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## More Articles from Google's Magazine Archives

Published on Sunday, December 14, 2008 in , , ,

In my last post, I mentioned just a few ads and articles from Google Books' new magazine archives. As promised, I've been looking around more, and found more interesting tidbits.

We'll start with a great example of using memory in everyday life. Meet August Schalkham, a 1931 New York City policeman whose memory was solely responsible for recovering 183 stolen cars! As a child, he and his brother would watch the trains passing by, and made a game of trying to remember the numbers on the freight cars, so that they would recognize them if the same freight cars went by again. After joining the police force and being given a fixed post, he became bored with his standard duties. To relieve the boredom, he adapted the game from his youth. He would memorize the numbers from reports of stolen cars, and then try to see spot them as the day went on. His skill got him moved from that fixed post to his own police car, which was somewhat of a luxury in the early 1930s (Being 1931 - note the reference to the World War, as this was 8 years before World War II began).

Do you like the Day of the Week For Any Date feat? Popular Science seemed to have an appreciation for novel approaches to this challenge. Abel Stroock devised an ingenious formula for the problem that uses only 2 variables. The catch is that you have far into the year you are. For example, if you're trying to work out April 15th, you have to know that it's the 105th day of the year (or 106th, in a leap year)!

The most ingenious method I've run across though, is one that's only meant to work in the current year. Oddly, a few simple dots on your analog wristwatch give you the ability to quickly give the day of the week for any date in the current year. With analog and digital watches that can do this for you, this trick might seem dated, but the method shown here doesn't require you to press any buttons! This could even be used on a wall clock, especially if the dots were somehow disguised.

For those who have already learned the date feat, the number of dots at each number for a given year is just the year key plus the appropriate month key mod 7. For example, 2009's key number is 3, so January 2009's dot pattern would have 3 dots (2009 key: 3 + January key: 0 = 3), February 2009's dot pattern would have 6 dots (2009 key: 3 + February key: 3 = 6), March 2009's dot pattern would have 6 dots (2009 key: 3 + March key: 3 = 6), and so on. Changing the set-up each year is a matter of working this out and then performing the actual changeover accordingly.

Not to be outdone, Popular Mechanics taught the Knight's Tour back in 1922! It's a simple, memory-free version that uses a small card, but it is taught thoroughly and effectively.

A full article on memory improvement appeared in the December 1958 issue of Popular Science, called 6 Ways To Sharpen Your Memory (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). This article covers the memorization of names, instructions, and even the basics of the phonetic alphabet!

I still haven't covered all of the articles I've run across that would interest Grey Matters readers. Keep an eye open for these and others when I next update the Memory Effects list.