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Eight-year-old physics genius enters university
Korea Herald ^ | 2005-11-05 | Hwang Si-young

Posted on 11/06/2005 11:06:05 AM PST by sourcery

Song Yoo-geun, 8, wants to build flying cars, defying Newton's law of gravity, and the physics genius which has made him Korea's youngest university student may very well drive him to that dream.

Amid scholastic achievements that have confounded experts, the public spotlight is squarely on the child prodigy and his parents, both 46 and both former teachers. What has made Yoo-geun - born late November 1997 and actually just shy of 8 years old - so special?

His parents differ from the vast majority of Korean parents who show a passion approaching zeal for their children's education.

"No fixed daily routines for our boy," said Yoo-geun's parents. "Yoo-geun has a monthly schedule only. Rather than being confined by a rigid timetable, Yoo-geun has the freedom to explore every field he wants to."

While other children his age are first graders at elementary school, he is a freshman at the Physics Department of Inha University in Incheon, west of Seoul.

Song Yoo-geun

He set a record by completing elementary, junior-high and high school curricula in just nine months - a progression that normally takes Koreans 12 years - before being admitted to university.

With no school record to rely on for screening Yoo-geun's qualifications, the university tested him through an interview in October. He surprised professors by explaining the Schroedinger equation, which is of central importance to the theory of quantum mechanics.

Experts say the equation, proposed by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger in 1925, plays a role analogous to Newton's second law in classical mechanics.

It's no wonder then that Yoo-geun is now a national figure and the focus of media attention. People are curious about his mental capabilities and how he will be taught at university. They also want to know how he is different from ordinary children and how he has been brought up.

"Once we took Yoo-geun to a zoo. There he was looking at animals for four and a half hours straight. It was when he was three or four years old. We thought then that he was either a prodigy or the opposite," his father Song Soo-jin said in an interview with The Korea Herald at his apartment in Guri, Gyeonggi Province.

The interview was conducted mainly with the senior Song since Yoo-geun is lacking in his ability to communicate with adults.

"I think it's good to let my son do whatever he wants," the father said. According to him, when Yoo-geun is engrossed in solving math problems or doing games, he often concentrates on them for up to 14 or 15 hours. "He likes to reach conclusions, even it takes a long time."

He said his son wants his to undertake research at CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory near Geneva.

Yoo-geun's dream is to make flying cars, based on the superstring theory - an attempt by science to explain all particles and forces of nature by representing them as vibrations of tiny strings.

"It goes against Newton's law. Everything on earth gets drawn to the surface by gravity, but in the case of flying cars, it's different," Song said. "There should exist the same opposite magnitude of power as the earth's gravity-pull. So, a balance is formed between gravity and reaction, which makes flying cars float in the atmosphere," he explained.

"To study more on flying cars and the super-string theory, Yoo-geun wants to join CERN," the father said.

Yoo-geun first made headlines in March last year when he received a certificate for information-processing, normally given to professional engineers in their 20s or 30s. A KBS-TV program introduced his extraordinary talent in physics last November.

In March this year, he went to an elementary school but after a few days said he didn't feel suited to the school system. He took a test to obtain a diploma certifying graduation from elementary school, and passed it.

But the Song family became embroiled in legal disputes with the school authorities after they refused to approve the exam result and issue a diploma.

In April, the Song family won the case. Afterwards, on April 5, Yoo-geun passed the middle school-level entrance exam, followed on Aug. 3 by the high school-level entrance exam. In October he was admitted to the Physics Department of Inha University.

Then Science and Technology Minister Oh Myung labeled Yoo-geun as "the first prodigy in science" and promised to offer him scholarships for five years. Oh said the government will provide support for him to be able to experiment at state-run research institutes and study at universities abroad.

Yoo-geun's father is basically against prodigy schools because, he says, their institutional methods prevent children from growing creatively. Plus, he added, it's absurd to produce the same number of gifted students every year.

Nationwide there are currently 23 such schools, which accept a set number of students. What about other gifted students who, unfortunately, weren't allowed to enter? The standards to determine genius become unclear, the senior Song said.

Asked if media attention is burdensome, he said "proper attention" is desirable because proper media attention can enable encouragement to be passed on. Furthermore, it will generate more interest in physics, an area which is declining but fundamental to advancing science.

