The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on a remarkable feat. Young Safiyullah Khan of Georgia has memorized the entire Quran, despite being only 6.
This feat is even more impressive because, according to Islam, the Quran must be memorized in Arabic, which is not Safiyullah Khan's native language.
The links in this entry, if nothing else, will at least get you wondering, "How do people come up with this stuff?"
Don't worry. I'll start simply. Mathematician and magician Dr. Arthur Benjamin has come up with an amazing proof that 2 + 11 - 1 = 12. How amazing? His proof (Word file) uses no numbers whatsoever!
If you like that file, you might want to check out some of Dr. Benjamin's other research papers. Regular readers of this blog will especially be interested in ths Mathematical Magic Word file and the "Magic Squares, Indeed!" PDF file.
Dr. Benjamin is also a co-editor of Math Horizons Magazine. Very little of the magazine's content is available online, but you can find the occasional gems, such as the winning entry in their Pi Mnemonics contest, and the mind-numbing SRAT (Self-Referential Aptitude Test).
Turning to other, earlier, papers, here's a reprint of the 1910 booklet Magician's Tricks: How They are Done, by Henry Hatton and Adrian Plate. This book is where many now-classic memory feats were first published, such as memorizing card, long word lists and the mnemonic version of the cube root trick.
Surprisingly, there are people who collect mnemonics on varying subjects, especially those type of things you could really use in school. My favorite mnemonic collections can be found at Amanda's Mnemonics Page and MNEMONICS: OR, MEMORIA TECHNICA.
Sometimes, memory techniques aren't the main secret behind an effect. They are, instead, an aid for one part of the trick. The routines I've found below are great examples of how mnemonics can help aid tricks for which you normally wouldn't consider them.
If you perform the "Anything Deck" from Paul Harris' Art of Astonishment books, Deep Astonishment or Deep Astonishment II: The Gypsy, then you'll be able to appreciate Rod’s Mnemonic System for “Deep Astonishment”. This is a simple mnemonic aid that, once practiced and employed properly, ensures that you'll never have to create suspicion by looking at the backs of the cards during the routine. Those who've used any of the above routines know what an advantage this can be.
Another offbeat use of simple mnemonics comes in Michael Lauck's solution for the "Of Precognition and Potatoheads" challenge, originally proposed at Visions, the Online Journal of the Art of Magic. In this amusing routine, you have someone take a new Mr. Potatohead out of the box, and put it together however they wish. Despite this freedom, you are able to demonstrate that you predicted the exact Mr. Potatohead they created!
I have two new addtions to this site:
* I've added the Loomis Magic website, whose memorized deck area I've recommended, to my links area.
* I have a brand new RSS Feed, for easier reference to this site. If you're not familiar with RSS, you can learn more about this powerful tool at the RSS pages at Harvard Law.
The official results from last weekend's 2005 World Memory Championships are being released. Here are the winners and their amazing feats:
Katharina Bunk: Memorized the most cards in 5 minutes
Corinna Draschl: Memorizing an unpublished poem
Dr. Gunther Karsten: Memorized the order of 3570 binary digits (1s and 0s), Memorized the order 941 card (18.1 packs!) in one hour, Memorized 1949 numbers in 1 hour,
Ram Kolli: Memorized the most names & faces correctly
Boris Konrad: Memorized the most random words in 15 minutes
Clemens Mayer:Memorized the most spoken numbers
Ben Pridmore: Memorized 333 digits in 5 minutes, Memorized the most historic dates correctly
Full details of all contestant's score are available on the 2005 World Memory Championship Results Page.
Aug. 18, 2005, 6:40 PM Update: Clemens Mayer has been announced as the overall winner of the 2005 World Memory Championship! Full details on the results of each of the competitions are now available.
Starting today, the 3-day 2005 World Memory Championships are taking place at the Oxford University Examinations School.
The challenges include memorizing spoken numbers, unpublished poems, binary digits, card decks (one for speed and one for quantity), numbers (one for speed and one for quantity), names and faces, dates and lists of random words.
It's already being covered by the BBC.
It must be karma.
Earlier today, I was over at Mentat Wiki. If you're into brain-oriented feats and haven't already checked it out, do so now.
I was adding a page about doing logarithms in your head. This is a pretty geeky topic, and not generally useful, but it can be a great tool to impress your math teachers and fellow geeks.
Once I finished editing the logarithm article, I headed over to ThinkGeek, one of my favorite on-line stores. Lo and behold, I find out that they've just added a newly-found cache of slide rules!
For those who haven't heard of them, slide rules were a simple and elegant calculating device used before the pocket calculator became common. As ThinkGeek writes:
Most of you just don't know how lucky you have it these days. Can you imagine going through advanced Trigonometry without a calculator? No, you probably can't. Can you believe that the cigar-smoking NASA mission-control engineers during the sixties had to make split-second super-mega-advanced calculations using nothing but a slide rule? Probably not. They did.
Slide rules used logarithms to enable the user to perform an amazing array of calculations, including problems involving exponents and roots. Among our geek forefathers, they were a badge of honor.
You can find out more about slide rules at, not surprisingly, Eric's Slide Rule Site, and even try a virtual slide rule out at JavaSlide.
I've been asked about the "right", presumably meaning the most effective, memory systems. I've always maintained that any memory technique you use that helps you recall something effectively, is the right one for you.
In Seattle, Washington, several hit-and-run witnesses recently proved exactly this point. It seems that a hit-and-run took place near a cheerleading camp. After the guy ran off, several of the cheerleaders there took note of the license plate and, according to this newspaper article, did what cheerleaders naturally do to memorize information.
I must admit to being jealous that the driver was apprehended. Just under two weeks ago, I myself was the victim of a hit-and-run. However, after I filed a police report, I was told in no uncertain terms that the Las Vegas Metro Police did not follow up on hit-and-runs. So, unless anyone knows anything about how to contact the owner of the car with the Nevada license plate SPOYLME on it, I'm out of luck. Note that, with a plate like this, no memory systems are really needed.
Before you ask, all I required was a few days rest and Advil to reduce inflammation in my neck and legs.
Hmmm . . . considering that fellow bloggers Stephen Green, Michele (from A Small Victory) and Venomous Kate have also had recent, serious accidents, I'm beginning to suspect that someone is out to get bloggers. Even Chris Muir (BTW, please Clik4Cathy) has pointed out the trend here and here.