15 march 2004

Pi memory feat

On 14 March 2004, Daniel Tammet recited Pi to 22,514 decimal places, breaking the European record for memorising the unending number.

Mr Tammet's 5-hour feat of memory was hosted by the Museum of the History of Science.

Mr Tammet, who runs a training company, developed his phenomenal recall after suffering an epileptic seizure at the age of three – astounding scientists, because epilepsy normally leads to memory loss. He can memorise 1,000 digits in 40 minutes, and is fluent in French, German, Lithuanian, Esperanto and Finnish. He has also devised two languages based on Finnish: Lapsi and Uusisuom.

It took him two weeks to memorise Pi. After his five-hour recitation, he said: 'In a way, numbers are my first language. So what I have done today was more like a physical test of endurance.'

The world record is held by Japan. Jirojuki Goto took 10 hours 50 minutes to recite Pi to 42,195 decimal places in 1989.