Child prodigies

by Emily

It's natural for parents to look for their children's strengths and special gifts, but some children really do seem to have a gift for learning that others can only dream of. Here we look at three famous child prodigies from the academic and musical worlds and find out what happened to them...

1) William Rowan Hamilton - Born in 1805, Hamilton was able to read Hebrew by the time he was 7 and studied Arabic, Persian, Greek, Latin and six other languages at the age of 12. In his lifetime he discovered quaternion (which our Maths tutors will no doubt recognise as a complex number of the form w + xi + yj +zk), and was the catalyst for modern day study and understanding of quantum mechanics and electromagnetism. By the age of 18, Hamilton was widely lauded as a genius. He reformulated Newtonian mechanics, which led to the change of name to Hamiltonian mechanics. An outstanding mathematician, and one who was always destined for greatness at an early age.

2) Avicenna - Having memorized the entire Quran by the age of 10, and undertaken the study of medicine by the time he was 13, Avicenna was hailed as one of the most intelligent people to have ever existed by the time he passed away in 1037. His early development led him to be renowned as an astronomer, chemist, Geologist, physicist, poet, scientist and teacher during his later years.

3) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Arguably the world's most famous composer of classical music, Mozart began composing as a small child. His sister Maria Anna wrote in her memoirs: "In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier. [...] He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time. [...] At the age of five he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down." Just today, a new theory emerged regarding Mozart's untimely death in 1791 as a 35-year-old: scholars now believe he died of strep throat. Previous theories have included poisoning, rheumatic fever and working too hard.