Millions of Americans know characters like Young Sheldon and Doogie Howser as super-smart prodigies who are entertaining to watch on TV. Mark Strassmann meets the real deal, 12-year-old Caleb Anderson, who is already cruising through college courses.
A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creative productivity, universality in genres, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of new discoveries or advances in a domain of knowledge. Geniuses may be polymaths who excel across many diverse subjects or may show high achievements in only a single kind of activity.
There is no scientifically precise definition of a genius. Sometimes genius is associated with talent, but several authors such as Cesare Lombroso and Arthur Schopenhauer systematically distinguish these terms. Walter Isaacson, biographer of many well-known geniuses, explains that although high intelligence may be a prerequisite, the most common trait that actually defines a genius may be the extraordinary ability to apply creativity and imaginative thinking to almost any situation.