Song also said he hopes media attention can help Yoo-geun become the Park Se-ri of physics. By winning many LPGA golf championships, Park became a model for young, aspiring golfers. After Park, plenty of female Korean golfers such as Kim Mi-hyun and Grace Park and Michelle Wie have figured prominently on the women's golf circuit.

"Public attention on Yoo-geun shouldn't stop here. I'd like to see more kids go along the same path, shoulder to shoulder with Yoo-geun," said Song.

Yoo-geun has received his share of criticism, along with the hype. When he appeared on television with signs of atopic skin reactions on his face, the gossip, although lacking legitimate grounds, was that the rash was caused by severe stress. Critics said his mother should be held responsible for making her kid study excessively.

Educators in the mainstream found fault with his father's decision to enroll Yoo-geun at Inha University after rejecting offers from top-notch and prestigious national universities like Pohang University of Science and Technology or Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Techonology.

"I believe, above all, the first priority in education is to make every child happy, said Song.

"The single most important thing in education is to find a favorable, encouraging environment for a kid - in other words, let him be," he concluded.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: genius; korea; physics
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To: sourcery

If this is out of North Korea...how do we know that this is nothing but a CON job?


51 posted on 11/06/2005 12:30:43 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (History is soon Forgotten,)
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To: Bon mots

You were in the wrong class. It's accounting where you learn 2+2= 5.


52 posted on 11/06/2005 12:35:30 PM PST by rock58seg (My votes for Pres. Bush, the best candidate available, have finally borne fruit with Alito.)
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To: gleneagle

Golf is a poor example. Golf doesn't define who we are, but intelligence really does. Who we are is all tied up in how we think. Very few people are able to socialize well with intellectual inferiors. It's extremely frustating for everyone involved. That's why people tend to seek out like minded individuals socially.


53 posted on 11/06/2005 12:36:11 PM PST by Melas (What!? Read or learn something? Why would anyone do that, when they can just go on being stupid)
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To: sparkomatic

Math is "discrete". People are "discreet". ;^)


54 posted on 11/06/2005 12:38:01 PM PST by LibFreeOrDie (L'chaim!)
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To: sourcery

Remeber that annoying "Sasha" kid prodigy who did game shows in the 80s? Wonder what became of him- anyone recall his last name?


55 posted on 11/06/2005 12:40:10 PM PST by Altair333 (Stop illegal immigration: George Allen in 2008)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
If this is out of North Korea...

>>freshman at the Physics Department of Inha University in Incheon, west of Seoul...

South Korea

56 posted on 11/06/2005 12:47:35 PM PST by JohnBovenmyer
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To: billybudd
I was a math/physics geek when I was a kid. Took Calculus at 13 and university Mathematics throughout High-School.

The hardest thing to teach a child genius, and the thing that they most need to know, is that excellence in one field does not translate into excellence in another. The same mental skills that you are using in your area of expertise will not necessarily translate to other skills which will be necessary as an adult.

Unfortunately, the best way to teach them this is to drive them hard at their area of aptitude. The expectations have to be high enough that they occasionally stumble and their imperfections are made obvious. At that point, it is much easier to point out the values of emotional control, social skills, time management, etc.

In addition, they need to be put in continuous contact with well balanced adults who have 'been there' when they were kids. Having someone like that in their life will give them a proper sense of perspective on life. They can also begin to pick up their emotional habits through osmosis.

Frankly the trouble isn't getting along with the other kids, that's overrated. The difficulty is finding good adult role models who have the right perspective on their gifts but who can guide them to be well-balanced adults.

Someone also needs to inform this kid that while Non-Newtonian propulsion MAY be made possible by super-string theory, there is a rather large engineering hurdle to cross as well? Someone should find a good commercial use for Electroweak theory first.
57 posted on 11/06/2005 12:53:13 PM PST by Netheron
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To: TN4Liberty

Makes one wonder, doesn't it?


58 posted on 11/06/2005 12:53:52 PM PST by skr (Shopping for a tagline that fits or a fitting tagline...whichever I find first.)
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To: x5452

Flying car bump!


59 posted on 11/06/2005 12:58:46 PM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Netheron
I'd prefer that young Song work on AI and nanotechnology. Both are clearly the keys to get to the "next level."

