Collage of Jackson Oswalt Britney Gallivan Rajveer Meena

There are brainboxes abound in this round-up of some of our smartest records!

Of course, smartness can be measured in a variety of ways, and we weren’t able to include them all here.

We’ve selected just a few examples of some exceptional record holders including mathemagicians, child prodigies and even a human calculator...

Youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion

Whilst his classmates were playing video games or sports after school, Jackson Oswalt (USA) was busy working on his nuclear fusor.

Just hours before he turned 13, Jackson became the youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion.

"Building a fusor is a very dangerous process, mostly because of the high electricity that’s used in the reactor. The temperature in my fusor varies but it’s approximately 100 million degrees." - Jackson Oswalt

He used electricity to combine two deuterium atoms together in his fusor. This created helium-3 and released a neutron which is used to heat up water and turn a steam engine, which in turn produces more electricity.

Jackson hopes nuclear fusion will become a great source of energy that can stop climate change. 

Most times to fold a piece of paper

It is an oft-repeated fact that a piece of paper could not be folded in half more than 8 times. 

However, this myth was dispelled in 2002 by high school student Britney Gallivan (USA). She folded a single piece of paper in half 9, 10, 11 and 12 times, earning her the record title for most times to fold a piece of paper.

The tissue paper used was 4,000 ft (1,219 m; 0.75 miles) long.

She derived mathematical equations to calculate the length, width and thickness of the paper required, as well as the number of possible folds that could be made. Britney details the formula in the above video and in her book How to Fold Paper in Half Twelve Times.

Besides the complex maths, she had to overcome the challenges of finding an appropriately-sized piece of paper and a large indoor space to lay it all out.

Highest score achieved on Times Tables Rock Stars in one minute

The highest score achieved on Times Tables Rock Stars in one minute is 202, and was achieved by Nadub Gill (Pakistan) in Long Eaton, UK, on 7 March 2021.

Times Tables Rock Stars is a game designed to test students’ multiplication skills. Nadub achieved more than 3 correct answers per second!

In addition to mental maths, this was an equally impressive display of dexterity. To achieve such a high score, Nadub had to be accurate and speedy with his key presses.

"My friends used to call me ‘The Robot’ and they really appreciate my speed when they watch me play."- Nadub Gill

Nadub has always had a keen interest in maths and started playing Times Table Rock Stars at age 7. Practising for at least one hour every day, it took a lot of hard work and dedication to reach his current speed.

Fastest human calculator

The Human Calculator, otherwise known as Scott Flansburg (USA), astounded the audience on the set of TV show Guinness World Records in April 2000.

Scott was given a two-digit number (38) and added it to itself over and over as fast as he could in 15 seconds, whilst two mathematicians did the same using a calculator.

Scott managed 36 additions before the time was up, earning him the record title of fastest human calculator.

“You guys are slow” Scott joked after he finished, as he waited for the mathematicians to calculate how far behind they were.

His numerical knowledge doesn’t end there though. Scott can also instantly divide any two numbers, as well as work out what day of the week you were born.

Collage aadhya amin arranging periodic table

Fastest time to arrange all elements of the periodic table

Aadhya Amin (USA) was in her element when she achieved the fastest time to arrange all elements of the periodic table

She speedily placed hydrogen, oganesson, and everything in between in their correct positions on the table. She managed a time of 1 min 25 sec, shaving 18 seconds off the previous record time.

Aadhya loves challenges and was excited to attempt this record and inspire other children to participate in competitive activities.

Collage of Rajveer Meena reciting pi

Most Pi places memorised

Do you ever lose track of numbers whilst counting in your head? Rajveer doesn’t.

The most Pi places memorised is 70,000, and was achieved by Rajveer Meena (India) at the VIT University, Vellore, India, on 21 March 2015.

Rajveer wore a blindfold throughout the entire recall, which took nearly 10 hours.

In addition to testing Rajveer’s memory, this record attempt required a tremendous display of endurance.