While not a single end-all marker of intellect, the IQ test is perhaps the most well known way to measure the intelligence of a person. With half of the worlds population clocking in with an IQ between 90 and 110, only 1 in 200 scores above 140. Here, we take a look at who can reach for the stars in terms of intellect, and have the highest IQ’s ever.
Top 10 People With the Highest IQ Scores In History
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the list.
10. Stephen Hawking – IQ: 160
Stephen Hawking was a cosmologist and theoretical physicist, who at the time of his death, was the director of research at the University of Cambridge. Born into a family of doctors, he went to St. Albans School as a child after passing the eleven-plus a year yearly.
Despite his nickname of “Einstein”, however, he was not successfully academically—at least not in his early years. It wasn’t until later on that he began to show aptitude for scientific subjects, after which he began reading about mathematics at college. As it wasn’t possible to read mathematics at University College, Oxford, at the time, he decided to study chemistry and physics instead.
He later received a first-class BA degree in physics from Oxford, after which he began his graduate work at Trinity Hall. Not long afterward, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which sent him into a depression. However, the disease progressed much more slowly than his doctors had predicted and with encouragement from Dennis William Sciama, the founder of modern cosmology who also happened to be his supervisor as a doctoral student, he returned to work.
Throughout his career, he worked on gravitational singularity theorems, theories of relativity and quantum mechanics, and also predicted that black holes emit radiation. In 1988, he wrote a book titled, A Brief History of Time, which ended up being on the Sunday Times best sellers list for 237 weeks.
Hawking passed away at the age of 76 in 2018, after having lived with ALS for more than five decades.
9. Albert Einstein – IQ: 160
Albert Einstein is considered one of the most influential physicists of all time. Not only is he known for developing the theory of relativity, but he also made a number of contributions to the theory of quantum mechanisms, which is one of the main pillars of modern physics. In 1921, he received the Nobel Prize in PHysica for his discovery on the law of the photoelectric effect.
Even before that, he had published four groundbreaking papers, ones that introduced special relativity, explained Brownian motion, demonstrated mass-energy equivalence, and outlined the theory of the photoelectric effect. On top of that, he also investigated the quantum theory of radiation and the thermal properties of light, the former of which laid the foundation of the photon theory.
Born in the German Empire, he moved to Switzerland at the age of 16, after which he gave up his German citizenship. The following year, he enrolled in the physics and mathematics teaching program at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School. He then earned a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich in 1905. He also published hundreds of books and articles—both scientific and non-scientific—throughout his life.
He passed away at the age of 76 after having experienced internal bleeding secondary to an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
8. Andrew Wiles – IQ: 170
Andrew Wiles is an English mathematician who specializes in number theory. A Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford, he’s perhaps best known for proving Fermat’s Last Theorem, an achievement that earned him a Copley Medal by the Royal Society in 2017 and an Abel Prize in 2016.
Born on April 11, 1953, Wiles grew up in Cambridge, England, where he attended The Leys School and King’s College School. At the age of ten, he came across Fermat’s Last Theorem while returning home from school. Both fascinated and intrigued, he stopped at the library to learn more about the theorem. Seeing as how it was unproven at the time, he sought out to become the first person to prove it.
After graduating from Merton College, Oxford, with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he earned a Ph.D. from Clare College. Soon afterward, he became a Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University; it was around that same time that he began working on Fermat’s Last Theorem. After many years of work, he presented his proof to the public for the first time in 1993.
Since then, he has won numerous awards including a Fermat Prize, Wolf Prize in Mathematics, Schock Prize, Clay Research Award, Shaw Prize, and King Faisal Prize. For his contribution to the sciences, he was also appointed King Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in 2000.
7. Judit Polar – IQ: 170
Judit Polar is considered to be the strongest female chess player of all time. Born to a Hungarian-Jewish family, she was taught chess from a very early age, as part of an educational experiment carried out by their father. Trained by her sister in her early years, she quickly proved to be a chess prodigy. By the time she was five years old, she had won against a family friend without looking at the board.
The following year, she began playing in tournaments. She was also a member of the local chess club, where she had the chance to play with master level players. Later at the age of seven, she played a game of blindfold chest against a master, which she ultimately won.
Later in 1986, she participated in her first rated tournament in the United States, where she finished first. She then made her first International Master norm in 1988. By the time she was thirteen, she was considered one of the top 100 chess players in the world. Not long afterward, she received the grandmaster title after winning the Hungarian National Championships; she was fifteen years old at the time, making her the youngest player to have ever achieved such a feat.
After many decades of chess, she announced her retirement in August 2014. She’s currently the head coach of the Hungarian national men’s chess team.
6. Galileo Galilei – IQ: 185
Galileo Galilei was an Italian engineer, physicist, and astronomer. He’s often considered the “father” of modern physics, modern science, the scientific method, and observational astronomy. Not only did he study velocity and speed, but he also worked on the principle of relativity, projectile motion, and inertia. He also invented the thermoscope, a device that shows temperature changes, as well as various military compasses.
