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Edward Witten's past

  1. Jun 25, 2012 #1
    http://streetcapitalist.com/2010/10/24/generalists-vs-specialists/ [Broken]
    This article made me ponder a couple of questions that I think you might too after reading it.
    Why Witten chose Journalism as his major? To compensate for his kind of aspergoids traits?(I'm pretty sure he has Asperger, not that it is a bad thing, so maybe as a challege he seeked sociallt affine studies)
    How is that he could do all those acrobatics in his graduate studies(going from eco to math then physics)? He is obviously a genius but how is that Princeton noticed his unique skills(). I know his father was a bigshot on GR so was it because of family influences? Or was it because of extremely high marks at the GRE/SAT(GRE don't know if it can test math ability at such levels getting 800is pretty easy, maybe SAT that at those years had a higher ceiling) or other more specific test/interview??
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  3. Jun 25, 2012 #2


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  4. Jun 25, 2012 #3
    Witten's father, Louis Witten, was a theoretical physicist specializing in gravitation and general relativity. It's not exactly a huge leap to understand where his talent comes from and why he eventually moved in this direction and may have received encouragement from others.
  5. Jun 25, 2012 #4
    Is that the term used in the field now?

    Here are the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's. Which of the traits do you think he exhibits?

    DSM-IV Asperger's Disorder
  6. Jun 25, 2012 #5


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    When I saw this thread, my first thought was "who the hell is Edward Witten and why should I care?"
    Then I checked out the link. Now my only questions are "who the hell is Edward Witten and why should I care?"
  7. Jun 26, 2012 #6
    @wuliheron Well my question was not from where his abilities come, that has an obvious answer, but more specific: how he showed them? Maybe his father's colleagues just knew by gossip-chatting, I don't know, that's why I ask lol. It's quite strange to accept someone with apparently no good transcripts if it is not because of something positively unusual.
    @Jimmy Snider I have no categorical evidence but I suspect this because:
    his own realization of having "no common sense" (as is read on the link) and the fact that what most people define as common sense are some empathic abilities that (following Baron Cohen theories) are lacked by (semi-)autistic people ergo also asperger's.
    I have seen his videos and he can be described as having a monotonous voice, has odd mannerisms and other traits that could be associated to the stereotypical nerd.
    It is known that the probability of finding people with aspergoids traits is a lot higher in physics-math departments than in the rest of the population. I've seen a paper where they gave this "systematizing quotient" (proxy for aspergoid tendencies not really a criteria for determining if someone has aspergers just correlated) test to a group of cambridge student and the distribution was as expected; the scores were in increasing order :humanities, bio scientist, STEM, subset of IMO participants.
  8. Jun 26, 2012 #7
    And maybe his father just pulled a few strings, who knows? What we do know is the guy is positively brilliant at math, his father is a theoretical physicist, and he eventually became a theoretical physicists. Nothing terribly mysterious about any of that.
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