Jacob Barnett and Scientific Progress

StumbleUpon, the bringer of all great discoveries, took me to an article last night about a 12 year old savant which really excited me. Jacob Barnett, based on my understanding from this article, appears to be a genius of the highest order. His Mathematics IQ was graded at 170 – the highest score possible. He taught himself all of the maths you are meant to learn in highschool in two weeks, because he was about to start studying at university and wanted to make sure he had the basics down. And he did that while he was 12. As a 12 year old university student, he helps explain things to other students who are struggling.

My favourite story though, was from when he was 3:

they went on a tour of the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium at Butler University.Kristine Barnett will never forget the day.

“We were in the crowd, just sitting, listening to this guy ask the crowd if anyone knew why the moons going around Mars were potato-shaped and not round,” she recalls. “Jacob raised his hand and said, ‘Excuse me, but what are the sizes of the moons around Mars?’ ”

The lecturer answered, and “Jacob looked at him and said the gravity of the planet . . . is so large that (the moon’s) gravity would not be able to pull it into a round shape.”

Silence.

“That entire building . . . everyone was just looking at him, like, ‘Who is this 3-year-old?’ “

Anyway, he is about to turn 13 now, and is also about to be given a research position at his university (I don’t think they left him studying undergrad at university for even a whole year).

Jake’s Theories

As an almost 13 year old prodigy, Jake already has a couple of new “change the text books” theories which he is developing. First of all he is developing a “new expanded theory of relativity” which will expand on what Einstein did. Secondly, he thinks the big bang theory is flawed, and so is developing his own theory to account for the creation of time and matter.

The Potential

Jake Barnett is exactly the sort of person that science needs to come through every now and then (I hope anyway) and really put everything on the line. The obvious potential benefits are huge of course. He could improve existing theories, and solve long standing unsolved problems. He might even come up with a better theory than the fringe theories which scientists have been disagreeing over for decades. But all of that is pretty normal. Non-Genius scientists do all of that stuff all the time. That is what Science is about. I see Jake’s potential as much bigger, and playing a much more important role in ‘Scientific Advancement’ at large.

Jake has the intellect, and the speed of information uptake to provide a real critical analysis of what Scientists think they know. Jake is potentially an incredibly strong catalyst for the next scientific revolution…

Scientific Revolutions

The fundamentalists and science deniers who still exist in our amazing society are constantly claiming that science is flawed, and that it is full of errors and/or lies. They believe this because they don’t like the conclusions that scientists reach, and they don’t understand the science itself. It still amuses me when talking to creationists who are absolutely convinced that one day Scientists are going to realise their errors, and like has happened in the past, they will go through a scientific revolution in to the next more correct theory: Creation!

The fact is, Scientific revolutions happen. Old theories have been replaced in the past, or, more commonly, old theories are altered and improved. The non-scientific out there who want to believe certain things always pronounce the science which disagrees with their beliefs to be one of those theories which is due to be changed any day, and as demonstrated by the creationist lot, will do anything (except science) to make it happen.

But as Thomas Kuhn’s theory on Scientific Revolutions basically observes, eventually some new genius, or a new generation in generation will eventually come through and as they learn the facts and theories of their chosen scientific trade, they will be perfectly placed to view this information critically. They will be in the process of learning the tools of their science, while simultaneously not be completely indoctrinated with ‘the truth’ of the conclusions. And if the conclusions are flawed in some way; if there are too many bits which don’t make sense – then that new generation, or that particular genius will typically find themselves stuck on those problems. Rather than just accepting the problems as acceptable difficulties or margins of error, the new generation can focus on finding a better solution because they aren’t attached to the old one.

Jake’s Potential Role

So my interest here, is the role that Jake can play in this long scientific dance of continual improvement and refinement of theories. He has learnt the maths of astrophysics in, I would think, record time. He understands the principles intimitely, and yet certainly hasn’t had time to form emotional attachments to paradigms or frameworks of thinking which will force his brain to accept only one option.

