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Ah, childhood. It's a magical time when you're still allowed to be a non-productive drain on society and not feel guilty about it. But while most of us spent our childhoods staring at cartoons over bowls of sugary breakfast cereal, some kids were more focused on things like composing symphonies, performing surgery or getting nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Here are some child prodigies who, to put it mildly, make us look like worthless turds.

Akrit Jaswal, Child Surgeon

This kid, India's youngest ever university student and physician, makes Doogie Howser look like an unmotivated slob. "Oh that's cute," you say. "They're letting him play doctor." Play nothing, this kid was performing operations when he was seven. He also has quite the pint-sized ego on him.

"People saw my potential and wanted to help me excel in life," Akrit has said. "I think they're of above average intelligence, but not as clever as me." Doesn't it just make you want to smack the little scamp?

Although if Akrit's current work on a cure for cancer turns out to be successful he can spend all day shouting about how smart he is into a golden megaphone for all we care. That said, Akrit has also claimed he's going to make a dinosaur, so we'll believe he has the cure for cancer when he rides down the street with it on a stegosaurus.

What we were doing at that age:
Through painstaking research held during recess we were discovering the difference between boys and girls (beside the other side's debilitating cootie levels of course). Also we knew that the Ninja Turtle Band-Aids totally made our scraped knees heal faster.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Some of you may have heard of this guy. Mozart is not only one of the greatest composers of all time, but probably history's most recognized child prodigy. There's not an elementary school music room that doesn't have a poster of Mozart up listing his early accomplishments in order to shame the kids into playing "Hot Cross Buns" on their recorders instead of using them as lightsabers or spitball cannons.

Mozart learned to play the piano at the age of four, composed his first pieces at five and at eight, an age when most us probably couldn't even name half a dozen musical instruments if asked, Mozart wrote his first symphony. Young Mozart was quite the little celebrity, but sadly the fate of child stars was about the same then as it is now as his tumultuous life would end up lasting a mere 35 years.

It's proof the universe is fundamentally unfair that Mozart died so young while today we still have to put up with Danny Bonaduce. That'll teach us to invent a cure for syphilis.

What we were doing at that age:
We didn't have time to be composing symphonies since we were too busy constructing our own instruments.

We called it a dandruffone

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William James Sidis

Some consider William James Sidis the smartest man who ever lived, with an estimated IQ of 250 to 300. For the sake of comparison, you only have to have an IQ of 136 to be a mere run of the mill genius, and your average person is somewhere in the 85 to 115 range. Surprisingly pictures of Sidis reveal that his head was only marginally bigger than average and not a throbbing translucent beach ball-sized dome. Word is he wasn't even capable of shooting psychic death rays.

Sidis could read at 18 months, had written four books and was fluent in eight languages at age seven, gave a lecture a Harvard at nine and entered Harvard at 11. Despite his brilliance in the fields of mathematics and cosmology, we do have to question Sidis' intelligence in one key area as he took a vow of celibacy his entire life and likely died a virgin.

It's unfortunate because nothing gets the ladies hot and bothered like a dissertation on the theory of cosmological reversibility. Hell, Sidis could probably get a girl's panties off from across the room with the sheer power of his mind. A sad waste.

What we were doing at that age:
We entered 55378008 into our calculators so many times we'd burned it into the screen.

H.P. Lovecraft

One of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century, Howard Phillips Lovecraft learned to read at the age of two and was writing complex poetry by the age of six (we'd be especially impressed if he found a rhyme for "Cthulhu"). When not reading or writing, Lovecraft spent his childhood amassing enough crushing trauma that writing stories about the incomprehensible alien horror of the universe probably felt like a lighthearted escape.

Young Lovecraft was sickly and spent much of his childhood in bed, being told horror stories by his eccentric grandfather Whipple (whose ridiculous name was about as funny as Lovecraft's childhood got). Lovecraft's parents were proof lunatics attract, as his father was a syphilitic psychotic and his mother was a chronically depressed, frail, ghostly pale woman (she was likely being slowly poisoned by arsenic-based syphilis treatments).

His father would die paralyzed in an asylum, his grandfather would follow leaving the family destitute and then his mother would go, passing away in the same hospital Lovecraft's father died in to complete the tragedy trifecta. If all this wasn't bad enough every night when Lovecraft went to bed the very shadows around him would form into the monstrous black tentacles of a long lost burning-eyed god who would try to drag his body down to the depths of hell itself.

