Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

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Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Freakzilla » 13 Sep 2009 18:33

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Tammet

Daniel Paul Tammet (born 31 January 1979) is a British prodigious Savant (high-functioning autistic savant) gifted with a facility for mathematical and natural language learning. He was born Daniel Corney (later deciding to change his surname to Tammet), the first of nine children, to working-class parents in London.[1] In his memoir, Born on a Blue Day, he talks about how having epilepsy, synaesthesia, and Asperger Syndrome deeply affected his childhood.

Biography

[edit] Synaesthesia
Experiencing numbers as colours or sensations is a well-documented form of synaesthesia, but the detail and specificity of Tammet's mental imagery of numbers are unusual. In his mind, he says, each integer up to 10,000 has its own unique shape, colour, texture and feel. He can intuitively "see" results of calculations as synaesthetic landscapes without using conscious mental effort, and can "sense" whether a number is prime or composite. He has described his visual image of 289 as particularly ugly, 333 as particularly attractive, and pi as beautiful. The number 6 apparently has no distinct image.[1][2] Tammet has described 25 as energetic and the "kind of number you would invite to a party".[3] Tammet not only verbally describes these visions, but has also created artwork: including a watercolour painting of Pi.

Tammet was the subject of a documentary in the UK entitled The Boy With The Incredible Brain, which was first broadcast on the British television channel Four on 23 May 2005.[4] The documentary showed his meeting with Kim Peek, a world famous savant. Peek is shown hugging Tammet telling him that "Some day you will be as great as I am", to which Tammet replies "That was a wonderful compliment, what an aspiration to have!"


[edit] Pi
Tammet holds the European record for reciting pi from memory to 22,514 digits in five hours and nine minutes.[5] This sponsored charity challenge was held in aid of the National Society for Epilepsy (NSE) on “Pi Day”, 14 March 2004, at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, UK.[6] The NSE was chosen to benefit from this event because of Tammet's experience with epilepsy as a young child. Professor Allan Snyder at the Australian National University said of Tammet: "Savants can't usually tell us how they do what they do. It just comes to them. Daniel can describe what he sees in his head. That's why he's exciting. He could be the 'Rosetta Stone'."[7]


[edit] Language abilities
Tammet claims to speak eleven languages including English, French, Finnish, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Estonian, Icelandic, Welsh, and Esperanto.

He particularly likes Estonian, because it is rich in vowels. Tammet (the surname is Estonian) is creating a new language called Mänti. Mänti has many features related to Finnish and Estonian, both of which are Finno-Ugric languages. Some sources credit Tammet as creating the Uusisuom and Lapsi languages as well.[8]

Tammet can learn new languages very quickly. To prove this for a Channel Four documentary, Tammet was challenged to learn Icelandic in one week. Seven days later he appeared on Icelandic television conversing in Icelandic, with his Icelandic language instructor saying it was "not human" and "genius!". Segments of the interview showing Tammet responding to questions in Icelandic were televised on the 28 January 2007 edition of the CBS news magazine, 60 Minutes.[2]


[edit] Born on a Blue Day
In 2006, Tammet traveled to the United States to promote his memoir, Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant.[1] Tammet was born on a Wednesday, a day he perceives as the colour blue. While on his U.S. book tour, he appeared on several television and radio talk shows and specials, including 60 Minutes and Late Show with David Letterman.[1] In February 2007 Born on a Blue Day was serialised as BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week in the United Kingdom. He describes his meeting with Kim Peek, upon whom Rain Man was based, as one of the happiest moments of his life. They connected when they asked each other date calculations based on their birth dates, and got the answers correct instantly.

Tammet's new book Embracing the Wide Sky[9], attempts to shed light on the mystery of savants' mental abilities. Tammet argues that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated.


[edit] Personal life
Tammet met his first partner, software engineer Neil Mitchell, in 2000. They lived together in Kent, where they had a quiet regimented life at home with their cats, preparing meals from their garden.[10][11] Tammet and Mitchell operated the online e-learning company Optimnem, where they created and published language courses. Tammet was open about his relationship with Mitchell, whom he described as "the love of his life."[12][13]

Tammet however now lives with a new partner, Jerome, whom he met while promoting his autobiography. Although he has said that he did not think he would be here if it were not for the love and support of Mitchell, more recently he noted that he used to live a rigid existence aimed at calming his many anxieties "I was very happy, but it was a small happiness" whereas now, as the subtitle of "Embracing the Wide Sky (A tour across the horizons of the mind). " asserts, he believes that we ought to seek to liberate our brains - a belief reflected in his new life;[14]

"My life used to be very simple and regimented but since then I have travelled constantly and given lots of lectures and it just changed me...It made me much more open, much more interested in, I guess, the full potential of what my mind could do...Because of that change I grew and in a sense I grew apart from my long-term partner, so we parted amicably in 2007 and a short while later I met my current partner who is from France so I decided to go and live with him in Avignon."[15]

Jerome, a 29-year-old photographer, was one of the thousands of people who wrote to Tammet after his first book.
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Redstar » 13 Sep 2009 20:09

My father owns the book (Born on a Blue Day) and once lent it to me considering my related conditions (though obvious lack of intensity). I didn't get much farther than halfway through. At that point he was talking about how he realized he was gay, but other than that the story didn't seem to be going anywhere. I may pick it up again next time I'm over.

