Who has the highest IQ in history? The answer may surprise you. Intelligence is a tricky thing. Like great beauty, great intelligence can be a blessing or a curse to those who possess it. Sometimes the smartest among us live the most difficult lives. Other times they’re just really awesome people that make the rest of us look really…lame. While there are many different ways to measure intelligence, and many different kinds of intelligence, this list focuses on the highest IQ scores. Read on to learn about 25 Highest IQ’s Throughout History.
German born Albert Einstein is such a well known Genius that his last name is a common term people use to refer to someone highly intelligent or clever. He’s also one of maybe two theoretical physicists that the average person with no interest in physics can name. During his life he wrote over 300 scientific papers, in addition to writing to President Roosevelt to warn him about the dangers of nuclear weaponry, being a devoted political activist who was a member of the NAACP, and being a well know Zionist who helped establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His IQ was reportedly between 160 and 190.
Nathan Leopold was a child prodigy with an IQ of 210. He had a difficult childhood with few friends and was sexually abused by a governess at age 12. He was also a murderer obsessed with committing the “perfect crime.” In 1924, he teamed up with Richard Loeb to murder Loeb’s 14 year old cousin. Despite the obvious premeditation, both avoided the death penalty, and Leopold lived to be released from prison. After prison, Leopold moved to Puerto Rico where he taught mathematics at the University of Puerto Rico. The murder was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Rope” (which is one of his best works).
Nadia Camukova has an IQ of 200. The Moscow born professor can speak seven languages, eight Turkish dialects, and currently is a professor in Turkey.
Jacob Barnett’s parents were told when he was very small that he was severely autistic and would likely never learn to tie his shoes. Instead, the 18 year old with an IQ of 170 is currently a doctorate student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. His mother, Kristine Barnett, made the choice to go against all his teachers’ advice and pull him out of special ed classes when he was young, after his teachers discouraged her from teaching Jacob more than the most basic skills.
Richard Rosner has an IQ of 192, but his resume is almost as interesting. Rosner has worked as a writer, a bouncer, a nude model, and once appeared in a Domino’s ad. He also takes over 30 pills and supplements a day and works out for at least two and half hours. He states it’s part of his obsessive personality.
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Nikola Poljak is a Croatian researcher and physicist with an IQ of 182, according to the World Genius Directory. Poljak is an assistant research fellow at CERN as well as the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.
William J. Sidis
Sidis’ parents set out to make a genius child, and a genius child they made with an IQ over 250. His mother, Sarah, was a doctor (female doctors being nearly unheard of in the late 1800’s), and his father, Boris, was a college professor. Boris and Sarah starting grooming their child to be a prodigy. William was speaking in simple words like “door” by six months old. By age 7, he spoke seven different languages and was studying High School level subjects. Unfortunately, this left no time for William to be a child. He was accepted by Harvard at 9, but they would not allow him to attend until 12 years old due to “emotional immaturity.” As an adult he traveled from city to city taking random jobs and changing his name often. He wrote several books, most of which are terrible and boring, but one touches on what we now know as black hole theory. He was said to be very child like and unhappy and died of a stroke at just 46 years old. His life is a cautionary tale to parents who want to push their children too hard.
Paul Allen is a Billionaire who was born in Seattle and has an IQ somewhere between 160 and 170. A long time friend of Bill Gates, Allen worked at Microsoft before retiring in 2000. He owns the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks and is a well known philanthropist.
Hungarian Chess champion Judit Polgár has an IQ of 170. She was ranked as a Chess Grand master at just 15 years old, the youngest to do so at the time. She is considered the greatest female chess player in history.
Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian born computer scientist who has been called “The Bill Gates of Africa.” Despite growing up in a country torn by civil war and having to leave school at age 14 due to lack of funds to continue, Dr. Emeagwali worked hard and earned a scholarship to Oregon State University at the age of 17. After watching how bees made honeycombs, he used the same basic idea to construct the world’s fastest computer. His work has helped make oil fields more productive, saving millions of dollars a year. His IQ score is 190.
Terence Tao was born in Australia to parents who had immigrated from Hong Kong. He published his first research paper at 15 and received his Ph.D from Princeton University when he was just 21 years old. At 24, he became a professor at UCLA, being the youngest ever to do so. He has one of the highest IQs in the world at 225.
Christopher Langan is considered by some to be the smartest man in America. He taught himself to read before he was four, and eventually left college because he felt his professors could teach him little. Like others on this list, he’s had many random jobs – farmworker, forest firefighter and bouncer to name a few – but he’s best known for his “Cognitive – Theoretic Model of the Universe” which has to do with the relationship between the mind and reality. His IQ is 195.
