Could Einstein’s Theory of Relativity be a few mathematical equations away from being disproved? Jacob Barnett of Hamilton County, Ind., who is just weeks shy of his 13th birthday, thinks so. And, he’s got the solutions to prove it.
Barnett, who has an IQ of 170, explained his expanded theory of relativity — in a YouTube video. His mother Kristine Barnett, who admittedly flunked math, did what every other mother would do if her genius son started talking mathematical gibberish. She told him to explain the whole thing slowly while she taped her son explaining his take on the theory.
(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 troubled-genius movies)
While most of his mathematical genius goes over our heads, some professors at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey — you know, the U.S. academic homeroom for the likes of Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Kurt Gödel — have confirmed he’s on the right track to coming up with something completely new. For now, they’re encouraging Barnett to continue doing what he likes to do, which is explaining calculus using a whiteboard marker and his living room windows as seen in the video above.
“I’m impressed by his interest in physics and the amount that he has learned so far,” Institute for Advanced Study Professor Scott Tremaine wrote in an email to the family. “The theory that he’s working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics.”
“Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize,” he added.
(More on TIME.com: See the 15 smartest toys for young geniuses)
Barnett’s parents knew that there was something different with their son when he didn’t speak until the age of two. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, so they thought he might have problems in school. Instead, they were astounded when he started solving 5,000 piece puzzles by the age of 3. The 12-year-old taught himself calculus, algebra and geometry in two weeks, and can solve up to 200 numbers of Pi. He left high school at the ripe old age of eight and has been attending college-level advanced astrophysics classes ever since.
Right now, Barnett is being recruited by Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis for a paid research position. We figure he’ll find a way to pencil that in between dating his girlfriend and playing Halo: Reach, one of his favorite video games. Yes, he can play classical music by memory on the piano, but he also enjoys watching shows on the Disney Channel and sci-fi movies. In many ways, he’s your typical 12-year-old boy.
Einstein was 26 when he first published his Theory of Relativity. We figure that Jake has a couple of years to kick back and relax before he finally debunks the big bang theory.
“I’m still working on that,” he said. “I have an idea, but… I’m still working out the details.”
Where was this kid when I was struggling with Algebra 2?! Haha, I didn’t struggle with Algebra 2. I never struggle with math, I’m just a lazy ass kid – that’s what.
This year I’m lagging it, as I do every year. LAME.