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13 posts tagged with savant. (View popular tags)
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If we're not in pain, we're not alive

You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website], the long-delayed "sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 25, 2014 - 65 comments

Hit me Einstein, one more time!

When a Blow to the Head Creates a Sudden Genius
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 19, 2012 - 29 comments

When I was a little kid, my mother told me not to stare into the sun, so when I was six I did.

Jason Padgett is the first person to acquire synasthesia and savantism by head trauma. Three years after his mugging, he began drawing complex geometries, including hand-drawn approximations of fractals, the first time anyone had ever done so. Eventually a mathematician suggested Padgett take a math course; with trigonometric notation Padgett offered a proof of his approximation of Pi. [more inside]
posted by Made of Star Stuff on Jul 25, 2011 - 52 comments

Ofviti (Icelandic for 'Genius')

Daniel Tammet learned to speak conversational Icelandic in a week. [more inside]
posted by bwg on Jun 28, 2011 - 29 comments

Early to Ripe, Early to Rot

Why did William James Sidis - the reclusive boy genius fluent in Latin at 2, accepted to MIT at 8, conceptual physicist at 11 - spend so much time thinking about public transit transfers? [more inside]
posted by Apropos of Something on May 27, 2011 - 24 comments

Savant who inspired Rain Man dies

Kim Peek, who inspired the title character in the film Rain Man, has died.
posted by h0p3y on Dec 22, 2009 - 33 comments

Islam, modernity and democracy

Is the west thwarting Arab plans for reform? Few Muslims now invest much hope in the democratic western powers (essentially the US, Britain and France) that back the rulers who oppress them, even if, against the odds, they still admire “western” values, science and culture. There is no endemic or intrinsic conflict between Christians and Muslims. Rather, the root of the problem is that a majority of Muslims is convinced that the west – interested only in a stability based on regional strongmen, the security of Israel and cheap oil – is engaged in a war against Islam and is bent on denying them the freedoms it claims for itself. That is why it is so self-defeating to collude in tyranny as ostensibly a lesser evil than political Islam. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 14, 2009 - 32 comments

Daniel Tammet the savant

Daniel Tammet (60 Minutes clips) is a highly functioning autistic savant able to learn Icelandic in a single week and recite PI to 22,500 places. "Savants can't usually tell us how they do what they do. It just comes to them. Daniel can. He could be the ‘Rosetta Stone." Previously on MeFi, he has a new book and movie (Google Video, 48m).
posted by stbalbach on Feb 28, 2007 - 22 comments

Rome as very few can picture it

Another incredible cityscape drawn from memory by the amazing Stephen Wiltshire (previously featured). The same clip on YouTube for those who don't like wmv's.
posted by flabdablet on Nov 23, 2006 - 41 comments

Urville: The Imaginary City

Welcome to Urville, the city that autistic Frenchman Gilles Trehin has been designing since he was 12 years old. The drawings, in particular, are incredible.
posted by jimmythefish on Mar 28, 2006 - 27 comments

The machine that makes you more smarter

The machine that makes you a savant. (NY Times, No registration copy here) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation sounds sketchy at first, but there is growing evidence this device developed for brain mapping can change and maybe even enhance mental functions, and may (or may not) be especially useful against depression. The results of the first major US trials will come out in 2006, as discussed in this MIT Tech Review article (PDF). Are you ready for one at home?
posted by blahblahblah on Oct 24, 2005 - 43 comments

Put on your thinking caps... literally!

Put on your thinking caps... literally! How would you like to be able to put on a "thinking cap" to stimulate the the vast, unused, recesses of your mind at will? Such a thing may become a reality sooner rather than later. Welcome to the 21st century! Here is a much more in depth article, and of course the Centre for the Mind website.
posted by eclectic glamazon on Mar 14, 2002 - 9 comments

World's Smartest? Dumbest? Bookie

World's Smartest? Dumbest? Bookie my son (age 7) asked me the other night how old you had to be before you could get arrested. A good question. Here's an account of "probably the greatest gambling mind in the world," and apparently "the only savant . . . whose gift has run him afoul of the law."
posted by LeLiLo on May 22, 2001 - 6 comments

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