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Autistic physics genius, 12, in college

March 20, 2011 at 3:38 PM   |   Comments

INDIANAPOLIS, March 20 (UPI) -- A 12-year-old autistic boy functioning at genius levels in mathematics is studying doctorate-level astrophysics at an Indiana university, his parents say.

Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of borderline autism when he was about three when his parents noticed it was difficult for him to make eye contact with them, show emotion and interact with other people, The Indianapolis Star reported.

What he did do was work with numbers either on paper, a dry erase board or in his head working pi out to 200 digits for fun.

Jacob's parents noticed when they took him to the planetarium he loved looking at the stars and planets, but as his interest in cosmology grew so did his boredom in school.

The Barnetts had a number of clinical evaluations done on "Jake" as he was known and decided to heed the last one made by clinical neurophysiologist Carl S. Hale.

"He needs work at an instructional level, which currently is a post college graduate level in mathematics, i.e., a post master's degree. In essence, his math skills are at the level found in someone who is working on a doctorate in math, physics, astronomy and astrophysics."

So, off Jake went to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis driven to class by his mom or dad.

His professor sees great things for Jake.

"We have told him that after this semester -- enough of the book work. You are here to do some science," said IUPUI physics Professor John Ross, who vows to help find some grant funding to support Jake and his work.

Mom Kristine, who says she is still not sure if this is work or play on his part, sent a video of Jake proposing a "new expanded theory of relativity" to astrophysics Professor Scott Tremaine at Princeton University.

"The theory that he's working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics, Tremaine said.

"Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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