Told only not to “burn the house down,” a Maryland scientist invented a revolutionary pancreatic-cancer detection test in his parents’ basement, and he has already won hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes. He’ll graduate from high school next year. A Washington, D.C., athlete has gone from homeless to the brink of pro tennis stardom but is too young to drive himself to matches. Neither can an 11-year-old golfer in California who just qualified to compete against adult professionals more than twice her age.
Nothing like child prodigies—whiz kids who have accomplished more in a few short years than many of us will in a lifetime—to stir feelings of underachievement.
Young geniuses have always been with us, from Mozart, who was composing symphonies while still in knee pants, to two-year-old Tiger Woods, whose jaw-dropping golf stroke wowed a national TV audience in 1978, to Aaron Swartz, a superstar hacktivist and the subject of the new documentary The Internet’s Own Boy, who began programming computers when he could barely reach the keyboard. Here’s a sampling of the next generation of American child prodigies ready to change the world.
This article was created in association with the social action campaign for The Internet’s Own Boy, which is being released by TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media, and filmbuff.