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Education Science

11-Year-Old Graduates With Degree In Astrophysics 648

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-should-make-physics-harder dept.
Gotenosente writes "11-Year-Old Moshe Kai Cavalin has graduated from East Los Angeles Community College with a degree in astrophysics. 'At a time when his peers are finishing 6th grade, this only child of a Taiwanese mother and an Israeli father is trying on a cap and gown preparing to graduate with a 4.0 from community college.' The article continues with a quotation by the boy, hinting at his modesty, 'I don't consider myself a genius because there are 6.5 billion people in this world and each one is smart in his or her own way.' Daniel Judge, Cavalin's statistics professor, says, 'Most students think that things should be harder than they are and they put these mental blocks in front of them and they make things harder than they should be. In the case of Moshe, he sees right through the complications.'"
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11-Year-Old Graduates With Degree In Astrophysics

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:12PM (#28251997) Journal
    It is amazing to have done this by age 11 but it is a 2 year associates degree of liberal arts in astrophysics.

    Once again, I'm not trying to detract from his accomplishments but this isn't exactly as intensive as a four year bachelor's of science.

    I was looking for a course plan from that college but could not find one for astrophysics [google.com] ... if you look up regular physics [elac.edu], it simply says "The item you selected does not have a Certificate/Degree." Please note their general catalogue has no mention of astrophysics [elac.edu]. This is the extent of all of their Physics courses:
    • PHYSICS 001 Mechanics of Solids
    • PHYSICS 002 Mechanics of Fluids, Heat and Sound
    • PHYSICS 003 Electricity and Magnetism
    • PHYSICS 004 Optics and Modern Physics
    • PHYSICS 006 General Physics I
    • PHYSICS 007 General Physics II
    • PHYSICS 011 Introductory Physics
    • PHYSICS 021 General Physics I with Calculus
    • PHYSICS 022 General Physics II with Calculus

    Leaves a bit to be desired. Is it possible to "get" a degree in physics (let alone a special area of physics) with the most advanced course being "Optics and Modern Physics?" I think in my undergrad we touched on relativity in required physics courses with several advanced courses devoted entirely to it and its special forms.

    • by siloko (1133863) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:17PM (#28252069)
      I could barely tie my shoe laces when I was 11 let alone come out with: "I don't consider myself a genius because there are 6.5 billion people in this world and each one is smart in his or her own way." That's a very special comment right there.
      • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:24PM (#28252143)
        "I don't consider myself a genius because there are 6.5 billion people in this world and each one is smart in his or her own way." That's a very special comment right there.

        It's also an incredibly shallow triumph of an Olympic grade platitudinous pandering politically correct aphorism. The kid's teacher says he can "see right through the complications," but he's still been brainwashed into thinking that he's not unusual. What a shame. And how typical.
        • by siloko (1133863) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:30PM (#28252211)
          Appreciating others' skills doesn't make it impossible to recognise your own . . .
          • by nicolas.kassis (875270) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:42PM (#28252387)
            But why can't he be an evil genius? The world needs more evil geniuses so that we can get more super heroes.
            • by plover (150551) * on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:55PM (#28252657) Homepage Journal

              But why can't he be an evil genius? The world needs more evil geniuses so that we can get more super heroes.

              Wow, I never thought of super-villainy from the supply and demand curve viewpoint. If each superhero kills or incarcerates one super villain every month, each super hero is going to go through a dozen evil geniuses annually. And they can't all be super-duper evil geniuses, because any super-duper evil genius will recognize that mortality rate right quick and is likely to make a different career choice, such as stock trading.

              I think an associate's degree at age 11 is just about the right time for something horrible to happen that will corrupt him into turning evil. Perhaps there's a super-duper evil genius right now who is plotting to kidnap his mother to turn him into a revenge-motivated evildoer! Maybe the super-duper evil genius is seeking out dozens of these smart kids in advance, hoping to create enough evil geniuses to serve as cannon fodder for the future superheroes, and for them to serve as a distraction for when he puts his ultimate plan for world domination into motion.

              • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:00PM (#28253449)

                I think an associate's degree at age 11 is just about the right time for something horrible to happen that will corrupt him into turning evil.

