Daniel Tammet is author of two books, Born on a Blue Day and Embracing the Wide Sky, the latter of which came out in January. He is also a linguist and holds the European record for reciting the first 22,514 digits of the mathematical constant pi. Scientific American Mind contributing editor Jonah Lehrer chats with Tammet about the way his memory works, why the IQ test is overrated, and a possible explanation for extraordinary feats of creativity.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND: Your recent memoir, Born on a Blue Day, documented your life as an autistic savant. You describe, for example, how you are able to quickly learn new languages and remember scenes from years earlier in cinematic detail. Are you ever surprised by your own abilities?