Mental Floss

(7) Hypatia vs. (10) Marilyn vos Savant

Tournament of Genius

(7) Hypatia

Think sexism kept women out of math until fairly recently? Think again. Hypatia, who lived in fourth- and fifth-century Alexandria, was one of the most notable mathematicians of her day. Hypatia wrote commentaries on some of math's most important texts and also made advanced astronomical studies. Furthermore, she lectured to a large number of followers on both math and Neoplatonist philosophy, another discipline in which she excelled. Unfortunately, brains were not so popular in those days, and Hypatia was murdered as a pagan by a Christian mob.

(10) Marilyn vos Savant

If you want to establish yourself as a genius, getting your name into the Guinness Book of World Records next to "Highest IQ" is probably a decent strategy. It's tough to get a firm estimate of extremely high IQs, but estimates of vos Savant's score range from 167 to 230. So yeah, she's a sharp cookie. While we might assume someone so brilliant would be a little "off," vos Savant's actually an acclaimed public speaker and the author of a popular column in Parade magazine in which she answers reader's questions.

The Breakdown

Tough call here. Both are undeniably geniuses, but who's the brighter star: the brilliant mathematician who paid the ultimate price or the media personality whose IQ is so high that psychologists can't even reliably measure it?


[See the whole bracket here.]