By making the simplest mental calculations, today's young people make horrific mistakes. Relying only on calculators and computers, the new generation is catastrophically losing the ability to count. It is all the more surprising that there are phenomenal people-counters in the world who do the most complex calculations in their minds without using any technical means.
Do you know how to count on accounts?
It is already difficult for some modern young people to imagine a time when there were no computers, and in fact, by historical standards, modern technology appeared in our country quite recently. For example, at school I went through calculations using an adding machine and a slide rule, I remember the lesson when we even counted on the abacus. How, in ancient times, people managed to perform rather complex calculations without using computers and calculators?
Firstly, those who were forced to count a lot, constantly trained in this and could, orally, put any modern young man in the belt. Second, in more complex cases, they might have turned to computing talents that had spread over a wide area. The so-called people-counters, capable of carrying out very complex calculations in their minds, appeared in ancient times, but only fragmentary mentions of them have survived. The first phenomenal calculator about which there is written evidence that has come down to us was Jedediah Buxton. He was born in 1707 in Elmton (Derbyshire, Great Britain) in the family of an ordinary village teacher.
The boy had a natural gift for computing. Alas, his level of intelligence was low, he was neither ambitious nor inclined to somehow use his gift to his advantage. All his life he worked for a pittance as a farm laborer, occasionally receiving small sums to showcase his gift to curious visitors. It is worth noting that Buxton made calculations rather slowly, perhaps his main achievement can be called the quick determination of the area of a field of irregular shape, for this he only had to walk over it. Jedediah Buxton passed away at the age of 65, never reaching his potential.
How a shepherd boy shocked French academics
Unlike Buxton, French shepherd Henri Monde was much more fortunate. While the cows were peacefully grazing in the meadow, Henri collected small flints, arranged the stones in rows, representing different numbers, and then made calculations with them. Over time, he became so proficient in calculations that he could almost instantly convert a person's age into hours and even minutes.
Monde was lucky, a certain Jacobi found out about his abilities, who helped the guy get his primary school education. In the fall of 1840, the same Jacobi presented the young talent to the scientists of the French Academy of Sciences. When Henri, at a meeting of the academy, instantly calculated the square of 756 and correctly answered the question of how many minutes in 52 years, the scientists experienced both shock and delight. Monde was called a remarkable phenomenon and a special commission of five eminent academicians was appointed to study the phenomenon. She gave a very positive opinion about the young man's abilities. Although there is no information about the further fate of Henri, it is most likely that she was happier than that of Buxton.
One of the unique people who counters was the Englishman George Parker Bidder, born in 1806. Ability for counting and mathematics manifested itself at an early age, but his father did not want to educate him. Fortunately, there was a man named John Herschell who appreciated the boy's abilities, thanks to his help Bidder graduated from elementary school. George's father, driven by a thirst for profit, wished to take the boy out of school and send him to the circus in order to earn money from his son's gift. However, Bidzer had defenders and patrons, who gave the boy the opportunity to graduate from college.
In 6 minutes, George Bidder could multiply the numbers 257 689 435 by 356 875 649. He had a phenomenal memory, for example, he could remember 43 numbers at once, uttered only once. Bidder became a railroad engineer in 1834, and George's extraordinary ability helped Britain quickly establish its railroad network. Bidder played the role of a computer that did not exist at that time: with his help, many projects were calculated quickly and efficiently. When Bidder died on September 28, 1878, he was posthumously recognized as one of the greatest calculators in human history.
Let's remember another unique man-counter - a native of Denmark Willem Klein (1912-1986). It has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records for its ability to extract the 73rd root of a 500-digit number. This process took him only 2 minutes and 43 seconds. During the 1920s and 1930s, Klein made money by demonstrating his unique abilities in the circus. In 1958, he began to apply his gift at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where he worked for 19 years. Then, citing fatigue, Klein left this job and moved to Amsterdam. Unlike Bidder, who died a natural death, Klein was stabbed to death on August 1, 1986 in his own house by an unknown assassin.
THE MOST REAL UNIQUE
Can you mentally multiply two numbers in 28 seconds - 7 686 369 774 870 and 2 465 099 745 779 - and get the correct answer? Doubt? And you are doing the right thing. Only an ingenious counter-man is capable of this. If suddenly you are one, then here is the correct answer - 18 947 668 177 995 426 462 773 730. By the way, the Indian woman Shakuntala Devi multiplied these numbers in 28 seconds in 1980. As you can see, among the dominant super-complex calculations in the minds of men, women are sometimes found. At 38, Shakuntala could, without using notes, extract the 21st root of a 210-digit number. She also showed the gift of a writer, she published several books.
At the moment, Alberto Coto Garcia is considered the fastest-performing human counter on Earth. He was born on May 20, 1970. The famous "human computer", as it is often called, has been winning first place in the world in multiplication and addition in the mind for several years in a row. It costs him nothing to multiply two eight-digit numbers, it takes him 8 minutes and 25 seconds. But Alberto can add two hundred-digit numbers in 19.23 seconds.
The volume of this material does not allow us to tell about all the famous people-counters, and there were quite a few of them, here are just a few of them: Daniel McCartney, Louis Fleury, Nikolai Arrago, Aron Chikvashvili, Willis Dayzart, Urania Diamondi, Borislav Gadzhanski, Maurice Dagber, Yusnier Viera. Among our people-counters, it is worth noting Igor Shelushkov, Yuri Gorny and Alexander Nekrasov.
Is it possible to organize "production" of supercomputing devices?
Undoubtedly, outstanding people-counters have always been of interest to scientists who tried to find out the secret of their abilities. Back in the 19th century, Alfred Binet was doing this in the laboratory of physiological psychology in Paris. He did not reveal the essence of the phenomenon, but made a number of generalizations concerning people-counters. Binet established the absence of heredity of this phenomenon, the manifestation of the ability to count in childhood, its development with constant exercise and extinction in the absence of its use.
People-counters make no secret of how they manage to cope with the most complex calculations, but their admissions only further puzzle scientists. Urania Diamondi, for example, said that each number has its own color, and the calculations for her are a play of endless symphonies of color. Some people-counters said that someone seemed to be building rows of numbers in front of their eyes, others talked about some outside calculator doing all the work for them.
So far, one thing is clear: in the near future no one will be able to put people-counters on the "production" stream. Through persistent training, you can achieve considerable success in oral counting, but this does not help to become unique.