                He will discover girls.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                You forget that apparently most or all prisons or mental institutions in comic books are apparently built out of papier mache and bubble gum ... and they were all out of bubble gum. In the DC universe, as an example, breakouts are a weekly occurrence at Arkham Asylum. So the superhero's not going to go through a dozen evil geniuses annually, they'll go through the same evil genius every month for a year.

                Being a supervillain is actually not that bad a gig, depending on the superheroes who would be your o
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              But why can't he be an evil genius?

              Because the job of "Evil Politician" pays as much and has very little in the way of intellectual requirements.

          • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:43PM (#28253259)
            Appreciating others' skills doesn't make it impossible to recognise your own . . .

            But being unable to differentiate between varying levels of insight, discipline, practiced skills, quick-wittedness and such, or being unwilling to admit that you can tell the difference - that doesn't say much for the ol' critical thinking skills, or for how much one values honesty. Telling every under achieving glue sniffer that he's just as smart - in his own way, of course - as an 11 year old with a degree in astrophysics is... a big, fat, culturally corrisive lie. And telling the kid who could become a well polished beacon of reason once he matures a bit and learns to apply himself that, never mind, in his own way he's already just as smart as the kid in question? That's poisoning the well.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gonzonista (790137)

              Has it occurred to you that he already knows he is smarter than everyone else and understands that saying so is not likely to win him any friends? He made a politically correct statement and will do well by it. There's a lot of smart people on Slashdot but some are not smart enough to get that you have to get along with others if you want a life. Telling people how much smarter you are than them is a good way to ensure you spend Friday night in the basement playing video games.

        • by TheCycoONE (913189) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:36PM (#28252295)

          Why is it a shame? If he was raised to think he was very different from everyone else he might have feigned stupid to fit in. Regardless he'll probably discover in his teenage years that he lacks peers and seek to remedy the situation somehow. Actually with his current ambition to be an actor he may end up facing just as much difficulty as anyone else - and it's not a shame to waste a genius mind on acting. Everyone is entitled to attempt to succeed at their own dreams.

        • ...an Olympic grade platitudinous pandering politically correct aphorism.

          Didn't your mother ever teach you to not use a $20 word where a $5 word will do? ;)

        • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:52PM (#28252589) Homepage Journal

          Being smarter than the vast majority of the population does not mean you have, or ever will, accomplish anything. Better the kid learn humility and challenge himself than become the kind of person who whines about political correctness on the Internet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Olympic grade platitudinous pandering politically correct aphorism.

          And so it is my very good honor to meet you -- and you may call me P.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:05PM (#28252807)

          Hey, if a kid that smart tells me I'm just as smart as he is, who am I to argue?!

        • by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:15PM (#28252939)
          No. He is simply smart enough to know that no one will like him unless he is modest about his accomplishments.

          What do you think people would say about him if he said "Im the greatest of all time. Divide like a butterfly, add like a bee. Your all stupidheads!"
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by uberdilligaff (988232)
          I've run across some very bright kids who were surprisingly modest, to the point being self-deprecating. These kids know they're very bright, but they need to respond to the never ending stream of (invariably less bright) adults who are constantly telling them "Oh, you're so intelligent!"
        • by Mistlefoot (636417) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:08PM (#28253525)
          I think he probably knows he's special. But he probably also wants to be a kid and enjoy life with his friends. He probably knows that some of them play sports quiet well and others are incredibly adept socially. He understands that we are all different.

          When I was going to high school my best friend at the time couldn't read or write very well - and as for math - he was terrified of it. At 17 he had already pulled his first complete engine and transmission apart and rebuilt them without a single book. He went on to build a business out of rebuilding transport truck transmissions and has about 30 employees under him. He specialized in this because, with his reading skills, he would never be able to become a licensed mechanic. In school, he was always teased as the 'stupid' guy because he, well, from a school standpoint, was.

          We've also all met people who are smart as hell but socially inept. Can't make friends and have no idea of what to talk about or how to keep a conversation going. And conversely, people who you like and feel like you are friends with 5 minutes after you meet them. You feel good every time you talk to them. They just make it work and you don't know how.

          Skill sets are varied. And he knows it. And for you to call him shallow because he appreciates that and is modest is - well, you said it best - Shallow.
        • by edittard (805475) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:10PM (#28253551)

          Since when did a little polite modesty equate to being brainwashed?

      • by objekt (232270) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:46PM (#28253295) Homepage

        "there are 6.5 billion people in this world"

        The real number is much closer to 7 billion by now.

