Sunday, August 13, 2006

The original Rain Man

Today on page 20 in the Sun Herald's Life section, I read a very very very intriguing article about the extraordinary Daniel Tammet who has a very rare condition called Synaesthesia.

People who have Synaesthesia have this uncanny ability to perceive numbers and words in shapes and colours in their mind. They are likely to have amazing mathematical abilities, but some may suffer Autistic or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tendencies.

This article I found online tells how Daniel Tammet is able to calculate 37 raised to the power of 4 in less than a minute (the answer is 1,874,161), and how he divided 13 by 97 up to 100 decimal places (the researchers had the answer only up to 32 decimal places). He can recite the number Pi to 22,500 decimal places, can speak nine languages and is able to learn a new one in just seven days.

I think the intriguing thing about him is because he is one of the very few of his kind who is able to explain and describe what actually goes on in his mind. It's a very beautiful thing to get a glimpse into this window of such a special person's mind.

Even with my deaf/hearing-impaired friend whom I met in Perth, I liked to ask her questions about how she can feel certain sounds and how she tries to make out the meaning of certain fuzzy sounds she hears around her.

Going further back, I remember an incident when I went out with dad to visit the Sabah Blind Society. We picked up one of the blind persons from his workplace and drove on together to the Blind Society's centre. I watched curiously as his hand moved along the leather seat linings as he chatted with dad about what car dad was driving and the technical details of the vehicle.

How profound it is to imagine how their perception is so diversely different from my own perception of my world. Isn't diversity of minds so amazing?

Anyway, back to this Daniel Tammet I was reading...

This fellow actually wrote a book called Born on a Blue Day. I just itching to get this book. But we are now not allowed to buy any new items which will add to our weight (every little bit adds up) until we are settled down at our new place in Perth. (Self control, Serene... Self control...)

I Googled this guy and his book and discovered that he keeps a blog (woohoo!). Check out these entries where he describes how he experiences words, how he perceives different colours and textures of the days of the week, and also talks about on being a Christian

After finishing the article, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what colour my name "Serene" would look like. So far I just see the letters in black and white. I'll try again later and try concentrating harder and let you know the results...

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