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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Man With The Amazing Brain

I was astonished to read about Tammet. He can recite the number Pi to its 22514th digit !.

Below is an article about him and his abilities from Wikipedia.

Daniel Paul Tammet (born January 31, 1979) is a British autistic gifted with a facility for mathematics problems, sequence memory, and natural language learning.

He was born with congenital childhood epilepsy. His autism was a result of a series of seizures as a young child.

Experiencing numbers as colors or sensations is a well-documented form of synaesthesia, but Tammet is unique in how specific his mental imagery of numbers is: he claims that in his mind each number up to 10,000 has its own unique shape and feel, and he can "sense" whether a number is prime or divisible, and "see" results of calculations as landscapes in his head.

Tammet holds the European record for remembering and recounting pi, recounting it in a several-hour session to its 22514th digit. [1]

Professor Allan Snyder at the Australian National University said of Tammet: "Savants can't usually tell us how they do what they do. It just comes to them. Daniel can. He describes what he sees in his head. That's why he's exciting. He could be the Rosetta Stone." He can speak at least English, French, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Icelandic, and Esperanto. He likes Estonian very much because it is so special and rich in vowels. He has even changed his second name to Estonian-based word Tammet, which comes from the Estonian word Tamm meaning oak. Tammet is making a new language called mänti. Mänti has many features related to Finnish and Estonian.

He was the subject of a documentary in the UK titled The Boy With The Amazing Brain that was broadcast on Five on May 24, 2005 (also broadcast under the title "Brain Man"). It showed highlights of his feat of recalling pi as well as his meeting with Kim Peek, another individual who is famous for having savant skills. In one emotional moment of the show, Peek hugged Tammet and told him "some day you may be as brilliant as me."

Tammet claims he can learn a new language within a week. For the documentary film about him, Tammet was challenged to learn Icelandic. Within seven days he was conversing well enough in Icelandic to undergo a live television interview about his skills, and chat freely with the hosts. He is a keen and improving golfer. [Read More]


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