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 13 Sep 2009 21:19

Since his brain is obviously abnormal, as a result of accident or developmental incident during early life, I'm not sure what relevance this has concerning the development of a future school of "human computers". And he appears to be an amazing exception among savants, not the rule. ;)

Here's a video linked to via the WP page: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id= ... photovideo

Note what he says at the end about probably not being able to recognize Safer's face should they meet again in the future.

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Redstar » 13 Sep 2009 21:35

SandChigger wrote:Since his brain is obviously abnormal, as a result of accident or developmental incident during early life, I'm not sure what relevance this has concerning the development of a future school of "human computers". And he appears to be an amazing exception among savants, not the rule. ;)

His brain is "abnormal" due to autism. So it could hardly be counted as the result of an incident in early life, unless you count genetics as early life.

I find the recitation of the long line of numbers particularly interesting, since he broken up double-digit numbers into single-digit numbers (18 becomes 1 and 8), so that's one thing I'm curious about.

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 13 Sep 2009 21:49

In the video (which I'm assuming you have also watched now), they say he had a severe epileptic seizure when he was about five (IIRC), but his mother says she had noticed something about him was different from when he was born (or well before the seizure, at least), which, if accurate, would indicate some abnormality in/during his in utero development. That's what I was referring to. (AFAIK, epileptic seizures are not a concomitant of autism, correct?)

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Redstar » 13 Sep 2009 21:54

I'd only watched about half the video when I posted, so seeing the second half was a refresher on the situation. I initially thought you meant his autism was the result of an environmental or developmental incident, when now I think you meant his savant syndrome. That I agree with.

And no, seizures may be common among autistics, but it is not a defining trait.

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Freakzilla » 14 Sep 2009 06:48

The big difference between this guy and normal autistic savants is, he can communicate with us and tell us what goes on in his head. I we can understand how he does it, it's possible others could learn.
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 14 Sep 2009 11:07

Unless he's able to do what he does solely due to the abnormal structure/"wiring" of his brain. That's my point: what he does may not be learnable by/teachable to people with more normal brains. :(

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Freakzilla » 14 Sep 2009 11:45

SandChigger wrote:Unless he's able to do what he does solely due to the abnormal structure/"wiring" of his brain. That's my point: what he does may not be learnable by/teachable to people with more normal brains. :(


Well, that's why he's worth studying and that's what they're trying to figure out. As far as I know (saw a show yesterday about him on Science Channel (I think)) this all started when he had a seizure at the age of four. But we don't know if that's what caused it.

I find Synesthesia very interesting.
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Slugger » 14 Sep 2009 17:13

Discovery (or History) Channel ran a special during the summer about "super" humans. They had a segment on him;one of the things they filmed was him learning a foreign language he's never before studied (I think it was Swedish). He was able to fluently speak it, on native TV between two news anchors.

I too was intrigued by his Synesthesia. Kinda cool listening to him as he walked through downtown New York, saying he felt surrounded by "9s" (the skyscrappers).

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 14 Sep 2009 22:47

I believe the language was Icelandic.

I'm always highly skeptical of such things. One of the newscasters commented on his grammatical correctness, but there was nothing on how much vocabulary he had acquired. And a language is much more than just words and rules.

Anyone here speak Icelandic and able to verify how good his is? Let's see him do Japanese. :roll:

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Freakzilla » 15 Sep 2009 10:37

SandChigger wrote:I believe the language was Icelandic.

I'm always highly skeptical of such things. One of the newscasters commented on his grammatical correctness, but there was nothing on how much vocabulary he had acquired. And a language is much more than just words and rules.

Anyone here speak Icelandic and able to verify how good his is? Let's see him do Japanese. :roll:


Hell, I'm still learing Engrish! :P
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Seraphan » 15 Sep 2009 11:16

Freakzilla wrote:
SandChigger wrote:I believe the language was Icelandic.

I'm always highly skeptical of such things. One of the newscasters commented on his grammatical correctness, but there was nothing on how much vocabulary he had acquired. And a language is much more than just words and rules.

Anyone here speak Icelandic and able to verify how good his is? Let's see him do Japanese. :roll:


Hell, I'm still learing Engrish! :P

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Hunchback Jack » 15 Sep 2009 21:42

What's weird is that Tammet is an anagram of Mentat.

Well, almost. ;)

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 16 Sep 2009 06:50

:P


I think they said it is Estonian or something? Evidently he has a Finnish fetish or something like that, chose to change his surname. (That's a bit odd in itself, no?)

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby chanilover » 16 Sep 2009 15:54

Tammet met his first partner, software engineer Neil Mitchell, in 2000. They lived together in Kent, where they had a quiet regimented life at home with their cats, preparing meals from their garden


:lol: I know a couple just like that. The last time I went round there they'd made some home made wine out of rhubarb. It was foul.
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 16 Sep 2009 16:00

chanilover wrote:
Tammet met his first partner, software engineer Neil Mitchell, in 2000. They lived together in Kent, where they had a quiet regimented life at home with their cats, preparing meals from their garden


:lol: I know a couple just like that. The last time I went round there they'd made some home made wine out of rhubarb. It was foul.