        Is this the kind of idiot we're handing out degrees to these days?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lord Ender (156273)

        He still won't be able to get a job, though. Once he graduates in 2011, he will see all the job listings requiring 12 years of experience with Microsoft Office 2010, and he will just give up to do drugs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by glueball (232492)

      How come there are no genius 11 year olds graduating with a Communications or Journalism degree? How about a Bus Ad or Political Sci degree?

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:39PM (#28252343) Homepage Journal

      Some how I don't think he is done with his schooling. Yea I was going to make a joke about it just being a community college but thought better of it.
      So he has a two year degree at 11. I wonder if he will start adding a few more Associates degrees before he goes to a major university. By the time he is say 16 he could have several associates degrees in a variety of subjects. Actually that would probably be a better choice as long as he doesn't get board.
      He could actually end up a very well rounded person by the time he goes off to a major University.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by billcopc (196330)

        A whole pile of degrees, and zero real-life experience.

        School ain't the be-all end-all of a person's career.

        • by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:36PM (#28253171)

          A whole pile of degrees, and zero real-life experience.

          School ain't the be-all end-all of a person's career.

          Here we go again with the "real world" paradigm. Would you rather he did pot, get drunk and have all sorts of cool stories to tell at parties? Or get a few dozen year-long dead end jobs before settling into his permanent cubicle? Although, you are correct in one respect - he should learn as soon as possible that the real world has too many idiots in it (not referring to parent since I don't know his views on this matter) who will devalue any of his intellectual accomplishments unless it can be made into a Lifetime movie while deifying pseudo-celebrities whose only contribution to society is an entertaining way to dig themselves out of shit holes of their creation.

          Much better that he finds something he really likes, work really hard at it and build a career for himself. Just because most kids can't make up their minds until they are old farts who think they are still young doesn't mean that this budding genius should deliberately feign indecisiveness so that his peers feel good about themselves. (this last part was a response to several comments thrown around, NOT to parent).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cyn1c77 (928549)

            Here we go again with the "real world" paradigm. Would you rather he did pot, get drunk and have all sorts of cool stories to tell at parties? Or get a few dozen year-long dead end jobs before settling into his permanent cubicle? Although, you are correct in one respect - he should learn as soon as possible that the real world has too many idiots in it (not referring to parent since I don't know his views on this matter) who will devalue any of his intellectual accomplishments unless it can be made into a Lifetime movie while deifying pseudo-celebrities whose only contribution to society is an entertaining way to dig themselves out of shit holes of their creation.

            Much better that he finds something he really likes, work really hard at it and build a career for himself. Just because most kids can't make up their minds until they are old farts who think they are still young doesn't mean that this budding genius should deliberately feign indecisiveness so that his peers feel good about themselves. (this last part was a response to several comments thrown around, NOT to parent).

            I think the GP is right. I've know a couple of these kids who finish community college at 13. Most of them don't end up so well off. The kid is majoring in astrophysics, which is primarily a research field. As someone who works in a research field, my personal experience is that the kids that get good grades are not always the ones doing the best research. It's just an indication that they either have the basic mechanics down really well, or they are good at cheating on tests.

            Also, a big part of being

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by vigmeister (1112659)

        Actually that would probably be a better choice as long as he doesn't get board.

        He's only 11 and you want him to starve through college like the rest of us?

        Cheers!

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:28PM (#28253099) Homepage

      Is it possible to "get" a degree in physics (let alone a special area of physics) with the most advanced course being "Optics and Modern Physics?" I think in my undergrad we touched on relativity in required physics courses with several advanced courses devoted entirely to it and its special forms.

      I teach physics at a nearby community college (not ELAC). Community colleges in the US generally offer a bunch of different flavors of introductory physics. At my school, for instance, there are four different flavors of physics: Physics 130 (gen ed), 205-206 (algebra-based, for biology majors), 210-211 (calc-based, for biology majors), and 221-223 (calc-based, for physical science and engineering majors). I guarantee you ELAC's will match up almost exactly with these, because everything has to articulate properly with the Cal State and UC systems. You don't take more than one of these sequences. If he got an AA in physics at ELAC, presumably he had to take the highest-level physics sequence (probably the one they list as General Physics), plus 2 years of calculus. The physics sequence would include some of the more gee-whiz topics like relativity and quantum physics, but at a fairly basic level.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:16PM (#28252039) Journal
    From the article

    There is one thing this boy wonder does not like.

