All of us like to think we’re pretty smart and, of course, some of us are actually right. But how many of us are actually geniuses? While you very well might be, chances are you still aren’t quite as smart as these 10 individuals. That’s because they had the highest IQs we’ve ever measured.
1. William James Sidis
As he was born back in 1898, the American William James Sidis would never know his exact IQ, but modern experts estimate it was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 or even 300. Being a polygot, young William was able to take on multiple languages with ease. He finally started grammar school when he was 6, but it was a short lived experience. In just 7 months, he would graduate.
But he wasn’t done breaking the mold. Just 3 years later, at the age of 9, Mr. Sidis was accepted at Harvard. But his parents were advised to take him out for a couple of years, so his personality would have more time to develop. They took his advise and the boy would return when he was 11, graduate at 16 and earn cume laude designation. At 18, he was back to enter law school.
2. Terence Tao
Terence’s IQ stands somewhere between 220 and 230 according to the Davidson Institute. He was born in 1975, in Adelaide Australia. By the time he was 2, there was no doubt he was something above and beyond what most people are. That’s because he had already managed to begin solving simple arithmetic.
Along the way, Terence would continue to impress. When he was 16, Tao graduated from Flinders University with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. On the road to both of these accomplishments, he also accepted the Salem Prize and Clay Research Award, amongst others.
Perhaps his most impressive award is the nickname “Mr. Fix It.” Princeton University professor Charles Fefferman gave it to him because of how many scientists around the world contact him with their problems.
3. Christopher Hirata
Though he’s in his early 30s today, Christopher Hirata and his 225 IQ were recognized as something special long ago. Before he was even a teenager, Hirata had been studying calculus and physics at college levels. When he finally did reach his teenage years, the 13 year old Hirata celebrated by becoming the youngest American to ever receive the gold medal in the International Physics Olympiad.
He would be rewarded for his efforts when NASA took him on as an employee, though still a teenager.
Hirata wasn’t being used for some minor tasks either. The 16 year old was tapped to help NASA develop the program that eventually culminated in a landing on mars.
4. Kim Ung-Yong
A Korean civil engineer named Kim Ung-Yong makes our list for having an IQ measured at 210. At one time he was even recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world’s highest IQ.
When 6 months old, most babies aren’t expected to do much but move and perhaps chew. But at this time, Ung-Yong was already showed potential for not just his native Korean, but some other languages as well.
At 4 years old, he took at IQ test normally reserved for children nearly twice his age. His results came back and showed he had scored a 200.
10 years later, Ung-Yong became a national sensation by going on Japanese TV and solving all kinds of complex integral and differential calculus problems wise.
5. Garry Kasparov
Garry Kasparov is considered, amongst other things, to be the greatest chess player who ever lived. This alone would be a pretty impressive distinction. But having an IQ of around 190 doesn’t hurt either. Born in Azerbaijan, the chess sensation played a super computer in 1997 that could calculate 200 million moves every second. Though he would not come out victorious, he succeeded in showing his ingenuity to the entire world, who immediately recognized he was something far beyond normal.
Only 2 years later, Kasparov proved himself once again when he took on 50,000 chess players from roughly 75 countries during what was coined “Kasparov vs. the World.”
6. Marilyn Vos Savant
Vos Savant stands out on this list for two very important reasons. First, she is just one of two women to show up. Secondly, she is the only entry who is primarily known for her skills with a pen.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri back in 1946, Savant made the Guinness Book of World Records on five separate occasions for having the highest recorded IQ for woman. These distinctions were given to her between 1986 and 1989.
But she was perhaps better known for her way with words. Vos Savant was an accomplished author, columnist and playwright. One of her best known achievements was the “Ask Marilyn” column she ran in the Sunday edition of the Parade Magazine. There she would respond to a wide array of problems and questions by her readership.
7. Leonardo da Vinci
The Italian painter might be the most famous member of our list. It’s believed his IQ was somewhere between 180 and 190. Aside from being considered one of the greatest painters who ever lived, da Vinci is also considered to be one of the most overall-talented men as well, truly embodying the term of Renaissance Man (the time period he was alive during helps too). There didn’t seem to be an area of interest he didn’t master.
da Vinci toiled in everything from engineering to anatomy to literature and architecture all during a time when educational resources were few and far between. To this day we still have examples of his work, blueprints of planned endeavors and writings that spoke to the intellect he possessed.
8. Judith Polgar
The Hungarian is the only other woman to be present on this list. Polgar’s 170 IQ has helped her become a chess master though she was also trained well as a child from her enthusiastic father who recognized his daughter’s potential early.
Her accomplishments in chess include victories over many top players including Boris Spassky, Garry Kasparov (another genius who made this list) and Anatoly Karpov. For this, she is widely considered to be the best female chess player who has ever lived.
9. Albert Einstein
If Leonardo da Vinci does not win most well known genius on this list, Albert Einstein must. Of course, the shorthand for “genius” these days is often simply calling someone “Einstein.” So add that to the vast list of this man’s accomplishments.
His IQ was somewhere between 160 and 190. With this, he was able to contribute far above what thousands of men combine do in their lifetime. We have Einstein to thank for the theory of relativity or what many of us recognize as E=mc2. Science has built on this discovery ever since.
When Einstein passed away, so great was his intellect that experts preserved and later dissected his brain in order to look for clues as to what made him so smart.
10. Stephen Hawking
Mr. Hawking is another well known genius who makes the list due to an IQ of 160 and exceptional contributions to science. Though he is wheelchair bound and completely paralyzed due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Mr. Hawking possess an intellectual agility few of us can comprehend.
Not only has Mr. Hawking built on the theory of relativity, he’s also made huge strides with quantum mechanics, two fields the average person would struggle to even understand.
In 2009, he was presented with the highest possible award civilian can receive: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.