Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are gone. Who is the next genius?

We have no lack of geniuses. An approximate figure is the 0.32% of the population with IQs above 140. That’s 22.3 million out of 7 billion.

The problem is, that the breakthroughs you are looking for require much more than a genius. Breakthroughs require genius PLUS opportunity PLUS aptitude PLUS the right problem at the right time.

“Opportunity” is the first and largest filter. Most of the world, genius or not, won’t have the family, society, or education to ever consider cutting-edge problems. They’ll never be in an environment that can provide useful feedback on such problems. They won’t find co-workers who can help them.

But “the right problem at the right time” is the most imponderable. Until a problem is solved, we don’t even know that the tools exist to solve it. Einstein, Feynman, and generations of other genius physicists haven’t been able to find the grand unified theory of everything. Something’s missing. Is it the right kind of math? A bigger particle accelerator? An unknown unknown? We don’t know.

We don’t know when we’ll find the tool(s) to enable the next breakthrough. Or even the area in which the next breakthrough will occur. Maybe the right tool is about to be found in physics. Or microbiology. Or chemistry. Or …?

If you want breakthroughs the best you can do is support lots of work in lots of areas by lots of bright people.

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