    "I feel it's a waste of time playing video games, I feel its a waste of time and it's not helping humanity in any way."

    And GamePolitics' Andrew Eisen [gamepolitics.com] notes:

    Perhaps a rather odd statement coming from a lad whose passions include martial arts, scuba diving and playing piano. He also aspires to be a movie actor.

    I found that amusing that he finds some form of entertainment to (music & movies) to benefit humanity more so than games. I wonder if he's ever played Settlers of Catan?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:16PM (#28252043)

    Its not rocket science after all

  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:16PM (#28252051) Homepage Journal

    I thought genius was defined as something like an IQ in the 98th percentile or higher.

    By the way, most preteens don't have the emotional maturity to succeed in a "normal" college social environment. I'm not saying they can't succeed academically, it's just unlikely they will "fit in" in most college social organizations. We all need to be with our social peers.

    Community college is a bit different as there's less of a social environment. On-line school is also a huge opportunity for "non-traditional" students such as those too young to drive or old enough to not be carded.

  • oh yeah? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:16PM (#28252055)

    Think you're smart, kid? Well, I can still kick your ass at teatherball. (I hope.)

  • Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MLS100 (1073958) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:17PM (#28252073)

    "I don't consider myself a genius because there are 6.5 billion people in this world and each one is smart in his or her own way."

    Clearly he has never read Youtube comments.

  • FTFA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:18PM (#28252085)
    Cavalin is quoted as saying:

    I like to study just because knowledge goes to wisdom and only by wisdom can we help the world

    Wow, what a kid. All the best to him.

  • by XcepticZP (1331217) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:21PM (#28252113)
    Brilliant little kid, I must say. And I am very glad that he is given the recognition he deserves.

    However, I'd like to point out that every time we see an extraordinary case like his, there are countless other examples that are half way there. What I mean is that why do only the "super-genius" kids get to advance faster in schools and colleges? What about those people that are smart and dedicated enough to pass through say high-school in 1-2 years, rather than the usual 5-6. Instead these people are forced to stay 5-6 years doing highschool. Same thing with college.

    Not everyone is meant to fit into the average of society. That is why we allow people to repeat grade levels and university subjects. So why not go the other way and allow above average students, or students with above average dedication to finish faster. Sounds like a double standard to me.
    • Also in some cases (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:43PM (#28252401)

      The option to advance faster is available, but recommended against. School isn't just about mental development, it is social development as well, and that is something that seems to be harder to accelerate.

      When I was going in to first grade, my parents were offered the option to skip me ahead a grade. Whatever test it was I took showed I was far enough ahead to skip a grade. Apparently it actually showed I was far enough ahead to skip more than one, but one was all they offered. However my mom (a teacher) decided against it for social reasons.

      I'm glad she did. I'm sure I would have done fine academically, school was never all that great a challenge for me. I probably could have skipped grades a few times and graduated at a young age... but to what end? I had enough trouble with socialization, as many geeks do, that wouldn't have helped at all. Especially since one valuable lesson I learned in school is yes, maybe you are smarter than many people, but that doesn't make you better than them. Don't look down at someone just because they aren't as smart as you.

      Also, what do you do if you graduate early? University would suck. You'd be practically the only non-adult there. Just loaf around the house for a few years? That's not a good idea.

      So really I think it makes sense to keep kids in school until a regular graduation time. Instead, just offer opportunities to learn more. My school was pretty good about there. There was advanced placement classes in some subjects, plenty of extra curricular activities and so on. I think that's a much better idea than trying to rush through school and then be a minor, yet be expected to enter the real world. The growing up part is important too. No need to rush it. You've got lots and lots of time to be an adult.

      As for university, I dunno about where you went but where I went you could complete it as fast as you could handle. You can CLEP a lot of stuff, and with a dean's permission take as many units as would fit in your schedule. Completing a degree in 2 years would be an amazing amount of work, but perfectly doable if you could handle the load.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adonoman (624929)

      The worst part is, is that even for the middle-of-the-road kids, the thinking techniques and content that they teach arent' that tough. Even first-year university-level calculus can be taught one-on-one in a week to an average person by a competent tutor. But, by teaching to the bottom of the pack, the teachers make everything seem like it should be much harder than it is, so the students spend huge amounts of time trying to memorise lists of rules that apply to very specific situations, instead of develo

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sckeener (137243)

      we allow people to repeat grade levels and university subjects. So why not go the other way and allow above average students, or students with above average dedication to finish faster.

      agreed. Every time that was offered to me in grade school, I advanced much faster working at my own pace rather than that of the slowest average person in my class.

