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10. After her head was struck in a skiing accident, a young unidentified woman woke up with a very strange super power: the incredible ability to accurately draw every building she has ever seen in her life … down to the smallest detail. I can’t even draw this room I’m in right now, where I’ve been living for practically 5 years. She has been diagnosed with “acquired savant syndrome,” and she is only one of 50 people in the world diagnosed with this. We’ll discuss a few of the others later in this list.
9. A 12-year-old Russian schoolboy was electrically shocked when he leaned against a metal lamp post, and now claims to have the same magnetic powers as those of the X-Men’s Magneto. Knives, forks, spoons, coins and other metallic objects stick to his body, and it’s made him pretty popular at school. But scientists say those objects can stick to most kids because they have smooth, hairless skin with a small amount of sweat. What do you think? Is the Russian boy like Magneto, or has he just found a way to be cool at school?
8. If you’re a musical instrument klutz like me, wouldn’t it be really cool to wake up one day and be able to play an incredible tune on the piano… just automatically? Some years back, Derek Amato knew he hurt himself when he dived into a friend’s pool and his head hit the bottom. He suffered a concussion, hearing loss and headaches. But a few weeks later, he was somehow drawn to a friend’s piano and sat down to play it. And boy, did he play it. He can now play eight instruments and has released two albums. Says Derek: “I’m convinced it’s all for a reason and it’s my job to do it right.”
7. Tommy McHugh was a criminal and drug addict for most of his 51 years. Then a brain hemorrhage nearly killed him. He made it through a very rough surgery and brought with him a very strange urge and ability: to write poetry. After some time, the poetry was replaced with the tremendous desire to paint… and paint anything. A neuroscientist who studied Tommy said blood flooded his frontal lobe during the brain hemorrhage, and left his creative levels at full throttle.
6. After being hit in the side of the head with a baseball bat at age 10, Orlando Serrell, of Virginia, developed a very unusual talent: he can tell you the day of the week for any given date, and do extreme calculations, like how many times March 12 has ever fallen on a Thursday, or the number of days between any two given dates. He can even tell you the weather for that day. And, he has never been wrong.
5. When Daniel Tammett was 3, he suffered an epileptic seizure. Since then, he has been obsessed with numbers. When he was 25, he was diagnosed with high-functioning autistic savant syndrome, allowing him to work out high-level calculations. From memory, he recited pi to 22,514 decimal places in 5 hours and 9 minutes. I don’t even know what that means and I’m impressed. Daniel also speaks 10 different languages, including Icelandic, which he learned in a week after a TV show challenge. Says Daniel: “When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That’s the answer.” Now when I multiply numbers, I see sweat dripping from my forehead before I reach for my calculator.
4. Ben McMahon, of Austria, was in a coma after a car crash. His parents didn’t think he would make it. But he did. A week after the crash he woke up and started speaking Mandarin Chinese. Oddly, at the time, his nurse was Chinese and understood him perfectly. Ben had only taken a very basic course of the language in school. All of a sudden, he was now fluent with it. It took him a few days to remember how to speak in English. He is now a Chinese-speaking tour guide in Australia and appears on Chinese television there.
3. Orthopedic surgeon Tony Cicoria, of New York, was struck by lightning in 1994, and thanks to a nearby nurse who knew CPR, he survived. But later, Tony developed a sudden fascination with the piano, and though he never before had any desire to play a musical instrument, he quickly found himself playing one and composing his own pieces. He has since appeared on numerous television shows discussing how his brain was changed.
2. Jason Padgett also has the savant syndrome. It happened when he was mugged and repeatedly kicked in the head when he was 30. When he came to, his head was full of shapes and patterns that represented numbers. Since then, he has been able to understand complex mathematical formulas. Neurologists said the portion of Jason’s brain that was damaged had to use other parts of his brain that were seldom used to compensate for that damaged area. Strangely, the activation of the dormant brain area turned him into a mathematical genius.
1. 56-year-old Alonzo Clemons, of Boulder, Colorado, suffered a severe head injury as a toddler. But almost immediately after, he began to sculpt… and in great detail. He would sculpt animals out of soap or anything else available even after seeing them for only a moment. He was diagnosed with acquired savant syndrome and has had his work sell for up to $45,000. That’s pretty amazing. It’s even more amazing when you consider that Alonzo has an IQ of 40 and cannot tie his shoe laces or eat on his own.