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Friday, May 11, 2007

How it's like to remember 22,500 digits of Pi

The Boy with the Incredible Brain ( Channel 5 rip on Google Video )

Remember Max Cohen in the movie Pi when the little child with the calculator asks him to do some difficult calculation? Daniel Tammet, beats Max and Daniel is real. But probably just as mad as Max. His disease is called autism.

I don't believe in his brilliance. If he was so brilliant why does he spend time learning the digits of Pi instead of coming up with some new identities for Pi which will deepen the understanding of Pi in the entire mathematical community? The researchers researching him aren't mathematicians but people who think math and arithmetic are one and the same.

Tammet is clever in the way he exploits his ability. There is nothing wrong with that. I don't expect any breakthroughs in science of him though. The real geniuses are working hard, day and night, far away from the publicity.

In the movie he meets the real Rain Man. He is certainly amazing. When you ask Rainman a questions like: "If Churchill would still live today, how old would he be and on what day of the week would be his birthday?" he answers immediately, and correct, of course.

People like Rainman and Tammet are called savants.

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