The human brain is perhaps the most mysterious part of the body. It is so fascinating that it makes us wonder—what is there with it that makes some people intellectually superior than others?
But since no one really knows the precise answer to this question, we are only left amazed and interested to find out who the smartest people in the world are and what they have accomplished. Let us take a look at the people with the highest IQ ever recorded listed below.
1. William James SidisBorn in America in 1898, William James Sidis was a wunderkind extraordinaire, gifted with an astounding IQ estimated between 250 and 300. This polyglot went to a grammar school when he was only 6 years old and graduated just within 7 months.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, at the age of 9, he was already a Harvard student, but since he was too young, he was advised to take a couple of years off just to give his personality some time to catch up and be on a par with his intellect. At the age of 11, he became the youngest student to have ever enrolled at the Harvard University. He graduated cum laude at the age of 16, and entered Harvard Law School at 18.
2. Terence TaoGifted with an amazing IQ estimated between 220 and 230 by the Davidson Institute, Terence Tao makes it to this list of the people with the highest IQ in the world. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1975, this prodigy first displayed his incredible intelligence at a mere age of 2, when he managed to solve basic arithmetic questions on his own.
At the age of 16, he graduated with both Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees at the Flinders University. Moreover, Tao bagged numerous awards, such as the Salem Prize in 2000 and the Clay Research Award in 2003, just to name a few. He has been dubbed as “Mr. Fix It” by Charles Fefferman (a professor of Mathematics at Princeton University), because he has enthralled many mathematicians such that they vie to interest him in their problems.
3. Christopher HirataThe phenomenal IQ (225) of this 31-year old Japanese-American astrophysicist lands him third in this list. At the age of 12, Christopher Hirata already pursued college-level courses (calculus and physics), around the time most of us were just in the 7th grade. At the age of 13, this whiz kid became the youngest American to have ever won the gold medal in the 1996 International Physics Olympiad.
At 16, he was already working with NASA on its ambitious project to conquer Planet Mars. After he procured his Ph.D. at the Princeton University, he went back to California Institute of Technology, where he is currently teaching astrophysics.
4. Kim Ung-Yong
With a verified IQ of 210, Korean civil engineer Ung-Yong had his name etched once in the Guinness Book of World Record under its “Highest IQ” category. While babies at 6 months old are just learning to crawl, he already showed remarkable potential when he started to speak and read in Korean and many foreign languages. At 4 years old, he took an IQ test normally given to 7-year old children and obtained a score of more than 200. At 14 years old, he showcased his genius by solving complex differential and integral calculus problems live on Japanese TV.
5. Garry KasparovRegarded as the greatest chess player of all time, Garry Kasparov is said to have an outstanding IQ of 190. In May 1997, the Azerbaijan-born chess legend played against and got defeated by a supercomputer opponent that can calculate 200 million moves in every second. Nonetheless, he stunned the whole world with his intuition and sheer ingenuity, leaving it marveling at the amazing power of the human mind.
In 1999, he conducted Kasparov versus the World– the greatest and most important game in the history of chess–where he played against the World Team, which consisted of more than 50,000 participants from approximately 75 countries.
6. Marilyn Vos SavantBorn in 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri, Savant is a columnist, author, and playwright who made it to the pinnacle of fame by getting listed five times in the Guinness Book of World Records as the woman with the highest IQ ever recorded (verified at 190) from 1986 to 1989.
In 1986, she started writing Ask Marilyn, a Sunday column in Parade magazine, wherein she solves puzzles and answers a variety of questions from her readers.
7. Leonardo da VinciAn Italian painter born in 1452, Da Vinci is what most would call the quintessential Renaissance man. With an alleged IQ estimated between 180 and 190, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest painters of all time, and perhaps, the most diversely knowledgeable person to have ever lived. He was an established polymath who worked in the fields of mathematics, engineering, anatomy, geology, botany, architecture, sculpting, painting, music, and literature.
More than that, he is particularly famous for his masterpieces: Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and the Vitruvian Man. A true visionary, he was centuries ahead of his time with his detailed concepts of the helicopter, calculator, tank and the double hull, apart from his outlined theories on solar power, hydrodynamics, and plate tectonics.
8. Judit PolgarBorn in Hungary in 1976, Judit Polgar is not only a chess master but a certified brainiac with a recorded IQ of 170. She lived a childhood filled with extensive chess training from her father. The fact that she defeated nine former and current world champions including Garry Kasparov, Boris Spassky, and Anatoly Karpov leaves us no room for doubt as to why she has been dubbed as the strongest woman chess player of all time.
9. Albert EinsteinOf course, this list couldn’t possibly go on without a mention of the epitome of intelligence. With an IQ estimated between 160 and 190, Albert Einstein is the genius behind the theory of relativity (E=mc2), which has had tremendous impact on the world of science. He possessed such an intriguing ability that after his death, researchers were prompted to preserve and dissect his brain in search for clues to his exceptional brilliance, which to this day, has remained a mystery.
10. Stephen HawkingA theoretical physicist and cosmologist born in Oxford, England in 1942, Stephen Hawking is the living testimony that no physical impediment can hinder a determined mind from unleashing its power. Despite having suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that rendered him paralyzed, he used his exceptional IQ (160) to rise to the occasion.
He introduced to the world the concept of cosmology as explicated through the consolidation of quantum mechanics and theory of relativity. Because of his remarkable contributions to science, Hawking has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 — the highest that can be conferred to an American civilian.