Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with autism at age two. Despite the odds, Jacob found a love for the field of theoretical physics which helped to draw him out of his silent world. The story of this is detailed in the book The Spark, published by Random House. The book is an international bestseller. Jacob is now researching Loop Quantum Gravity and Quantum Foundations at Perimeter Institute for Advanced Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada.
In 2011, the Daily Mail published a feature that, based on interviews with Mrs. Barnett, stated that Barnett had, in a (now deleted) video of him that Mrs. Barnett had uploaded to her YouTube feed, expanded Einstein’s theory of relativity. A Time feature followed shortly thereafter, also stating that Barnett had proved Einstein wrong.
Phil Plait, a science blogger for Discover Magazine, criticized the lack of basic scientific understanding and credibility of the Time article, saying that although it is possible that Barnett may someday expand Einstein’s theory of relativity, he has not yet done so, and nor would he likely ever be able to disprove it.
Twelve-year-old Barnett’s own comment in 2011 about the problem he had been working on, was: “I’m still working on that, I have an idea, but… I’m still working out the details.” In 2012, Barnett stated that he had solved the problem, but declined to give details as he had not yet published the result. In 2013, CTV News reported that, six years earlier Barnett had “built a series of mathematical models expanding Einstein’s theory of relativity” that an unnamed Princeton University professor “described as groundbreaking”. As of 2014, apart from the deleted YouTube video, no details of Barnett’s claimed theory have been published.