Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math Genius

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the ace-your-exam-in-one-easy-step dept.

Math 208

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. "

cancel ×

208 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

No story here, move along (5, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 4 months ago | (#46934395)

Can someone explain to me exactly what is so marvelous about what this dude can supposedly "see"?

A google search reveals a history of his story popping up from time to time - probably whenever he can find a venue to promote himself, and whenever sites like Slashdot get duped into posting about him - but I found nothing that describes anything that he's actually able to intuit about math since this injury other than a bunch of crap about how he can 'see mathematical patterns' now. Awesome - so how about parlaying that into any statement that demonstrates any extraordinary grasp of math? Because in all my searching, I haven't found this dude to have ever said anything that anyone couldn't easily just make up.

I also found this comical link to "End of Pi Found" on some Physics forum:

http://lofi.forum.physorg.com/... [physorg.com]

Not sure if it's the same guy but it was posted by a Jason Padgett who says he is a "math/physics student in Washington state", and the Jason Padgett in the article is supposedly from Tacoma, Washington. Note that the post was from 2008 and the article that Slashdot has linked to describes Padgett as a "sophomore in college". Some math genius - still a sophomore in college 6 years later!

Slashdot, why do you waste my time with this crap?

I swear, Slashdot editors are worse than the patent office; they don't do even he smallest amount of verification before rubber stamping what is presented to them and pushing it out.

Re:No story here, move along (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#46934465)

I swear, Slashdot editors are worse than the patent office; they don't do even he smallest amount of verification before rubber stamping what is presented to them and pushing it out.

You must be new here.

Re:No story here, move along (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46936675)

Says the 6-digit to the 3-digit user ...

Re:No story here, move along (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#46934485)

I was going to post something like this but less involved. This dude is being called a savant for no reason, as he does not actually inhibit any savant-like skills, or really any skills at all. The only concrete detail I was able to find is that he once drew a pattern of triangles in a circle.

Re:No story here, move along (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#46934903)

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.

A "Feyn" place to end Pi (0)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#46934493)

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.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 4 months ago | (#46934739)

Seems like we could probably stop at about 187 digits, really. The radius of the observable universe in planck lengths (call it X) is about 2.7*10^61, which makes the observable volume (4*pi*X^3) about (8*10^184)*pi cubic planck units. The value of the 186th digit of pi (after the decimal) should only affect the final volume by about 0.7 units; going much beyond that seems unnecessary :)

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935443)

Yeah, the world is flat after all and we understand 100% of everything right now. Nothing new will be discovered and we will never be wrong.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (2)

Skarjak (3492305) | about 4 months ago | (#46935913)

I sense some sarcasm in this post, somehow...

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935045)

Pi is used for far more than measuring the physical world

As a relation, yes, but the actual numbers for pi are useless outside of the real world.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (3, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | about 4 months ago | (#46935313)

Indeed. And if you define pi as the smallest positive real number whose cosine is -1, the Planck length becomes immaterial.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (2)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 4 months ago | (#46936059)

It's considerably smaller than that.
63 decimal places can calculate the circumference of the observable universe to an accuracy of one planck length.
I can't think of a single practical application that would have any need to calculate a distance that large to that level of precision.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 4 months ago | (#46936099)

It's considerably smaller than that.
63 decimal places can calculate the circumference of the observable universe to an accuracy of one planck length.
I can't think of a single practical application that would have any need to calculate a distance that large to that level of precision.

To build my full scale working model of the universe of course how else are you going to build your turing oracle.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934993)

ridiculous, That only applies to numbers in base 10

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (5, Funny)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#46935159)

ridiculous, That only applies to numbers in base 10

Just imagine a number system of base-pi, or possibly base-rad. Of course, then people would be debating how many digits "10" should be approximated to for useful work (like counting your fingers).

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935775)

Just imagine a number system of base-pi, or possibly base-rad.

I confess that I cannot. Please explain how a number system can exist wherein there is only one number that can be defined, or how there can be one wherein the base is arguably not a number at all.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (0)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 4 months ago | (#46936065)

You cannot because it's not possible. A 'base' is the number of unique symbols in the number system. You can't have partial symbols; you can have 3 symbols for base 3, and 4 symbols for base 4, but you cannot have 3.1415xxx symbols for base Pi.

You might as well ask what it would be like to have a "base yellow" number system or a "base CmdrTaco" number system. Meaningless.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46936423)

Why can't I have 3.1415xxx symbols? I certainly can have exactly that many symbols. I may not be able to enumerate them individually but in theoretical mathematics that is no bar to having them.