Basically, Jake is exactly what all of the young earth creationists out there are waiting for – someone without a belief-system axe to grind, who understands the science to go through physics, and change it all! If they were right. But of course, so far Jake seems to basically agree with the theories currently accepted. He hasn’t claimed that relativity is wrong (yet), but seems to think that he can improve it. He does think the Big Bang theory is wrong, and I hope he is right (because I never much liked that theory anyway ;).

Every new scientists that goes through this process is a small testament to the rigours of our scientific progresses. Every new person trained in the skills required to do the maths, and to understand the principles used in predicting and estimating motions, histories and actions is one more person to falsify the theories which are currently accepted. Another person to spot ‘the lies’ about radiometric dating. Another person to spot the mathematical errors in relativity. Another person to simply observe that the entire scientific theoretical basis of everything we know is a giant house of cards about to collapse on itself.

But it continues to not happen. And Jake is a tornado about to blow through that ‘house of cards’. If modern physics is flim flam, he will blow that house of cards away. If not, then he will be able to just get on with the good work.

Either way, we win. Science will function as intended, theories will be revised or improved and the entire human race will benefit from the process.

PS: Not that I am trying to put too much responsibility on Jake’s shoulders. It isn’t his ‘responsibility’ – it is just one of the sorts of consequences that can arise from someone in his position…

also,  The original article that inspired this post is well worth reading:  Genius at work: 12-year-old is studying at IUPUI

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24 Replies to “Jacob Barnett and Scientific Progress”

  1. Very true and well said. Yes Jacob is a tornado of new information. Scientists for years will be trying to prove, disprove him and to just plain old figure out what he said in his life.
    Jake has invented a new entire subject of math (he did it in a few days). Thank you for understanding him. The article in the star only barely touched what he actually knows.
    ~Jake’s mom

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  2. Ok, maybe the being the grandmother doesn’t count, but I have seen Jake ( and his parents )work thru all these math & science phases , books, work books etc. Some times with ease and other times with thoughts of ‘ now what do we do?” I gave him a very advanced science book for Christmas and was very happy.
    Jake has learned . not every one is like him, nor are all others half wits.He has appreciated some times it is time for some one else to be front and center.
    We are so excited what else I will be able to learn and understand. ( haveing learned from his recently the destails of black holes.) So, OK Jake,,,, take us on the ride.

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  3. Lokks like some how I was supposed to give points. Sorry,,, I must have missed it

    10

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  4. 🙂 Thanks for commenting Kristine and Kathy. It looks like StumbleUpon has sent about 100,000 people to that article on Jake, so I imagine you are getting a lot of people contacting you, or commenting on your videos etc.

    As for Jake, I just hope he continues into his speciality questioning everything. There is no such thing as Dogma in Science, and there never can be. If he thinks something doesn’t make sense, then demand explanations and investigate it until it makes sense, or it gives way to scrutinisation.

    I wish him all the best 🙂

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  5. I am hugely excited at the potential of Jake. We’re lucky he has decided to share his world with us and all credit to his mom for having allowed us an insight into his genius on YouTube.This could be a child who provides the answers to how to make clean, free energy for all, expand the architecture and data storage capabilities of chips a thousand fold, etc. Who can’t fail to be excited at what he may solve?

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  6. I think there is a side story to Jake. That story is that how many genius children are not properly evaluted out of Autism and left in their own world within to suffer insilence. Autism is a hoorible cover for societies inability to accept enormous brilliance and deal with it. Society wants evryone to be equal, we are not.

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  7. Mrs. Kathy Barnett (Jacob’s Grandmother)

    It was exciting to read the story about Jacob and his early development!

    I can relate to not being able to go to sleep, but that was years ago! My brain from about elementary school on through high school and into my early years in the Air Force was always filling with ideas, one after the other all the time and it was hard to shut it down and go to sleep, in fact it got annoying some times!