      I'm not good at English, but I'm great at math. The school system didn't realize that about me until they went to a method to teach math for 4th and 5th grade students to work at their own pace. I zoomed and suddenly other options in education opened up (my zooming opened up all the advanced courses then...)

      In my 6th grade social studies c

  • Community college? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:27PM (#28252175)

    Hum, being so precocious, he is probably very intelligent. Why then go to community college? I am not entirely familiar with US education system, but I was under the impression that these places were considered much less challenging.

    • by rob1980 (941751) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:53PM (#28252601)
      They are much less selective than 4-year schools and the programs tend to be more vocational in nature.

      That said, taking some things like composition or entry-level mathematics tends to be the same regardless of whether you take it at a community college for $40/hour or at a university for $200/hour. Some of the stuff the kid took won't be worth anything anywhere, but he'll have a good chunk of his general education requirements knocked out at whatever university he gets into.
      • by KefabiMe (730997) <garth.jhonor@com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:52PM (#28253351) Journal

        I went to a California community college. This fall I'm transferring to the math program at Berkeley. There are a lot of reasons to go to a community college, and California actually has an excellent college and university system! (K-12 leaves a lot to be desired.)

        Community colleges are cheaper. There are a lot of people who work full time and go to school full time just to pay for tuition.

        Community colleges are local. Moving to a new location can be an enormous hassle. If they can get general ed requirements out of the way and stay with family, why not?

        Perhaps best of all, the community colleges allow ANYONE at ANY AGE to get a higher education. The entire community college system has worked with the entire university system in California to make it really easy to transfer. General education requirements for ANY California univeristy can be completed at ANY community college. (Check out Assist.org [assist.org] & IGETC [igetc.org].)

        I cannot stress this last point enough! I am a high school drop out. Yes, that's right. I took a test to get my high school diploma at the age of 19. However, that was almost a decade ago. I've learned a lot since then. For example, I've learned that school is *easy as shit* compared to working on the deck of a fishing boat or 60 hours a week at a crappy desk job. The California community college system has allowed me to go back to school and has given me the opportunity to transfer to the mathematics program at Berkeley. I feel that in most other states and countries I would've been screwed for mistakes I made as a teenager. I am really thankful that California has allowed me to try again for a degree, even if it's a decade late!

      • by east coast (590680) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:37PM (#28253981)
        They are much less selective than 4-year schools and the programs tend to be more vocational in nature.

        They only appear to be more vocational in nature because that's the general impression of associates degrees. Anyone not aspiring to a bachelor's degree or higher would be an idiot for going anyplace other than a community college. I went to a community college but my professors normally taught at universities. I felt that community college was second rate too until I really looked around. I had a professor from CMU who told us that the course he was presenting was the same as he would present for one of his Carnegie Mellon classes. My Astronomy 101 professor was an actual professional astronomer and not just some academia with a big head. My sociology teacher had a doctorate from Yale, also studied in Berlin and Moscow and taught at Pitt. I look back now and see that there was a lot of quality education that went on and any "dumbing down" that was done was more so from the aspect of the students than the teaching staff. As much as college is a way to filter out the dead weight it's no different than public schools in that you get out of it what you put into it.

        That said, taking some things like composition or entry-level mathematics tends to be the same regardless of whether you take it at a community college for $40/hour or at a university for $200/hour.

        You're right, the current numbers from my CC (CCAC) to PSU was roughly 95 dollars a credit from CCAC to nearly 500 USD a credit at Penn State. These numbers are for a part time student. As a full timer YMMV.

        Some of the stuff the kid took won't be worth anything anywhere, but he'll have a good chunk of his general education requirements knocked out at whatever university he gets into.

        If this is true than it's his own fault. PSU gladly sent me their transfer sheet for CCAC. All in all I think I took 7 credits that didn't transfer and 4 of those were for a sub-100 course I took just to get back into the swing of things after not having been in a classroom for over a decade. A student at CCAC could take all the courses they need to at 1/5th the price and put themselves in the same arena as a second semester junior at Penn State. I don't think that's a bad step to take for a student unless they have grants and scholarships that require that they be enrolled at a university level institution.

