Boy genius, 12, Challenges Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
The Internet has been abuzz today with the story of Jacob Barnett. Jacob has an IQ of 170, which is higher than Albert Einstein. As a matter of fact, he is currently working through “errors” in Einstein’s famous theory of relativity. This would be impressive for any student of electromagnetic physics at Indiana University. Jacob, however, is only twelve.
His classmates compare him to Doogie Howser. His mother makes the hourly trek to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis twice daily in order to ensure he gets to his classes on time. He even has, of course, a spoof Twitter account in his honor.
At eighteen months, Jacob began exhibiting some abilities. He could recite the alphabet backwards and could calculate the volume of cereal boxes off of the top of his head. However, he then began to withdraw into himself and was soon diagnosed with autism and later Asperger’s syndrome.
“We were so afraid Jake would be withdrawn from us forever, and so we set out to find out what was the spark that could light him up,” Kristine Barnett recalls.
That spark turned out to be astronomy. At three, Jacob discovered planets and the rest was, well, quantum history. By age eight he had advanced to college level mathematics and science. According to his mother, he taught himself all pertinent high school math courses in under a week. Yeah, wow.
Now, I am not a physicist and cannot offer conjecture as to if Mr. Barnett will reinvent Einstein’s theories. Still, just that he’s trying should be enough to give parents of autistic children hope that their kids will one day find a similar spark.
“I’m thankful that Jake has become the person he is and feel that, for all children with autism, we need to find the place where there is a little spark inside them,” Barnett says. “If we had listened to all the people that told us our son would always be in special ed, and would probably never escape the isolation of autism, how sad would that be?”
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