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Geniuses: born or made?


Jack Andraka is a 15-year-old kid from Maryland who just won the world’s largest and most important high school science fair by devising a new way to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages, says Valerie Strauss, columnist for the Washington Post. And then there’s Lori Anne Madison, the 6-year-old Virginia girl who is the youngest student ever to qualify for the National Spelling Bee — but she’s more than just a great speller. The prodigy, who lives in Prince William County, was reading at the age of 2. Andraka, from Anne Arundel County, nabbed the first-place $75,000 scholarship award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh and will also receive and $12,000 in cash for his discovery. His detection method is elegant in its simplicity: He created a dip-stick sensor that can test blood or urine for pancreatic cancer, work he undertook after the disease killed his uncle and a friend’s brother. Let me repeat: He is 15 years old. It all makes you wonder about the nature of genius. A while back I did a Q & A about this subject with Dean Keith Simonton, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis and an expert in genius, creativity, leadership and aesthetics. Here it is…

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