Ref: Staring Into The Singularity

60 posted on 11/06/2005 12:59:51 PM PST by sourcery (Either the Constitution trumps stare decisis, or else the Constitution is a dead letter.)
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To: sourcery

You got that right.


61 posted on 11/06/2005 1:04:11 PM PST by Netheron
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To: sourcery
This is scary. A child that age should be having a childhood.
62 posted on 11/06/2005 1:04:47 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: operation clinton cleanup
My ignorant teachers never understood my brilliant theory that 1+1 = 3.

My computer thinks that 1+1 equals 10 and that 1+1+1 equals 11 and that 10+1 also equals 11.

What should I do?

63 posted on 11/06/2005 1:09:52 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: P-Marlowe
My computer thinks that 1+1 equals 10 and that 1+1+1 equals 11 and that 10+1 also equals 11. What should I do?

The following exception has been encountered: You have to ask a question with a yes/no answer.

64 posted on 11/06/2005 1:12:28 PM PST by sourcery (Either the Constitution trumps stare decisis, or else the Constitution is a dead letter.)
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To: sourcery

Dance for your supper, monkey boy! Dance!
Why did you stop dancing?


65 posted on 11/06/2005 1:13:38 PM PST by TChad
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To: P-Marlowe

Kids like that tend to think that studying/practicing IS part of childhood:) The whole concept of tossing a ball or running around with no purpose is silly.. sort of like coloring by number. What's the point? You cannot force a child like that to play like a typical child, not without a bad reaction. They will close down even more to what you would consider normalcy. Or - and this is even worse, maybe - they will force themselves to adapt to a societal norm to please the parent or teacher but in the process, lose some of the drive in their interest area. Leaves them somewhat lost as to their place in the world.


66 posted on 11/06/2005 1:21:45 PM PST by jamily (The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know)
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To: P-Marlowe
What should I do?

Get a new computer!

67 posted on 11/06/2005 1:21:57 PM PST by operation clinton cleanup (GO BENGALS!)
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To: RockinRight
I hope Kim Jong-Il doesn't get a hold of this kid...

I would be more worried about him reaching adulthood sane. Prodigies many times do not turn out well.

68 posted on 11/06/2005 1:40:10 PM PST by Lady Heron
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To: saganite
The exceptions seem to be in the world of music for some reason.

No, no exception there either.

69 posted on 11/06/2005 1:41:29 PM PST by Lady Heron
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To: sourcery
He surprised professors by explaining the Schroedinger equation, which is of central importance to the theory of quantum mechanics.

Jaw-drop.

Mutant. In a good way.

Maybe he'll get his doctorate before the educational establishment has the time to crush all the creativity and imagination out of him. Put the kid to work on wormholes and warp drive, stat.

70 posted on 11/06/2005 3:04:06 PM PST by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: sourcery

Great. Isn't it bad enough to have crack heads confined to the ground?


71 posted on 11/06/2005 3:26:04 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated my FR profile on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.)
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To: TN4Liberty
My son has a buddy who is apparently very bright. He is an obsessive/compulsive who manifests that characteristic by acquiring every computer certification that exists. He performs floating point math in his head faster than you can key it into a calculator. Unfortunately, he lacks life experience outside computer certification. He will pretend great knowledge about a certain topic, but fails to provide any depth of understanding when queried further. His knowledge of history and philosophy reads like a list of DNC talking points.

The young man in the article is clearly gifted, but he still needs to exercise his skills in composition and communication. A gifted scientist who can not communicate his knowledge to others less gifted will not go very far in life.

72 posted on 11/06/2005 3:45:30 PM PST by Myrddin
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To: dalereed

"how to lie with figures and how to make figures lie"

He's probably employed by the Congressional Budget Office by now.


73 posted on 11/06/2005 4:07:39 PM PST by Amish with an attitude (An armed society is a polite society)
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To: P-Marlowe
A child that age should be having a childhood.

"Childhood" never existed except in parts of the First World in the latter 20th Century. It is a novel concept.
74 posted on 11/06/2005 5:03:27 PM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (Give Them Liberty Or Give Them Death! - IT'S ISLAM, STUPID! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth)
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To: saganite
Actually, from what I read, most of these child geniuses are totally burnt out by the time they're 20 and are never heard from again.

