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Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math Genius 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the ace-your-exam-in-one-easy-step dept.
mpicpp sends in the story of Jason Padgett, a man who developed extraordinary mathematical abilities as the result of brain trauma when he was attacked outside a bar. "Padgett, a furniture salesman from Tacoma, Wash., who had very little interest in academics, developed the ability to visualize complex mathematical objects and physics concepts intuitively. The injury, while devastating, seems to have unlocked part of his brain that makes everything in his world appear to have a mathematical structure 'I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life' — from the geometry of a rainbow, to the fractals in water spiraling down a drain, Padgett told Live Science." "He describes his vision as 'discrete picture frames with a line connecting them, but still at real speed.' If you think of vision as the brain taking pictures all the time and smoothing them into a video, it's as though Padgett sees the frames without the smoothing. "
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Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math Genius

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  • Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @06:25PM (#46934509)

    Padgett dislikes the concept of infinity, because he sees every shape as a finite construction of smaller and smaller units that approach what physicists refer to as the Planck length, thought to be the shortest measurable length.

    So, the bang on the head didn't help him improve his abstract thinking after all. How can someone be an "aspiring number theorist" and dislike the concept of infinity? That's like being an aspiring blacksmith and disliking the concept of tempering carbon steel.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @06:53PM (#46934765)

    Practically, the end of Pi is around 760-some digits [wikipedia.org], where you start to sound like Herman Cain [youtube.com]. At that point, diameters won't be more than a Planck length off.

    If you're using it for the geometry of the physical world, then you'd be correct. Fortunately however, Pi is used for far more than measuring the physical world.

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:05PM (#46934903) Homepage

    You mean other than going from a party boy furniture salesman to a student of mathematics specializing in number theory?

    Savantism doesn't mean an ability practically nobody else has (though it can be that), it is an ability that is out of context for the person who has it.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @03:45AM (#46937223) Journal
    I wouldn't say no one else does it. From his description, it sounds exactly like how the world looks after taking magic mushrooms. It's no surprise that a brain injury can permanently create effects that a psychoactive substance can create temporarily...

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