A quiz on prodigies

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on August 28, 2015

Joy Bhattacharjya

It’s Michael Jackson’s 57th birth anniversary, a man who started performing professionally with his family at the age of nine. This quiz is appropriately about teen and child prodigies.

1. Marjorie Gerstring competed for the US in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and at 13 years and 268 days became the youngest person to win an Olympic Gold medal. In which sport did she participate?

2. Which brilliant Hungarian-born computer scientist and mathematician, who mastered calculus by the age of eight and published papers on number theory in his teens, is regarded as the father of the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, where peace was the best option when both Cold War blocs had the nuclear arsenal to obliterate each other?

3. This scientist graduated summa cum laude from college at the age of 14 and was a visiting professor in his teens at the University of Heidelberg. He is believed to have an IQ of 187, spoke Finnish, Persian, Arabic and Klingon and had restraining orders from his heroes Leonard Nimoy and Stan Lee. Identify him.

4. Who made a directorial debut with the 1991 film Little Man Tate, about the struggles of the child prodigy Fred Tate?

5. Which great scientist first caught the public eye by solving a doctoral level problem for admission at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa in 1918 while he was still a teenager?

6. Who won an Oscar as a 10-year-old in 1973, starring alongside her father in the film Paper Moon?

7. Which 2013 book, co-written by a teenager and Christina Lamb, has sold over a million copies and has already been translated into Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi?

8. Which successful Grammy-winning solo artiste and former super group member was an organist for the Ron Atkinson Band at age eight and played keyboard for the Spencer Davis Group before joining Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce for a single album?

9. Even in the software industry, known for teenage prodigies, Justin Frankel was regarded as one of the brightest. In 1996, at age 18, he dropped out of college to write which bestselling programme, distributed free by his software studio, Nullsoft?

10.Who famously said “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”


1. Diving. She won the three-metre springboard diving event

2. John von Neumann, who was that rarity, a scientist who was a dedicated party animal. His wife once said that he could count anything but calories

3. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory

4. Jodie Foster. She also played Fred Tate’s mother in the film

5. Enrico Fermi, he won first place as well

6. Ryan O’Neal’s daughter, Tatum O’Neal

7. I Am Malala, written by Malala Yousafzai. It also won a Grammy for Best Children’s album in 2015

8. Steve Winwood, who also fronted the group Traffic and won a Grammy for ‘Higher Love’ in the ’80s

9. Winamp, the staple music player for Windows machines in the late ’90s

10. Shirley Temple. Interestingly, the child star had a fairly distinguished career in her later years as a diplomat and UN ambassador

Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster and Project Director, FIFA U-17 World Cup

Follow Joy on Twitter @joybhattacharj

Published on August 28, 2015
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