        Sorry if parts of this sounded like a rant. I just feel that students shouldn't downplay a community college if they don't have what it takes financially to get into a big school. Maybe I went to an extraordinary community college but my experience is that with a little research and planning a student can get a really great step towards a better education at a discount price and the vast majority of it should transfer. I was in a situation where I simply couldn't afford even the second rate universities when I graduated high school and I let that hold me back because I had a bad taste in my mouth when someone mentioned community college. Like I said, I got out of it what I put into it and I'm grateful that it was there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by diskofish (1037768)
      I would say the difficult of a two year school compares to the difficultly of the first two years of a four year school. I went to a respected private school and found the quality of some classes to be below that of classes at community colleges and state run schools. It really depends a lot on the teacher and the curriculum in the course.
  • So what (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:29PM (#28252201)

    If I was too young to buy booze and be interested in chicks I probably could have got an A+ too. Show off....

  • Aspergers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by composer777 (175489) * on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:32PM (#28252239)

    I think as we grow more aware of the extraordinary talents and focuses of those that are on the autism spectrum, we will see more of these fast-track through college kids. People with autism spectrum disorders tend to develop intellectually much faster, but when it comes to dealing with the real world, are usually way behind their peers. One big clue is that he sees no purpose to games. The unpredictability is probably overwhelming to him at this point in his development. If he has motor-coordination issues, that could also make him dislike sports.

    So, we'll come to accept people like this for who they are, give them an outlet for their early intellectual development, and also provide a society that supports the fact that emotionally they may be far behind their peers. That sounds like a much better world than one that treats ASD's as a disease or freakshow. While is IQ may qualify as genius, I hope his parents realize that he may very well be disabled in other areas of functioning, and give him the proper support. Too often, people like this feel enormous pressure, and get no support for their weaknesses.

    • Re:Aspergers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:40PM (#28252359)

      There exists focused, driven and intelligent people that don't have a shred of aspergers in them you know. At this level of intellectual accomplishment, having a freakish intellect apart from AS is probably the main factor. I agree however that most people who monomanically studies terse subjects probably (by direct observation of my peers) have at least sub-clinical aspergers.

    • Re:Aspergers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:43PM (#28252413)
      Have you heard of oodaloop syndrome? It's where you get sick of every personality quirk being called a syndrome.
  • Humility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:34PM (#28252265)

    Sorry this is off-topic but this makes me boil:

    Saying "I'm not a genius because there are 6.5 billion people" is not humility, it's selflessness. He's 11, I don't blame him, but why does the article extol this as some kind of virtue. There's nothing virtuous in making deliberately biased assessments against oneself. Humility is about objectively acknowledging fallibility. Saying "Indeed I am very precocious and I do qualify as a "child prodigy", however, you should refrain from drawing too much conclusions as many geniuses were late bloomers, etc". That's humility. Self-dissing isn't.

    • by mikeee (137160) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:08PM (#28252841)

      No, no. You're assuming he actually means it. More likely is the possibility that when he says "I'm not a genius because there are 6.5 billion people with unique gifts" he knows it isn't true, but is a good way to keep the other 11-year-olds from kicking his smart ass.

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:36PM (#28252299)

    or to take away from an 11yr old's accomplishments...

    but is a Community College seriously giving out degrees in astrophysics?

    What other certificate course do they have? a 12 month Doctorate in Rocketry Science?

    Perhaps a 6 month Masters in Physiology with a special emphasis in Cardiology.

    You can even double major in Small Engine Repair, and this week we have specials if you combo with Massage Therapy or Hair Design.

    Anyway joking aside I am sure it was a wonderful experience for him, and I would guess the parents have a large role here in motivating him, likely by promoting the idea of education and learning as both desirable and fun. Genius or no, he is probably a smart kid who is likely mature for his years.

  • Community college? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by religious freak (1005821) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:37PM (#28252305)

    Kai Cavalin has graduated from East Los Angeles Community College

    I'm sure he's more brilliant than I'll ever to close to, but wouldn't it have made sense to go to a real university if he's that smart?