    In fifth and sixth grade I would read Science Digest about Leptons and Quarks and other subatomic particles and had no one to explain it to me even though my father was a physics teacher, the home life I needed was not there so…

    Anyway when I left for the Air Force right after high school I packed away about six English composition books that I had filled with ideas that I had gotten. I’m sorry that when I got out of the service I came home looked at them and thought ‘that’s nice’ and then threw them away, because a number of my ideas have been done or are being done now. One of them was that someday that the print on newspapers and magazines would be able to be changed and updated and they would be just as thin as they were then, which we will have in just a few more years. The other was a plastic that would change it’s length depending on a voltage applied to it, shrinking or growing, that one has come to pass already but still has a ways to go. There were many others and I can’t remember what they were and my brain doesn’t keep me up anymore. Near the end I could turn it on and off and then it got harder and harder to do it. I still can think of ideas like that but I have not even thought about trying for a long time.

    I am employed by the University of California as an Engineer helping to run experiments but my interest has always been in Physics or how the world works. My over riding interest is in mathematics because the world is just full of connections from one thing to another and it seems that mathematics or mathematical relationships is at the bottom of it all.

    The reason that I’m writing to you is that I wanted to pass on to Jacob another individual that has done a lot of thinking about things and may just have examined and solved some problems that have laid at the foundations of mathematics and physics for hundreds and even thousands of years.

    I am nowhere as smart as Jacob but I could be considered ‘bright’, so I envy him very much from the position of having an astounding IQ. There are two or three others on the net with IQ’s as high or higher then his that I am aware of and I’ve corresponded with or had dealings with one or two of them.

    This individual a Mr. Miles Mathis and his web site(s) that I want to pass on to Jacob is not one of them, I don’t know where he is in that regard, but I think that he has done some things that no one else has seem to have done in a few thousand years since Euclid and a few hundred since Newton, and the first two papers that I wanted to bring to Jacob’s attention are of that order.

    None of what Miles has done is ‘new’ or ‘esoteric’ he just takes the original papers of, for instance, Newton, Einstein and others, and points out their problems (even Einstein acknowledged that his theory was not complete and required more work) …and then corrects them. His math and reasoning is very easy to follow and he writes very simply and clearly that even a high school student with or without calculus can understand it and see the correctness of it.

    I’m sorry this is far longer then I intended, but if this site is worth a look (and I hope it is!), if Jacob is also a reader as well as a thinker…and he may be since he has some doubts about the Big Bang, then the ‘tools’ that he finds there may just propel him all that much further by rising above the mistakes of his predecessors and show him that Richard Fenyman’s ‘renormalization’ is something that he can do without because he won’t be making the mistakes the rest of the physics community has made. I hope!

    Kathy you yourself could read the first two papers at the top of the page, (they may not be exactly what your expecting but I think that you will be pleasantly surprised). The first is, i Preface and ii ‘The Central Discoveries…’ you would not have any trouble at all in understanding what the author is saying, there is no math in the first paper and just a little in the second, near the end.

    Some papers are dense with equations, which I suspect Jacob would love others are a mix of both – ‘thinking’ types of papers where he lays out the problems in the foundations of Mathematics and Physics and then solves them.

    The two papers are here;

    On the Calculus;
    http://www.milesmathis.com/are.html

    and Newtons Un-Unified Field Equation;
    http://www.milesmathis.com/uft.html

    His general website is here;
    http://www.milesmathis.com/

    He is also an artist, a painter and musician, and his art site is here;
    http://www.milesmathis.com

    He is also an artist, a painter and musician, as well and his art site is here;

    http://www.mileswmathis.com

    You can go from his art site to his science site but not vice versa.

    Thank You I’m glad I ran into this thread.