Mislav Predavec is a Croatian math professor who has an IQ of 192. For context, only 1 in a billion will have an IQ over 190. According to Mislav, “very difficult intelligence tests are my favorite hobby.” However, his wife Marijana explains that they are just an “ordinary couple,” and there are still things her hyper intelligent husband finds difficult. “When we buy a mobile phone, I am the one that puts it together and puts the SIM card in,” she’s stated.
Croatian mathematician Ivan Ivec is an IQ test specialist with an IQ of 174 himself. He has a website of his own that’s dedicated to IQ tests. He states that time restrictions on traditional intelligence tests are not necessarily ideal or an indicator of intelligence. As he puts it, “Specifically, there are intelligent people, capable of performing complex actions and resolving complex tasks, although their speed of solving is low.” You can take his IQ tests for free, here.
By age three, Kim Ung-Young was fluent in four different languages, so his IQ of 210 isn’t a surprise. Born in South Korea, Kim eventually moved to the United States and worked for NASA for a decade before returning home to Korea. He has some very definite things to say about being special – “People always try to be somebody special by neglecting their ordinary happiness. But they should know happiness means ordinary things that we take for granted, such as nourishing friendships, sharing memorable moments with friends at school and so on…This is why I know that what I’m saying is important. Being special is not as important as living an ordinary life.”
Hey, if someone PHENOMENALLY special says that the best things in life aren’t being special but are right in front of us, maybe we should listen.
Michigan born Astrophysicist Chris Hirata became the youngest U.S. recipient of the International Physics Olympiad gold medal. (Yes, that’s a thing…a really impressive thing.) He earned a BA from the California Institute of Technology in 2001 and at age 16 started working for NASA on that pesky “Can we colonize Mars” problem everyone’s talking about. In 2005, he got his Ph.D in physics from Harvard (he was 22). As of now, Hirata works at Ohio State University as a physics and astronomy professor. His IQ is reported as 225.
Russian born Garry Kasparov is considered to be the greatest chess player of all time. In 1996 & 1997, he played a chess match against IBM’s supercomputer, “Deep Blue.” Kasparov won the first match, Deep Blue won the second. It was the first time a machine had beat a world champion chess player in a classical game under tournament regulations. Kasparov is also a writer and political activist, with an IQ of 194.
Stephen Hawking is perhaps the most well know theoretical physicist in the history of the world, meaning that he’s one of the only two theoretical physicists most people outside of STEM fields can name. He’s the author of “A Brief History of Time,” which is one of the most highly regarded and well known works ever written on The Big Bang Theory. When he was just 12, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease which most people die of within 5 years. However, Professor Hawking is currently in his 70’s. He moves around and communicates via a specialized wheelchair which includes a voice synthesizer. His IQ is 160.
Walter O’Brien is an Irish businessman and tech mogul with an IQ over 190. Bored at school as a child, his teachers suspected autism. When he was tested, they found no autism, just that he was simply too smart for school. At age 13, he hacked into NASA’s top security servers and stole plans for the Space Shuttle because he could. He’s been known to joke that his business – Scorpion Computer Services – was started as a way to stay out of jail. His life is the inspiration for the CBS television show, Scorpion
Marilyn vos Savant
Missouri born Marilyn vos Savant was placed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1986 as the person with the highest IQ in the world, her score being 228. She has had an “ask Marilyn” column in Parade magazine since the mid-80’s and is a playwright. Her husband, Robert Jarvik, designed the first successful artificial heart, earning them the name of “The Smartest Couple in New York” from New York Magazine.
Leonardo da Vinici
Unfortunately, there were no set tests to measure IQ during the time of the Renaissance, but it’s been estimated that Leonardo da Vinci’s IQ was between 180 and 190. While most people know da Vinci for his paintings, he was an expert in many fields, including mathematics, geology, cartography, and engineering. He was also one of the most accomplished and talented artists to have ever lived.
Like da Vinci, there was no test to measure IQ when Nikola Tesla was alive; however, it’s been calculated that his IQ would have been around 200, which is not surprising considering the man invented a lot of things (like remotes) that most of us use on a daily basis (some of which Thomas Edison took credit for). The man predicted cell phones in 1926; he has to be up there with the uber intelligent.
Sir Andrew Wiles
Sir Andrew Wiles is a mathematician at the University of Oxford. He was able to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem, something others had failed to do for over 350 years. His IQ is reportedly 170.
Academy Award Winning Actress Geena Davis has an IQ of 140, as well as being fluent in Swedish. She started a foundation, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, with the goal of having women more visible in media. Their slogan is, “If she can see it, she can be it.”
Ainan Cawley, a child prodigy from Singapore, was born in 1999 and at age 7 became the youngest person in the world to pass Chemistry – O level. He can also recite Pi to 518 decimal places and composes music. His IQ is reportedly over 250.
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