William James Sidis

William James Sidis ( born April 1, 1898 in New York City; † July 17, 1944 in Boston ) was a child prodigy and eccentric genius who gained great notoriety in the early 20th century in the United States.

Sidis was repeated as the " smartest man in history, " although later studies showed that some of the allegations about his person invented or greatly exaggerated were.


Sidis was the son of Sarah ( née Almond ) and Boris Sidis. His parents had emigrated as Jews to pogroms in Russia. They pulled him from earliest childhood by special learning techniques, which aimed to educate him a genius. At the age of 18 months he could read ( Hyperlexie ) and up to the age of eight he already wrote four books. His intelligence quotient was estimated at about 250, but he never took part in a test. He began his studies at October 11, 1909 at Harvard University with eleven years as part of a special program for gifted children, which included, inter alia, young people like Norbert Wiener and Roger Sessions. As a polyglot dominated Sidis 40 languages ​​and allegedly met one of them in a single day.

Topics with which Sidis considered, inter alia, in his scientific writings were the fourth dimension, Native American history, cosmology and psychology. In addition, he was concerned with rail and tram systems, about which he published a study under the pseudonym Frank Folupa. With its Apollo moon project, NASA drew on a concept of Sidis, who had resigned from the early 1940s.

Because of the media interest in his person Sidis withdrew increasingly. He died in 1944 of a cerebral hemorrhage.


  • Notes on the collection of transfers. Dorrance, Philadelphia 1926