# Stephen Wolfram, PhD at 20?

1. Feb 21, 2010

### thoughtgaze

I don't understand, how can one get it so young? I refuse to believe he is just some magical being that was born knowing everything... come on, give me some way to rationalize this!

2. Feb 21, 2010

### MotoH

He got his PhD whilst traveling on a space ship at 500,000km/h

3. Feb 21, 2010

### story645

Some colleges (especially community & public ones) let really advanced kids start college at anywhere from 12 to 15. The average science/liberal arts degree can be finished in two/three years with lots of APs or taking more then 18 credits a semester. Then the phD itself can be condensed down to about 3/4 years if you take tons of credit hours, have been working on the dissertation long before the defense, and/or the committee likes you. The phD can take even less time if you go to a school that doesn't have heavy courseload requirements for the PhD; My school requires about 60 credits worth of grad courses, I remember others requiring about 30.

According to wiki, that's pretty much the path he took:

Last edited: Feb 21, 2010
4. Feb 21, 2010

### cronxeh

A 20 year old is an utterly useless being. I'm sure if you were to examine their contribution, somewhere you would find the kernel of uselessness in it

5. Feb 21, 2010

### Blenton

It seems he's done more in his 20 years than you've done your entire life.

6. Feb 22, 2010

### rootX

I would like to know what kind of yardstick you are using to determine the usefulness.

7. Feb 22, 2010

### Pyrrhus

Individuals that show high proficiency in certain areas are given opportunities not following the conventional procedures.

For example Arie Israel does not have a Bachelor Degree or High School Diploma. However, he is a PhD student at Princeton.

8. Feb 22, 2010

### arildno

cronxeh has just become older and wiser, like myself.

We KNOW all about the uselessness and wasteful prettiness and energy of 20-year olds.

9. Feb 22, 2010

### M Grandin

My impression (from posts here) was that Stephen Wolfram was a young newly promoted
Ph.D today. But when looking him up at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Wolfram
I find a 50 yeras old guy. Obviously he has, in spite of his early Ph.d at 20, succeeded
in making a rather impressive and fruitful carrier. So in this case not just a pusher with support from surrounding.

10. Feb 22, 2010

### arildno

Indeed.

He has managed to evade the dangers of youth, and is now comfortably chubby and bald.

He needs eyeglasses, too; that is a very sympathetic trait in him.

11. Feb 22, 2010

### Pinu7

My grandfather got his PhD at 19. I envy him so much!
But he was a music theorist so his PhD doesn't count. :D

12. Feb 22, 2010

### Lisa!

Has he added any new thing to the science or world?
That's just an innocent question...

PS: This thread's reminded me of wolram(aka woolie)

13. Feb 22, 2010

### f95toli

Mathematica? And more lately Wolfram Alpha...
But yes, he is more famous for his work as an entrepreneur and software developer than for his more "direct" contributions to science.

14. Feb 22, 2010

### Greg Bernhardt

grrrrrrr I hate that his Wolfram Alpha API costs \$

15. Feb 22, 2010

### Phyisab****

Unfortunately he seems to have outdone us mortals even with his direct contributions to science, before he was 20. Wikipedia: "His work with Geoffrey Fox on the theory of the strong interaction is still used today in experimental particle physics.[6]" Also seem to remember him saying that he created Mathematica not as an entrepreneurial venture but simply to allow him to carry out experiments in the area of math he was working on at the time.

16. Feb 22, 2010

### Leptos

Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
17. Feb 22, 2010

### Phyisab****

How many spikes havs stegy?

18. Feb 22, 2010

### Leptos

"How many spikes does Stegy have?"
You can't expect a four year old to write perfect sentences.

Anyway, it seems like Wolfram is one of the very few distinguished scientists to actually attain financial freedom(i.e not being forced into academia and such).

19. Feb 22, 2010

### Lisa!

Thank you!
hmmm... Correct me if I'm wrong :Bill Gates didn't finish university and he did alot more than he's done:uhh:

Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
20. Feb 22, 2010

### Pyrrhus

Don't tell that to some of the people around here (two-fishquant) that will only support their cases :rofl: