TOP
Monday,September 28,2020 07:36 AM
  • Home
  • Archive
  • Is the Nansana mathematical wizard a genius or merely a highly talented person?

Is the Nansana mathematical wizard a genius or merely a highly talented person?

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th June 2004 03:00 AM

SIR— Last Sunday, WBS viewers were fed a rare menu in form of a highly talented 20-year-old Serunjogi, a P7 drop-out who lives in Nansana, 13km northwest of Kampala. His ability to work out mathematical problems floated by the viewers could throw even the most stable person off-balance.

SIR— Last Sunday, WBS viewers were fed a rare menu in form of a highly talented 20-year-old Serunjogi, a P7 drop-out who lives in Nansana, 13km northwest of Kampala. His ability to work out mathematical problems floated by the viewers could throw even the most stable person off-balance.

SIR— Last Sunday, WBS viewers were fed a rare menu in form of a highly talented 20-year-old Serunjogi, a P7 drop-out who lives in Nansana, 13km northwest of Kampala. His ability to work out mathematical problems floated by the viewers could throw even the most stable person off-balance. Surely the presence of such immense talents in our midst speaks volumes about our education and social systems. Many people I spoke to later were quick to call him a genius. This sent me thinking: What is a genius? One reason the question is so perplexing is that we tend to lump together all sorts of people who have remarkable abilities as if sheer virtuosity were the sign of genius. Zerah Colburn, the son of a 20th century farmer in Vermont in the US, had incredible powers of mental calculation. On one occasion when he was being examined by a body of scholars, he was asked to raise the number 8 to its 16th power. When he calculated the answer in his head (281,474,976,710,656), the audience wept. He was then just eight years old. Similarly, Truman Henry Safford, at 10 in 1986, was asked to multiply 365,365,365,365,365,365 by itself and gave the correct answer in a minute. Clearly these people are a startling testimony to the great abilities of the human brain. Who has not heard of the precocious graduates of universities who end up washing dishes? A second class of virtuosos whom we wrongly tend to call geniuses is child prodigies. Some prodigies may develop into geniuses though. John Stuart Mill, who read Greek classics at 6, went on to become a world-renowned political economist and philosopher, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Childhood genius tends to be technical rather than creative. And later on, these technical abilities may not matter so much. Einstein, a celebrated genius, always had trouble with higher mathematics, and eventually got more gifted mathematicians to work out his problems for him! Darwin complained all his life of his poor memory. Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the most creative, was a city planner, an architect, an ordinance expert. He designed the parachute before there were airplanes. He invented, among hundreds of other things, the modern chimney and the self-closing door. He discussed the law of motion of falling bodies two centuries before Newton. Comparing the tongues of the woodpecker, the crocodile and the human being, he recognised a common prototype and thus pioneered comparative anatomy. Besides, he painted the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. This is the stature of genius.

Vincent Kizza
Kampala

Is the Nansana mathematical wizard a genius or merely a highly talented person?

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author