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Man becomes math genius after head injury in bar fight?

Man becomes math genius after head injury in bar fight?

When Jason Padgett pours cream into his morning coffee, this is what he sees: “I watch the cream stirred into the brew. The perfect spiral is an important shape to me. It’s a fractal. Suddenly, it’s not just my morning cup of joe, it’s geometry speaking to me.”

Padgett’s world is bursting with mathematical patterns. He is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand. Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ Theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.
He sees the parts that make up the whole. And his world is never boring, never without amazement. Even his dreams are made up of geometry.

Flashback 12 years: Padgett had dropped out of Tacoma (Wash.) Community College, and was a self-described “goof” with zero interest in academics, let alone math. His life was one adrenaline rush after another: cliff-jumping, sky-diving, bar-hopping. He was the “life of the party.” The guy who would funnel a beer before going out and would slip a bottle of Southern Comfort in his jacket pocket to avoid paying $6 for mixed drinks.

“I thought it would go on that way forever,” Padgett says.

Party time came to end the night of Friday, Sept. 13, 2002, at a karaoke bar near his home. There, two men attacked him from behind, punching him in the back of the head, knocking him unconscious. He fell to the ground as the two men punched and kicked him, stopping only when he handed over his worthless jacket.

He was rushed to the hospital, where a CT scan revealed a bruised kidney. He was released that same night. The next morning, while running the water in the bathroom, he noticed “lines emanating out perpendicularly from the flow. At first, I was startled, and worried for myself, but it was so beautiful that I just stood in my slippers and stared.” When he extended his hand out in front of him, it was like “watching a slow-motion film,” as if ­every slight movement was in stop-motion animation.

Days went by, but the visuals remained.

Padgett, who had scored relatively high on IQ tests in elementary school but reached only pre-algebra in high school, soon became “obsessed with every shape in my house, from rectangles of the windows to the curvature of a spoon.” When he looked at numbers, colorful shapes superimposed over them.

He stopped going to work and began to read anything he could get his hands on about math and physics. He developed a fascination with fractals and pi.

The doctors called what happened to him a “profound concussion.” Little did they know just how profound it was. Padgett is one of only 40 people in the world with “acquired ­savant syndrome,” a condition in which prodigious talents in math, art or music emerge in previously normal individuals following a brain injury or disease.

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{Acquired ­savant syndrome is a three word phrase with a lot of gravitas. It can change your life in extraordinary ways. It shows how complicated, intricate and complex the human brain is. It seems to have potential to do things that we are far from understanding. Amazing things that often defy logic or explanation. The human brain is an universe in itself full of wonders and mystery.

Yet the brains of geniuses such as Albert Einstein show in post-mortem exams to be seeming normal in every way. There's nothing there you could point at that says "here lies genius". We know that exterior stimulus such as electro-shock or sharp blows can turn on hidden facilities that are there but not generally used. Internal disease can also have a profound effect on how the brain works and of course alcohol and drugs are common ways to re-arrange brain chemistry if only for a short time.

Who knows what the human brain is capable of and what circumstances must be present to release its full potential. Genius of some sort may lie in wait in all of us. The understanding of the human brain my change the human race in ways we cannot yet imagine. Our continued evolution may be tied into that which makes us different from all the other animals on the planet. The ability of our brains. Whatever we may become in the future may be simply where our brains take us. What do you think of it all?}

"libido sciendi"..... the passion to know.
4/21/2014, 9:12 pm Link to this post PM Noserose

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