Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Sad Truth about Scientists

It was "Pi day" in the USA last week (3.14). (Not in Europe, of course, where it was 14.3 day). Now,  in 2005 Lu Chao, a 24-year-old graduate student in Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Shaanxi Province, China,  successfully recited 67,890 digits of pi in 24 hours and 4 minutes with an error at the 67,891st digit, saying it was a "5", when it was actually a "0".  He had started learning to recite pi in 2004 and spent more than 10 hours memorizing and practicing everyday during his summer college vacation.

Officials with Lu's university perceptively said that he had a very good memory.

What's the truth about these guys? Well, an American  won the memorizing pi competition some years previously, but his wife revealed  that, well may he be able to remember thousands of digits of pi but  he could never remember where he put his glasses or keys. Now THAT'S the harsh, bitter reality. They're not superhuman after all.  They resemble Jeremy Smith these guys, who when HE was 24 walked his mother to his car in France,  found his key didn't turn in the ignition,  phoned a mechanic to start the car,  drove off then noticed there was a teddy bear hanging from the rear view mirror that he didn't remember putting there.  And the Jeremy Smith who in 1985 dreamily got on the wrong ferry in Dover, UK, ended up in Boulogne, France instead of Calais, without his backpack, and was sent back penniless to the UK on the last ferry. And the Jeremy Smith who was in Tony Mezzacappa's office last week fiddling with his blackberry. He'd had it for two years but  when Mezzacappa asked if it was a touch screen phone, Jeremy didn't know.  

I think I'd better get back to memorizing Pi. I've heard mnemonics are good. Here's one for the first few digits:  How I wish I could recollect pi easily today!  

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