Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Brains and brawn, and brains (and branes)

I've bookmarked a few videos over the last couple of months of people doing things which people simply shouldn't be able to do, both mentally and physically and thought I'd share them.

The first is the story of Daniel Tammat, a British boy with an unusual form of Autism. He is an autistic savant, but very high functioning in that his social interaction, one of the key impairments of many people with autism, is largely unaffected. His ability shows up through a form of synaesthesia which links colours and shapes with numbers. It appears that he can perform incredible mathematical calculations simply by manipulating the images in his head. Don't be fooled by the first few calculations he pulls of, which are the sorts of mental trickery which I've seen other people perform, and impressive though it is, it's not the result, but how he gets there which is most interesting. He even has a feeling for the properties of numbers, such as whether one is prime or not. Such 'feelings' must surely be limited, but they are stunning nonetheless. At the end of the video Daniel shows off his other talent which is for languages, when he goes to Iceland to see if he can get familiar with some local phrases.

(Part one of five:)

See the whole video here.

The other videos are shorter but impressive nonetheless.

From the mental to the physical and a couple of videos from Tim Ferris which appealed to me. I'm sure that when I was at primary school, people would try break dancing which invariably involved some pseudo-Cossack dance with an attempted head spin. Things it seems move on and this video is frankly unbelievable. Some of the things he does suggest that his centre of mass is rather further up his body than that of most 'normal' human beings, but then normal isn't an adjective that describes this guy very effectively! Frankly I find watching this just incredible and it makes me chuckle to realise that most of us push ourselves to extremes so rarely.
Also check out another French guy named Lilou who I believe is the world number one break dancer currently, and while he is insanely impressive, I find his dancing more like contortion than an art.

Also, for another video of people doing amazing things, this time with footballs on the streets of Mexico, have a look here. Somewhere between Parkour, Capoeira and keepy-uppys, even if on occasion the ball is CGI, it's impressive to watch.

And back to the mind...

If you ever thought that Rubik's cube was too devious for you, or indeed too easy, then you will be appauled or pleased respectively to know that there are order-7 Rubik's cubes out there. Once you know that there are algorithms for solving such things the amazement lessens, as it's not a matter of knowing every step in advance to go from the beginning to the end.

From The Unapologetic Mathematician - John, of course, has more on the mathematics of this.

Anyway, I have T-dualities to get back to, hope you find something inspiring in the above

1 comment:

Kaz Maslanka said...

yep this guy is mind blowing!