Base PI would have 3.1415xxx symbols for each digit with the least significant digit having a value between 0 and PI. A two digit base PI number would have a value from 0 to PI squared and 3 digit number 0 to PI cubed.

Now actually writing this numbers down might be a serious challenge, or a fun math problem depending on how you look at it but not possible? Come, on, if I can have the square root of -1 I can formulate a representation for base-PI

Of course I can at this time think of no practical application but they used to say that about base 2 as well.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 4 months ago | (#46936715)

so you would have an enumeration system where you can't enumerate. I think you miss the definition of symbol somehow. maybe your harddisk also has half a bit at the end.

Re:A "Feyn" place to end Pi (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 4 months ago | (#46935897)

Did you even realize that you had Godwinned the thread at this point? ;^)

Re:No story here, move along (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 4 months ago | (#46934501)

I was also wondering how much this seeing ability contributes to actual, productive math ability. The visions described remind me of what, erm, some people see when on acid.

I'm particularly interested in the idea, being mathematically minded myself, and I believe my ability to conceptualize things in many visual dimensions is an important factor. Nevertheless, there is rarely a direct translation from my pictorial musings into hard and solid math. Visualization helps you get new ideas, but it's implementing them in some rigorous language that's the hard part. I guess it's the linguistic tendencies that might help there...

Re:No story here, move along (2)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#46935143)

My understanding is that advanced maths becomes almost exclusively symbol manipulation. I could intuit a lot of physics stuff and easily attach equations to concepts but when it came to the quantum stuff, it was a totally different story. That could have just been the way it was taught though.

Re:No story here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934521)

That forum link seems to be genuine as the guys appears to be obsessed [www.cbc.ca] with pi. I guess that if you believe you are genius, you are or at least there's an app for that.

Re: No story here, move along (1)

alex4u2nv (869827) | about 4 months ago | (#46934553)

Looks like his human graphics card was fried.
I guess calling yourself math and physics intuitive is a good way of coping with 8th graphics and no 3d driver :)

Re: No story here, move along (1)

alex4u2nv (869827) | about 4 months ago | (#46934571)

*8bit. Auto correct on phone made it an 8th.

Re: No story here, move along (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 4 months ago | (#46935915)

Your comment inspired me to take computer graphics to the 8th level!

Re: No story here, move along (2)

peragrin (659227) | about 4 months ago | (#46934719)

I don't know about fried but that was my thought. the injury cross linked his normal "cpu" and vision "GPU" basically using his normal vision processing as a massive floating point processor. Not unlike using your GPU to mine bit coins or do other massively parallel processing.

Re:No story here, move along (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46934565)

No one else does it, it's another way to look how parts of the brain function.
Acquired savant syndrome is an interesting subject.

I wouldn't call a guy who sees angles and connected shapes a math genius, but it is interesting and unique,

Re:No story here, move along (3, Informative)

tobiasly (524456) | about 4 months ago | (#46934573)

The neuroscientists who have been studying his brain seem fairly convinced he's not making it up. Though calling him a "math genius" doesn't necessarily seem warranted (at least not yet... maybe it's a case where formal study will allow him to apply his abilities more specifically?), I don't think they would diagnose him with what they're calling acquired savant syndrome without some evidence.

Maybe read the book? Even the top negative review seems to give weight to his claim:

http://www.amazon.com/Struck-G... [amazon.com]

Re:No story here, move along (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46934675)

No, the media calls him math genius because he calls himself a math genius. Also, he believe PI has an end.
from the neurologist's preliminary report:

We studied the patient JP who has exceptional abilities to draw complex geometrical images by hand and a form of acquired synesthesia for mathematical formulas and objects, which he perceives as geometrical figures. JP sees all smooth curvatures as discrete lines, similarly regardless of scale. We carried out two preliminary investigations to establish the perceptual nature of synesthetic experience and to investigate the neural basis of this phenomenon. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, image-inducing formulas produced larger fMRI responses than non-image inducing formulas in the left temporal, parietal and frontal lobes. Thus our main finding is that the activation associated with his experience of complex geometrical images emerging from mathematical formulas is restricted to the left hemisphere.

Re:No story here, move along (3, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#46934937)

Under the conditions he specifies, Pi does have an end. He makes it clear he means as seen in the physical world where it is bound by the Planck length. He may or may not realize that mathematicians prefer to have as little as possible to do with the physical world, at least professionally.

