You may find the name Karl Benz familiar. It should be. From him sprang Mercedes Benz, Daimler Benz and Daimler-Chrysler. Yet, did you know, he was a child prodigy?
Many of history's most accomplished individuals began life as child prodigies. Prodigy is not just a childhood phenomenon, therefore: it can presage the beginning of a most productive life. That this is not more widely known is simply because in time we remember these former prodigies for their adult achievements - and forget that once they were prodigious children. Examination of the lives of adult geniuses, turns up many who were child prodigies.
What did Karl Benz do? Well, he was the inventor of the petrol (or gasoline) powered automobile; he held the patents for all the processes that allowed a petrol powered internal combustion engine to work; he invented the carburettor; the water radiator, the ignition system based on sparks from a battery; the spark plug; the clutch; the accelerator. It would be fairly true to say, that he invented the car (in the sense of most of the things that allowed it function in the way that is familiar to us all). He also invented an engine now used in motorsports - the flat engine or boxer engine - oh, and the axle-pivot steering system. On top of that, he made car designs, too.
All of this accomplishment has its roots in a scientifically prodigious childhood - a prodigiousness that was clear in his primary school years. Though he came from a very poor background (owing in large part, one would think to his father being killed, in a railway accident, when Karl was only two years old), his mother struggled to ensure he got the best of educational opportunities. He didn't disappoint her and he started at the scientifically oriented Lyzeum at nine years old. From there he moved onto the Poly-Technical University and finally another University - the University of Karlsruhe which he entered at the age of 15 to study Mechanical Engineering.
After his formal education, Karl Benz, like many people of genius, found it difficult to fit into normal working life. He moved from job to job, never really finding his place. After seven years of this, he started a mechanical workshop with Auguste Ritter. Though the first year was a disaster - to which he responded by buying out his partner - this new independence proved the foundation of his future success. It allowed him to work on his ideas. Soon he had invented a two-stroke engine. Thence forth a river of inventions flowed from him, each contributing to the motor age.
It was not until he had formed another company, however, Benz and Company, having been sidelined by others, in his first company, that he was free to work on his dream: "a horseless carriage". In 1885, he invented the Benz Patent Motorwagen, the world's first automobile. The age of the car had begun.
He was born in the age of the railway, and by the time he died in 1929, the world had been transformed by the car - and it was largely his doing.
Benz is but one example of a child prodigy, who grew up to be an adult who changed the world. I shall look at others, over time, for each is an interesting example of what may come from a prodigiously gifted child who receives the opportunities they need to flower as they might.
(Karl Benz, child prodigy, inventor of the automobile, 1844 - 1929).
(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and five months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, three or Tiarnan fifteen months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)
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