Let’s start with a number that many have come across in math class: pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It begins with 3.14159 . . . and carries on forever. It is infinite and irrational, never ending and never repeating, and people are drawn into its orbit.
Memory wizards have varying motivations and use different techniques, but they all essentially convert the exercise into a story. When they recite the numbers, they are telling themselves a tale in their head and rendering it into digits.
Meena, from Rajasthan, #India, assigns numbers to certain words. He gave me an example. “I leave my house and meet #Roger #Federer, go to the park, grab a pair of jeans, get a cab for $50 to the office, where I earn $100.” This translates into the number 749099950100: I (74) leave my house and meet Roger Federer (90), go to the park, grab a pair of jeans (999), get a cab for $50 to the office, where I earn $100.
Memorizing the story for a sequence of 70,000 digits took him more than six years. Along with getting into Guinness, “it was a good way to increase patience and confidence,” Meena says, deadpan.
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