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How Jason Padgett's Life Changed When He Became a Sudden Math Genius

Jason Padgett walked out of a bar after singing karaoke in 2002. Soon after, his life was changed forever. He was attacked by two men. They pummeled him so badly he thought he would be dead by the time they were finished with him.

“It was just so violent,” he said in a recent interview.

He didn’t die, but after the attack he saw the world differently—more mathematically. 

“The next day, I knew for sure something was radically different,” he said.  “Things don’t look smooth, they look like little, tiny snapshots.”

The brain trauma he suffered unlocked an understanding of mathematical theories he never had before.  He acquired a savant syndrome considered to be one of the world's rarest.  He can visualize mathematical concepts relating to pi, calculus and geometry.

Padgett will speak in Louisville on Thursday for IdeaFestival. He recently discussed with WFPL how he views the world. 

Interview with Jason Padgett

With his new genius-like ability, he discovered that the human brain has vast potential that often goes unnoticed.

We Can Upgrade Our Brains

Padgett said we can all  “upgrade” our brains. For example, the simple act of catching a ball, he said, requires us to instantly solve in-depth geometrical and calculus equations. 

“It is a serious equation—yet you just catch the ball,” he said.

He said the ability to do this “high-level math” resides within most people, but the ability to understand the equations on paper or the ability to explain the equations is often dormant.

“We have the ability to have incredible memory and remember every single thing done,” he said.  “It’s just learning how the brain functions.”

We Can Wake Up Our Brains

“By learning something new, you are literally making millions of new connections in your brain,” he said.

And the more connections, the “more you can think,” he added.

He said the challenge is taking the time to learn new things.

Before the attack, Padgett had few math skills.  He was a self-proclaimed jock, worried only about partying.  But after the attack, he still had to practice—he enrolled in community college and took math courses, always working on his ability.

Never Be Bored

Padgett said "it's impossible" for him to be bored. He encourages other people to fight boredom by observing their surrounding and “thinking about it.

“You can literally think forever and always find something new.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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