Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician and child prodigy. At 8 years old, Jacob began sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI. After being diagnosed with autism since the age of two and placed in his school’s special ed. program, Jacob’s teachers and doctors were astonished to learn he was able to teach calculus to college students.
At age nine, while playing with shapes, Jacob built a series of mathematical models that expanded Einstein’s field of relativity. A professor at Princeton reviewed his work and confirmed that it was groundbreaking and could someday result in a Nobel Prize. At age 10, Jacob was formally accepted to the University as a full-time college student and went straight into a paid research position in the field of condensed matter physics. For his original work in this field, Jacob set a record, becoming the world’s youngest astrophysics researcher. His paper was subsequently accepted for publication by Physical Review A, a scientific journal shared on sites such as NASA, the Smithsonian, and Harvard’s webpage. Jacob’s work aims to help improve the way light travels in technology.
Jacob is also CEO and founder of Wheel LLC, a business he started in his mom’s garage, and is in the process of writing a book to help end “math phobia” in his generation.
Jacob’s favorite pastime is playing basketball with the kids at his charity, Jacob’s Place. It is a place where kids with autism are inspired every day to be their true authentic selves…just like Jacob.
Jacob “Jake” Barnett (born 1998) is an American child prodigy and mathematics genius. Diagnosed with mild autism—Asperger syndrome—Barnett showed an early interest in astronomy, often confounding scholars with advanced astrophysics knowledge and calculations by the age of three.
By the age of two, Barnett was socially withdrawn, even among family members, and was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. His parents started using a typical method for treating children with Autism, floor time therapy, where children are allowed to focus on subjects that interest them. Barnett showed an early interest in astronomy and would study a book on stars over and over again.
During an outing to a local planetarium, Barnett answered the presenter’s question on why the moons of Mars are odd-shaped. After some questions regarding the planet’s gravity, Barnett correctly explained why they are the shape they are. He was three at the time.
- “We were in the crowd, just sitting, listening to this guy ask the crowd if anyone knew why the moons going around Mars were potato-shaped and not round,” she recalls. “Jacob raised his hand and said, ‘Excuse me, but what are the sizes of the moons around Mars?’ “
- The lecturer answered, and “Jacob looked at him and said the gravity of the planet . . . is so large that (the moon’s) gravity would not be able to pull it into a round shape.”
- “That entire building . . . everyone was just looking at him, like, ‘Who is this 3-year-old?’ “
Barnett continued to attend public school, but became bored by it. Upon psychologist’s advice, they withdrew him from school and he was allowed to sit-in on astronomy and advanced math classes at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Preparing for proper college work, he learned all the pre-requisite high school math—algebra and algebra 2, geometry, trigonometry and calculus—and successfully passed the tests exempting him from the classes. Barnett enrolled at the college at the age of twelve.
Barnett is quickly running out of advanced math classes that he can actually take. He often tutors fellow students, normally graduate and post-graduate students. He is also developing an alternative theory to the Big Bang Theory, his hypothesis being that the Big Bang couldn’t have happened through advanced math.
Barnett has a tested math IQ of 170, the highest that can be tested for. IUPUI is seeking to move him from a student to a paid researcher’s position.
Barnett keeps in contact with his friends from Westfield Intermediate School, his school before dropping out to attend college. He enjoys video games, has a girlfriend and attended his first dance shortly before his 13th birthday.
My Jacob’s Place
Specializing in where kids with autism can be awesome! My Jacob’s Place has evolved from a small event in somebody’s garage to a large, functional charity that currently helps more than 200 kids with autism across Indiana.
Published on 10 May 2013
A teenager who was diagnosed with autism and told he would never be able to read has been tipped as a future Nobel prize winner.
Jacob Barnett, who was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism at two years old, is now studying for a Master’s degree in quantum physics.
Experts say the student from Indiana has an IQ higher than Albert Einstein’s.
His mother Kristine Barnett, author of The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius, told BBC Breakfast she initially found it hard to get Jacob the right education
A letter from Kristine Barnett on My Jacob’s Place website:
Thank you for visiting My Jacob’s Place. I’ve written a book which will be released in 2012 by Random House which shares my experience revealing the hidden potential of an autistic child. While the particulars of my story may be unusual, every parent can relate to facing down difficult challenges on behalf of their kids.
At age three, our son Jacob was counted out after being diagnosed with autism- a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. He was assigned to life-skills classes where one of the major goals set for him was to learn to tie his own shoes by the age of sixteen. For so many other parents of autistic children, this experience is much the same. No one knows what causes autism, and there is no known cure for this.
Today our son Jacob is twelve and working on extending Einstein’s theory of relativity while attending Purdue University.
Jacob blew past the low ceiling set for him—and past anything we could possibly have imagined in our wildest dreams, even bumping up against what experts perceive as the outer limits of human potential. The lesson here is not that every child can emerge from autism to become a prodigy, but to shine a light on some revolutionary elemental truths about the improbable possibilities of the human mind that we experienced on our journey with Jacob.
I want to share this story because I sincerely believe that if you ignite the spark that lies in all children—whether they are special needs or not— every single child will exceed realistic expectations. I’ve seen this again and again with the children I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. Nurture their spark, and they shine.
I hope you will return soon for more details.