Generally thought of as a savant. Daniel Tammet has an incredible brain capable of unbelievable mathematical computations. He claims to be capable of these remarkable calculations bevause he can see numbers as shapes and colours. This confusion of the sense is known as synesthesia.
Daniel Paul Tammet, Incredible Brain
A remarkable young man, exhibiting stunning mental abilities. Daniel Paul Tammet born 31 Jan 1979 claims to see colours and sparks, which he can somehow relate to words and numbers. Scientists consider him a gold mine to further the investigation into the understanding of brain activity and potential.
Daniel claims that since the age of four, he has been able to do huge mathematical calculations in his head. So the makers of this documentary put him to the test.
They asked him to calculate 37 raised to the power of 4. He completed this in less than a minute, giving the correct answer of 1,874,161.
While considering the question, it was observed that, he appeared to be drawing shapes on the table with his finger.
When asked about this, he explained that he could see the numbers as shapes and colours in his mind. This breakdown or confusion of the senses is known as synesthesia.
Mathematical Genius – Synesthesia, Savant
Next he was asked to divide 13 by 97. This time the researchers had the answer to 32 decimal places, Daniel gave the answer and continued beyond 32. He claims he can do the calculations to 100 decimal places.
He appears to be doing the mathematical calculations without actually thinking about it, which seems preposterous, but if true, blows away scientific theory.
Daniel’s talents do not stop at numbers. Linguistics is another skill of Danield Tammet.And, he is able to speak nine languages.
And, claims to be able to learn a new one in just seven days.
To put this to the test, the documentary team shipped Daniel off to Iceland for a week. His Icelandic tutor described their language as immensely complex and considered it an impossibility for anyone to learn in only one week.
Daniel Tammet was to appear on an Icelandic talk show at the end of his week to discuss his experience in their native tongue.
Although he appeared to struggle to begin with, in the last few days his tutor said “He was like a sponge, absorbing all words and grammar at a phenomenal rate”.
He made his television appearance with great success.
In March of 2004 Daniel had his own surprise, in Oxford, England, he would recite the number Pi to 22,500 decimal places, in public in front of a team of invigilators to verify his accuracy. After just over five hours he had completed this extraordinary memory feat.
Daniel Tammet with an Incredible Brain
His childhood holds a clue to his incredible brain and synethsesia. As a small child he suffered a number of severe seizures. These seizures were later diagnosed as epilepsy.
Ever since this time he has been able to see the patterns in numbers.
While this is rare, there are other cases where individuals have suffered injury to the brain only to emerge with a similar startling talent. Orlando Serrill took a blow to the side of his head, from a baseball. When he was only ten years old.
Since when, he has been able to recall the day, date and weather of every day since the accident.
The scientific community refer to people with these extraordinary memory skills as savants of which there are only a handful in the world.
The condition is often associated with autism. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen a Cambridge University, a neuroscientist, describes autism as a mix of ability and disability.
Ability and Disability
However, Daniel Paul Tammet displays the ability with no obvious sign of disability. Daniel Tammet, as a baby, cried constantly up until the age of two.
He could only be soothed by being rocked in a blanket forming a hammock. Soothing by repetitious movement is, according to Prof. Baron-Cohen, indicative of autism.
By most measures, Daniel Tammet is autistic but he has managed to develop the social skills to blend in.
Dane Buttino, another savant, displays phenomenal artistic skills, but his language and social skills remain child-like. Unlike Dane, Daniel can describe what he is experiencing, making him very valuable to science.
Next in Daniel’s travels is a trip to Salt Lake City. Where he will meet Kim Peek, probably the world’s best known savant and the original Rain Man. Kim has a double photographic memory and can recall everything he has ever read. He speed reads by scanning opposing pages at the same time, one page with each eye.
We finish by visiting San Diego Center for Brain Studies where two very sceptical scientists, Shai Azoulai and Professor V.S. Ramachandran are going to put Daniel through his paces.
As expected, his numeracy skills were flawless. But, the scientists remain sceptical of his ability. They don’t believe he can relate coloured shapes to complex numbers. So, they challenge him to make putty models of the shapes he sees for a given set of numbers.
The following day, they ask the same to test the consistency of his shapes. When he excels in the tests. The scientists have to concede. His incredible brain has left them amazed.
Not all brain health issues result in autism. Clive Wearing is the man with the 7 second memory.
Daniel Paul Tammet – Wikipedia Page