Go to contents

A genius`s expectations and frustration

Posted November. 26, 2015 08:37,   


When Blaise Pascal published his first treatise as a boy living in Rouen, France, many mathematicians could not believe that it was authored by a 17-year-old boy. His proof that if a hexagon is inscribed in a circle, then the three intersection points of opposite sides lie on a single line is called the "Pascal line" today. Rene Descartes, a prominent philosopher of that time, also misunderstood that the treatise had been authored by the boy`s father, thinking that it was too great an accomplishment to have been made by a teenager.

William James Sidis is the youngest boy to be admitted Harvard University. Considered one of the most outstanding geniuses of the 20th century, he had reportedly an estimated IQ of 250 to 300. He published 17 books and 50 treatises in various fields including mathematics, physics, psychology, history and language. However, he could not become a master of one field. His father used unique child-rearing methods, including hypnosis, in order to raise his prodigy son as a genius. When grown up, he lived his life in seclusion because of disharmony with others and avoidance of the media. The prevailing view is that he did so because of excessive expectations that his parents and the media had on him.

Korea has its own genius comparable to Pascal and Sidis. Song Yoo-geun was six years old when he made headlines by having comprehended Einstein`s theory of relativity and solved university-level calculus problems. He completed the elementary and secondary education curricula in just nine months by passing a national qualification examination to become the country`s youngest university student at age eight. He was admitted to a combined master`s and doctoral degree program at the University of Science and Technology in Daejeon in 2009 and was expected to become the youngest person to win a doctoral degree in Korea next year. He is 18 this year.

The Astrophysical Journal, an international academic journal, said Tuesday that it retracted a paper co-authored by Song on the magnetic fields of a black hole due to plagiarism concerns. Considering that publishing a paper on the Science Citation Index-class journals is a precondition for a screening of a doctoral dissertation, the retraction will likely make it impossible for Song to receive a doctoral degree. Park Seok-jae, former head of the Korea Astronomy & Space Science Institute and a co-author of the paper in question, explained, "It was my mistake not to have stated that this paper drew from my own thesis presented at a workshop 13 years ago. I thought it was no big deal." It could be that people`s greed for making a genius quickly bloom ruins one.