The highest IQ ever recorded is of William James Sidis with an IQ score between 250-300. At the age of 5, he could use a typewriter and had learnt to speak Latin, Greek, Russian, French, German and Hebrew. He was denied admission to Harvard at the age of 6 because he was called too emotionally immature. Later, at age 11, they were forced to admit him, after which he gave his well-received first lecture on 4-dimensional physics!
The Intelligence Quotient or “IQ” has become the go-to term during discussions of a person’s mental abilities. By trying to measure someone’s intelligence, a debate has been fueled about whether that person has any control over his IQ whatsoever. Some believe that it might simply be affected by the genes they inherit, while others believe that it is nourished through hard work as they grow older. Whatever may be the case, one thing is for sure. IQ is the best measure of intelligence.
What is IQ?
Although we might have come across this term plenty of times during our lives, we still need to set some standards so that we can distinguish a great score from an average one.
IQ is nothing but the number that a person scores after taking one of the many standardized tests to measure the intelligence level of individuals. The general score of 95% of the population from these tests ranges between 70 and 130. Since there are quite a few different classifications, the Stanford-Binet Scale of Human Intelligence is the most commonly used one and we shall use that as a reference. According to this scale, people who have a score higher than 145 are considered geniuses.
List of people with the highest IQs ever recorded (in ascending order)
- Stephen Hawking (IQ – 160)
- Albert Einstein (IQ – 160 – 190)
- Judit Polgar (IQ – 170)
- Philip Emeagwali (IQ – 190)
- Garry Kasparov (IQ – 194)
- Christopher Michael Langan (IQ – 190 – 210)
- Kim Ung-Yong (IQ – 210)
- Christopher Hirata (IQ – 225)
- Terence Tao (IQ – 225 230)
- William James Sidis (IQ – 250-300)
Now, let’s meet these geniuses, but please remember that IQ tests are not necessarily all that accurate in estimating someone’s overall intelligence, even if they are good markers for specific cognitive skills, such as mathematical ability and logical reasoning.
Stephen Hawking (IQ-160)
This man needs no introduction. Considered one of the greatest minds of our time, he is a professor, author and world-renowned theoretical physicist. His book “A Brief History of Time” has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Moreover, he is the undisputed champion when it comes to study of black holes, which is also his particular field of study at the moment. Due to his inspiring battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and his undying love for physics, Hawking is viewed as a symbol of knowledge and intelligence in pop culture, an honor he definitely deserves!
Albert Einstein (IQ- 160-190)
Speaking of ‘symbols of knowledge’, the name of this scientist is actually synonymous with genius. It cannot be denied that he shaped the future of science. He received a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the law of photoelectric effect. The theory of relativity was also his brainchild. Although there is no scientific method of calculating his IQ posthumously, researchers have had to resort to estimating his score through careful analysis of his papers.
Judit Polgar (IQ-170)
Chess Grandmasters rarely aren’t geniuses, and by rarely, I mean never. Judit Polgar became the youngest one at the age of 15 and still proudly holds that record. She is not only viewed as a pioneer for women in chess, but also as one of the greatest chess players to ever live. She defeated Garry Kasparov, the reigning world champion, in 2002 and went on to conquer 10 other world championships.
Philip Emeagwali (IQ-190)
Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian-born engineer, mathematician, computer scientist and geologist. He left school at an early age of 13 due to the Nigerian-Biafran War. Through hard work and self-study, he earned a degree in Mathematics. He went on to win the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help detect petroleum fields. Even after facing rejection due to racial discrimination, he didn’t give up and continued to inspire people worldwide by earning three Master’s degree in Mathematics, Environmental and Marine Engineering from various universities.
Garry Kasparov (IQ-194)
Being ranked world No.1 225 times over the course of 228 months is no small achievement. Russian by birth, Kasparov is considered by some to be the greatest chess player of all time. As a testament to his brilliance, he once tied a match with IBM’s Deep Blue, a chess computer that could calculate 3 million moves per second! He is also the proud record holder of the highest number of consecutive wins.
Christopher Michael Langan (IQ – 190 – 210)
Born in San Francisco, California, Christopher Langan began speaking at the age of 6 months, and taught himself to read when he was just 3 years old. It is said about Langan that he managed to hit the perfect score in SAT despite falling asleep during the exam! He is frequently hailed as the ‘smartest man in America’. He has also developed a theory called “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe” (CTMU) which basically deals with “the relationship between mind and reality”.
Kim Ung-Yong (IQ-210)
Born in 1963 in Korea, Kim Ung-Yong started speaking when he was just 6 months old. By his third birthday, Kim Ung-Yong could already read English, Korean, Japanese, and German. As if this wasn’t mind-boggling enough, he was writing poetry and had completed two short stories by the time he was four years old! His drive and thirst for knowledge made him decline enrollment in Korea’s most prestigious university at the age of 16 and he instead started to pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering. Presently, he spends his time doing invaluable research and teaching students at Chungbuk National University in South Korea.
Christopher Hirata (IQ – 225)
A former child prodigy, Hirata became the youngest American to clinch a gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad in 1996, and e accomplished the incredible feat when he was just 13! He was involved in a project at NASA when he was 16, and obtained his PhD from the prestigious Princeton University at a young age of 22. Presently, he is a visiting professor of astronomy and physics at Ohio State University.
Born in 1975 to a Chinese family, Terence displayed exceptional aptitude towards Mathematics from a very early age. The fact that he had started attending university-level Math courses should be proof enough of that. He had acquired his PhD when he was just 20, and perhaps more importantly, he was the co-recipient of the Fields Medal in 2006. For the uninitiated, the Fields Medal can be thought of as the Nobel-equivalent awarded in the field of Mathematics, only they give out that award once every 4 years. Presently, Tao resides in Los Angeles with his wife and kids and focuses on theories regarding partial differential equations, algebraic combinatorics, harmonic analysis and analytic number theory.
William James Sidis (IQ – 250-300)
This man simply plays in an altogether different league. Born in 1898 in New York City, and raised in a family of intellectuals, he was gifted from the very beginning. At the age of 5, he could use a typewriter and had learnt to speak Latin, Greek, Russian, French, German and Hebrew. He was denied admission to Harvard at the age of 6 because he was called too emotionally immature.
Later, at age 11, they were forced to admit him, after which he gave his well-received first lecture on 4-dimensional physics! He was threatened by some fellow students at Harvard, so his parents assigned him to a teaching job in Texas. Due to this he could not pursue academics and instead decided to focus on his political career. He died of a stroke at the age of 46 as a reclusive, penniless clerk. There is no telling what William might have accomplished in the fields of mathematics and science if his talents had not been squandered.