Ricky Jay is one of the greatest living magicians of today. His supernatural sleight-of-hand places him light-years ahead of all but very few magicians alive, and when coupled with his vast knowledge and intellectual understanding of magic – makes him unique in any era.
The above video is Ricky’s one-man show from Broadway, ‘Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants’, and is a masterclass in magic, theatre, sleight-of-hand, scripting, presentation, magical history, and much more.
See the trailer for Ricky’s forthcoming movie here, a wonderful demonstration of his skills here, and Ricky’s website here.
Timothy Doner is a remarkable American teenager. Almost a year ago he uploaded the above video to YouTube – in which he demonstrates incredible proficiency in 20 languages which include English, French, Hausa, Wolof, Russian, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, Pashto, Farsi, Chinese, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Dutch, Xhosa, Swahili, Hindi and Ojibwe. Today, less than 12 months later, he has added another three langauges to his list. Hear a BBC interview with Timothy here and read a full article on the Daily Mail website here.
The world’s greatest polyglot, Ziad Fazah, claims to speak 58 languages – see him put to the test on Spanish television here.
Chimpanzees may have more smarts than humans, at least regarding short-term memories, new research suggests.
A Japanese researcher presented a video showing the remarkable abilities of a chimpanzee named Ayumu at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in February of this year. When the numbers 1 through 9 appeared randomly on a screen and then disappeared, the chimpanzee was able to recall the exact sequence and location of each number. Ayumu has also learnt numbers 1 through 19 and is able to touch each one in ascending order, which hasn’t been shown before, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a researcher at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute, told LiveScience.
As Matsuzawa showed the video to a room of scientists and journalists, murmurs of amazement were heard. “Don’t worry, nobody can do it,” Matsuzawa said, with an almost mischievous smile. “It’s impossible for you.”
A select few humans have such abilities, but these are typically people with savant syndrome, which is accompanied by severe mental disabilities; it’s simply beyond the powers of an ordinary human, Matsuzawa said. On the other hand, six out of six chimpanzees tested could rapidly remember the location and order of nine digits, he said.
This incredible short-term (or “working”) memory helps chimpanzees survive in the wild, where they often must make rapid and complex decisions. Working memory is an active form of short-term memory, a mental workspace that allows the brain to juggle multiple thoughts simultaneously.
For chimps, the amazing working memory likely helps the animals navigate the branches of huge trees to feed, for example, or decide what to do when competing groups of animals are threatening one another, he said.