Re:No story here, move along (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#46935175)

In the physical world, its expression (pi is always constant, of course*) is also affected by gravitational curvature and possibly other effects.

*For some values of "of course"

Re:No story here, move along (3)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 months ago | (#46935595)

In the physical world, 355/113 is a close enough approximation that almost nobody owns a physical instrument precise enough to need anything better.

And 355/113 is even easy to remember. One one three under three five five.

I've never understood why 22/7 gets so much admiration.

Re:No story here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935541)

We studied the patient JP who has exceptional abilities to draw complex geometrical images by hand and a form of acquired synesthesia for mathematical formulas and objects, which he perceives as geometrical figures.

This implies that if you show him an equation written out with its x's and y's, he's able to see the graph of it in his mind's eye. I didn't read much about this ability in the links, so was anyone able to find if this is what is meant?

Re:No story here, move along (2)

khasim (1285) | about 4 months ago | (#46934895)

Maybe read the book? Even the top negative review seems to give weight to his claim:

No. None of them do. Most of them repeat the information about being mugged.

But there isn't a single one of those that specifies HOW he is a "genius" of any kind.

Can he look at a formula and intuitively draw it?
Can he look at a drawing and intuitively give the formula for it?

The simplest question on his "genius" is still unanswered. WHAT does he do that is "genius" level? HOW is it "genius" level?

Re:No story here, move along (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 4 months ago | (#46934593)

I also found this comical link to "End of Pi Found" on some Physics forum:

http://lofi.forum.physorg.com/ [physorg.com] ...

*SPOILER ALERT*

It's a '4'.

Re:No story here, move along (2)

mcguirez (524534) | about 4 months ago | (#46934609)

One might gain an artistic appreciation of his drawings but it is difficult to view this as Mathematics.

The real story here is that he convinced someone at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to publish a book about him.

I don't doubt that he experiences visual phenomena, perhaps indistinguishable from hallucinations. Although such a unique perspective might conceivably give him an opportunity to understand math in a new way I'm skeptical this occurred. I'm afraid he has no more insight than a nautilus has into the fibonacci sequence.

 

Errr... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935289)

Probably the writer of the book is the person who convinced the publisher to publish the book. Unless he was that guy too.

Re:No story here, move along (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 4 months ago | (#46934657)

"Can someone explain to me exactly what is so marvelous about what this dude can supposedly "see"?"

He sees dead people, all the time.

Re:No story here, move along (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 months ago | (#46935149)

"Can someone explain to me exactly what is so marvelous about what this dude can supposedly "see"?"

He sees dead people, all the time.

So does a mortician. Big deal!

Re:No story here, move along (1)

khasim (1285) | about 4 months ago | (#46934673)

Seconded.

There are 24 paragraphs in the first link. The ONLY mention of ANYTHING about his mathematical "ability" is in paragraph 9.

He started sketching circles made of overlapping triangles, which helped him understand the concept of pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

That's a "savant"? How many kids in high school understand pi?

After his injury, Padgett was drawing complex geometric shapes, but he didn't have the formal training to understand the equations they represented.Again, how many high school kids have doodled like that?

And "FORMAL training"? Isn't part of being a savant NOT needing formal training? You discover the concepts on your own based upon your ability to intuit the relationships.

Srinivasa Ramanujan [wikipedia.org] was a savant.

Re:No story here, move along (3, Informative)

BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) | about 4 months ago | (#46934919)

How many kids in high school understand pi?

An elite few. Most people simply memorize equations and procedures; understanding never comes into it.

But still, I'd be impressed if this guy actually did something, like solve an unsolved problem. Sadly, these popular math 'geniuses' and child 'geniuses' never seem to do a damn thing that's truly notable.

Re:No story here, move along (3, Informative)

KramberryKoncerto (2552046) | about 4 months ago | (#46935343)

Sadly, these popular math 'geniuses' and child 'geniuses' never seem to do a damn thing that's truly notable.

Perhaps except Terrence Tao; a famous math prodigy, who also became an incredibly successful mathematician, "Such is Tao's reputation that mathematicians now compete to interest him in their problems, and he is becoming a kind of Mr Fix-it for frustrated researchers. "If you're stuck on a problem, then one way out is to interest Terence Tao," says Charles Fefferman [professor of mathematics at Princeton University].". Also Erik Demaine, who finished PhD and became a professor at MIT at 20; he has a less impressive history than Tao, but still a fruitful career.

