On Wed, Oct 03, 2007 at 06:31:35PM -0400, Edward W. Porter wrote:
> One of them once told me that in Japan it was common for high school boys
> who were interested in math, science, or business to go to abacus classes
> after school or on weekends.  He said once they fully mastered using
> physical abacuses, they were taught to create a visually imagined abacus
> in their mind that they could operate faster than a physical one.
> He said his talent was not that unusual among bright Japanese, that many
> thousands of Japan businessmen  carry such mental abacuses with them at
> all times.


So .. one can teach oneself to be an idiot-savant, in a way. Since
Ramanujan is a bit of a legendary hero in math circles, the notion
that one might be able to teach oneself this ability, rather than 
"being born with it", could trigger some folks to try it.  As it
seems a bit tedious ... it might be appealing only to those types
of folks who have the desire to memorize a million digits of Pi ...
I know just the person ... Plouffe ... 


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