Strange but true: Impressive feats by young geniuses


Q: Geniuses come in all ages, even under 17 years old. Can you cite any of the achievements of these youngsters?

A: In the Bronx in 1973, at the age of 17, DJ Kool Herc (Clive Campbell) mixed isolated beats with funk and soul albums to create the genre of hip-hop, then went on to develop a new dance style known as break-dancing, reports "Mental Floss" magazine.

Also 17 was medical diagnostic pioneer Brittany Wenger, who won the Google Science Fair by developing and programming "a minimally invasive test in 2012 that can detect breast cancer — with 99.11 percent accuracy."

Advocating for child victims of war, poverty and violence, 12-year-old Gregory Smith was nominated by the Nobel Peace Prize committee and before age 20 was nominated three more times.

A molecular chemistry pioneer at the age of 10, Clara Lazen of Kansas City used ball-and-stick models to visualize molecules, putting together carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms to form tetranitratoxycarbon — a new molecule — though, initially, her fifth-grade teacher was unsure of it.

Once holding the record for the world's highest IQ (210), Seoul native Kim Ung-Yong was hired by NASA when he was only 8. Ten years later, he quit to go to college.

Q: Quick! Would you rather have a million dollars or a million seconds added to your life? How about a billion dollars or seconds?

A: Figure it this way: There are 24 hours/day x 60 minutes/hour x 60 seconds/minute for 86,400 seconds/day. Dividing this number into 1,000,000 seconds yields 11.5 days added to your life.

Now are you ready for this? Since a billion is a thousand million, multiply the 11.5 days by a thousand, and with a billion seconds, you'd add about 11,500 days, divided by 365 days/year, or a whopping 32 years.

Q: Doctors Without Borders describes it as "one of the world's neglected public health emergencies." What is it?

A: Every year venomous snakes kill some 200,000 people, most in Africa and Southeast Asia, and leave hundreds of thousands disfigured or disabled, says Jeremy Hsu in "Scientific American" magazine. These "legless squamates" are the second deadliest animal," behind only mosquitoes that are infamous for spreading malaria.

Modernized anti-venom treatments would be an important first step toward reducing these deaths, but their development is "stuck in the 19th century because the field is underfunded," says clinical toxicologist and herpetologist David Williams of the Australian Venom Research Unit at the University of Melbourne. "To isolate compounds for treatment, researchers typically inject subtoxic levels of venom into animals, collect the antibodies formed by the immune response and purify the result. Antivenom must be tailored to an array of toxins across regional snake species."

Unfortunately, leaders in the pharmaceutical world have ceased developing such antidotes, perhaps due to their lack of profitability. Thus is the world left without any universal anti-venom.

Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at


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