Monday, March 19, 2007

"289 is an ugly number"

Last week, Jonathan the brainiac became excited by March 14th. Evidently it's Pi Day (3.14), and every geek in the universe celebrates in some geeky way. I suggested taking a pie to school, which they would have gladly eaten, but was ultimately rejected as cliche and obvious. I have no idea how they finally celebrated. Do I care? Not really.

I was impressed, though, by some guy who recited Pi to like the millionth place. Maybe my math isn't quite accurate--consider the number metaphorical, in case somebody out there is excited by the literal number 1,000,000. Anyway, this guy was definitely the topic of dinner conversation, and being math-phobic myself, relegated the conversation to the dustbin of my mind.

This afternoon, while scrolling through the news at lunchtime, I ran across these video clips of the guy Jonathan had been talking about. His name is Daniel Tammet, and he's considered a savant. Not too long ago, I was researching something called synesthesia, which is seeing words and numbers in colors, and it turns out Tammet sees number like that. If you have the time and the inclination, the link has a series of video clips that illustrate his gift, and also share some personal experiences from the young man.

It's an amazing gift, and at the same time, it seems a bit of a burden for him. Most savants have some kind of mental impairment, and while Tammet was diagnosed with Asberger's, he seems to be a high functioning savant. He speaks a little bit about his disability, too. Check it out.

Meanwhile, I need to get back to my calculator to finish figuring out final grades.

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