What Was Stephen Hawking’s IQ and How Smart Was He?

Stephen Hawking is believed to have an IQ of 160 and is no doubt one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. What’s more interesting is how a man who couldn’t grasp reading till age 8 and was an indolent student in college has a high IQ as high as 160.

Although he never publicly said what his IQ was, experts proposed Stephen Hawking’s IQ to be 160 which earns him his place on the list of geniuses. Topics on cosmology, natural science, and quantum physics will be incomplete without his smart contributions.

Stephen Hawking’s ALS Didn’t Deter Him

Stephen William Hawking was a brilliant cosmologist and natural science physicist who proposed the black hole theory and had a special interest in understanding creation and the workings of the universe. His books, work, and life was inspiring both in the world of science and beyond.

Interestingly, Stephen was a regular young man until he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at about age 21, a turning point in his life. According to him, his diagnosis propelled him to take his work more seriously since he had a likelihood of living a few years beyond 21. Despite the disease’s progress, his confinement to a wheelchair, and the loss of his voice, Stephen lived a full life and had remarkable achievements in the world of science till his death on 14th March 2018 at age 76.

Stephen Hawking before his paralysis
Stephen Hawking before his paralysis

Stephen Hawking’s Brilliant Works: Proof of His High IQ

Stephen Hawking’s work speaks of his intelligence. His works cut through the field of science, from probing the creation story and analyzing the root of the universe to uncovering the perplexity of black holes and shedding new light on the big bang theory.

In 1966, he had his Doctorate in Physics and was inaugurated to the fellowship of scientists at Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge in 1974. By 1979, Stephen became an academic icon in Cambridge at the age of 37 having been made a prestigious Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (an honorable seat of geniuses).

Stephen followed the works of Roger Penrose and also worked with him to explore the theory of space and the universe. By 1970, both had published a theory on Cosmo which explains the energy of the universe. He formulated a theory now called The Second Law of Hole Dynamics which states, “The entropy of a black hole system cannot be decreased”. He was the creator of the phrase “Hawking Radiation”, a term named after him that describes the concept of black holes energy radiation. His intelligence got him an Eddington medal award in 1975 for his notable work in theoretical physics.

Furthermore, Stephen Hawking was a science author. In 1973, his pioneer book titled The Large Scale Structure of Space and Time was published. He co-authored it with George Ellis who was a Professor of Mathematics. A Brief History of Time was a breakthrough book of his published in 1988. It sold millions of copies and was for four and half years a bestseller in the Times Of London. The book is a good read for the universe, space, and creation enthusiasts.

Hawking won numerous awards and gained a good number of recognitions both within and outside the science sphere, all of which can’t be listed. In 2002, he made it to the BBC list of 100 greatest Britons and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States, an award conferring great civilian honor.

Stephen Hawking’s achievements are nothing short of proof of his high intelligence quotient. Little wonder researchers estimate his IQ to be 160. His scientific researches, publications, and proven theories could only have been done by one with a high IQ. Thanks to some of his works the mystery of space, time, and the universe is less vague.

Stephen Hawking’s Many Scientific Accomplishments

Stephen Hawking experiencing zero gravity in 2007
Stephen Hawking experiencing zero gravity in 2007

Stephen Hawking is a renowned name in the world of science, specifically in natural sciences, while he lived and more so even after his death. Before his death in 2018, he made some pioneering and noteworthy scientific findings, investigated certain unique problems, and proved certain complex theories. Some of his contributions include:

1. The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology

His discoveries on the big bang and an infinite start point were compiled into a paper that he made public in 1970. He worked on this project with Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose. Here, they both established substantial spacetime will produce singularities in the future and the past. Singularity in the future would either be those of black holes or one with the universe closed while past singularity is for the big bang. Where substantial spacetime connotes one where matter concentrates two points of a curved surface.

2. The Blackhole Dynamics

Stephen had a special likeness for the concept of black holes and his work on black holes came with fame. Together with James Bardeen and Brandon Carter, four concepts of how black holes work were suggested, and a similarity with thermodynamics was established.

Stephen Hawking’s other contributions to science include; Soft hair/No hair theorem, Hawking’s Energy, Gibbons-Hawking effect, and many others.

The IQ Phenomenal: What Is It and How Can It Be Measured?

IQ, which stands for Intelligence Quotient, is a testing system first created by Alfred Binet, a French Psychologist of the 19th century. It is used to assess and give a score to an individual’s cognitive ability and intellect. It is also used to deduce intellectual disability in individuals.

There are many IQ scoring systems available for both the young and the old with the popular ones being the Stanford-Binet intellectual scale, Woodcock-Johnson tests of cognitive ability, Cognitive assessment system, Universal nonverbal intelligence test, Wechsler adult intelligence scale, Kaufman assessment battery for children, and Wechsler intelligence scale for children.

Aside from these, there are also a ton of other IQ tests mainly offline which one can use to determine his or her IQ test. However, many of them do not really offer what can be deemed as an appropriate assessment to determine one’s IQ, and most times the figures they generate as one’s IQ does not have much credit attached to it if cited in an academic organization. Thus, it is always recommended to go for IQ tests offered by verified and acceptable institutions some of which are mentioned above.

