Daniel Tammet is a 31-year-old, high-functioning autistic savant from East London. His condition has given him some incredible mental abilities: in 2004, he broke records by reciting pi to 22,514 places in a time of 5hrs 9mins. His ability to memorise, learn languages at super speed and calculate near-impossible equations has led him to train others in his ‘secrets’.
Losing his eyes to an ocular cancer as a small child, Ben Underwood of California taught himself to ‘see’ using echolocation. Producing sharp clicks with his tongue and teeth, Ben could read his surroundings – even ride a bike. Sadly Ben died of cancer in 2009. Researchers at Spain’s University of Alcalá de Henares have been researching various aspects of echolocation.
In Arctic waters, most men wearing trunks and a cap would die in less than three minutes. But Brit Lewis Gordon Pugh has swum for 18 minutes at the North Pole, in water at -1.7°C. He has a trait known as ‘anticipatory thermogenesis’ giving him the ability to raise his core temperature by 1.5°C. He is the only known person able to do this.
A boy born in Germany in 1999 surprised scientists with his advanced muscular physique. The unnamed child was born with an unusual genetic mutation that blocked a growth-restricting protein called myostatin. At the age of five, the boy was able to hold 3kg weights with his arms extended, and he was reported to have muscle mass two to three times greater than his peers.