    Joe Hyde

    josephhyde@yahoo.com or
    josephhyde@engineering.ucsb.edu

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  8. I agree with Jacob in that Einsteins Theory’s need to be expanded upon. Einstein was right about the shortcomings of Quantum Mechanics and so therefore String Theory is also the incorrect approach. As an alternative to Quantum Theory there is a new theory that describes and explains the mysteries of physical reality. While not disrespecting the value of Quantum Mechanics as a tool to explain the role of quanta in our universe. This theory states that there is also a classical explanation for the paradoxes such as EPR and the Wave-Particle Duality. The Theory is called the Theory of Super Relativity. Google it…
    This theory is a philosophical attempt to reconnect the physical universe to realism and deterministic concepts. It explains the mysterious.

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  9. mtravers

    On the Miles Mathis site I mentioned he recognizes and addresses the issue that modern day Physics has divorced it’s self from physical reality for ‘physical solutions’ to these problems. In fact it doesn’t even desire them! So much for finding out how the universe runs when things are ‘irrational’ and what’s more we ‘can’t even figure out how they work’ so we should not even try!

    I’m with you that is just not good enough! The universe seems to do it time after time after time and doesn’t ever get it wrong! With thanks to Mr. John N. Hait for that. Google him he is quite a character, especially if he is still alive.

    Thanks.

    I’ll take a gander at your web site.

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  10. Kristine (Jake’s Mom)

    If you have the time to post some things that the Star only skimmed I am sure that we all would love to hear it! Especially about the new math that Jake invented.

    I am insanely jealous of Jakes IQ but what can we do?! We just take what we have and make do!

    Thank you for the posts you and his grandmother have posted here.

    We would all love to hear more.

    Thank You

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  11. Its great reading about this kid. I was a bit unhappy to see some of the articles trying to “explain” his abilities with the Autism label. From the video going around he seems like a perfectly happy and expressive kid with great social skills.

    Why pathologize genius.

    What I will say is, get this kid to a doctor! A PhD physicist doctor that is! He does need to be a little careful to remember that in his exhuberance much of the hard theory he’s tackling has been well forged in not just theory but observation, but that DOESNT mean he hasn’t something exciting to contribute at his young age.

    Personally I’d be getting him an audience with someone like Dr Penrose or even Dr Hawkins so he can hang with some other genius’s and discuss his ideas with a mentor who really deeply gets the ideas his young mind is exploring. Guys who have also had the guts to really tackle the controversial questions in physics and sometimes come out victorious. I’m pretty sure Mr Hawkins would like to hear young Jacob’s theories on why the big bang singularity might be wrong.

    The force is strong in this young one, now get him to a Jedi master!

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  12. Mrs. Barnett:
    My brother Jim Spinosa has written a book called Nuts and Bolts:
    Taking Apart Special Relativity which falsifies Einstein’s theories
    through extensive research on the mathematical equations involved. It is availible for download & purchase as an ebook at
    http://www.smashwords.com On behalf of my brother, I’d like to invite
    Jacob to take a look at the book and tell Jim what he thinks about
    it. Jim can be reached at jamesesp@earthlink.net Thanks

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  13. Of course, Jake’s studies and analyses, much to your evident chagrin, just might open the door on deeper mysteries which point to the patently rich information content of not only the universe, but back down to where we live, within living systems; e.g., genomics, etc. that point to the highest of all GENIUS, the Creator Himself.

    This is why he should not restrict himself in his inquiries to those “standard” paradigms you allude to but should exercise his own critical thinking skills–as Thomas Kuhn would counsel–if he wishes to contribute in the next scientific revolution.

    Astrophysical and cosmological studies are reaching, it would seem, a limit of sorts so far as practical and satisfying return on investment are concerned. Instead of cloistering himself away and eremetically expending his remaining days in studying “String Theory” and Big Bang arcana, he might find it vastly more satisfying moving into Information and Design Theory and how they apply especially to living things and how this can be exploited for the betterment of mankind.

    The philosophical sequelae and implications which flow from all of this are of course more and more clear every day and can be drawn by him alone.

    http://www.icr.org runs a daily report on science discoveries and their amazing implications concerning the “standard” theories you apparently cherish.

