Human progress relies on brilliant minds. In order to understand the world around us, we depend on geniuses to crack the mysteries behind gravity, physics, and medicine. While the likes of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking aren’t with us anymore, new generations of brilliant-minded people are proving there are no limits to what we can achieve. They might drink Starbucks and binge on Netflix like the rest of us, but they’re brains are built differently. Who are some of the most intelligent people alive today? Take a look at this list.
1. A Baby Who Taught Babies
While for most of us, turning 2 is when we master the art of potty training, the Australian-born Terence Tao was giving math and spelling lessons to five-year-olds. How was he able to do this when the average 2 year old can barely form a coherent sentence? You can thank Big Bird and Cookie Monster, of course! Sesame Street’s number one fan would spend hours upon hours reading calculus books not because he had a tiger mom, but because he was legitimately into that sort of thing. At the age of 10 he became the youngest ever International Mathematical Olympiads gold medalist. He started college at 14, and at 24 became UCLA’s youngest full-time professor. A man with an IQ of 225, he is also the recipient of the Fields Medal, which is the dream of every researcher.
2. Normal as Geniuses Go
Most toddlers might be able to count to 10 at best, but even before he was in preschool, Chris Hirata was taking numerical calculations to absurd levels that even full-grown adults often struggle with. For instance, when going to the grocery store with his family, Hirata would entertain himself by totaling up the bill as they were shopping, factoring in such things as weight, quality, discounts and sales tax. Not surprisingly, he had pretty much mastered algebra by 1st grade, and in middle school he was acing college-level courses. By high school he was already working for NASA on projects related to colonizing Mars. He ultimately got his Ph.D. from Princeton and he’s been winning all sorts of academic prizes since. So he must be a bit weirdo, right? Actually, he’s a regular married man and father, so nope!
3. The Russian Chess Wizard
There is little question that Garry Kasparov is one of the greatest chess players of all time. In 1985, at the age of 22, he defeated then-champion Anatoly Karpov to become the undisputed chess champion of the world, a title he held for a record 8 years. To put things in perspective, the typical champion rarely keeps the title for longer than a couple of years. At some point he got bored with playing against humans and instead ran circles around IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer in 1996, winning 4 matches out of 6. In a rematch the following year, our AI overlords finally got the best of him. But it turns out, not being accustomed to losing turns one into a not-so-gracious loser. He had all sorts of conspiracy theories to explain that one away. Although he’s a misogynistic jerk (more on that in a second), he’s also an outspoken critic of the Russian government and a champion of democratic rights.