Saturday, April 9, 2011

Phil Plait on 12-yr-old Jacob Barnett

Phil Plait at his Bad Astronomy weblog has an excellent take on 12-year-old Matheoastrophysical genius Jacob Barnett of Indiana, here.

Please read that, and all of the replies.

As a super bonus, Phil does an excellent job of relating the great accomplishments in Newtonian Classical Dynamics, Relativity, and Quantum mechanics. His repliers weigh in on more examples.

The gist is that young Jacob is a math whiz, but needs more experience in Physics itself. It's totally impressive for any 12-year-old to understand Calculus. I wish more did.

I also wish to call out the first reply to Phil's article, which is excellent, and funny:

1.   Leon Says: 

Or to put it another way, the person who wrote the headline (probably the editor) needs to pay closer attention to what he writes in the future:
“12-Year-Old Genius Expands Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Thinks He Can Prove It Wrong”
If I expand an idea, how does that possibly prove it wrong? I’m *expanding* *the* *idea*, not disproving it. How about we try this in a non-scientific context so the editor won’t be confused?
“President Expands The U.S. military, Thinks He Can Prove It Wrong”

Phil positively  references a similar article re our young Jedi regarding Jacob's Asperger's, by Steve Novella at his weblog NeuroLogica: Your Daily Fix of Neuroscience, Skepticism, and Critical Thinking. I liked the following reply to that blogpost as well:

Adam_Yon 31 Mar 2011 at 10:40 am
Leonardo DaVinci was clearly a genius, but he labored alone with his genius and did not interface with his contemporaries. As a result he contributed nothing to the advancement of human knowledge. His ideas were unknown in his time, and only later discovered when they were already obsolete. Many of his ideas were sophisticated, but ultimately meaningless. Einstein, on the other hand, was deeply embedded with his scientific contemporaries, and he changed the world. Jacob is clearly a genius in some respects, but will he turn out to be a DaVinci or an Einstein? " This is horribly inaccurate [Adam is referring to the quote above by a replier, not Novella] . Da Vinci did work with other people. Part of the problem is that like most scientists at that time people thought Da Vinci was an idiot. It was very hard for people like him to make in roads because science was at the beginning was a very cut throat type of thing that heavily relied upon the argument from authority: logical fallacy. The best example I think of is the fact that James Prescott Joule was derided because he was also a brewer who only dabbled in science as a hobby.

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