+
upworthy
Education

An attack outside a karaoke bar turned this simple furniture salesman into a mathematical genius

The tragic encounter gave Jason Padgett an extremely rare phenomenon known as "Acquired Savant Syndrome."

josh padgett, acquired savant syndrome
TEDx Talks/YouTube

Josh Padgett sharing his story on TEDx

Savant syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which a person diagnosed with a developmental disorder also displays extraordinary mental or artistic talent. Rarer still is Acquired Savant Syndrome, where a seemingly average person undergoes a traumatic brain injury and comes out with these otherworldly abilities.

Mathematical genius Jason Padgett is one of those cases. One of the first recorded cases, in fact.

Padgett was a furniture salesman, living a self-described “shallow” life chasing girls and parties, with zero interest in academics—least of all math, which he found “stupid.”

One fateful night in 2002 would change everything. Padgett was attacked just outside the karaoke bar he had visited, leaving him with a severe concussion. The day he woke up, he could see the world radically differently—everyday objects suddenly looked pixelated.


He would later discover that the images he perceived were fractals, mathematical patterns that create complex geometric shapes, more or less. It’s a hard enough concept to fathom, and even more incredible to actually see.

Padgett began drawing these shapes whenever he could, believing them to be the “keys to the universe.” It wouldn’t be until a physicist recognized his drawings and urged him to take more math classes that Padgett had a language for the things he now understood intuitively.

fractals

One of Padgett's fractal drawings titled "Spiral Scalar"

render.fineartamerica.com

Padgett’s newfound genius eventually became the subject of research, confirming an Acquired Savant Syndrome diagnosis. MRI scans revealed that in order to compensate for the area damaged by the attack, different parts of his brain, one linked to mathematical understanding, were more activated.

He also developed synesthesia, when involuntary perceptions cross over between senses (tasting shapes, hearing colors, etc.). This explained him being able to suddenly perceive mathematical formulas as geometric figures.

“I see it [beauty] everywhere,” he said, according to the BBC. “I’m having this mathematical awakening and all around us is absolute magic or about as close as you can get to magic.” Padgett now sells his mesmerizing mathematical artwork online and captivates readers and live audiences alike with his remarkable story.

There is still very little known about savant syndrome, and nuances are being discovered all the time. A report in 2021, for instance, documented 11 cases in which ordinary people, without previous head injuries or neurotypical diagnosis, gained savant-like abilities, leading to a new term of Sudden Savant Syndrome. The human brain really is an entire mysterious universe, and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of it.

Innovation

This organization is revolutionizing food supply chains to minimize waste

Spoiler Alert pairs CPG manufacturers with discount retailers to keep food out of landfills

Members of the Spoiler Alert team volunteer at Waltham Fields Community Farm in Waltham, MA

Nearly 120 billion pounds of food go to waste in the U.S. each year. This waste not only contributes to food insecurity, which millions of Americans are impacted by, but also has a detrimental impact on our climate. In large part, this comes down to a misallocation of resources.

We need to bridge the gap between food waste, the planet, and those in need. By doing so, we can drive sustainable food systems and get food to those who need it most. In fact, Project Drawdown has found that reducing food waste is the number one most impactful solution to climate change.

The foundations of Spoiler Alert were laid during my time at MIT Sloan in 2013 when I met my soon-to-be co-founder Emily Malina. With my consulting experience with brands and retailers on carbon, water, energy and waste initiatives and Emily’s background in supply chain transformation and technology adoption, we knew there was a supply chain solution that could help businesses better manage their food waste. That’s when we started Spoiler Alert.

Ricky Ashenfelter & Emily Malina, Co-founders of Spoiler Alert

Spoiler Alert is a B2B waste prevention software that helps CPG brands better manage excess and short dated inventory. This inventory arises from various sources, whether that’s overproduction, unsuccessful innovations, seasonal items, or promotional packaging.

Keep ReadingShow less

The gaze of the approving Boomer.

Over the past few years, Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) have been getting a lot of grief from the generations that came after them, Gen X (1965 to 1980), Millenials (1981 to 1996), and now, Gen Z (1997 to 2012). Their grievances include environmental destruction, wealth hoarding, political polarization, and being judgemental when they don’t understand how hard it is for younger people to make it in America these days.

