Memory is a faculty that humans make use of every minute of the day without even thinking about it. Every activity involves recalling something. When a person speaks or writes, they are recalling their repository of word and grammar rules and semantics and structure, even simple calculations involve the use of memory to think of numbers and arithmetic rules.
The author of Moonwalking With Einstein is a science journalist who was assigned to cover the 2005 US Memory Championship. He was intrigued not just by the competition but also by the competitors themselves, who were a mixed bunch, mostly just ordinary people with no special gifts. They just worked hard to improve their memory.
This enticed the author to see if he could prepare for the next year’s championship, if he could train himself within a year to match the other participants. So, he embarked on a journey, under the tutelage of a young man from Oxford.
He shares with the readers many fascinating discoveries he made on the way, interesting facts about the brain and memory and the way they work. For instance, he says that the human brain has not changed much since the Stone Age, just the ways in which the brain is used have changed. He also discusses the many different forms of mnemonics that memory champions make use of.
He meets a man who learnt Spanish in a single weekend, and the original Rain Man, Kim Peek, whose talents included the ability to recite Shakespeare’s entire canon of work, and the ability to memorize the text of over 9000 books. He learns memory techniques like the memory palace. In this method, a person imagines themselves walking through a building that is familiar to them, placing facts they want to remember in different places in that building. Another technique is to associate sets of data to some weird scenario.
The author derived the title from that idea. Foer memorized a deck of cards by imagining himself Moonwalking With Einstein, a picturesque idea that helped him remember the entire deck and actually win the 2006 US Memory Championship.
About the Author :
Joshua Foer is a freelance science journalist.
Joshua Foer was born in 1982, and is a graduate of Yale University. He is the 2006 US Memory Champion. The inspiration for his participation in the contest and his journey while training for it are described in his book, Moonwalking With Einstein. His journalistic work has appeared in publications like The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything