Why Are Some People So Smart? The Answer Could Spawn a Generation of Superbabies
Zhao Bowen is late for a Satanic heavy metal concert. After haggling the doorman down to half price, he pushes into a Beijing bar with a ceiling low enough to punch. He follows the shriek of guitars down a corridor and into a mosh pit lit by strobe lights. It’s hot as hell and looks like it too: Men onstage made up as demons are slashing through a song about damnation—the lyrics are in English—while headbangers worship at their feet. Zhao dives in.
The strobes capture midair collisions of bodies, sprays of sweat. Someone’s glasses fly off and are crushed underfoot. Over the faces of the onlookers spreads that distinctive look of thrill and fear that tends to presage a riot. But just then the song climaxes in a weird screamgasm and the band takes a break. The crowd responds with the ultimate compliment, chanting “Niu bi! ” and pumping their fists. The phrase can be roughly translated as “fuck yeah!” but it literally means “cow’s vagina.”
Zhao blends right in with all the Chinese teenagers in this sweltering rock dungeon. He has big wide-set eyes framed by dark eyebrows and a pair of silvery geek glasses. It makes him look like a friendly cartoon character, and the effect is enhanced by full cheeks that make his head look spherical. He is neither strikingly handsome nor unattractive. Zhao is of average height, average weight.
But he is far from average. After being identified early as a science prodigy, Zhao raced through China’s special programs for gifted students and won a spot in Renmin, one of the country’s most elite high schools. Then, to the shock of his friends and family, he decided to drop out when he was 17. Now, at 21, he oversees his own research project at BGI Shenzhen—the country’s top biotech institute and home to the world’s most powerful cluster of DNA-sequencing machines—where he commands a multimillion-dollar research budget. (via Why Are Some People So Smart? The Answer Could Spawn a Generation of Superbabies - Wired Science)