A young man who suffered a fractured skull at age 5 has grown up to become the “world’s fastest human calculator.”
Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash, now 20, is able to process numbers at an average speed of 12 per second, around 10 times faster than a regular brain, according to the Limca Book of Records, India’s equivalent to Guinness World Records.
“The judges were so spellbound by my speed, that they required me to perform more calculations to confirm my accuracy,” he told the Hindustan Times.
Bhanu, who hails from Hyderabad, the capital of southern India’s Telangana state, says he uses “structured practice” to make complex calculations at a breakneck speed.
“Let’s say I am doing a multiplication of 8,763 multiplied by eight,” he told CNN. “I’ll probably multiply: 8,000 by eight which is 64,000, 700 by eight which is 5,600, 60 by eight which is 480, three by eight is 24. And I add all of these. But this requires the human brain to remember all this.”
At age 5, Bhanu was hit by a truck while riding his cousin’s scooter. He banged his head on the road, which caused the fracture on his skull. The injury required 85 stitches, multiple operations and a medically induced coma.
When Bhanu woke up almost seven days later, the doctors told his parents that he could be cognitively impaired. Bhanu, who spent the next year bedridden, decided to keep his brain active by learning how to play chess, solving puzles and eventually solving math problems.
“That accident changed the way I used to define fun and it is the reason why am here today,” he says.
In 2018, Bhanu founded Exploring Infinities, an educational organiation that aims to develop “cognitive abilities in children through arithmetic learning.”
“I don’t want to be the face of mathematics — there are enough of those, and they are exceptional,” he says. “I want to be the face against math phobia. Very simple.”