Little did Jason Padgett, of Tacoma, Washington think that the vicious mugging he received when he left a karaoke club ten years ago was going to be a positive thing. He thought he was going to die when the attackers continued to kick him in the head just to steal his $99 leather jacket.
The 41-year-old Jason, by some miracle, did survive. Doctors said he had sustained a concussion, but within a few days he soon found his whole perception of the world had changed. He became obsessed with drawing intricate diagrams, but didnâ€™t know what they were, or why all of a sudden he could do this.
Padgett sees complex mathematical formulas everywhere he looks, and then turns them into dazzling and intricate fractal diagrams he draws by hand. Some of his work can be viewed at Fine Art America. He currently is trying to prove Einsteinâ€™s theory of relativity – E=MC2 (squared), is a fractal. He also can put together a visual representation of never-ending sequence of Pi.
Fractals are beautiful geometric figures that can be used to describe nature. A true fractal has an infinite amount of details, and by magnifying the design it adds additional details and increases the overall size. â€œA fractal is a shape that when you take the shape apart into pieces, the pieces are the same or similar to the whole. So say I had 1,000 pictures of you, that were little and I put all those little pictures of you in the right spot to make the exact same picture of you, but bigger,â€ Padgett explained.
According to reports, Padgett is the only person known to have this skill, without the use of computer-generated images. How is it possible that a person, with no prior skill in math, and no ability to draw, can sustain a head injury and within a few days he is transformed into an instant genius?
Currently Padgett, originally from Alaska, is working behind the scenes at a futon store in Tacoma. He has returned to college, something he originally dropped out from, to learn how to understand the mathematical concepts he draws and sees in nature. He hopes to one day teach the concepts to others.
Berit Brogaard, a neuroscientist and philosophy professor at the Center for Neurodynamics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, flew Padgett to Finland so she and her team could run a series of tests on Padgettâ€™s brain. According to Brogaard, his skills came about by sheer accident when the brutal beating triggered a change in connections in his brain. During testing, Brogaard found two specific areas of Padgettâ€™s brain would light up – the area that controls mental imagery; and the area that control mathematics.
Brogaard explained to ABC News that the â€œdamage caused by the attack has forced Padgett’s brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people donâ€™t have access to, transforming him into an acquired savant.â€ According to Broggard, â€œSavant syndrome is the development of a particular skill, that can be mathematical, spatial, or autistic, that develop to an extreme degree that sort of makes a person super human.â€
Padgett told reporters, â€œIâ€™m obsessed with numbers, geometry specifically,â€ Padgett said. â€œI literally dream about it. Thereâ€™s not a moment that I canâ€™t see it, and it just doesnâ€™t turn off.â€ When asked if he thought his talent was a burden or a gift, Padgett said it was a mixture of both. â€œSometimes I would really like to turn it off, and it wonâ€™t, but the good far outweigh the bad. I would not give it up for anything,â€ he said.
Padgettâ€™s skills remain a mystery – not just because of his amazing abilities, but because of the reason his brain decided to jump start areas that had never been engaged before.Â Some experts have said the effects wonâ€™t last and he will return to normal, but itâ€™s been 10 years and Padgett is still seeing geometry in everything.
This syndrome is just another piece of the puzzle on how our brains function. Itâ€™s what keeps neuroscientists excited and searching for answers that always seems to throw them a curve.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.
Comcast/Xfinity: Man Becomes Genius After Head Injury: http://xfinity.comcast.net/video/2228106318/man_becomes_genius_after_head_injury
Huffington Post – College Dropout Jason Padgett Becomes Accidental Mathematical Genius After Brutal Mugging: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/college-dropout-jason-pad_n_1464835.html
ABC Medical Unit – Real â€˜Beautiful Mindâ€™ College drop-out Became Mathematical Genius After Mugging: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/04/27/real-beautiful-mind-accidental-genius-draws-complex-math-formulas-photos/