Jason Padgett doesn’t have a PhD, a college degree or even a background in math. His talent was born out of a true medical mystery that scientists around the world are still trying to unravel.
“I’m obsessed with numbers, geometry specifically,” ABC News quoted him as saying.
“I literally dream about it. There’s not a moment that I can’t see it, and it just doesn’t turn off,” he said.
Ten years ago, the 41-year0old was only interested in two things – working out and partying. One night he was walking out of a karaoke club in Tacoma when he was brutally attacked by muggers who beat and kicked him in the head repeatedly.
Padgett said they were after his 99-dollar leather jacket.
“All I saw was a bright flash of light and the next thing I knew I was on my knees on the ground and I thought, ‘I’m gonna get killed,’” he said.
At the time, doctors said he had a concussion, but within a day or two, Padgett began to notice something remarkable. This college dropout who couldn’t draw became obsessed with drawing intricate diagrams, but didn’t know what they were.
“I see bits and pieces of the Pythagorean theorem everywhere.
“Every single little curve, every single spiral, every tree is part of that equation,” he said.
The diagrams he draws are called fractals and Padgett can draw a visual representation of the formula Pi, that infinite number that begins with 3.14.
“A fractal is a shape that when you take the shape a part into pieces, the pieces are the same or similar to the whole. So say I had 1,000 pictures of you, that were little and I put all those little pictures of you in the right spot to make the exact same picture of you, but bigger,” he said.
Much like the mathematician John Nash, played by Russell Crowe in the 2001 film, ‘A Beautiful Mind’, researchers believe Padgett has a remarkable gift.
To better understand how his brain works, Berit Brogaard, a neuroscientist and philosophy professor at the Center for Neurodynamics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and her team flew Padgett to Finland to run a series of tests.
A scan of Padgett’s brain showed damage that was forcing his brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people don’t have access to, Brogaard explained. The result was Padgett was now an acquired savant, meaning brilliant in a specific area.
“Savant syndrome is the development of a particular skill, that can be mathematical, spatial, or autistic, that develop to an extreme degree that sort of makes a person super human,” Brogaard said.