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Rusty 03-31-2011 09:48 PM

12-Year-Old Genius Expands Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Thinks He Can Prove It
 
Could Einstein's Theory of Relativity be a few mathematical equations away from being disproved? Jacob Barnett of Hamilton County, Ind., who is just weeks shy of his 13th birthday, thinks so. And, he's got the solutions to prove it.

Barnett, who has an IQ of 170, explained his expanded theory of relativity — in a YouTube video. His mother Kristine Barnett, who admittedly flunked math, did what every other mother would do if her genius son started talking mathematical gibberish. She told him to explain the whole thing slowly while she taped her son explaining his take on the theory.

(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 troubled-genius movies)

While most of his mathematical genius goes over our heads, some professors at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey — you know, the U.S. academic homeroom for the likes of Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Kurt Gödel — have confirmed he's on the right track to coming up with something completely new. For now, they're encouraging Barnett to continue doing what he likes to do, which is explaining calculus using a whiteboard marker and his living room windows as seen in the video above.

“I'm impressed by his interest in physics and the amount that he has learned so far,” Institute for Advanced Study Professor Scott Tremaine wrote in an email to the family. “The theory that he's working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics.”

“Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize,” he added.

(More on TIME.com: See the 15 smartest toys for young geniuses)

Barnett's parents knew that there was something different with their son when he didn't speak until the age of two. He was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, so they thought he might have problems in school. Instead, they were astounded when he started solving 5,000 piece puzzles by the age of 3. The 12-year-old taught himself calculus, algebra and geometry in two weeks, and can solve up to 200 numbers of Pi. He left high school at the ripe old age of eight and has been attending college-level advanced astrophysics classes ever since.

Right now, Barnett is being recruited by Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis for a paid research position. We figure he'll find a way to pencil that in between dating his girlfriend and playing Halo: Reach, one of his favorite video games. Yes, he can play classical music by memory on the piano, but he also enjoys watching shows on the Disney Channel and sci-fi movies. In many ways, he's your typical 12-year-old boy.

Einstein was 26 when he first published his Theory of Relativity. We figure that Jake has a couple of years to kick back and relax before he finally debunks the big bang theory.

“I'm still working on that,” he said. “I have an idea, but… I'm still working out the details."

12-Year-Old Genius Expands Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Thinks He Can Prove It Wrong - TIME NewsFeed

xman5 04-01-2011 09:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rusty (Post 114625)
Could Einstein's Theory of Relativity be a few mathematical equations away from being disproved?



NO.

Blue 04-01-2011 09:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xman5 (Post 114644)
NO.

Definitely no and not anytime soon by this kid.

The response by Institute prof that:
"I'm impressed by his interest in physics and the amount that he has learned so far,” Institute for Advanced Study Professor Scott Tremaine wrote in an email to the family. “The theory that he's working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics.”

“Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize,” he added.

is exactly appropriate.

His interest a and diligence is impressive. It's great to see a kid getting excited about science. That's a long way from disproving the theory of relativity.

I'm also a little skeptical of the line in the article that IUPUI is "recruiting the kid for a paid research position." More than likely he was invited to participate in something like a summer research institute that includes a small stipend to cover expenses. Universities don't "recruit" 13-year-olds for paid positions.

But let's not get in the way of good old American hyperbole and fame-seeking parents pimping their talented kids out for their own benefit. I hope the kid doesn't turn into a nut job before he's 21.

xman5 04-01-2011 12:11 PM

They better go read a Beautiful Mind. He drew on the windows too.

LoJo 04-02-2011 05:16 PM

Like the other responses.....NO, NO...and Hell NO!

NTB 04-02-2011 10:55 PM

Never say never.

Rusty 04-03-2011 12:50 AM

I'd like to believe that some instances Einsteins theory's can be broken, because if it can't it would mean that space travel for humans would be limited by the speed of light, which Einstein says can never be surpassed. Even traveling at the speed of light it would take enormous times to reach other parts of our own galaxy. Then again maybe its not such a bad thing that humans will be confined to this part of the galaxy, at this stage anyway.

xman5 04-03-2011 08:23 PM

Finally got to see the video.

WTF. This is basic integral calculus. Advanced for a 13, but not advanced math. I took that as a freshman in college.

He should go out and play with that dog.

Blue 04-04-2011 05:05 AM

Just because Jake understands the theory of relativity doesn't mean he's ready to disprove it.

This is such a textbook example of a kid who displays a special talent in one area and a parent who goes crazy to exploit the talent far beyond its value, much to the harm of the child. We've seen this in every field from academics to sports to music to tiny tots in tiaras.

I doubt the kid is "normal" or has a girlfriend, despite the Time article's attempt to paint the rosy picture of normalcy.

heddwyn 04-04-2011 02:29 PM

Does it say his parent pushed and tried to make a buck out of him? Not in this report. I think most parents of a child with this syndrome and ability are somewhat baffled by their talent.

Why is everyone always so scathing about this kind of report? The kid might just do it, we don't know! Equally he might not, we don't know! Haven't most of the theoretical physicists or students of that kind of thing been relatively young when they made their discovery? Einstein was 26, John Nash Jr also 20's.

Given most of us are 'normal' (whatever that means), I'd say we don't understand 'different from normal'.


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