by Christina Yeager
Despite having autism, Jacob Barnett pursued a homeschooling education exploring math and science on his own terms. He was accepted and attended college in his early teens. Jacob built a series of mathematical models that expanded Einstein's field of relativity and may be on track for a Nobel Prize.
Jacob Barnett: Gifted autistic mathematician.
Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism at age two. His team of doctors had told his mother at one point he would never "read or tie his shoes" let alone live a normal life. Due to the Asperger’s Syndrome, he attended public school up to the 3rd grade in Special Education classes. At school, he wasn't being taught and showed no interest in learning. This concerned his mother as she noticed he was different in school than at home where he displayed interest in puzzles and maps.
“The school came up to me and told me that he would never need his alphabet cards because he would never learn to read.”
His mother withdrew him and began homeschooling him. She allowed Jacob to explore the things he loved, math and science. By eight years old, he was sitting in on college physics courses, observing. Jacob eventually taught himself high school math in the form of algebra, geometry, and calculus in just two short weeks. He was a full-time college student by the time he was eleven years old.
Jacob submitted his master's thesis at the age of fifteen. He co-authored a publication "Origin of maximal symmetry breaking in even PT-symmetric lattices" and is considered one of the world’s most promising physicists.
He’s the youngest researcher to ever be accepted to Waterloo, Ont.’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics - the youngest student ever in the institute’s sixteen-year history to do so.
"My current research is devoted to studying problems with many particles in an extension of standard quantum mechanics. In particular, I'm studying how entangled a state of such a system is when it has minimal energy."
Jacob's website comments that he is teaching and obtaining a Phd in Quantum Physics.
Scientist and theorist from around the world hope his current studies will guide him to reveal how Einstien's Theory of Relativity is incomplete and rewrite history - not to prove that it's wrong like it may have been suggested previously.
His story isn't over yet. Jacob has a fascinating path ahead of him and frankly, it will be interesting to see where his brilliant mind takes him.