I assume they still exist. The world has more people and due to the Flynn effect people are smarter now. So naturally if anything there should be more supergeniuses than ever before.
But there used to be people like Newton, von Neumann or Einstein who were recognized geniuses who were recognized for standing above all the others. I can’t think of many today like that.
Is it just because all the low hanging fruit has been picked, and nobody can make truly groundbreaking research by themselves now? Or is it that science has become so abstract that supergeniuses are not recognized outside their field? Or is it because there truly are so many highly intelligent people now that it is harder to stand out? Maybe people as smart as Einstein are just considered good physicists now, and there are so many of them and their work so abstract that nobody notices.
People like Edward Witten or Terence Tao are probably modern supergeniuses (I declare trademark on that word) but I doubt most people know who they are outside their fields. Maybe it is like that and there are so many, and science is so advanced and abstract, that it is hard to be noticed.
Einstein didn’t really do the research on his own. He used to work of those who came before. He certainly made contributions to the work, but it was certainly not a matter of him developing all of the ideas that led to his breakthroughs on his own.
At the time of einstein, you could get just about all the knowledge that humankind had at its disposal by the time you graduated from university.
Someone as intelligent as eitnstien or newton today would still be able to make contributions, but not until they had sutdied the field for a decade or more just to catch up with where we currently are. Any contributions they would make then, would be a bit obscure to the public. Great strides are made in string theory, and there are some stupid smart people working in that field, but until it can make not only predictions that are testable, but some sort of improvement or change in the daily lives of epopel, no one will ever hear abou tthem outside their field.
We don’t necessarily know who the super-geniuses of the past were, either. The OP only named about one per century, so quite a bit of the time in recent centuries, there wasn’t one, either.
People like Tesla were super-geniuses, and I never even heard his name until I was maybe in my 40s. Can a person be a super-genius without leaving scientific or technological markers? How about people like Tolstoy? Michelangelo? Franklin? Some recent ones like Will Durant? Noam Chomsky?
There are many unbelievably brilliant and accomplished people in the world. Are any of them super-geniuses? I doubt the term has any meaning at all. Recognition in popular culture also has no meaning. Leibnitz was as smart as Newton and better in more areas. We recognize Newton because of four centuries of British propaganda. Einstein was certainly brilliant, but so were the physicists who developed quantum mechanics, a field that Einstein always had problems with. Tesla was a good engineer for a few years and nothing more. He did essentially nothing of interest in the 20th century.
If you mention Terence Tao you overlook John Horton Conway, the breadth of whose career in so many fields of math is phenomenal. And there is undoubtedly someone like him you don’t know in every field of endeavor. Not all “super-geniuses” are confined to physics and math.
This is hopefully accurate. It just feels like in the past you had smart people, but you also had groundbreakingly smart people who revolutionized certain fields and were in a class all their own. It doesn’t feel like that is the case anymore, but maybe they are all just so numerous, working on esoteric subjects and not in the media’s eyes so nobody notices them.
Maybe it just takes a while for the rest of society to catch up with a super genius. In a hundred years, people might look at things which have developed from ideas by people like Witten or Tao and retroactively realize they sparked major scientific revolutions. You have to wonder, for example, how many members of the general public recognized the significance of Einstein’s ideas in 1917, even though he had already published some of his most important work.