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The Amazing Lightning Calculators: The Natural Number Crunchers

Some calculating prodigies have been gifted mathematicians. Carl Friedrich Gauss, who was born in 1777, was one of the world’s most remarkable mathematical geniuses. His brilliant aptitude for figures was evident from an early age. On his first day in an arithmetic class at school he provided the answers to a series of problem before the teacher had finished dictating them. He published his theory of numbers in 1801 and later became a foremost mathematician of his age.



Asked how many seconds he had lived when he was 70 years, 17 days, and 12 hours old, one man supplied the answer in a minute and half. When his questioners challenged his answer, he corrected them by pointing out that they had omitted to take into account leap years.


The man who demonstrated this astounding arithmetical ability was Thomas Fuller, the Virginia Calculator. Born in West Africa in 1710 and later shipped to America as a slave, he remained illiterate all his life.

Ready Reckoners


There have been other lightning calculators. Some have not only lacked formal education but have been idiot savants, with little intellectual ability in other fields. Jedediah Buxton, another prodigy of the 18th century, could remember for a period of at least a month the calculations needed to solve a complex arithmetical problem.


Yet he remained illiterate, in spite of having a schoolteacher father, and seemed to have little intellectual inclination apart from his fascination for figures. On the one occasion that he attended a Shakespearean play, the only things that interested him were the number of words that each actor spoke and the number of entrances and exits each made.

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User Comments
  1. cardy

    On September 20, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Wow is all i can say a fab read!


    On September 20, 2009 at 11:00 am

    You’ve me “wow, wow, wow!” Really extraordinary article. There, I clicked you “liked it”

  3. rizzei

    On September 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

    yeah..hmm.. i have always loved mathematics..this is awesome!: )

  4. Uma Shankari

    On September 20, 2009 at 11:43 am

    How do you do it so well, Ghaz? Fabulous article, well compiled information, excellent photos … you always leave us spellbound.

  5. Momof4

    On September 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    MrGhaz, This is a great article!! Shows that a person can learn something new everyday. Thanks for sharing all this information with us. I liked it.


  6. Christine Ramsay

    On September 20, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    These people are amazing. I don\’t really know how they do it.
    A wonderful article.

  7. papaleng

    On September 20, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Oh! my friend, you never runs out of interesting post.. you have my like on this one.

  8. Theresa Johnson

    On September 20, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    very informative and interesting information

  9. Mrs. Heart

    On September 20, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Very well done! Excellent!

  10. Goodselfme

    On September 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Very expertly done with info and I learned so much from you.TX

  11. cutedrishti8

    On September 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    very wonderful work..

  12. Joie Schmidt

    On September 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Very cool!



    -Liane Schmidt.

  13. ahmad joko setyawan

    On September 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Very,very interesting read Mr Ghaz and yet again I have learned something! I liked how you analyzed and added their traits! Very clever write as always!!

  14. Melody SJAL

    On September 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Amazing individuals. Nice post.

  15. hollynoel001

    On September 20, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    interesting article and well informative as usual!!

  16. monica55

    On September 21, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Amazing. Well done.

  17. Susan

    On September 21, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Interesting article. I have a son who is one of these and, up to now, had no idea where he came from. Now I realize it’s because he’s left-handed! (-:

    Actually the gift faded with age, but his brilliance is still obvious in other areas.

  18. Idazalee

    On September 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Absolutely amazing! very very interesting and well-researched article as always. Its really amaze me. I enjoyed so much..Thanks for sharing this wonderful stuff!!

  19. Joshua Miguel

    On September 26, 2009 at 12:54 am

    i really enjoy reading this post. thanks for the share

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