Jacob Barnett: Forget What You Know
In searching for a Ted Talks video to present today I had two objectives; 1 – it had to be interesting and 2 – it had to be under 10 minutes. While I’ve clearly failed in the secondary objective, I think I’ve scored, big time, in the primary. So while I feel it reasonable to request 10 minutes of your time, I’ll make an exception and beg an additional 8 minutes, 11 seconds.
Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician. At 8 years of age, Jacob began sneaking into college lectures at IUPUI. At 9, Jacob built a series of mathematical models which expanded Einstein’s field of relativity. (Jacob’s work was reviewed at Princeton and confirmed to be groundbreaking.) At age 10, Jacob was accepted to the University full-time and went straight into a paid research position in the field of condensed matter physics. For his original work in this field Jacob became the world’s youngest astrophysics researcher.
As amazing as this all is, it’s made even more so by the fact that at age 2 Jacob was diagnosed with autism. What fascinates me most about Jacob, other than his brilliance, is that his story is not one of ‘overcoming’ a disability, it’s not even about ‘accepting’ it. Jacob’s story is about excelling in it, being passionate about it.
Jacob’s enthusiasm, excitement, and energy might, at times, make you feel uncomfortable…it did for me at first. Then I had to ask myself; is this because I lack that same excitement in things I should be this passionate about? Have I focused so deeply on learning that I’ve forgotten how to think and…how to feel true passion?
Jacob is also CEO and founder of Wheel LLC, and is writing a book to help end ‘math phobia’…something which is greatly needed. Jacob’s charity, Jacob’s Place, is a place where kids with autism are inspired every day to be their true authentic selves…just like Jacob.