10 Most Intelligent People Of All Time

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If you judge intelligence by IQ score alone, William James Sidis was one of the smartest men to have ever lived. In fact, his astounding IQ score of 275 outshines most others on this list. For reference, the average IQ is between 90 and 110 and over 120 is considered superior, so that’s extremely impressive. At age 11, he entered Harvard University as one of the youngest students in the school’s history. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, on June 18th, 1914, at age 16. After graduation, he had a brief stint as a math professor before going into hiding to avoid public scrutiny. In July 1944, Sidis’ landlady found him unconscious in his small Boston apartment. He had suffered a massive stroke and was pronounced dead at the age of 46.



Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most celebrated artists of all time, creating masterpieces such as: The Last Supper, The Vitruvian Man and The Mona Lisa. However, Da Vinci was more than an artist: he was a scientist, mathematician, inventor and biologist. After his death, his journals from the late fifteenth century were discovered, revealing a spirit of scientific inquiry and inventiveness that were centuries ahead of their time. For instance, many people believe the modern day helicopter – which wasn’t built until the 1940s – was actually depicted in his sketches. And one of the earliest descriptions of the mesentery- the newest organ to be discovered in the human body in the last couple of years – was made by him all those years ago. Far from just a talented artist, Da Vinci is one of the most diversely talented individuals in the history of our species.



Isaac Newton’s wide range of discoveries, including his groundbreaking work on the laws of motion and gravity, formed the basis for modern physics. But arguably his true genius comes from how he applied those theories to the universe at large, explaining the motions of the Sun and planets in a way that had never been done before. His book, “Principia Mathematica”, still remains one of the most influential texts in recorded history. In it, Newton breaks down the workings of the solar system, explaining the nature of planetary orbits and the pull between heavenly bodies. By describing why the Moon orbits the Earth and not vice-versa, the book literally changed the way people saw the world.


Marilyn Vos Savant

Columnist and author Marilyn vos Savant made history in 1986 when she was named in The Guinness Book of World Records as the person with the highest IQ. At the age of 10 she scored 228 on the Stanford-Binet Test, a cognitive ability and intelligence test used to diagnose intellectual prowess in young children. In the wake of her newfound fame, Parade magazine launched the popular “Ask Marilyn” column where she solves puzzles and answers questions on various subjects, which still runs today. The most famous of them was the Monty Hall math problem, which she answered correctly in 1990. And in 1989 New York magazine called her and husband Robert Jarvik – who designed the first successful artificial heart – “the smartest couple in New York”.


Nikola Tesla

Inventor and engineer, Nikola Tesla was acclaimed for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system that we still use today. In the early 1880s Tesla worked under Thomas Edison for a short time before he struck out on his own to strengthen his electrical AC discoveries in an effort to provide free energy for the entire world. But after a series of unsuccessful attempts to go it alone, and with Edison repeatedly stopping him in his tracks, Tesla wound up pretty much penniless. He died in 1943, but it wasn’t until 1960 that his name came back into public knowledge, thanks to the General Conference on Weights and Measures choosing to name the magnetic flux density unit, the tesla. Today, we know the name thanks to Tesla Motors, the car company which makes electric cars.


Kim Ung-Yong

With an IQ score of 210, South Korean civil engineer Kim Ung-Yong was recorded by the Guinness World Records as one of the most intelligent people of all time. Born in 1962, Ung-Yong was only 4 months old when he started talking and by the age of 3- when most kids begin to understand 1 language – he could speak Korean, English, Japanese and German. By four years old, he had penned two short books of essays. A year later, an article was published about his extraordinary intelligence in Look magazine and after reading it, a teacher from Grant High School in Los Angeles wrote to Ung-Yong. In February 1967, his father applied 5-year-old Ung Yong to be enrolled at the high school. He went to the United States to study and later ended up working for NASA for the better part of a decade. At age 18, he quit his job at NASA and moved back to South Korea. He is currently a professor at Chungbuk National University.



During WW2 Alan Turing helped to crack the Enigma machine, which the German military used to send cryptic messages. Winston Churchill considered his work to be crucial in winning the war. He’s not just known for defeating the Nazis with his code-breaking skills though, his mathematical work is the basis of modern computing. IPads, Facebook, mobile phones are all based on his ideas. He also created the Turing test in 1950 as a means of gauging a computer’s intelligence. The test, in which a computer attempts to fool a human into thinking he is talking to a real person, is still a benchmark for artificial intelligence today. But Turing didn’t have an easy life. In 1952 he was prosecuted for homosexual acts, when being gay was illegal in the UK. He accepted chemical castration treatment, as an alternative to prison. Two years later, 16 days before his 42nd birthday Turing died from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death as suicide. He was granted a posthumous pardon in 2013.


Marie Curie

Marie Curie is perhaps best known for her groundbreaking research into radioactivity, which was instrumental in the development of x-rays in surgery. She’s also the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, the first person to win it twice — in physics and then in chemistry — and the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. In 1895, she married, and together with her husband Pierre, they toiled on research in the new field of radioactivity. When Pierre died, she continued their work and took over his teaching post. After the awarding of her Nobel Prizes she became a famous face of science, and used her influence to get funding for research into radioactivity. When the First World War came Curie helped to equip ambulances with x-ray equipment, which she herself drove to the front lines. However, her long years of work with radioactive elements, weakened her health and caused her death, in 1934.



Many people argue that English physicist Stephen Hawking is the smartest man living today. He is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology, general relativity and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes. In the 1960s and 1970s, he made the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation. Which is known today as Hawking radiation. His revolutionary book ‘A Brief History of Time’, published in 1988, discussed his discoveries– including his development of the ‘Big Bang Theory’ – written in language simplified enough for most of us to understand. The book stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for 147 weeks and has now sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Due to his inspiring battle with ALS and his undying love for physics, Hawking is viewed as a symbol of knowledge and intelligence in pop culture.



Today, the very name “Einstein” is synonymous with genius. The German-born theoretical physicist is famous for his formula E = mc2 which connected for the first time the mass of an object with its energy. In 1921 he received a Nobel Prize in physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” This was a pivotal step in the evolution of quantum theory, which explains the nature and behavior of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level. He also participated in developing nuclear fission, an endeavor he later regarded with mixed feelings when it was weaponized as the atomic bomb. In 1955 at age 76 he died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. So that’s 10 Most Intelligent People Of All Time.