Jake: Math prodigy proud of his autism

At age two, Jake Barnett was diagnosed with autism and his future was unclear. Now at age 13, Jake is a college sophomore and a math and science prodigy. Jake says his autism is key to his success.

Safer: You still remember them?

Jake Barnett: Yes, I do.

Safer: In the same order?

Jake Barnett: And I could still go backwards.

Safer: And backwards. Give me five or ten.

Jake Barnett: Kentucky, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Washington, Missouri, Texas, Utah, Colorado...

While some may dismiss Jake's talent as simply a gift of remarkable memory, his physics professor says the boy is much more than a human calculator.

Safer: Is it just memory or something else?

Yogesh Joglekar: It is definitely something else. The great memory does help him, of course. Because once he reads something, he remembers it. But what is more important is that he has the drive to learn more. He definitely stands out as a powerhouse of raw talent.

Professor Yogesh Jogelcar oversaw Jake's research project. Their work was published in "Physical Review A". Jake is the youngest person to be published in that prestigious physics journal.

[Jake Barnett: The whole randomness thing that's like completely against all of physics.]

He plans to continue his research building on Einstein's theory of relativity. His parents say he takes on these challenges with an easy grace.

Michael Barnett: He has his own little tight knit group of friends that he hangs out with, that he studies with. He leads study groups. I have college-aged girls calling the house, wanting to know if Jake is available to study during finals, when I go to campus with him, it's like I'm walking around with Elvis.

So far the king seems to keep his celebrity status in check, more or less.

Jake Barnett: Practically everyone knows who I am.

Safer: Are you a star on this campus?

Jake Barnett: Big man on campus.

But the little big man says he enjoys nothing more than using his talent to help his fellow classmates see the beauty he sees in the numbers.

[Student: Thanks Jake.

Jake Barnett: You're welcome.]

Jake Barnett: I kinda wanna try to use that to end the whole math phobia thing.

Safer: Because there's so many people like me and millions of others-- are scared of math. Are scared of science. Correct?

Jake Barnett: Yeah.

Safer: Why is that so funny? You almost can't understand how anyone could be?

Jake Barnett: Exactly. Yeah.

Jake is writing a book to help us overcome our fear of math and he's on track to graduate at age 14 when he hopes to begin his Ph.D. studies.