A Furniture Salesman Got Hit in the Head and Turned into a Math Genius

A furniture salesman got attacked outside a karaoke bar by a pair of unknown assailants. A few days later, he realized he could see complex geometrical equations everywhere he looked.

Before Jason Padgett was attacked in 2002, he was a jock and party animal who had stopped taking math after a pre-algebra class. "I cheated on everything, and I never cracked a book," he told Live Science.

But a few days after doctors sent him home from the hospital with a severe concussion and a bleeding kidney, Padgett noticed the world looked different.

Soon after the attack, Padgett experienced PTSD and debilitating social anxiety. But at the same time, he noticed that everything looked different. He describes his vision as "discrete picture frames with a line connecting them, but still at real speed." If you think of vision as the brain's taking pictures all the time and smoothing them into a video, it's as though Padgett sees the frames without the smoothing. In addition, "everything has a pixelated look," he said.

With Padgett's new vision came an astounding mathematical drawing ability. He started sketching circles made of overlapping triangles, which helped him understand the concept of pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. There's no such thing as a perfect circle, he said, which he knows because he can always see the edges of a polygon that approximates the circle.

Doctors studying Padgett, who is now a sophomore in college, say that his mathematical awakening suggests all humans might have the ability to acquire savant skills.

"It would be quite a coincidence if he were to have that particular special brain and then have an injury," Berit Brogaard, a professor with the University of Miami told the Post. "And he's not the only [acquired savant]."

[image via Shutterstock]