    Here's some Doogie Howser music, if you miss the intro, like I do (for some bizarre reason) http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3qt3k_alternate-doogie-howser-md-tv-intro_fun [dailymotion.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by atamido (1020905)

      Community college is much easier to transition into than full university. Sending a 9 year old to full university is a good way to have someone crack under pressure. At the community college the classes are probably smaller, the teachers can take more time to evaluate the students, and the parents can probably be more involved.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:40PM (#28252363)

    Daniel Judge, Cavalin's statistics professor says, "Most students think that things should be harder than they are and they put these mental blocks in front of them and they make things harder than they should be.

    I've heard it before. It's not the teacher's inability to teach, but it is the student's fault. The "Fear of Math" syndrome. People need to wake up to the reality that success is largely based on environment. If people, for example, don't have access to astro-physics books, then they are unlikely to be astrophysicists. And educational attainment has more to do with one's parents and up-bringing than with one's own inherent intellectual ability.

    I'd be more impressed if this child didn't have access to books and preferential treatment from parents and teachers and succeeded on his own to become an astrophysicist. I would also prefer to see professor Daniel Judge fired from his job for his inability to teach students.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rycross (836649)

      There's usually no one cause for success in anything, whether it be intelligence, business, or whatnot, nor is there one generic cause of failure. Success requires some degree of innate ability, motivation, access to resources, and some blind luck. This kid wouldn't gotten as far as he is if he was not innately intelligent, nor would he have progressed if he was not motivated to nurture that intelligence. If he didn't have a mother who was willing to put him in community college, or a community college n

  • by Synn (6288) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:41PM (#28252383)

    It's really impressive to see a child prodigy, but do they go on to achieve more in life than the "average" smart crowd that goes through a more normal progression?

    • Sometimes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wurp (51446) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:08PM (#28252835) Homepage

      Read up on John Von Neumann.

      At six years old, he memorized pages out of phone books faster than most people could read them as a party trick. As an adult, he invented modern computer memory architecture, made foundational advances in quantum mechanics, invented the entire field of game theory, and helped work on the nuclear bomb.

  • False humility (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ltap (1572175) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:44PM (#28252433) Homepage
    How much are you willing to bet that he just said that for the reporters (or was told to say that BY the reporters)? If I were 11, I would be bragging away. Also, 1st comment is right - he rushed through on an easy degree. He should come back when he gets his doctorate - that's the real test. Just as an anecdote - I could have been taking university courses at 15 or 16 (virtually anyone with a grade 9-level education can, since the rest is basically rehashing and enhancing on whatever is already learned), but many universities simply do not allow minors to enroll, whether they have a high school diploma or not. It's likely there was an exception made for him, and he was also likely homeschooled (unless he got his HS diploma by age 9). This is similar to the 9-year-old judge and all 'prodigies'. Many of them, especially ones in objective fields deserve their degrees, but you wonder sometimes about whether connections made more of a difference in trailblazing a path for his future.
  • by Xerolooper (1247258) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:47PM (#28252491)
    You see this happen all the time they push kids who are really smart so hard they fizzle out. I went to a special school for "gifted" children and most of my friends were burned out by their mid 20's. Not to mention depressed because they didn't make their first million by the age of 25. I "gave up" dropped contact with all my smart friends and got a "civil service" job. Ignorance truly is bliss, if your not freaked out by the state of the world you probably don't understand what is going on. The world doesn't know what to do with gifted people and gifted people are sideswiped by the fact that even though logically and by all reason they should succeed they don't. The world just doesn't work that way.
    • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:11PM (#28252883)
      "logically and by all reason they should succeed"?!? That's bullshit. The ability to do well on IQ tests has never been a valid predictor of success in life. What is the most important predictor of success? Being born to the right parents! Failing that, the ability to delude yourself into thinking you are the best is one of most important ingredients to success. Making the right friends also helps, which is why getting into a "good" school is so important. Your sense of disappointment comes from bad assumptions; you assumed that since academics were so easy for you to master, that everything else in life would be also. It doesn't work that way. Life isn't fair; persistence is frequently rewarded more than excellence, and bullshit is frequently rewarded more than anything else. For many important questions there is no one "right" answer like there was in school.

