by every definition.

BTS 020: Seeing Maths As More Than Numbers


Most of us see Maths as an almost abstract art. A skill we pick up to increase an important number in school - our test score.

Because of this, we soon forget the skills to interact with these seemingly alien numbers.

But for 4% of the human population, numbers are not simply strokes of a pen - They are personalities, colours or shapes. They may have texture or taste. They may provide an experience for those who can feel it.

But how is this possible? Try this. Think of an lemon. You would most likely have picture an lemon in your mind. Some of you might imagine the smell, the colour, the texture of the skin and even cringe when it reminds you of its sour taste.

Now, think of a mythical creature. What do you see? Do you feel daunted by what you have imagined, yet despite being completely imaginary, seems almost real to you, as though as you had seen it before in real life?

What you had just experienced is the closest thing to what is known as Synesthesia - the neurological trait that combines two or more senses.

 This is how Daniel visualises Pi/ Photo Credit: Daniel Tammet

This is how Daniel visualises Pi/ Photo Credit: Daniel Tammet

People with Synesthesia picture numbers the way we picture descriptive words and at a much deeper level.

The types of Synesthesia identified are quite remarkable, and some of them are hard to contemplate.

Daniel Tammet, a high-functioning autistic savant, gave us a glimpse into his mind by painting the visuals he sees when his numbers interact.

You can go behind the science of Synesthesia by starting here.

BEHIND THE SCiENcE is a series about facts of the world worth knowing, worth sharing.
Be Intrigued, stay Curious!

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