I gave science lectures to 5th and 6th graders when I was in the 1st grade but I was already burnt out by his age :-/
75 posted on 11/06/2005 5:07:59 PM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (Give Them Liberty Or Give Them Death! - IT'S ISLAM, STUPID! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth)
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To: sparkomatic
I've always held that there are 3 kinds of people in this world - those that can do math and those that can't.
lol
76 posted on 11/06/2005 5:10:23 PM PST by samtheman
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To: UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide

I gave up that play crap long before I started school, had a paper rout when I was 7 and was into building hot rods and engines by 8 in fact taught myself to weld and channeled the neighbors 32 coupe when I was 8 and went 128 at the drags in a flat head rail when I was 12.

Now at 68 I can look back and say I didn't miss anything.


77 posted on 11/06/2005 5:10:54 PM PST by dalereed
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To: RouxStir
My cat's genius exceeds that of Einstein.....but unfortunately he is lacking in his abililty to communicate with humans.

And no thumbs!

(actually...that's a good thing)

78 posted on 11/06/2005 5:15:21 PM PST by eddie willers
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To: sourcery

OMG, he's Korean??? We should kidnap him before the North Koreans do. Lock him up somewhere in the basement of the Pentagon and teach him all the physics we can.


79 posted on 11/06/2005 5:20:50 PM PST by LibWhacker
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To: Netheron

Someone should find a good commercial use for Electroweak theory first.

Every vacuum cleaner I have ever owned was an Electroweak.


80 posted on 11/06/2005 7:57:19 PM PST by Syberyenta
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To: billybudd

He seems to believe that he could generate a repulsion force by manipulating superstrings. IMHO he's trying to do something that's fundamentally beyond the reach of physics.


81 posted on 11/06/2005 8:05:23 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck
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To: billybudd

Oh, and I wonder what his anti gravity field would do to any matter between the vehicle and the earth. There might be some interesting side effects (cf. Isaac Asimov's "The Billiard Ball")


82 posted on 11/06/2005 8:08:51 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck
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To: sourcery

Wow, great post!


83 posted on 11/06/2005 8:11:42 PM PST by The_Media_never_lie
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To: UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide
"Childhood" never existed except in parts of the First World in the latter 20th Century. It is a novel concept.

Then the kid needs to spend some time as a chimney sweep apprentice before traipsing off to college.

84 posted on 11/06/2005 8:17:52 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: Bon mots
Statistics do not really lie...

Figures don't lie - but liars figure.

85 posted on 11/06/2005 8:20:16 PM PST by Fido969 ("And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).)
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To: gleneagle

Thanks for your work with the gifted. You are entirely right. I know a child who was way ahead of his peers in learning all the way through school. He finally found an area where his gifts were rewarded. He is very happy and an astonishing achiever. There are not enough like you who recognize and appreciate this.

The problem is that students and teachers are jealous of those who can absorb vast amounts of information with relative ease.


86 posted on 11/06/2005 8:26:15 PM PST by sine_nomine (Every baby is a blessing from God, from the moment of conception.)
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To: Melas
Very few people are able to socialize well with intellectual inferiors. It's extremely frustating for everyone involved.

I have to disagree. While no child prodigy, I did learn to read at age 4, currently read about 2K words/min with 95% comprehension, don't own a television, and have read books about the original Constitutional Convention, the 5th Marines, the use of subs during the Philippines campaign of WWII, large chunks of Escoffier, and Plato's Republic in the last few days, along with a regular reserve job.

I get along great with those less educated and able. I have to, they are my airmen and leadership.

I read web synopsis of everything that each is interested in, so we have chit-chat, and toss in a few of the things that I care about.

You don't have to be smart to be good, and you don't have to be good to be smart, but good AND smart is a great combination.

I'm grateful for a mom that taught me to read early, a dad the put me in private school, and teachers that let me reach my limits. I'm also grateful for a USAF that taught me some manners and management skills.

/john

87 posted on 11/06/2005 8:37:00 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (D@mit! I'm just a cook. Don't make me come over there and prove it!)
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To: operation clinton cleanup
In March this year, he went to an elementary school but after a few days said he didn't feel suited to the school system.

