Laurent Simons is an 11-year-old genius from the Belgian coastal town of Ostend. While kids his age play video games ad throw around a soccer ball outside trying to avoid homework at all costs, Laurent was graduating from the University of Antwerp with a bachelor's degree in physics. This achievement is not even reached by many of the adult population, yet he has become the world's second-youngest graduate. Only one in three adults (35 percent) have earned at least a bachelor's degree.
11-year-old Laurent only took a year to complete his bachelor's degree, which usually takes at least three years. What he wants to do with that degree could be groundbreaking.
Bright From A Young Age
Laurent finished high school in just 1.5 years despite the norm being four years. While kids his age were graduating third grade, Laurent had received his high school diploma when he was eight years old. Usually in third grade, kids study multiplication and division, patterns and number sense, geometry, and probability. They start reading nonfiction books and working on grammar.
However, Laurent was way ahead of all that. He had already moved on to classical mechanics and quantum physics and was so consumed by the world of physics that he managed to get enrolled in university at an undergraduate level.
Held Back From Graduation
Laurent was already done with his bachelor's degree a year later by age 9. He dropped out of the Netherlands' Eindhoven University that year, not because he failed, but because officials refused to allow his graduation until he reached age 10.
The impressive part is that Laurent earned greater distinction than other students even after being held back from graduation, completing the program with a groundbreaking 85%. Not only that, but he could finish the course in just one year, as opposed to the conventional three.
It's Not About The Fame
Graduating with the highest distinction at such a young age. This gathered media attention and got Laurent featured in the local newspaper De Telegraaf reports.
The University of Antwerp confirmed his graduation and distinctions in a statement. However, Laurent didn't care about the attention he was getting. He was focused on his future and already had set goals in mind.
"I don't really care if I'm the youngest," Laurent told the newspaper. "It's all about getting knowledge for me."
The Cyborg Boy Plan
Simons has a thought-out plan of exactly what he wants to do with the knowledge he's acquiring from physics. His goal is to create a cyborg that would remove the need for biological bodies and their limitations. This would also eliminate the process of life and death and potentially make human beings immortal.
"This is the first puzzle piece in my goal of replacing body parts with mechanical parts," Simons told De Telegraaf, adding that his goal is "immortality."
"I want to be able to replace as many body parts as possible with mechanical parts," he added. "I've mapped out a path to get there. You can see it as a big puzzle."
While this could revolutionize science and human life as we know it, messing with nature may be outside the scope of even this young genius.
A Puzzle That Can't Be Found In Toy Stores
Laurent is looking at his project as one big puzzle, one that definitely exceeds any of the ones that are usually sold for the entertainment of kids his age. He wants to use his studies in quantum mechanics to create innovations.
Laurent has already found his two main purposes in his life. He explains them as "acquiring knowledge and applying that knowledge," He knows that he's young and wants the support of the best professors in the world. He believes that this is how he will be able to " look inside their brains and find out how they think."
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Making His Parents Proud
When Laurent first dropped out of his university until he was old enough to graduate, he received much media attention. Some of the attention was negative saying that it was overrated. Even Simon's college criticized him for receiving too much media attention, saying it played into the "boy wonder" stereotype.
Simon's dad was in disagreement. He doesn't see why his child shouldn't receive as much recognition for his achievements as other children in other fields do. He says: "If a child can play football well, we all think the media attention is great," but "My son has a different talent. Why should he not be proud of that?"
On The Way To A Masters
Laurent is not done yet. He took courses to start a Masters's degree, and as of 2023 he is now getting his PhD.
The more knowledge he acquires, the more he believes he will able to apply it to his project and eventually make humans immortal.
Follow Along His Journey
Laurent and his family have created an Instagram account for the world to follow along his journey. The account has about 80k followers and showcases his studies, his networking with like-minded professors, and his hard work as an 11-year-old who gave up his childhood in the name of science.
Laurent could very well continue to make a name for himself as the next Einstein or Stephen Hawking, and revolutionize our understanding of the universe, and deepen our sense of purpose within it. Whatever happens, his future is bright, and he has already left a mark.
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