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Jacob Barnett is a young prodigy that is currently pursuing a Master's degree in a quantum physics related field at the age of 15. A couple of months ago, I spotted a number of special interest stories on the internet claiming that he was a candidate (or likely to be a candidate) for the Nobel prize.

Here is what I make out to be the earliest instance of this claim, an interview by BBC of the boy and his mother on a morning show. The interview and accompanying writeup is entitled, "Autistic teenager tipped for Nobel Prize". Here is a (by no means exhaustive) list of similar writeups found on the internet:

  • "Autistic kid 'smarter than Einstein' predicted to win Nobel Prize" - MSN
  • "Autistic Teen Favored To Win Nobel Prize: Jacob Barnett, 14, Is Studying For A Masters In Quantum Physics" - Medical Daily
  • "Jacob Barnett, 14-Year-Old With Asperger's Syndrome, May Be Smarter Than Einstein" - Huffington Post (see third paragraph)

Now as we all know, the Nobel prize is not awarded for being prodigiously smart, but for groundbreaking advancements or findings in a particular scientific field. Unfortunately, most of these articles seem to focus on the human interest angle, rather that what Jacob is actually working on. None of them elaborate on the claim that he is a (potential?) Nobel nominee.

My question is this: is there evidence that Jacob has published work that adds to our current model or forces us to significantly reconsider it, and that such work has been noted by the Nobel committee?

TL;DR: Is there any merit to the claim that Jacob Barnett has been "tipped for the Nobel Prize"?

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    Your penultimate paragraph doesn't fit here: on the basis of your quotes, no one is claiming that he has any radically significant published work; the only claim is that he has been tipped (by persons unknown) for the Nobel Prize. And that's a paper-thin claim - if any one person (including himself or any member of his family) has ever tipped him for the Nobel Prize, then the claim is true. – 410 gone Jul 29 '13 at 10:27
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    @EnergyNumbers: So we have a paper-thin claim that deserves tackling as misleading. How would you word the question to encourage it to be answered? (I'm too hungry, or I would try.) – Oddthinking Jul 29 '13 at 10:29
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    "is there evidence that Jacob has published work that adds to our current model or forces us to significantly reconsider it, and that such work has been noted by the Nobel committee?" Nobody has claimed that this is the case. – user5582 Jul 29 '13 at 12:35
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    I think you are giving too much credence to some of these claims. The people making the claims aren't saying "here is a body of work likely that is likely to result in a Noble prize" they are saying "we think this guy is smart enough to win a Nobel prize someday - we don't know what for". – DJClayworth Jul 29 '13 at 13:19
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    It is possible that this is due to a language misunderstanding. In British English "tipped to win the Nobel prize" just means "someone has predicted that he will win a Nobel prize". It doesn't mean that there is anything official going on, like nominating him, nor that he is "in the running". – DJClayworth Jul 29 '13 at 14:32
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Being "tipped" to win the Nobel prize means somebody has predicted that he will win the Nobel prize.

Tipped: "Predict as likely to win or achieve something."

Here is one person making the prediction: http://worldtravaillers.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/jacob-barnett/

Jacob is well on his way to winning a Nobel Prize.

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    Actually this is the answer to the question as asked: " Is there any merit to the claim that Jacob Barnett has been "tipped for the Nobel Prize"?". Yes, he has been tipped. Is it a prediction based on solid foundations? Who knows. – DJClayworth Jul 29 '13 at 14:29

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