The Smartest Person Ever Is Not Who You Think

hey 42 here if you've ever come first in

a particularly

difficult pub quit or aced a test that

had your friends tearing their hair out

you'll know how good it is to feel like

the smartest person in the room

just imagine that what it would be like

to be able to proclaim

that you were the greatest genius

in the history of our entire species

sadly 99 billion 999 million

999 999 of us will never be able to make

such a claim but somebody must be able


the question is who

at eight feet 11.1 inches tall that's

2.72 meters

robert wadlow is the tallest person to

have ever lived

jean louise calment is the oldest she

died at 122.

the heaviest person was john brower

minoch who tipped the scales and

probably broke them beyond all repair

whilst he was at it

at 100 stone or 635 kilograms

no prices for guessing where he was from

i tell you these things not because i'm

a malfunctioning

fact-based automaton that allegation was

never proven

but to make an important point you can

find the pinnacle of humanity

in almost any category in the guinness

book of world records

but what you won't find no matter how

long you spend flipping through its


is an entry for the cleverest person

that ever lived that's because like the

male genitalia

on a particularly cold day genius

is incredibly tricky to measure probably

the most well-known method for

quantifying intelligence

is the iq test unfortunately iq tests

were only invented in the early 20th


meaning the majority of the most

promising candidates for the

42 greatest genius in history badge of


only have estimated scores and

if we're honest iq tests aren't the best

measurement of intelligence anyway

take william james cetus born

in 1898 as a prime example by some

estimates at least he had an iq

of 300 the highest of any individual

in history to put that into perspective

albert einstein is thought to have

clocked in somewhere between

160 and 190. william cedars was reading

the new york times before he turned

two and had taught himself eight


before he was ten and to put that into


at age 10 i was perfecting my technique

for armpit farts

at age 11 cedis became the youngest

person ever

to attend harvard and within his first


his professors were comparing him to one

of the greatest mathematicians in


carl friedrich gauss but if cedis was

such a singular genius

you might be wondering why you've never

heard of him

for starters he had the world's pushiest

parents who devised a gruelling

forced learning program which they


on the very day he was born and when he

escapes their clutches in getting into


he found himself head and shoulders

above his peers intellectually

but only running around their ankles in

terms of general life experience

and those all important social skills

when he eventually left the education

system some years later

he retreated from public life and worked

at menial jobs to make ends meet

despite his remarkable intelligence he


very little to humanity's hunt for


he did write several books but since one

of them was the most complete treatise


streetcar tickets ever conceived we

probably shouldn't lift it

up there alongside darwin's on the

origin of species

cedars was without a doubt a remarkably

intelligent man

there's even a theory that he was the

inspiration for matt damon's character

in goodwill hunting

though he may have had the higher iq you

won't hear many people claim

william cedars was a genius on par with

the likes of nicola tesla

inventor of the tesla coil the first

alternating current motor

perhaps if he'd had a hand in designing

the cyber truck

its windows would still be intact and

there's another problem with relying on

iq scores to measure

genius many of them favor specific kinds

of intelligence like

mathematical ability and spatial


and if we take a look at the wikipedia

page for the word

genius we quickly see that the pinnacle

of human intelligence

is about more than being really good at

solving annoying little black and white


the page has portraits depicting nine of

humanity's finest minds

amongst them we find confucius a chinese

philosopher and one of the most famous

thinkers in history

cervantes spanish writer of one of the

most well-known novels in history

don quixote bobby fisher an american


prodigy whose period of dominance during

the 70s

is unmatched to this day stanley kubrick

a legendary filmmaker known for his

classics like a clockwork orange

the shining and 2001 a space odyssey

marie curie a physicist and chemist

famous for her work on radioactivity

and for being both the first woman to

win the nobel prize

and the first person to win it twice

aristotle a greek philosopher polymath

and student of plato

einstein a theoretical physicist who

developed one of the most foundational

pillars of modern physics

the theory of relativity and wolfgang

amadeus mozart

probably the most famous composer of all


who wrote his first concerto at age five

speaking of einstein his famous wispy

locks could have certainly done with

some hair loss treatment

and mozart well his hair was famously

fantastic so he was okay

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and what do all of these people have in


