National Geographic : 2017 May
genius 55 there would be genes related to that ability.” He and his colleagues view their work as the begin- ning of an expedition that will lead them down new pathways as DNA gives up its secrets. The quest to unravel the origins of genius may never reach an end point. Like the universe, its mysteries will continue to challenge us, even as we reach for the stars. For some, that is as it should be. “I don’t want to figure it out at all,” says Keith Jarrett when I ask if he is comfortable not knowing how his music takes hold. “If someone offered me the answer, I’d say, Take it away.” In the end it may be that the journey is illuminating enough and that the insights it reveals along the way—about the brain, about our genes, about the way we think—will nurture glimmers of genius in not just the rare individual but in us all. j Mathematician Terence Tao’s formulas on fluid dynamics are written on the blackboard behind him. Hailed for his “otherworldly ingenuity,” Tao won the prestigious Fields Medal in 2006 at the age of 31. Yet he rejects lofty notions of genius. What really matters, he writes, is “hard work, directed by intuition, literature, and a bit of luck.” Claudia Kalb wrote Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities for National Geographic Books. Photographer Paolo Woods lives in Florence, Italy. This is his first story for the magazine. Find out if you could be related to a genius with the new Geno 2.0 kit, available at genographic.com/genius.