Throughout his life, he also used the telescope to observe celestial objects. His contributions include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, observation of Saturn’s rings, as well as Jupiter’s four largest satellites. He also analyzed sunspots and lunar craters.
He was also the one who stated that the Earth revolved around the sun, an idea that was met with opposition at the time. Despite his work, however, he was ultimately put under house arrest after defending his views as it appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII. During that period, he wrote the book Two New Sciences, which revolves around the strength of materials and kinematics.
He later passed away on January 8, 1642, at the age of 77, after having spent the latter half of his life under house arrest.
5. Leonardo Da Vinci – IQ: 180-220
Leonardo Da Vinci was a celebrated painter who’s best known for his works The Last Supper and Mona Lisa, the latter of which is often regarded as the most famous painting in the world. A polymath, he was also known for his notes on a variety of subjects including botany, painting, anatomy, palaeontology, and astronomy.
Not only that, but he was also known for his technological ingenuity. Throughout his life, he conceptualized armoured fighting vehicles, flying machines, concentrated solar power, as well as a ratio machine. As it is, however, few of his designs were feasible during his lifetime. Several of his smaller inventions, however, such as the automated bobbin winder, however, was manufactured.
On top of all that, he made substantial discoveries in civil engineering, anatomy, geology, tribology, hydrodynamics, and optics. However, they ultimately weren’t published. They also had minimal influence on subsequent science.
He died at the age of 67, on May 2, 1519, following a suspected stroke.
4. James Maxwell – IQ: 190 to 205
James Maxwell was a Scottish scientist and mathematician who worked on the theory of electromagnetic radiation—the first theory to describe magnetism light, and electricity as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. In fact, his equations for electromagnetism have been called the “second great unification” in physics, after Isaac Newton’s unification of gravity.
In 1865, he also published a paper where he demonstrated that magnetic and electric fields travel through space at the speed of light as waves. This ultimately led to his predication that radio waves existed. For this reason, he’s also considered the founder of modern electrical engeering.
Not only that but he also developed the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, and worked on the first durable color photograph. His discoveries would go on to lay the foundation for several physics fields including quantum mechanics and special relativity. In fact, many consider them to be of the same magnitude as those of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.
He eventually died on November 5, 1879, at the age of 48, from abdominal cancer. His mother had passed away at the same age from the same condition.
3. Chris Hirata – IQ: 225
Chris Hirata is an astrophysicist and cosmologist. At the age of thirteen, he won the gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad, an annual physics competition for high school students. He later studied at the California Institute of Technology, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics in 2001. He then completed his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Princeton University under the supervision of Uros Seljak.
After being a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study for several years, he became an assistant professor at Caltech in 2006. He later became a full professor before moving to Ohio State University, during which he joined the Ohio State Physics and Astronomy departments. While he primarily works in cosmology, he also has interests in large scale structure, dark energy, and cosmic microwave background. Not only that but he also has an interest in data analysis and statistics.
In 2010, he alongside Dmirtry Tseliakhovich, also made a discovery about the cosmological perturbation theory, which is based on the fact that the speed of sound is drastically decreased in baryonic matter.
2. Carl Gauss – IQ: 250 to 300
Carl Gauss was a German physicist and mathematician who made numerous contributions to the fields of science and mathematics. Born to working-class parents, his mother had never recorded the date of his birth, remembering only that he was born a few days before the Feast of the Ascension. Gauss later solved the puzzle around his birthdate after coming up with methods to determine the date in past and future years.
A child prodigy, he corrected one of his father’s mathematical errors at the age of three. By the time he was seven, had had managed to solve an arithmetic series faster than anyone else in a class of 100.
As a teenager, he made numerous groundbreaking discoveries in the field of mathematics. His magnum opus was later published in 1801; he was twenty one years old at the time. His aptitude for the sciences later attracted the attention of the Duke of Brunswick, who sent him to the University of Gottingen in 1795. During his time there, he rediscovered several theorems; he also showed that a polygon can be constructed by straightedge and compass if the number of sides are a power of 2 and are distinct Fermat primes.
Despite suffering several health conditions, he remained mentally active into his old age. Not only did he publish several articles, but he also taught himself Russian at the age of 62.
1. Nikola Tesla – IQ: 160 to 310
Nikola Tesla was an inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer, who made significant contributions to the design of the alternating current electricity supply system. Born and raised in modern-day Croatia, he studied physics and engineering in the 1870s without ever having received a degree.
He later emigrated to the United States in 1884, after which he worked at the Edison Machine Works for a short period. With the help of several partners, he eventually set up a number of laboratories in the New York area, where he developed a range of mechanical and electrical devices. He eventually obtained a patent for his alternating current induction motor, which earned him a significant amount of money.
In the 1890s, he also tested the possibility of wireless communication with the use of a power transmitter but ultimately ran out of funds before it was completed. Following that, he worked on a number of other inventions with varying degrees of successes. With the majority of his money gone, however, he spent the rest of his life living in a series of hotels. He died at the age of 86 on January 7, 1943.