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The Equitymaster Research Digest

Multibaggers In Hindsight
Dec 20, 2016

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He was far from a child prodigy. In fact, Albert Einstein hated school and his teachers thought he was mentally handicapped. But he proved his genius over time. At twelve, he mastered geometry. At sixteen, calculus.

His theory of relativity stemmed from Einstein's search for a general law of nature...when he was in his late thirties. But it was a solution to a problem that occurred to him when he was just sixteen:

  • If one runs at, say, 4.4 miles per hour alongside a train that is moving at 4.4 miles per hour, the train appears to be at rest. If, on the other hand, it were possible to run alongside a ray of light, neither experiment nor theory suggests that the ray of light would appear to be at rest.

Few who knew Einstein as a kid could have predicted his genius.

Likewise, Peter Higgs, who recently won the Nobel Prize in Physics, admitted that it was not his strongest subject in school. The 84-year-old theoretical physicist had an early interest in languages. It was only after attending public lectures on the nuclear bombs that had been dropped on Japan in 1946 that he changed his interest to physics.

Why am I recounting the success of these legendary scientists?

It's to point out that family members, teachers, and even the legends themselves had no clue of their future. We could identify traits of Einstein and Higgs today to train budding scientists. But there is no guarantee that they will turn out as successful.

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