Eleven-year-old Laurent Simons has become the second-youngest college graduate in history after obtaining a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Antwerp.
The gifted Belgian child, who finished high school at the age of eight and has an IQ of 145, completed the three-year course in only a year, topping his class with a pass mark of 85 per cent.
He had originally planned to graduate from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands at the age of nine in 2019, which would have made him the youngest graduate, but he left the course before graduating after college authorities said he could not get his degree before his 10th birthday as he had not taken sufficient exams.
In doing so, he may have lost his chance to become the world's youngest degree holder, but he at least achieved the record for being the youngest college dropout.
The current record for youngest graduate is held by American prodigy Michael Kearney, who enrolled at the University of South Alabama at the age of eight and emerged with a degree in anthropology in 1994, aged 10 years and four months.
Kearney went on to teach at Vanderbilt University while taking his second master's degree, all before he could legally drive, and later used his prodigious memory and intelligence to win over $1m on a TV game show.
Simons has more serious plans for his future.
"This is the first puzzle piece in my goal of replacing body parts with mechanical parts," he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, seemingly without any idea of the terror such talk can engender when it comes from the mouth of a child. He continued:
Immortality, that is my goal. I want to be able to replace as many body parts as possible with mechanical parts. I've mapped out a path to get there. You can see it as a big puzzle. Quantum physics – the study of the smallest particles – is the first piece of the puzzle.
Did it just get colder in here?
Besides exercising his prodigious intellect by studying quantum physics, pondering immortality, planning to become some sort of Doctor Octopus cyborg creature, and generally coming across as the sort of frightening prospect who could do with a spell in the X-Men, Simons is also said to enjoy playing Fortnite. Because he's 11 and that's what 11-year-olds are supposed to do.
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While studying for his bachelor's degree, he was also working on a master's degree at the same time. He had hoped to complete his master's at an Israeli university studying a combination of biotechnology, medicine, and bioprocess engineering, but the COVID pandemic thwarted his plans.
He is now looking forward to a specially tailored master's programme at the University of Antwerp, in collaboration with other colleges in Israel, the UK, and USA. According to German newspaper Die Welt, this is so he can learn how to create artificial organs. His grandparents, who mainly raised him, have cardiac issues and he reportedly wants to help them.
We at The Register do not know if this is all supposed to be giving us the fear, but it's certainly coming across a bit like that. Perhaps Simons can assuage our concerns by explaining what he wants to do himself?
"Two things are important in such a study: acquiring knowledge and applying that knowledge," he told De Telegraaf. "To achieve the second, I want to work with the best professors in the world, look inside their brains and find out how they think."
He wants to look inside their brains. That did not help, Laurent. That did not help at all.
Michael Kearney is now reportedly an improv comedian, so there is hope for us all yet. ®