well apart from being truly great at

what they did

and dead not a whole lot

some of them changed the world some

altered the way we think

others pushed back boundaries in their

fields and a few

developed new fields entirely

oh and one was really good at board

games what this list does more than

anything else is

illustrate the point that intelligence

comes in all

shapes and sizes who's really qualified

to say whether the overture to the

marriage of figaro is

more representative of genius than e

equals m c

squared now i know what you're thinking

if the answer to the question who is the

greatest genius of all time is basically

just going to be me stroking my mustache

and shoving a lot then what the hell was

i playing at when i decided to make this


okay you win let me make my way down

from this

frankly uncomfortable seat on the fence

if you were to

nip off and check the wikipedia entry

for genius right now

don't watch this video you might notice

that there is

one other portrait to be found there

that i haven't mentioned so far

and that particular portrait belongs to

a man

that perhaps more than any other

deserves the title

of the greatest genius in history

now i'll hold my hands up and confess

that einstein would

not be impressed with my scientific

method here

my suggestion for the most brilliant man


isn't based on fact i can't claim this

man has

the highest iq of all time that his


definitively outweigh all others or even

that he's beaten the final level on

candy crush

but i think he makes a pretty compelling

case all the same

the man i'm talking about is one

leonardo da vinci

born out of wedlock in a tiny hamlet in

the tuscan hills not too far away from

florence in 1452.