Every Baby Boomer is different, so it's wrong to paint them all with a broad brush. But it’s undeniable that each generation shares common values, and some are bound to come into conflict.

However, life in 2023 isn’t without its annoyances. Many that came about after the technological revolution put a phone in everyone’s hands and brought a whole new host of problems. Add the younger generations' hands-on approach to child rearing and penchant for outrage, and a lot of moden life has become insufferanble.

Keep ReadingShow less

Heinz starts an argument by declaring ketchup goes in the fridge

People feel very strongly about their condiments. No matter what condiment there is someone either loves it or hates it but one of the biggest debates on the food toppers is how to store them. Yeah, that might sound a bit strange because everyone knows open condiments are stored in the pantry, unless its hot sauce, right? Whoa, calm down. I'm only kidding. I don't make the rules Heinz does, apparently.

They do make the condiments so it would be assumed that we would look to them to know how to store the products they make. But the people of Twitter are daring to argue with Heinz after the condiment giant posted a controversial tweet that declared ketchup does in fact belong in the fridge. This bold tweet is dividing the internet.

"Heinz don't even know where their product should be stored," one person declared. While another claimed, "Never, ever has it gone in my fridge, nor anybody else's." Who's going to tell these people to read the back of the bottle?

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Dad had no idea he was auditioning for 'Britain's Got Talent.' He brought the house down anyway.

His two little girls called him up on stage to perform the song he wrote for them.

Nick Edwards had no idea he was going to be singing for Britain's Got Talent until his mom and daughters showed up on stage.

We've seen some moving America's Got Talent stories before, but a recent viral audition absolutely requires a tissue warning. I tried to steel myself in preparation when I saw the "Admit it, we were *all* in tears after this" caption on the Facebook share of it, but I failed.

In a video that's been shared more than 95,000 times, the "Britain's Got Talent" audition shows two tiny little girls onstage with their grandmother. They introduce themselves as "Cally" (age 4) and "Savannah" (age 3) and "Nanny" (their "daddy's mummy") then the girls share that they are there to surprise their dad.

Dad—also known as Nick Edwards—is sitting in the audience. He thought the family was there to watch the audition on a fun outing; he had no idea that they had arranged a surprise audition for him, so when his girls and mom showed up on stage, he wondered what was going on.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

John Cena is being praised for the polite way he asked a fan to leave him alone

A fan came up and asked the actor to say a catchphrase from his wrestling days.

@alex99rocks/TikTok

Sometimes you just wanna enjoy some time with your friends.

Look, it happens to the best of us. We see a celebrity that we love out and about in the wild. Our excitement takes hold, and we rush up to our icons hoping they might deliver a bit of that same joy we experience from them on the screen. For a moment, the lines blur between fantasy and reality, and we forget that we are dealing with an actual human being, rather than a character.

Well known celebrities deal with this kind of social interaction all the time, whether they want it or not. And many times, they have to resort to expressing frustration in order to set a boundary. It doesn’t take a very long internet search to find public figures losing their cool at a fan who couldn’t pick up a hint.

That’s why people are praising John Cena for the way he respectfully handled a fan who might have overstepped a bit. Once a Peacemaker, always a Peacemaker it seems.

Keep ReadingShow less

English metal detector hobbyist finds a real treasure near Nottingham.

A retired merchant navy engineer in England has found a treasure that would have made his country’s most popular folk hero proud. Graham Harrison, a 64-year-old metal detector enthusiast, discovered a gold signet ring that once belonged to the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The discovery was made on a farm in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire, 26.9 miles from Sherwood Forest. The forest is known worldwide for being the mythological home of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. A central road that traversed the forest was notorious in Medieval times for being an easy place for bandits to rob travelers going to and from London.

Keep ReadingShow less
via YouTube

These days, we could all use something to smile about, and few things do a better job at it than watching actor Christopher Walken dance.

A few years back, some genius at HuffPo Entertainment put together a clip featuring Walken dancing in 50 of his films, and it was taken down. But it re-emerged in 2014 and the world has been a better place for it.

Keep ReadingShow less