    My hat is off to Jacob. I was born in Indianpolis and my sister is a well-known family physician there. I graduated from IU, Bloomington, with a degree in Geology and was afterwards a Special Forces officer in the U.S. Army.

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  14. Well, if the evidence points to creation, then that is what the Scientists will find. So far, science has moved away from creation though – so no amount of desire to see creation by people with a vested interest in creationism being true (by virtue of their belief system) is going to sway the science one iota.

    And the whole point of this article, is to point out that Jake is precisely part of the beautiful mechanism of Science. He will see the data. He will see the facts. He will understand the implications. And when he comes out with a mechanistic explanation of how it works, the people with vested interests in specific explanations (Yaweh created the universe, or Xenu exploded hydrogen bombs 100 billion years ago, or whatever other mythology you want to base your assumptions about the universe on) will once again fob off the answers they don’t like, and continue to proclaim that scientists are liars and charlatans.

    All while contiuing to use the wealth of technology created by the constant advancement of those same scientists.

    It really makes me sick. There is something wrong with this world when the scientists are constantly being demonized, and the fanatics are being treated as saviours.

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  15. The idea that Science theories are fact and taught as such is shown in what you said to be completly underminded when a ‘genius’ comes along.

    Because man cannot understand where he came from he must make up theories about how he came into being. The idea that there was an Almighty Creator does not sit well with man since it means he is not in control of his own fate. Therefore man creates theories using science and bases theory upon theory to come up with an idea about how the world came into being.

    God created the world and all that is in it. When you begin from this perspective and read God’s Word it all makes sense about where we came from and where we are going.

    To think that something can come from nothing makes no sense. The world cant come into being on its own from nothing unless it was created by a creator. Look at this life we are living and this earth we are on. Is it getting better? Do we see progression? What we see is more and more ‘disasters’ and ‘global warming’. The world does not evolve for the better but for the worse. There are more sicknesses and illnesses now than in previous years. The world will end when God decides. Where will you be then?

    The idea that a scientific theory is more correct than the Bible is way off the mark. You might not believe the Bible but that in no way proves that a theory made by a sinful man is right? All men make mistakes and therefore their ideas flawed. The Bible teaches us what is good and wholesome. Science and mans own ideas teach that its basically every man for himself. If you can get away with something and no God is in control why not?

    You can live with the idea that we evolved to what we are today. After this life where will you be?

    I will live my life to serve God and after this life to be in heaven with Him. That is my peace and comfort after this life.

    The sad thing is no matter how smart this child is he still has no comfort and salvation without God…

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  16. Look, obviously you have no interest in alternative opinion but your own, and any genuine discussion which I attempt to engage in will just be met with more assertions of what man can and cannot know, and what the bible says. Been here before, not worth the mental anguish trying to joust with a wall.

    I hope your belief gives you comfort.

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  17. Hi, I’m impressed about this kid and I’d like to make a proposal to his parents: please, let him go to Switzerland, to take part under professional surveillance in LHC Project. It will be a chance to all of us to make the step forward. And I’m convinced it will be of a real pleasure to him. His brightness of the mind shouldn’t be wasted.

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  18. To Kristine, Jake’s Mother:
    I think it would be a very good idea for Jake to have extended and constant communication with Dr. Stephen Hawking as Dr, Hawking’s body is failing him and his mind isn’t. Dr. Hawking will provide Jake with all his knowledge and Jake will understand what Dr. Hawking is saying. Were Jake to record every conversation he has with Dr. Hawking he will give himself the opportunity to expand on Dr. Hawking’s theories in the future. It is sad to say but Dr. Hawking won’t be with us much longer and Dr. Hawking will be more than willing to impart his knowledge to Jake and advance science into the future. Jake is the future of science and the more knowledge he has available to him the more he will learn and the longer he will stay awake at night with numbers running through his head. Your son is a world treasure and every door is to be opened to him. Thank you.
    Peter Marks
    Greenbrae, CA

