The Human Calculator, 2




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ability find out square root
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enjoy impress give/gave/given
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plus gift (2) hard/harder/hardest
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shame regular particularly






At school we learn how to add, subtract and multiply. But I’m here to meet a man whose brain has developed a mathematical power beyond everyone else on earth.
I’ve come to witness Scott Flansburg’s claim that he is faster than a calculator.

Scott tours the world on a mission: to inspire kids about math.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “I do everything addition, subtraction multiplication, division, square roots, cube roots, perpetual calendars, algorithms, whatever I can do to show students that calculators can’t beat my brain.”

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “Multiplication: please give me two, two-digit numbers and we’ll multiply them together.”

Student, One: “95 times e-5.”
Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “8075.”

Amazingly Scott’s getting the answers before I’ve even typed in the numbers.

Presenter: “43 times 99.”
Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “4-2-5-7.”

He beats the calculator every time.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “You guys go enjoy recess, all right. Nice meeting all of you.”

Scott’s math skills might impress grade school kids, but I need to find out more about his mental superpower. How does he compare to real mathematicians?

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

I’m taking him to the San Diego State University math department and for mathematicians armed with calculators in a computer compete with Scott’s amazing ability.

Thomas R. Scott, Math Professor: “We’ll start with the multiplication of two, two-digit numbers. Ready? The numbers are 39 times 78.”
Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “3-0-4-2.”
Thomas R. Scott, Math Professor: “3,042 is correct. Scott got it first.”

Scott’s speed is baffling everyone in the room. As the challenges get harder Scott is actually getting faster.

Thomas R. Scott, Math Professor: “Okay starting with a base of zero and adding 10 times. The number is 48.”
Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “96-one-four-four-one-nine-two-two-four-two -eight-eight-three-one-three-six-three-four-four-three-two-forty-oh.”
University Student, Female: “Yeah.”

Reporter: “So how do you guys feel getting beat?”
University Student, Male: “Humbled.”
Reporter: “Humbled.”
University Student, Female: “Shame.”
Reporter: “What do you think of Scott? Do you think is really a human calculator?”
University Student, Male: “I’d say yes.”
University Student, Female: “Definitely.

Thomas R. Scott, San Diego State University: “I think it is a particularly rare phenomenon that we’re viewing here — there probably aren’t more than a half dozen people in the world who have the capacities that Scott does.

Like me, Scott Flensburg looks just like a regular guy. But underneath, we possess rare genetic gifts. The human calculator is totally superhuman in my book.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


Math. Scott Flansburg uses paper and pencil to perform mathematical calculations. True or false?

Arithmetic. Is Scott a (full-time) scientist or engineer? What does he do? What is his primary occupation?

Addition, Plus. Does he only perform basic arithmetic (add, subtract, multiply and divide)?

Subtraction, Minus. School pupils, teachers and professors think Scott is boring. Is this correct or incorrect?

Multiplication, Times. Does he tell his audience his own calculations, for example, “Okay, everyone: 328,984 minus 47,395 equals 281,589. 0.357 times .0265 equals 0.0094605?”

Division, Divide. The university students and professor thought they were experts in math. What do you think?

Fractions. Was he fast or slow? Did he have to think very hard?

Percentage. Does the professor feel that Scott is using some secret method or technique to perform his mental calculations?
Decimals, Decimal Points. I study math at school. Yes or no? If yes, what math do you study? Arithmetic, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus?

Geometry. Is math fun and easy, hard and difficult or in the middle?

Trigonometry. Can math be made fun and easy to learn? How can math be fun and easy to learn?

Algebra. Is math very important in life? Do you need math for a good career?

Calculus. What might happen in the future?

Integrals, Differentiation. What could or should schools, universities, governments, businesses and students do?

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