Thinking in Numbers
On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math
by Daniel Tammet
August 11, 2013
Daniel Tammet. He’s a savant with synesthesia, a condition that allows him to see beyond simple numerals — he experiences them.
Tammet drew attention around the world about a decade ago when he recited, from memory, the number pi. It took him five hours to call out 22,514 digits with no mistakes.
On trying to calculate love
“The relationship that I have with [my mother] is intensely loving, of course, but complex. When I was a child on the autistic spectrum, there were many things that my mother did, or said, that I didn’t understand.
And I constructed something like a model, what mathematicians would call a predictive model, of her behavior, to create an imaginary mother. And of course, what I came to realize was that it was impossible. There was always a way in which my mum got around even the most sophisticated calculation, and so I came to realize that there are always going to be aspects of reality that go beyond our calculations.”