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  19. Miles Mathis is not someone I would recommend to Jake except as a classic example of a crank. Mathis has continually plastered the internet with his “papers” criticizing the work of genuine scientists who, unlike himself, have actually put in the hard work to become credentialed, submitted their work for peer review and have made predictions which have been verified. Mathis has a degree in philosophy. Rather, he is a dilettante who seems to think he ought to be regarded as a genius in science, mathematics, physics, music, singing, writing fiction, book reviewing, art, art criticism and criticism of other critics.
    Mathis likes to criticize others but when his own mistakes are pointed out he only replies with insults. As an artist, art critic and singer he doesn’t do any better in those endeavors than he does in math and physics. He is a gross underachiever as an artist yet writes long winded, bitter attacks on more accomplished artists who, unlike himself, are able to infuse their paintings with a sense of life.
    It has been more than a decade since Mathis began his folk physics writings and if anything useful had been found in them there would have been a great buzz but there hasn’t been any such thing. His errors have been revealed in dozens of websites by numerous posters many of whom are real scientists and Mathis’ efforts to defend himself by using aliases, to create the illusion of support by others, have failed. People laugh at his coming on to sites with the same writing style and pretending to be average folks enthused by the theories of Miles Mathis. Pathetic.
    Mathis is caught in a trap of his own making. He won’t submit to peer review but his theories are demolished by real scientists on the internet for all to see anyway.

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  20. The kid has great memory and hopefully for him he can also link it together with creativity later in life. Being someone who was also very into astrophysics from around the age of six I kind of know what it is to be ahead. The school didn’t know what to do with me since I read things far beyond that level. After tests by psychologists two years later my parents saw that there was a difference between me and the other children. Not gifted quality as Jacob maybe, but “superior”.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say was that one still needs to put in some work no matter natural (math) talent. For example some comments on relativity and the big bang seemed a bit odd or uninformed (if Jacobs family reads this, point him for example towards hypotheses using de Sitter space to deal with specific entropy conditions of the big bang. He might find it interesting). Mind you I’m not intending to criticize at all, he’s still a child, but I merely stress the importance of keeping sight of what you don’t know to improve even more. That goes for everything. The better you get the more you realize where you can improve. More specifically for him, something like quantum physics is counter-intuitive, so experience beyond talent can help.

    PS Aegist : Very true. This hypocrisy strikes me also often. People hating scientists while using pc’s, the internet, airplanes, hospitals with advanced equipment etc.

    PPS Forgive some potential spelling errors, English is my third language.

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  21. I think Jacob is one lucky genius. The chances of him being a new Einstein is one every 500 yrs. He has a mild form of autism which did not destroy his thinking but instead enhanced it. Thus anyone of us could have gotten the lucky number as well. However, there is no guarantee he will be as great as Einstein. Truly great geniuses are extremely creative and not simply extremely intelligent. There is a big difference between the two. We have all known great IQ geniuses who end up in unremarkable lives. Einstein himself was victim of bad luck for most of his life until he reached the miraculous year in which he proved to the world he was a supernova in the arena of great minds. Jacob’s life is still unfolding and although everyone is thinking of happy results, life has a funny way to bring down even the greatest of minds.

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  22. we have no right to teach him anything,everyone should have a great deal of respect and learn from him.free thought is what he deserves .it is ,in the end,between him and god. listen to him at “ted”.i believe him.who believes him besides me. who really believes in god.would you kill your first born child to prove your love for god.i can see god with one eye and allah with the other eye and give you a description. but you go first,whom ever you may be. only with your permission to be truthful.it is not t be critical,just prove me wrong and I will thank you. e.g. NASA has pictures of the sun in different colors individualy.the sun only shares one at a time ,because that’s all that clic’s can handle at once. I have pictures with all the colors at once of the sun.if you can believe,i will share for free.

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