unlike william cedars da vinci was not

trained from birth to be some kind of

mind ninja and in fact received no

formal education at all

but from these humble beginnings

leonardo rose to become arguably

the greatest genius amongst the

approximately 100 billion

human beings to have ever taken a lung

full of air on planet earth

but wait a second the greatest genius

you have ever lived

was a painter well not exactly

while leonardo was most famous during

his lifetime for being more than a

little bit handy with a paintbrush

that was actually a tragic

oversimplification of his brilliance

one that would persist for almost 400

years after his death

it wasn't until the 19th century when

thousands of pages of his notes

known collectively as leonardo's codices

were rediscovered

that the true extent of the great man's


was revealed for the first time let's


with anatomy back in the renaissance

painting was a serious business

and anyone who's ever progressed beyond

paint by numbers will know that

recreating the world on canvas

is no easy feat with perhaps the biggest

challenge of all being in realistically


the subtleties of the human form but

what better way to figure out how to

draw an accurate human

than to tear one to pieces and see how

all the wet bits

inside it fit together da vinci did

exactly that

dissecting some 30 cadavers in an

attempt to learn the secrets of human


the medical drawings that came out of

these macabre procedures

apart from being considered some of the

finest ever created

pioneered a cutaway technique that was

500 years ahead of its time

and can still be found in medical

textbooks today

they also greatly advance human

understanding of anatomy

or at least they would have done if they

were ever published

da vinci made hundreds perhaps thousands

of discoveries about the human body

some of the most impressive of which

concerned the heart

he was the first person to recognize

that the heart was a muscle

the first to describe its four chambers

and their function

and his understanding of how the aortic

valve worked

was only confirmed by modern science in

1968 with the use of an mri scanner

oh and based on leonardo's drawings and

explanations of the opening of the

mitral valve

heart surgeons pioneered a new technique

in heart surgery

in 2005 da vinci's vitruvian man

may just be the most famous sketch

in the world aside from being iconic

the drawing accurately depicts the

proportions of the human body

it's an image you'll have seen many

times i'm sure but

have you ever looked closely at the

writing that accompanies it

if you find it a little hard to read

don't beat yourself up

firstly it's in 500 year old italian

and secondly like almost all of

leonardo's codices

the words are written in mirror script

meaning they can only be read

normally by viewing them in a mirror why

nobody knows for sure da vinci was known

to be ambidextrous

he wrote conventionally when using his

right hand and mirrored when using his

left as

one does some people think he decided to

learn mirror writing to stop himself

creating smudges

when writing left-handed and others

think he was trying to make his notes

more difficult to read at a glance it's

even been suggested that the act of

rotating the words in his mind

before setting them down on paper might

have helped him recall them better

in the future a slightly less famous

sketch of da vinci's is a map of the


imola what makes this map particularly


is that it looks like a snapshot taken

from an aeroplane despite the fact that

the wright brothers wouldn't take to the

skies for another 400 years

it's the oldest map drawn from this kind

of perspective

in existence and yet it's so accurate

that it can still be used to navigate

imola today

although it is hopeless if you're trying

to find a petrol station da vinci made

the map for the city's conqueror

cesare borgia who was so impressed with

the craftsmanship and ingenuity involved

that he hired da vinci as his chief

military engineer

and architect on the spot it was in this


that da vinci showed yet another side of

his brilliance

cutting edge technologies in his day

were things like the printing press or

the nautical compass

but whilst working for borgia leonardo

found time to invent

the concept of the tank design and build

the world's first humanoid robot knight

write up the plans for a precursor to

the machine gun

designed to overcome the difficulty and

time associated with reloading weapons

of that era

develop a diving suit made for breathing


and sketch out the first known designs

for the submarine

a self-propelled car and a helicopter

it's difficult to put into words just

how far ahead of their time these ideas


most of the concepts didn't appear again

for centuries

that robot night for example nasa used

elements of da vinci's design

to help build their first humanoid robot

500 years later

the list of leonardo's remarkable


insights and inventions is almost


he was the first person to explain why

the sky is blue

the first to use evidence for fossil

distribution to question

the long-held wisdom of the bible's

great flood and he even came up with the

idea that every action

has an equal and opposite reaction a


200 years before newton was even born

on their own any of these discoveries

ideas and inventions

would be impressive enough but taken

together it's almost

unbelievable that so much knowledge

could have come from the mind

of one man in an era where he often

wasn't building on the work of others

but striking out entirely alone

he was so far ahead of his time that

contemporary scientists simply

had no use for his ideas which is

probably why his papers were never

published and the majority of his

discoveries and inventions

remained hidden within his mirrored

scroll and his notes

long after others came along decades

even centuries later

and rediscovered them independently it

was german philosopher

arthur schopenhauer who said that talent

hits a target

no one else can hit whilst genius

hits a target no one else can see

he was talking in general terms but this

phrase describes leonardo da vinci

perfectly he invented things that the

technology of his time

wasn't even close to being able to

actually build

and found brilliant solutions to

problems that wouldn't exist

for hundreds of years take the parachute


example widely thought to have been

invented by louis sebastian lenomo

in the late 18th century but

flip through the pages of da vinci's

codex atlanticus

written in 1485

and you'll find a sophisticated sketch

of one

the design was tested in the year 2000

for the first time

and it worked perfectly and let's not

forget that

on top of all this da vinci is

considered by many

to be the greatest painter of all time

his masterpiece salvador mundi is the

most expensive painting ever sold at


fetching a cool 450 million dollars

in 2017 and the last supper is one of

the world's most recognizable paintings

and finally of course there's the mona


without doubt the most famous and

treasured piece of art

ever created it's so valuable in fact

that a french

news channel 1 suggested france might

want to think about

selling it to ease their national debt

the estimated price they came up with

2.7 billion dollars that's

about equal to the gdp of a small


if leonardo had just been a painter he

would deserve a place on the list of

humanity's greatest geniuses

likewise if he had just been a scientist

or an inventor

but somehow he was all of these things

at once

and more he is very probably the most

diversely talented individual

to have ever walked the earth and

sickeningly enough

reports from the time suggest he was

even good looking

too some renaissance polymaths have all

the luck

so who's the greatest genius to have

ever lived

well the long answer is that genius

comes in many different forms

that it's impossible to compare

different disciplines and eras

and that trying to come up with an

answer to such a big question is

ultimately futile

and quite possibly stupid and the short

answer is just leonardo da vinci

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