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April 24, 2014

Man Reveals Secret of Success: Do Nothing But Drink, Party, and Bicep Curls, Then Get Into a Pointless Barfight Where You're Conked on the Head From Behind, and You Too May Become a Mathematical Intuitive Genius

So, supposedly, this guy is one of only 40 -- forty! -- people in the entire world with "acquired savant syndrome," in which one suddenly gains a savant-like effortless, innate skill at art, math, or science after an brain injury or brain disease.

He became a mathematical savant -- after previously showing no talent or interest in any higher-thinking pursuit -- after suffering a "profound concussion" in a barfight.

“If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone," he says in his new book, thus promising readers a surefire pathway to success -- careless living and drunken brawls.

So guys, go out there, get a load on, start throwing elbows and ethnic slurs, and maybe change the world.

And bring your protractor and compass -- you might need them later.

Padgett’s world is bursting with mathematical patterns. He is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand. Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.

He sees the parts that make up the whole. And his world is never boring, never without amazement. Even his dreams are made up of geometry.

...

Flash back 12 years: Padgett had dropped out of Tacoma (Wash.) Community College, and was a self-described “goof” with zero interest in academics, let alone math. The only time he dealt in numbers was to track the hours until his shift ended at his father’s furniture store, tally up his bar tab, or count bicep curls at the gym.
With his mullet, leather vest open to a bare chest, and skintight pants, he was more like a high-school student stuck in the 1980s — even though it was 2002, and he was a 31-year-old with a daughter.

He would race his buddies in a freshly painted red Camaro. His life was one adrenaline rush after another: cliff-jumping, sky-diving, bar-hopping. He was the “life of the party.” The guy who would funnel a beer before going out and would slip a bottle of Southern Comfort in his jacket pocket to avoid paying $6 for mixed drinks.

...

Party time came to end the night of Friday, Sept. 13, 2002, at a karaoke bar near his home. There, two men attacked him from behind, punching him in the back of the head, knocking him unconscious.

...

The next morning, while running the water in the bathroom, he noticed “lines emanating out perpendicularly from the flow. At first, I was startled, and worried for myself, but it was so beautiful that I just stood in my slippers and stared.”

...

Days went by, but the visuals remained.

...

During one of his meditations, he came to the conclusion that “circles don’t exist.”

“It was like a bomb went off in my mind. In a matter of minutes, I was no longer just a receiver of geometric imagery or a researcher; I was a theorist,” he writes.

It's pretty neat, and while I've excerpted quite a bit, there's more of his story -- essentially a superhero story, when you think about it, as he acquires Strange New Powers without any satisfying rational explanation for it -- at the link.

You should know that he wasn't entirely unprepared for sudden genius. He had always scored high on IQ tests, though he never had any interest in academics or doing much besides getting his liquor on and getting his weenie squeezed.

So, you know: A hero for us all.

When they make the movie, "Circles don't exist, baby," will be his pick-up line.


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posted by Ace at 02:17 PM

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