This 13-Year-Old Will be Earning His PhD in Physics

Physics student’s enthusiasm inspires the world.

Elliott Tanner presents a physics calculation.

(Courtesy Michelle Tanner)

Elliott Tanner is 13. He goes to school, plays with friends, and is very inquisitive. What sets this teen apart from his buddies is that his school is a university and his passion is physics. This young and brilliant boy may be on his way to advancing the world of science and is inspiring others along the way.

Elliott already has a bachelor's degree with a major in physics and a minor in math from the University of Minnesota, according to ABC News. His goal is to get a PhD and become a high-energy theoretical physicist.  

“I have an incredible passion for physics,” Elliott told ABC News. “It’s been one of my favorite things to do.”

A child prodigy 
Elliott’s parents started to recognize their son’s brilliance when he was very young, according to Live Science. He displayed incredible math and reading skills at the age of three, and by the time he entered kindergarten, his parents realized that he needed more than a traditional education

“He was talking about particle accelerators when he was five years old, when other kids were pretending to be Superman on the playground,” his mother Michelle Tanner told Live Science.

And so child prodigy Elliott Tanner was homeschooled, devouring books and consuming information at an astonishingly quick rate. When he discovered the world of physics, his eyes opened even wider as he was inspired to learn the secrets of the world.

The power of physics
“Physics holds power to describe the physical world,” Elliott wrote on his personal website. “It is stunning to me that physics can describe everything from the way rays of cosmic particles shower in the atmosphere to the way galaxies perform their cosmic dance. Physics is omnipresent in my day-to-day life.”

With intelligence and an enthusiasm to learn, Elliott graduated in May 2020 at the age of 11 with an Associate of Science degree. He continued studying, recently obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree on May 12, 2022.

The next step is a PhD, but since the university did not offer funding, his family decided to help their son, who is now one of the youngest holders of a BS degree in the world. They reached out to the world by setting up a GoFundMe page. Inspired donors who support brilliant minds were quick to help and funds poured in. Elliott now has the expenses to cover two years of the program.

Making time for child-like fun
His family is touched and grateful that their son can continue to accelerate his learning. Yet text books and tutoring are not Elliott’s full-time passion. Elliott makes time to be a kid. “He still very much is a kid and the only difference is he goes to school in a different building,” Tanner told ABC News.

Elliott enjoys two sides of life; he presents high-level research to the physics department and plays with neighborhood buddies at a cardboard camp. He embraces both his young age and advanced mind, becoming an inspiration to people around the world.

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