'I'm 11, I Have a Physics Degree And Want To Make Humans Immortal'

It's hard to remember much about when I was very little, but I know I played a lot with my cousin, Dylan. I didn't particularly mind what we played, I just liked his company. My parents worked a lot, because they had three dental practices in The Netherlands, so I lived with my grandparents in Belgium until I was 9 years old. But I saw my parents during weekends and holidays. I remember, when my mom and dad came to see me, we often visited theme parks, sometimes in the U.S.—Universal Studios was my favorite.

My grandma would always tell my mom and dad that I was very advanced for my age, but they just thought she was bragging, because all grandparents think their grandchildren are special!

At the age of 4, I started elementary school in Ostend, Belgium where I lived, and finished when I was 6. My mom says the school kept giving me tests that I passed until I had finished everything. I did take an IQ test when I was around 6, and I got the highest score available.

I spent the first month of high school in a classroom with all the other kids. We tried it, but it was irritating for me and for them. I would give the answers to each question very quickly; the other students didn't like that and I didn't like it either. So then, they provided me with a private trajectory at the same high school. I went through everything very quickly and I completed high school at 8 years old, but I didn't realize that it was special, I just went with the flow and what the teachers recommended.

I actually preferred high school because I was able to take classes in physics, maths and chemistry. I liked those subjects much more than others, like languages. But I was a bit relieved when I was finished and I could go to university. At university you can choose for yourself the subject you like and want to focus on. I chose physics.

I started at one university but I left there in late 2019 and started my physics course at the University of Antwerp in April 2020. I didn't really have much contact with the other students—most of the time I studied at home because of the pandemic. It was only for exams or lab work that I would go into the university, so I don't really know how the students would have responded to me.

But as I studied more last year, I became more interested in quantum physics. So, after summer vacation in 2020, I decided to pause all the other projects I was working on in different subjects and completely focus on physics. I finished my last undergraduate course in June and I now have my official bachelor's degree in physics. I graduated at the age of 11 with a score of 85 percent, the highest distinction (summa cum laude).

For me, it was never important to obtain the qualifications themselves, even though I am aware that I am the second youngest person in the world to complete a bachelor's degree. Acquiring the actual knowledge is much more important. Furthermore, obtaining the bachelor's degree was a condition for actually starting a master's degree.

I have already taken a few courses for a master's in physics at the University of Antwerp and I want to complete it there. In a bachelor's degree you get a basis of knowledge in physics and quantum physics, but it gets more detailed in a master's.

Laurent Simons hopes to make humans immortal
Laurent Simons achieved a bachelor's degree in physics at the age of 11. Lydia Simons

The main reason I chose to study physics is because my end goal is to achieve immortality. One of the areas that is important in the study of immortality is physics, but as of yet, there is no mapped out path to achieve it.

I am interested in immortality because my grandparents suffer from heart disease. I want to help them and I want to help other kids so they don't have to lose their grandparents. You could look at immortality as a very big puzzle. We have a lot of pieces of the puzzle, which are different studies and research, and it's possible that combining the knowledge from those studies will develop new insights and ideas. Something I am interested in is artificial organs; I would like to be able to replace as many parts of the body as possible with artificial organs. I plan to do a lot of studying, gather a lot of knowledge and then all the pieces will hopefully fit in together and the puzzle of immortality may be solved.

Before COVID-19 I would travel a lot to visit other academic institutions, but now, I am at home a lot more, and I like to wake up later in the morning, sometimes at 11am!

Mondays I have a group meeting with the rest of a research group I am part of that is looking into the theory of complex quantum systems. On Wednesdays I watch the TV show Loki and on Saturdays I watch The Blacklist, so I always get up early for both of those shows.

After breakfast, I do all the studying I need to do for university. But at 3 or 4pm when my friends are done with school and homework, I play with them. We play video games or watch movies together. I don't really talk to them about studying, we just hang out as kids.

Laurent Simons hopes to make humans immortal
Laurent Simons plans to solve the mystery of immortality. But when he isn't studying, he enjoys playing videogames and watching movies with his friends. Lydia Simons

My mom says that she and my dad are very, very proud of me. They think what I do is amazing. But I just went with the flow when I was growing up, I didn't know all this would happen.

Antwerp will remain my base, but I plan to collaborate with other universities in places like Israel, the U.K. and the U.S. I already have a number of projects that I am busy with but, at this stage, I can't share who they are with! In the future, I think I will do a PhD at the University of Antwerp and then, I would like to have a laboratory where I can do as much research as I want.

Laurent Simons lives in Antwerp, Belgium with his parents. He will begin studying for a master's degree at the University of Antwerp in October. You can follow him on Instagram @laurent_simons.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Jenny Haward.