Taking Wechsler’s IQ scale into consideration, we have the below IQ score and their implications;

  • Above 130 – Very Superior
  • 120 to 129 – Superior
  • 110 to 119 – High Average
  • 90 to 109 – Average
  • 80 to 89 – Low Average
  • 70 to 79 – Borderline
  • Below 69 – Intellectual Disability

Generally, most people have an IQ score of between 85 to 115 with only 0.2% of persons (geniuses) scaling above 150. Hence, with an IQ of 160, Stephen Hawking was no doubt a genius.

Benefits IQ Tests

The intelligence quotient scoring system has both been praised and criticized for different reasons and also depending on the individual’s perspective on the whole gamut of what an IQ test is and is not. Some advantages got from the IQ test include;

1. Serves As A Means of Spotting High Intellectual Individuals

Intelligence tests are one of the practical ways for spotting people with high intellect and potential amidst a group. These individuals may find the “normal” boring and have behavioral struggles when the learning environment is not stimulating and challenging. The IQ test allows such persons to be spotted early so they are given a chance to maximize their intellectual potential.

2. Used for Diagnostic Purposes

IQ tests can help to deduce intellectual disability in persons so they may get the needed help. Using only an innate skill as a yardstick for determining whether or not an individual has learning difficulties is not the best way. This is because one can’t accurately measure how an individual’s memory works or their cognitive processing speed by mere looking. IQ tests are a better way to do it as they are designed to assess these elements.

3. Serves to Satisfy Curiosity

Humans are naturally curious. IQ tests are a fun way of satisfying that curiosity. If you score high on your IQ test, it may earn you bragging rights among friends and if you score low you get to work on ways of improving it. It is a win-win situation and you are absolutely not in competition with anyone.

Drawbacks of IQ Tests

Though the benefits of the IQ test are numerous and it has even come to be accepted as the last yardstick for assessing an individual’s intelligence beyond what our conventional school systems offers, still, there are some drawbacks to the entire system.

1. Bias in Formulating an IQ Test System

Formulating an unbiased intellectual testing system may be difficult: IQ scores may be influenced by culture, environment, learning stimulants, and even independent experiences. Hence, creating an objective testing system may be hard.

2. It May Lead to Unhealthy Competition Among Peers

Kids with low IQ scores are at risk of being labeled dunces and neglected leaving them unmotivated to do better in life. While those with high scores are tagged the “gifted” ones thus getting more attention to maximize their potentials. The implication of this may result in strife among peers which will impede teamwork and ultimately destroy social cohesion.

3. It May Lead to Deep Sadness and If Left Unattended May Result in Depression

With or without knowing what your IQ score is, one can still live a fulfilled life. But oftentimes, when one gets to know that he or she has a low IQ, there is usually this sadness that accompanies it and the wish to be able to do better. This is always the case with individuals who take things personally. However, having a high IQ score is not something that can happen overnight or be learned within a stated period of time. Thus, people who are deeply concerned about having low IQs often fall into depression. But little do they know that their IQ can change over time. It may be low at a particular time, with a particular tester under some particular prevailing circumstances. And at other times when some of these variables change, the IQ score can also change.

The IQ Test Controversy

Many argue that the intellectual testing system with its scores can not fully establish a person’s intelligence as humans are complex creations. Since most tests concentrate on math solving skills, reading ability, and science and not so much on creative and vocational prowess.

It implies the tests are programmed towards measuring an aspect of intelligence and not all of a person’s capability and potential. This assertion has already been proven when you look at the list of notable people below who are noted to have high IQ test scores. They are mostly people who are scientists and made scientific inventions.

Therefore, no single test can fully define a person’s intellect. Stephen Hawking, though undoubtedly intelligent, was no fan of the IQ test as he admitted to not knowing his in a 2004 interview with The New York Times. He also tagged those who brag about theirs as losers.

Other Notable People like Stephen Hawking with High IQ

Other Notable People like Stephen Hawking with High IQ
Nicole, Stephen and Enstien
  1. Albert Einstein; Creator of the mass-energy equivalence has an IQ score of 205 to 225.
  2. Leonardo da Vinci; A painter and an inventor, arguably the most multi-talented person ever lived. Has an IQ of 180 to 220.
  3. Isaac Newton; Postulated the law of gravitation. Has an IQ of 190 to 200.
  4. James Maxwell; Famous for the theory of electromagnetic radiators. Has an IQ of 190 to 205.
  5. Willam Sidis; Got accepted to Harvard at age 9. Has an IQ of 200 to 300.
  6. Williams Shakespeare; Arguably the greatest poet ever lived. Has an IQ of 210.
  7. Galileo Galilei; Famous for the law of falling bodies and inertia.
  8. Terence Tao; Became a professor at 24. Has an IQ of 211 to 230.
  9. Marie Curie; The First female to win a Nobel prize and first to have it twice. Creator of the word radioactive. Has an IQ of 180 to 200.
  10.  Johann Goethe; Founder of human chemistry has an IQ of 210 to 225.
  11. Nicole Barr; a British girl with an IQ score of 162 from Mensa.
Chidiebube has been writing and editing articles on movies, entertainment and other juicy things for several years. When he is not writing, he spends time outdoors, lost in the beauty of nature or simply travelling around the world. Thank goodness he can do the later with any internet-enabled device


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