I felt the same way, but my parents stifled my creativity and forced me to go through he whole 12 year thing.

Twelve years of elementary school?? I got out in nine. I must have been a prodigy myself.

Dang it all, that was before the female teachers were hitting on the kids. They would have been safe with me. I wasn't a minor.

88 posted on 11/06/2005 8:37:50 PM PST by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Beelzebubba
This had me scratching my head. Isn't looking at animals for several hours exactly what children are expected to do at the zoo?

I took my three year old Grandson to the zoo recently. I rented one of those large strollers for when he got tired as the zoo was a large one. He spent most of the time racing around pushing the stroller. Getting his attention focused on the animals was just a momentary distraction. I am sure he was concentrating on string theory while racing around.

89 posted on 11/06/2005 8:42:04 PM PST by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: JRandomFreeper

I guess there is no accounting for individual variance. I become extremely frustrated with individuals who aren't my intellectual equals. When I'm unable to convey a thought, or when I find myself searching in vain for words that they're understand, I'm just banging my own head againt the wall. I can't count the women I only took around the block once because I couldn't bare another discussion with them.


90 posted on 11/06/2005 8:45:05 PM PST by Melas (What!? Read or learn something? Why would anyone do that, when they can just go on being stupid)
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To: sourcery
The interview was conducted mainly with the senior Song since Yoo-geun is lacking in his ability to communicate with adults.

How does this work?

91 posted on 11/06/2005 8:47:44 PM PST by lawgirl (Sure I believe in intelligent design. The best accident we've come up with is Mary in grilled cheese)
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To: lawgirl
How does this work? My interpretation is that Yoo-geun is shy around adults he doesn't know, and so would say little or nothing when questioned by a reporter.
92 posted on 11/06/2005 8:55:09 PM PST by sourcery (Either the Constitution trumps stare decisis, or else the Constitution is a dead letter.)
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To: Political Junkie Too
Did they ask him yet about how often he thinks about touching his private parts?

Uh....It wasn't an American University...

93 posted on 11/06/2005 8:55:13 PM PST by Onelifetogive (* Sarcasm tag ALWAYS required. For some FReepers, sarcasm can NEVER be obvious enough.)
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To: sparkomatic
I've always held that there are 3 kinds of people in this world - those that can do math and those that can't.

I thought there were 10 kinds of people...those who understand binary, and those who don't.

94 posted on 11/06/2005 8:58:11 PM PST by Onelifetogive (* Sarcasm tag ALWAYS required. For some FReepers, sarcasm can NEVER be obvious enough.)
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To: dalereed
and channeled the neighbors 32 coupe when I was 8...

Like Shirley McClain?

95 posted on 11/06/2005 8:59:49 PM PST by Onelifetogive (* Sarcasm tag ALWAYS required. For some FReepers, sarcasm can NEVER be obvious enough.)
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To: sourcery

October 25, 2005. Song Yoo-geun displaying his admission certificate yesterday at Inha University.

http://joongangdaily.joins.com/200510/24/200510242231371009900090409041.html

96 posted on 11/06/2005 9:09:39 PM PST by nicmarlo
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To: saganite
Actually, from what I read, most of these child geniuses are totally burnt out by the time they're 20

From what I see, most US high school graduates have peaked by age 25 and they will even tell you it is all downhill from there.

Besides was not Condi some sort of prodigy ?

97 posted on 11/06/2005 9:13:57 PM PST by staytrue
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To: nicmarlo

That certificate is rather large even for an 18-year old student. Given the size (and assuming Yoo-geun's is the same size as that of any other student,) students probably hang them on the wall as a life-long trophy.


98 posted on 11/06/2005 9:19:29 PM PST by sourcery (Either the Constitution trumps stare decisis, or else the Constitution is a dead letter.)
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To: sourcery

It's probably like one of those fake checks given away, representing the actual check awarded (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about). He's a cute kid.


99 posted on 11/06/2005 9:21:53 PM PST by nicmarlo
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To: DoughtyOne
I'm not sure they are as able to see morality issues with that same clarity.

Frankly, I'm not sure the average joe does either.

100 posted on 11/06/2005 9:22:48 PM PST by staytrue
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