 15, his first large oil painting 'The First Communion' was displayed in Barcelona.
The following year, his painting 'Science and Charity' won a gold medal in Malaga and received honorable mention at a national exhibit for the fine arts in Madrid.
His interest in modern art eventually caused a rift between him and his parents.
In the early 20th century, Picasso co-founded the Cubist movement. His technique and style would change often throughout his life.
The artist died in France in 1973.
Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1805, William Rowan Hamilton showed his intellectual abilities at an early age, mastering Latin, Greek and Hebrew by the age of five.
By the time he was 13, the future mathematician knew 13 different languages, including Sanscrit, Persian, Italian, Arabic, Syriac and Indian dialects.
At the age of 15, Hamilton found errors while studying the works of French mathematician Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace.
He was appointed Professor of Astronomy, Director of the Dunsink Observatory and the Royal Astronomer of Ireland while he was still studying as a university student.
His greatest contributions includes a theory of dynamics and quaternions, a method used for three-dimensional space in mathematics.
Ireland's greatest mathematician was knighted in 1835 and died in 1865.
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