The Daily Telegraph

Eleven-year-old ‘Little Einstein’ completes quantum physics degree in just 18 months

- By Justin Stares

AN 11-YEAR-OLD boy nicknamed “Little Einstein” has become the youngest graduate in quantum physics.

Laurent Simons, who is half-belgian and half-dutch, obtained a bachelor’s with distinctio­n from the University of Antwerp in just 18 months.

Laurent’s parents are now planning his doctorate, for which he is expected to spend time in several countries, including Britain.

“As well as his home country, Belgium, he will be studying in the US, Israel and the UK, too,” Alexander Simons, his father, said.

The Israel connection is due to Laurent’s interest in biotechnol­ogy and the UK is for historical reasons. “The UK is the foundation of modern civilisati­on. Lots of the world’s best universiti­es are located there so the UK had to be on the list,” Mr Simons said, declining to reveal which university Laurent would go to.

Laurent said his lifetime goal is “immortalit­y”, or specifical­ly the creation of technology that will allow humans to live forever. “That means replacing as many parts of the body as possible with artificial organs,” he told Dutch TV. Laurent started secondary school at six and university at eight. He was enrolled at Eindhoven university in the Netherland­s but switched to Antwerp in Belgium after a row with authoritie­s over his exam schedule.

His parents had wanted him to graduate from Eindhoven before Dec 26 2019, so he would become the youngest university graduate ever. The record is held by Michael Kearney, who graduated in anthropolo­gy from the University of Alabama aged 10 in 1994.

Laurent’s mother, Lydia, has defended the family from accusation­s that her son should be having fun rather than studying. “I can imagine that a lot of people think ‘leave him alone, he is still young’,” she said. “But people who say that have not had a child like Laurent. Everyone, including psychologi­sts, who want to give advice, just can’t, because there’s never been a case like this before”.

“I find it flattering that people compare me with Einstein,” said Laurent, who has an IQ of 145. “But I think everyone is unique. Einstein is just Einstein and I, Laurent, am just Laurent.”

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