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10 Lesser-known Prodigies Who Shook Up the World With Their Genius

8. Jacob Barnett – Barnett overcame severe autism with the help of his mother to further Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Jacob Barnett
Image credits: TEDxYouth/Youtube

Jacob Barnett, born in 1998, is a mathematics and science prodigy who overcame severe autism. His doctors declared that he would never be able to read or talk, but with the help of his mother’s homeschooling, he started speaking, drawing, and solving puzzles.

By the time he was eight years old, he had begun auditing physics classes at Indiana University. At the age of nine, he worked on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Jacob finished his high school’s entire math curriculum is just two weeks and was admitted to Indiana’s Purdue University when he was only ten years old.

He has a photographic memory and an IQ of 170.  Jacob got admission to Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, to study for his Ph.D. He is the youngest student, at just 15, to get accepted at the institute.


9. Ted Kaczynski – From teaching geometry and calculus at UC Berkeley to building untraceable bombs, Ted Kaczynski’s intellect took a devious turn.

Theodore Kaczynski
Image credits: Federal Bureau of Investigation/ Wikipedia

Theodore John Kaczynski was born on May 22, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois.  Infamously known as the “Unabomber,” this mathematics prodigy renounced his life as a math professor by 1969, and by 1971, started living a simple life in a small cabin he built outside of Lincoln, Montana.


Ted was a gifted child with an IQ of 167, which was higher than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. He was a shy and sensitive kid who loved playing trombone and was a member of his high school German, biology, and mathematics clubs. After completing his graduation at the age of 15, he was admitted to Harvard on a scholarship to study mathematics.

He learned to be self-reliant and depended on nature to provide. He became sure that living in harmony with nature is not possible due to industrialization. For 17 years, between 1978 and 1995, this led to his drastic step of killing three people and injuring 23 others to start a revolution against modern technology. His bombs were extremely advanced, and that led to the most expensive investigation in the history of the FBI.

Kaczynski, in 1995, sent out his essay Industrial Society and Its Future to several media outlets asking them to publish it verbatim if they want him to stop the bombing. His writing style led to his arrest in 1996, and in 1998, he reached a plea bargain where he pleaded guilty to all the charges. (source)

10. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz – de la Cruz was an acclaimed, self-taught scholar and writer who was a fierce proponent of women’s rights.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Image credits: Wikimedia

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was born on 12 November 1648, in San Miguel Nepantla, which is located near Mexico City. She was a writer, dramatist, scholar, philosopher, poet, and composer. She wrote extensively on feminism, religion, and love. She was a staunch critic of misogyny. Her uninhibited and outspoken character resulted in her being given such titles such as “The Tenth Muse” and “The Phoenix of Mexico.”


She contributed to the early Spanish literature and was known for her philosophies in her teenage years. She was fluent in Latin and could write in Nahuatl. She is considered to be the last great writer of the Hispanic Baroque style and an exemplar of the colonial Mexican culture.

She entered a monastery of Hieronymite nuns in 1669. She wanted to become a nun so that she could read to her heart’s content without entailing any responsibilities.

Her notable works include her poetry book First Dream, two dramas, and her music compositions. She also had an interest in philosophy, science, and mathematics. Today, Sor Juana is considered by modern scholars to be protofeminist, and her writings on subjects such as colonialism, education rights, women’s religious authority, and others are part of today’s seminal discourse.



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