Re:No story here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934859)

Perhaps, dipshit, it's because most brain injuries result in significant loss but almost never any kind of improvement?

Speaking as a guy who had a parent smash his head into the floor, causing significant damage to the Corpus Callosum and thus removing his ability to remember or comprehend the bulk of visual that can't be directly verbalised, this is really quite remarkable.

Re:No story here, move along (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46934921)

I don't know if the guy is full of shit or not... but, I did my own google search.

I found that:
1. He wrote a book that was well received about his injury, though complaints were that it was overly wordy. There were several people that claimed to be mathematicians that reviewed it and said his area of specialty was fractal geometry and that he was so specialized it was uninteresting to them. He was basically obsessed with 1 aspect of geometry.
2. He is an artist, and makes Fractal art. Not that his stuff is that incredible but I doubt a furniture salesman could pull this off. http://fineartamerica.com/prof... [fineartamerica.com]
3. Here's photos of him. One includes his doctor: http://www.struckbygenius.com/... [struckbygenius.com]
4. That doctors name is Darold Treffert who appears to be am expert on Savant Syndrome. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

So it appears to me that the guy actually did develop some Savant abilities. I don't know if he got them from an injury or not. But it appears that those abilities are so specialized that they may not be useful in an academic sense. If he can visualize incredibly complex geometries but can not, for example, do long division, his skill wouldn't really lead him to write a lot of papers.

an alternative explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46936747)

>He is an artist, and makes Fractal art. Not that his stuff is that incredible but I doubt a furniture salesman could pull this off.

Unless the furniture salesman had access to Google. Then he might find something like Mandelbulb3D and be producing far more impressive stuff in a matter of days.

Granted, art is not math: the idea of a fractal hand was creative - not seen that before. But the rest of the circles and stuff is very, very basic. At least at first glance. Perhaps the blow to the head gave him compensate-for-blow-to-the-head skills in the form of an interest in art? I suppose he is a kind of performance artist.

I wish him well though. Brain damage is not nice, and if can make a living somehow that is good.

Extruding it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935107)

... because the editors shape the stories in much the same way as an asshole shapes a raunch locomotive.

Re:No story here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935129)

The significance here is the more recent discoveries about how the brain works, not his 2002 injury.

Injury unlocked scamming part of brain (4, Funny)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 4 months ago | (#46935415)

His math is unchanged, but it *damaged* the ethical part of his brain and now he EXCELS at marketing and con-artistry and I heard he is now going to law school!

Re:No story here, move along (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935495)

Here's an idea, dickface.

Why do you waste your time posting in response to something that you obviously have no interest in? No one's forcing you to. You aren't being forced to pay to access the website.

Get off your entitlement high horse, you piece of shit.

Re:No story here, move along (1)

Skarjak (3492305) | about 4 months ago | (#46935883)

I'm with you. As I was reading this, I was asking myself when they'd start telling me how he was a math genius. I understand that his brain has now lost the ability to smooth "frames" together. Wow, some math genius he is. We should be pitying him, not hailing him as a savant. He's now basically playing a terribly optimized videogame 24/7.

Re:No story here, move along (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935981)

I'm not sure if it's the same person, but I was watching a documentary where they covered someone with a similar "issue". They were able to see patterns where others could not. Because they could see the patterns, they could describe them to other scientists who could create a model. Imagine being able to look at something an instantly having a model for it, instead of spending years of poking around to haphazardly discover the pattern.

Correlation != Causation (2)

avandesande (143899) | about 4 months ago | (#46934413)

Perhaps the karaoke did it?

Re:Correlation != Causation (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 4 months ago | (#46936655)

Perhaps the karaoke did it?

Nah, I can't see a positive outcome from that kind of brain trauma.

Tomorrows headline.. (5, Funny)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 4 months ago | (#46934445)

Dozens killed or severely injured trying to learn maths.

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934563)

Assailants' defense: we were trying to teach him math!

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46934659)

retrophrenology at it's finest!

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 months ago | (#46935167)

retrophrenology at it's finest!

So it's not the bumps, it's the divots?

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46934695)

Dozens killed or severely injured trying to learn maths.

The White House will make a public announcement that they're looking for the irresponsible person than unleashed weapons of math destruction on impressionable American youth.

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935127)

Far better to use those weapons on youth in Asia...

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

BabaChazz (917957) | about 4 months ago | (#46934699)

I'm somehow reminded of Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged...