I'm planning some rhubarb mead... hopefully won't be foul though. :D
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 16 Sep 2009 16:16

chanilover wrote:I know a couple just like that. The last time I went round there they'd made some home made wine out of rhubarb. It was foul.

Did you tell them what you thought of it?

(I've got Gordon Ramsay's f word on at the moment and I can almost hear him yelling, "Bloody Hell, what the FUCK were you thinking?!" :lol: )

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Drunken Idaho » 29 Sep 2009 13:25

I just watched yesterday's Daily Show. The guest was Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, author of The Predictioneer's Game which has just come out. This guy uses algorithms to predict the future of specific problems in the world (Iran, etc). Apparently he's twice as accurate as the CIA's equivalent experts. At one point he even said to Jon Stewart "You must think I'm Hari Seldon!" I'm not sure if Stewart caught the reference though. You can watch the interview at Comedy Central's website, or ComedyNetwork.ca in Canada. Also, apparently he spoke at a TED conference, as I found in my google search of the guy:

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/bruc ... uture.html

If you're not familiar with TEDtalks, I highly suggest you check them out. Awesome lectures on various subjects relating to science and technology. I'm actually going to an independently organized TED event tomorrow night here in Hamilton! Looking forward to it.
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Freakzilla » 29 Sep 2009 13:40

Drunken Idaho wrote:I just watched yesterday's Daily Show. The guest was Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, author of The Predictioneer's Game which has just come out. This guy uses algorithms to predict the future of specific problems in the world (Iran, etc). Apparently he's twice as accurate as the CIA's equivalent experts. At one point he even said to Jon Stewart "You must think I'm Hari Seldon!" I'm not sure if Stewart caught the reference though. You can watch the interview at Comedy Central's website, or ComedyNetwork.ca in Canada. Also, apparently he spoke at a TED conference, as I found in my google search of the guy:

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/bruc ... uture.html

If you're not familiar with TEDtalks, I highly suggest you check them out. Awesome lectures on various subjects relating to science and technology. I'm actually going to an independently organized TED event tomorrow night here in Hamilton! Looking forward to it.


There was a show on him on one of the educational cable channels, I immediately thought "Hari Seldon".
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby lotek » 29 Sep 2009 13:49

who wouldn't?
:mrgreen:

well most people wouldn't know who the fuck Hari Seldon is :lol:

That TED thingy seems interesting, I'll check it out later.
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Drunken Idaho » 29 Sep 2009 15:18

I just watched the full TEDtalk. Pretty cool stuff, he seems pretty smart. According to him, the Iran situation will not end in nuclear weapons or military strikes by the US. He says that they will get as far as to develop the technology for national pride, but they wont build a bomb. When he was asked in the end "So you're kind of trying to say 'People of Iran, this is your destiny. Let's go there'?" he answered with this:

People of Iran, this is what many of you will evolve to want, and we can get there a lot sooner, and you will suffer a lot less trouble from economic sanctions, and we will suffer a lot less fear of the use of military force on our end, and the world would be a better place.


I found this (especially the part I emphasized) to be pure Seldon.
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 29 Sep 2009 16:17

Predictioneer?

Fuuuuuuck. :roll:


(Will watch the video later when I've a faster connection. ;) )



Edit: Crap ... this is going to annoy me all morning, I can see now. :twisted: What real words fit the pattern? electioneer(ing) < election < elect; auctioneer(ing) < auction (N & V). Any others?

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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby Drunken Idaho » 29 Sep 2009 21:58

engineer, pioneer...

Imagineer... :P


You know, I'm a bit of a Grammar Cop myself... My friends hate me for it, but even I slip up once in a while. But does something as simple as an accidental double letter warrant an entire post complaining about it? Even if hypothetically, the word was supposed to be "Predictioner" what's the big deal if my finger remained on the "e" key for a little too long or accidentally tapped it twice? I can totally understand berating a person for ignorance of proper spelling and grammar (they usually deserve it), but an innocent typo? Why waste both your own time and ourss? ;)
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Re: Modern Mentat: Daniel Tammet

Postby SandChigger » 29 Sep 2009 22:17

Huh?

Dude, sorry, but that absolutely was NOT aimed at YOU. You didn't misspell it. It's Bueno de Mesquita who's responsible for it. HE's who I'm pissed off at, for yet another stupid coinage! :D

Predicting the future--whether you are concerned about Iran or about how best to settle a family crisis--is not all that mysterious. If people do what they think is best for themselves--and who doesn’t--then, with game theory’s help, we can anticipate what they will do. Working out other people’s incentives means also working out how altering their costs or benefits can be used to change their behavior and that, after all, is the essence of predictioneering. --Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

(Source)

Edit: From the (skimpy) Wikipedia article about him:

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a political scientist, professor at New York University, and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. A graduate of the University of Michigan...

Whoops, OK, that's all this Ohioan has to know. :P

(Kidding!)