Almost a year ago, Rajveer Meena spent nine grueling hours blindfolded as he recited the longest string of numbers probably ever uttered by a human being in a single sitting. He walked away as the Guinness World Record holder, having memorized and recounted 70,000 places of Pi from memory.
Rote memorization, once considered a necessary skill before the era of Google Search, has now become an ability only associated with students, savants, and record holder hopefuls. But memorizing a poem or a string of numbers, as Brad Leithauser puts it, “provides us with knowledge of a qualitatively and physiologically different variety” than simply reading the information off of a screen.
When was the last time you committed a string of words or numbers to memory? Us meager mortals probably won’t be matching Meena’s lofty record of 70,000 places, but we can certainly learn from his strategy to improve our own memorization techniques.
NDTV reports that “While talking about his memorising power, Rajveer said the left side of [the] human brain is capable of storing visual memories for longer periods and he had prepared pairs of digits, enabling him to quickly recall their sequence. He further claimed that he can memorise thousands of digits by sequencing it into an episode or transforming it into an object.” If this is the first time you’ve heard of this strategy, it might sound like a pretty wildly surreal way of approaching rote memorization. But it’s strikingly parallel to Joshua Foer’s “memory palace,” which he describes in the popular TED talk below:
If the memory palace doesn’t strike you as a workable strategy, you might find it easier to simply get a song stuck in your head. There are various Pi Songs on Youtube and elsewhere. Here are some of our favorites:
And the surreal pop song:
So, now that you’ve chosen your game plan and memorized Pi to a few dozen places or more, perhaps you’re hoping to claim a world record for yourself. A good strategy is, well, doing things that no one else has yet thought to attempt. There are a whole host of various world records that involve reciting Pi. There are some really incredibly silly things on this list, including “Fastest Time to Recite 100 Digits of Pi in a Prius,” and “Most Digits of Pi Recited While Blindfolded and Spinning a Dreidel.”
Now it’s your turn! What wacky ways can you think of to recite the most digits of Pi? Show off your skills by sharing a 15-second video with the hashtag #MakePiCount on the platform of your choice. Happy Pi Day!