MMA Fighter/Math Teacher (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 4 months ago | (#46934797)

EOM

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about 4 months ago | (#46934869)

Yeah, it's a bit of an out-lier in the spectrum of brain injuries. All I got from mine are ataxia and diplopia which are things I can't see anyone wanting.

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935323)

sounds like hard to live with, diplopia that is. Is there a practical solution for it (eg. glasses,...?)

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

crackspackle (759472) | about 4 months ago | (#46934955)

Dozens killed or severely injured trying to learn maths.

...Gives new meaning to "rack you brain" for the answer.

Re:Tomorrows headline.. (1)

crackspackle (759472) | about 4 months ago | (#46934999)

Dozens killed or severely injured trying to learn maths.

...Gives new meaning to "rack you brain" for the answer.

And apparently I didn't hit my head hard enough before I posted that.

Well that's BS.... (1)

Noishkel (3464121) | about 4 months ago | (#46934451)

All I got from a brain injury was a giant cerebral meningioma about a decade later.

Life imitates art: Phenomenon (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#46934461)

Isn't this the plot of the 1996 John Travolta vehicle Phenomenon [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Life imitates art: Phenomenon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934545)

No

Re:Life imitates art: Phenomenon (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#46935503)

Phenomenon [youtube.com]

Uh... (5, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934761)

Disliking something doesn't mean *not believing* in it. I don't like Picasso, but I like postmodernism concepts as an artist. Does that make me less of an artist or more of a historian? Or vice-versa?

Re:Uh... (0)

suutar (1860506) | about 4 months ago | (#46934763)

sounds like he's trying to be a practical mathematician (I made that term up, so if it's supposed to mean something else, my bad) by finding actual numbers for things instead of saying "impractically countable" :)

the many fragments of infinity (1)

epine (68316) | about 4 months ago | (#46934781)

He strikes me as being more like David Helfgott and less like Rachmaninoff.

To a large degree in mathematics, infinity is used to invoke the limiting configuration of an unbounded process (where there is always a next step). This isn't precisely the same thing as believing in infinity itself, or any of its many discrete fragments.

Meaning in Classical Mathematics: Is it at Odds with Intuitionism [arxiv.org]

Re:Uh... (2)

hey! (33014) | about 4 months ago | (#46934947)

I had a friend who once interviewed R. Buckminster Fuller for his college newspaper, and got into an argument with Fuller over geometry. That took chutzpah, but my friend was on solid ground: Fuller claimed that lines couldn't really intersect because the bits that touched would have to somehow interfere with each other.

Clearly this visualization-based dislike of intersecting lines didn't hamper his use of the *abstraction*, otherwise Fuller couldn't have functioned as an architect.

Re:Uh... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 months ago | (#46935621)

The bits that touched would have to share one common point.

Fuller couldn't grasp that?

Re:Uh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934969)

There are professional mathematicians who not only dislike the concept of infinity but outright deny it. For example they believe infinite set should never be used. It's called Ultrafinitism [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Uh... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46935173)

To be honest, this kind of reasoning strikes me as incredibly artificial. How much is it different from saying that irrational numbers don't exist because we can't write them? Also, remember Linus Pauling and vitamin C.

Re:Uh... (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#46935235)

Agreed. And Planck lengths are physics. Mathematics is a useful tool in physics and things in the real world must agree with physical laws (or those laws must be changed [or qualified]) but mathematics is so much more than physics (cue XKCD strip)

Re:Uh... (1)

pz (113803) | about 4 months ago | (#46935985)

There are a fair handful of constructionists (aka finitists, or number theorists who do not like infinities) who would care to disagree.

Although I'm not a constructionist, I am related to one by birth, and nearly always find something off-putting about mathematical arguments that rely on infinities. Sure, they're fun to play with, but reasoning about them means you're essentially being fast-and-loose with time, and I've not been convinced that's OK.

Re:Uh... (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46936327)

But why should dealing with infinities be "essentially being fast-and-loose with time"? What does time, essentially a notion from thermodynamics, have to do with basic mathematics? That just doesn't make any sense to me.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46936535)

Most blacksmiths have no need for tempering their work. It is mostly ornamental or simple fixtures like hinges and the like. It is a myth that every blacksmith was a competent bladesmith. A good analogy: tempering is to blacksmiths as microprocessor design is to computer scientists.