      That being said, you can still make a difference in the world. A "civil servant" who actually cares about helping other people is an anomaly; try your best to be one. Try not to get frustrated by the fact that for most people it is more about CYA than getting tangible results. And, take it easy on yourself... you're only human after all.
    • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:57PM (#28253405) Homepage

      gifted people are sideswiped by the fact that even though logically and by all reason they should succeed they don't

      That is not a fact, it is a false truth. We assume smart people should succeed, because schools still promote "smart" even though they're selling mere indoctrination. Those who consistently succeed in this world are the Average Joes with strong social connections, because one genius is no match for a mob of angry norms.

  • by cortesoft (1150075) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:51PM (#28252577)

    I am not sure why this is newsworthy. When I was a freshman in college, one of the kids on our floor was a 14 year old starting his PHd in Computer Science. He already had his bachelors from UC Berkeley. He fit in ok, and we properly corrupted him, and he had his PHd by 17. I know other kids who did similar things. The academic work is not THAT difficult for lots of younger kids. Socially it is a bit harder, but many of the kids who decide to go to college do so not just because they are academically ready, but because they have trouble fitting in with kids their own age. Hell, I took many college courses while I was in middle and high school. We even talked about skipping grades, but I liked the social and athletic aspects of middle and highschool too much. Sure, the work was easy... which gave me more time to mess around and be a kid. For these kids, they clearly do not enjoy the social experience of highschool, so they skip it. It isn't like the kid is some sort of mad genius.

  • Oh yea... (Score:3, Funny)

    by psychicsword (1036852) * <TheNO@SPAMpsychicsword.com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:54PM (#28252641)

    Oh yea... Well I bet he hasn't been laid. ...
    Oh wait neither have I. fuck!

  • Ugh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tetsujin (103070) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:15PM (#28252937) Homepage Journal

    One of his primary interests is "wormholes," a hypothetical scientific phenomenon connected to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. It has been theorized that if such holes do exist in space, they could â" in tandem with black holes â" allow for the kind of space-age time travel seen in science fiction.

    "space-age time travel"?

    "Just like black holes, they suck in particulate objects, and also like black holes, they also travel at escape velocity, which is, the speed to get out of there is faster than the speed of light," Cavalin says. "I'd like to prove that wormholes are really there and prove all the theories are correct."

    "they also travel at escape velocity"?

    Actually, though, we pick on him - about it being a community college, about his hokey "everyone is smart in their own way" line, etc. - but it does sound like he's a pretty smart kid, who's hopefully developing the kind of attitude which will help him avoid turning into a condescending prick later on.

    His attitude about video games - from a practical standpoint he's exactly right. Video games are a major time-sink. If you're someone who wants to achieve things, that kind of time-sink can be a real problem. Honestly I feel like it'll become something of a dilemma for me, especially once I have kids. I really enjoy games, but I don't want them to be how I spend all my time... And likewise, I wouldn't particularly want to deprive my little ones of the joys of gaming - but I don't want them to fall into it like a trap, either. There's so much a person can do when they're young - I wouldn't want them to waste that time the way I generally did.

  • by skathe (1504519) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:45PM (#28253287)

    there are exactly zero community colleges that have accredited astrophysics programs. they simply don't have the funding, equipment, or facilities to carry out the experiments and other "hands-on" curriculum.

    what's really interesting about this post:

    PHYSICS 001 Mechanics of Solids

    PHYSICS 002 Mechanics of Fluids, Heat and Sound

    PHYSICS 003 Electricity and Magnetism

    PHYSICS 004 Optics and Modern Physics

    PHYSICS 006 General Physics I

    PHYSICS 007 General Physics II

    PHYSICS 011 Introductory Physics

    PHYSICS 021 General Physics I with Calculus

    PHYSICS 022 General Physics II with Calculus

    is that all the course numbers start with 0. This is usually a sign of either a) remedial courses or b) non-accredited programs.

    I understand that graduating with any sort of college degree at the age of 11 is very impressive, but this is simply NOT a degree in astrophysics, and doesn't really even approach it. Another dead give away that this is a totally bogus degree is that it's an Associates Degree of Liberal Arts. Physics, in any form, is NOT a liberal art. Being that it's not, at the very least, an Associates Degree of Science (which is still pretty shady for "astrophysics" since it's VERY theoretical) raises a huge red flag. I would be very surprised to find that even half of the credits for the courses he took are accepted at any 4 year university offering a Bachelor's of Science in Physics.

The study of non-linear physics is like the study of non-elephant biology.

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