FAMOUS CHILD PRODIGIES
Know any really smart kids? I sure do. However, here are some who became famous.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The Austrian-born wunderkind first took up the harpsichord when he was just 3 years old. He composed his first piece of published music at age 5, and by his teen years, he had already written several concertos, sonatas, operas and symphonies. Mozart and his sister Maria Anna—herself a musical prodigy—traveled widely through Europe exhibiting their talents in royal courts and public concerts. From Bavaria to Paris, audiences marveled at the boy wonder’s ability to improvise and play the piano blindfolded or with one hand crossed over the other.
During a 1764 stopover in London, he was even tested and examined by a British lawyer and naturalist named Daines Barrington, who was awestruck by the 8-year-old’s ability to sight-read unfamiliar music “in a most masterly manner.” Mozart would eventually grow into one of Europe’s most celebrated and prolific composers. Before his untimely death at age 35, he wrote more than 600 pieces of music.
Before his work on radioactivity won him the Nobel Prize and helped usher in the nuclear age, Enrico Fermi was considered a mathematics and physics prodigy. The Italy native showed signs of having a photographic memory as a boy, and by age 10 he was spending his free time mulling over geometric proofs and building electric motors. After his brother died unexpectedly in 1915, 13-year-old Enrico dealt with his grief by burying himself in books on trigonometry, physics and theoretical mechanics.
He then applied to the University of Pisa in 1918, wowing the admissions panel with a doctoral-level essay that solved the partial differential equation of a vibrating rod. Fermi achieved his post-secondary degree from the school several years early at the age of just 21. He later conducted groundbreaking experiments in neutron bombardment and nuclear chain reactions before becoming one of the lead physicists on the Manhattan Project—the secret research program that developed the atomic bomb.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Born in Mexico in 1651, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz learned to read as a toddler and quickly blazed through all the books in her grandfather’s library. Despite being denied a formal education because of her gender, she began writing religious poetry at age 8 and later taught herself Latin, supposedly mastering it in just 20 lessons. By her adolescence, she had also studied Greek logic and learned an Aztec language called Nahuatl. Juana’s reputation for genius later won her a place as a lady-in-waiting at the viceroy’s court in Mexico City.
When she was 17, she was famously tested by a panel of 40 university professors, all of whom were shocked by her deep knowledge of philosophy, mathematics and history. The former child prodigy entered a convent at age 20 and spent the rest of her life as a cloistered nun. She continued her studies, however, and eventually established herself as one of the 17th century’s most popular authors of drama, poetry and prose. Her image now appears on the 200-peso bill in Mexico.
As the son of a painter, Pablo Picasso had a brush in his hand from an early age. The future art legend could reportedly draw before he could talk, and his mother claimed that when he finally spoke, his first words were to ask for a pencil. Picasso made his first oil painting when he was 9 years old. His skills soon surpassed those of his father, and at age 14, he was admitted to a prestigious Barcelona art school. Just a year later, he completed “First Communion,” an astonishingly mature work that was displayed in a public exhibition.
The painting was among the first of the more than 22,000 artworks that Picasso would produce in his eight-decade career. “When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope,’” he later said. “Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”
Born in 1623 in France, Blaise Pascal spent his youth being privately tutored at home by his father. The elder Pascal banished mathematics texts from the house to ensure the boy first focused on languages, but by age 12, young Blaise had secretly invented his own terminology and independently discovered nearly all the geometric proofs of Euclid. His mathematical genius only grew from there. At 16, he produced an essay on conic sections so advanced that the famed philosopher Rene Descartes was convinced his father must have ghostwritten it; by 19, he had designed and built a mechanical calculator known as the “Pascaline.”
Pascal went on to publish papers and conduct experiments on everything from fluid mechanics and perpetual motion to atmospheric pressure and the philosophy of religion. Before his death at the age of 39, he developed his famous “Pascal’s Wager,” which uses probability theory to argue for belief in God.
Clancy's comment: Mm ... There are some amazing facts here about some exceptional folks.
TOP REVIEW FOR 'KY!"
Here is a great review for one of my novellas, "KY!", written by Daan Spijer.
Clancy Tucker has written a delightful story of a teenage girl overcoming adversity. Rida is an immigrant, a Muslim, and is bullied at school because of the way she looks and because she is regarded as a nerd. She doesn’t fit in because she stands out. In the process of trying to avoid her tormentors, she meets people who assist her in unexpected ways.
Rida also meets Ky, another girl who doesn’t fit in and who has a secret that eventually turns Rida’s life around completely. This is a narrative very much of our time, dealing with issues of xenophobia and prejudice and how various people deal with these.
Clancy Tucker paints real people with real issues and brings it all together in a satisfying way. At only ninety-five pages, this is a book that can easily be read in one sitting and the reader will be richly rewarded for doing so.
© 2016 Daan Spijer
There ya go? Thank you, Daan, for taking the time to write a review.
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