Well, he probably thought they did.

What we were doing at that age:
We'd authored the little known classic "The Ghostbusters meet Batman and GI Joe". We were also masters at the art of the Mad-Lib.

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Okita Soji

Okita Soji, who lived in mid-1800s Japan, is a bit different than the rest of the names found in this article. While the other people listed here were remarkable because of their mental abilities, Okita Soji was a prodigy at kicking ass. When most of us were still struggling with cutting our own meat, Okita began learning advanced sword fighting techniques at age 9 and at the age of 12 he defeated a master swordsman in combat (legend has it he underestimated his young opponent, spending most of the battle pretending to steal Okita's nose).

Okita would officially become a master himself at age 18 and then become a founding member of the Shinsengumi, a legendary police force featured in TV, movies, comic books and video games in Japan to this day. While most of the guys on this list will make you feel stupid, Okita Soji isn't content unless he makes you feel like less of a man.

What we were doing at that age:
Our skill at beating on our siblings with cardboard tubes was legendary.

Kim Ung-yong

This Korean super-genius might just be the smartest guy alive today (he's recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest IQ of anyone on the planet). Granted his record doesn't quite have the cachet of other Guinness records like "World's longest midget toss" or "Oldest male stripper", but it's still fairly impressive.

Kim entered university as a physics student at the age of three. We're not sure how many parties he got invited to at that age, but word has it nobody shotguns a juice-box like Kim Ung-yong. Later at the ripe old age of seven, Kim was invited to the United States by NASA to study, although to be honest we're guessing he was invited because they suspected him of being an alien.

What we were doing at that age:
Research on what different stuff does when you put it in the microwave began (a study that continues to this day).

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Gregory Smith

Born in 1990, Gregory Smith could read at age two and had enrolled in university at 10. Yeah, we know what you're thinking, "So what? Enrolling in college before the age of 12 doesn't impress us anymore! Hell, compared to that Kim Ung-yong you just mentioned this Greg Smith kid seems like a bit of a dumbass."

So what makes Gregory Smith special enough to earn the prestige of being mentioned in a Cracked article?

Well, research shows that a lot of child prodigies are, to put it delicately, dicks. They tend to either know they're awesome and aren't afraid to flaunt it, or they're anti-social weirdos. Greg Smith, however, actually decided to put his intelligence towards the betterment of his fellow man though, founding an advocacy group for peace and children's rights.

Gregory may or may not be from the Village of the Damned

He met with Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, spoke in front of the UN and was nominated in 2002 for the friggin' Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly he was beaten out for the honor by Jimmy Carter, possibly because of the final round where the contestants have to wrestle.

What we were doing at that age:
We dutifully sold candy bars to raise money for some damned cause or other, mostly by having Mom sell them at the office.

Pablo Picasso

The popular image of Picasso (who's full name was, seriously, Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso) is of the artist in his later years when Picasso was a lovable mistress-hopping misogynist who created art so filthy it would make a construction worker blush. Well, assuming you could make out what was going on.

Picasso made art for most of his 91-year lifespan, and he got an early start. His artistic endeavors had to be briefly delayed until he learned to talk, but once that little hassle was out of the way he immediately insisted his father hand over his brushes and teach him to paint, and nobody says no to Picasso (a fact many a model in her early-20s would learn in later years).

Before the age of 12, Picasso had a total grasp of the fundamentals of art and was producing photo-realistic anatomical sketches, and in his teens he was already considered to be a mature artist who was producing significant works. In an ironic twist considering his amazing abilities as a youngster, as an old man Picasso largely took to drawing child-like pictures, often in crayon. But hey, he was Picasso, he could have taken to finger-painting in pudding and the pictures would still be selling for millions today.

Picasso's famous Kiss My Ass, I'm Picasso (1972)

What we were doing at that age:
The latest triumph in our "Turkeys made from tracings of our hands" series was on display at the prestigious Frigidaire gallery.

Nathan Birch also writes the blindingly intelligent webcomic Zoology.

If you liked that you'll probably enjoy our look at 5 Famous Inventors (Who Stole Their Big Idea). And don't forget to find out why The Mad Lib Answering Machine only sounds like a good idea. Or head to the brand new Official Cracked.com Store and become a startlingly attractive walking advertisement for our site.

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