Special Report

31 Famous Child Prodigies

Source: Courtesy of Konrad Jacobs / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

11. Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887 – 1920)
> Country of origin: India
> Talent: Mathematician

Srinivasa Ramanujan was renowned for his memory and his love of mathematics — he was obsessed over an obsolete copy of a mathematics textbook at age 16. Ramanujan, who developed a reputation as a math prodigy in India, traveled to England in 1914 and collaborated with Cambridge University mathematician Godfrey Hardy. Ramanujan made significant contributions in the theory of numbers.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

12. Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980)
> Country of origin: Switzerland
> Talent: Psychologist

Jean Piaget, an acclaimed child psychologist, did groundbreaking work on the cognitive development of children. But he became famous first as a child prodigy who became an expert on mollusks, spending hours at a Swiss natural history museum as a boy. Piaget published many papers as a teenager on mollusks, gaining a reputation as an expert on the subject. After earning a doctorate in zoology, he became interested in psychology while studying under Carl Jung and Paul Eugen Bleuler at the University of Zurich.

Source: Courtesy of Department of Energy. Office of Public Affairs / National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons

13. Enrico Fermi (1901 – 1954)
> Country of origin: Italy
> Talent: Physicist

Enrico Fermi was one of the pioneers in the development of the atomic bomb and received the Nobel Prize in physics for his research on radioactivity. As a child, the Italian-born Fermi demonstrated a photographic memory and spent his youth constructing electric motors. Fermi immersed himself in trigonometry, physics, and theoretical mechanics as a teenager before distinguishing himself in physics at the University of Pisa.

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

14. Jascha Heifetz (1901 – 1987)
> Country of origin: Lithuania
> Talent: Violinist

Violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz is considered by music experts as the greatest violinist of the 20th century. Heifetz, whose father played the violin, first started playing the instrument at age 2 and began performing publicly three years later. By 1911, the boy’s emerging genius was creating a sensation in Russia, where he played before 8,000 people at an outdoor concert. The Russian Revolution uprooted the Heifetz family, who came to the United States in 1917. That year, Heifetz wowed the American public at Carnegie Hall and became an enduring American celebrity.

Source: Photo by Underwood Archives / Getty Images

15. Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr. (1902 – 1983)
> Country of origin: United States
> Talent: Poet

Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr., was called “The Wonder Girl” with good reason. The Virginia native passed the entrance examination for Stanford University when she was 9, and she could speak eight languages before she was a teenager. Stoner penned the famous line “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Stoner also played the violin, piano, and other instruments.

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