I too dislike infinity (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 4 months ago | (#46936543)

Infinity isn't a number; you can't add, multiply, nor divide with it. The only legitimate use I find for it, other than communicating with non-mathematical folks, is as a shorthand for unbounded, eg limit of f(x) as x tends to infinity. I suppose you could say that infinity could be used as an answer to "what is the cardinality of the set of natural numbers", but aleph_0 works too and is unambiguous as to which of the many infinities you mean.

Some people say that [sum from i=1 to i=infinity of 3*10^i] = infinity. To them I say, [sum from i=1 to i=infinity of 9*10^i]/[sum from i=1 to i=infinity of 3*10^i] = 3, but what is infinity/infinity? So long as you leave your unboundedly large numbers as their formulaic description, you can do maths with it.

umm..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934517)

A Math Genius would hopefully gain employment as a teacher.
So 6 years at University would be Bachelor's and working on Master's in Literature.
And.. if a genius.. would have high probability to do doctorate..??

FYI.. many can see mathematical patterns, do some homework on Chaos theory. Go try and draw a fractal or two..

and umm.. Smile dude.. you day will most likely get better.. there is a high proability if YOU smile RIGHT NOW.

You day WILL get better.

p.s. the above is MATH.. #MATHS -- See the Maths?

Re:umm..? (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 4 months ago | (#46934927)

Apparently all you need to teach math with is a baseball bat.

Re:umm..? (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 4 months ago | (#46935217)

Being a math genius does not imply you know how to teach.

Re:umm..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46935813)

And from the article, you don't need to understand math either.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934525)

So a jock turns into a person with supposedly above average math capabilities, nothing out of the ordinary if you are an engineer. Would he still flunk algebra?

Graphical artifacts (1)

d1g1t4l (869211) | about 4 months ago | (#46934743)

This symptom is similar to the problem of a video card with faulty memory.

Rare, but does happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934745)

I remember seeing a documentary similar to this. A guy dove into the shallow end of a pool and got brain damage. When he recovered he was a musical genius. There are drawbacks however, if I remember the show he said that seeing musical notes all the time was slowly driving him insane. Though this article does not mention that. [[http://www.businessinsider.com/man-becomes-piano-prodigy-overnight-after-suffering-brain-injury-2012-6]]

Is he truly a math genius? (2)

BitterOak (537666) | about 4 months ago | (#46934847)

I would define someone as a "math genius" if they're able to solve previously unsolved problems, and publish results in major, refereed mathematical journals. Has he been publishing papers since his injury, or at the very least, has he been doing well on university level math exams? Nothing in the article seems to suggest this, so I do question the headline.

Runes baby! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46934985)

All processing in the brain is done with runes. It's evolution. You see things like squares, triangles and circles. I think there are about 30 of them total.
That's why you think a triangle on top of a square looks like a house. Your brain quickly interprets this set of objects that way.

Seems like this guy sees things as those runes which is pretty interesting.

The revenge of the geeks (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about 4 months ago | (#46934997)

I bet this is a geek conspiracy to lure football players into self-injury considering an upcoming math exam.

Where? (1)

goosesensor (1431303) | about 4 months ago | (#46935009)

Can I find this bar?

Man Think... math is easy! (1)

MonsterMasher (518641) | about 4 months ago | (#46935087)

I've been there, and like when I go back. Visually .. it's like lines, a grid is over everything and you know momentum and velocities without need of display.. I drempt the mathematics equation which I understand dictates my life.. in fact. The simple function .. y = 1/x. I added a dimension and connected the two at y=0.
Simple.. but in my dream!
.
It's the very male brain. I know it well.
.
For him, it's likely all that's left for now.. depending on other factors he is likely high Autism level for things like sympathy. Not completely devastation, he can learn to work with what he has to .. simulate .. those well enough for public interaction (given the correct support.) And likely most of the rest of his brain will become available in time and work.
.
I wish him, and all well.
.

That's cool, and... (1)

johnholstein (1735990) | about 4 months ago | (#46935237)

Beer turns me into a love machine....

Who said paroled violent convicts can get work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46936115)

Math tutor jobs abound!

Lucky him... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46936161)

When I got my brain injury, it just resulted in a coma, memory problems, and unstable moods.

So what math problems has he solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46936361)

Okay genius can you actually do something useful now, like the rest of us "geniuses" that are being paid $12 an hour are supposed to

Can you actually DO MATH or is it all vectors spinning in infinity that you have total awareness of that are like a bonghit but not much like a publishable insight

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>