Daniel Tammet is an Autistic Savant, an extraordinary person with an amazing mind. You may have seen this kind of person portrayed by the actor Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 film Rain Man.
Some people are synesthetes – one of their five senses is somehow linked to another sense in a way ordinary people don’t link them. For example, I read a WordPress blog by a man with synesthesia who can hear colors. When he sees the color blue, for example, he hears a certain tone. Seeing green causes a different tone in his mind. He is a visual artist and finds that combining colors that sound good together as chords usually make an aesthetically pleasing painting.
Daniel Tammet sees numbers. Each number has a color, texture and shape. Some numbers are tall and lanky, others are small and round. He sees all the prime numbers up to 9,973 by their “pebble-like” quality.
He wrote a book called Born On A Blue Day. He was born on Wednesday and those days look blue in his mind. To him the number 9 is blue, as well as loud voices arguing.
When he multiplies numbers he sees the two numbers as distinct shapes. He places the two numbers beside each other in his mind and a third number emerges. It is the product of the two numbers he multiplied. He can identify which number it is by its size, texture and shape. That makes it extremely easy for him to multiply numbers.
Daniel Tammet is from the United Kingdom. He says that about 1 in every 300 people in the UK have Asperger’s syndrome, which he also has. This is a condition some might call being socially retarded. They are almost always clumsy.
I dated a girl for a couple of years that was brilliant in school, she made a perfect 4.0 grade point average in her Master’s Degree in math, but was not intelligent socially. I had never heard of Asperger’s, but I guess she had it. It can be very distressing to care about a person who never seems to understand how to relate to other people. Asperger’s syndrome usually accompanies a lack of empathy for other people. I always felt she was cold to me and I could not understand that was just the way she was wired.
Isaac Newton, the most brilliant scientist who ever lived, almost certainly had Asperger’s. He never married, as is the case for 80% of the people with it. Many other top minds of the world probably had Asperger’s. To name a few: Napoleon, Einstein, Bill Gates, Alfred Hitchcock, Jane Austen, Hans Christian Andersen, Henry Cavendish, Satoshi Tajiri (creator of Pocket Monsters, better known as Pokémon), Jim Henson (creator of the Muppets), Charles Schulz (creator of Peanuts cartoons), Wolfgang Mozart (I think he wrote songs or something, lol), Michelangelo, Thomas Jefferson, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Thomas Edison, Michael Jackson, Mark Twain, Henry Ford (awarded 161 US patents) and others.
According to Wikipedia “The modern conception of Asperger syndrome came into existence in 1981 and went through a period of popularization, becoming standardized as a diagnosis in the early 1990s. “ People with Asperger’s tend to focus on just one thing in life. No wonder they are sometimes very successful.