Flansburg in 2011
December 28, 1963|
Herkimer, New York
|Pen name||The Human Calculator|
Math Magic for Kids
|Notable awards||Guinness World Record 2001|
Scott Flansburg (born December 28, 1963) is an American man who is often called a mental calculator. Dubbed multiple times as "The Human Calculator", he was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for speed of mental calculation. He is the annual host and ambassador for World Maths Day, and is a math educator and media personality. Flansburg has also published the books Math Magic and Math Magic for Your Kids.
Scott Flansburg was born on December 28, 1963, in Herkimer, New York. Scott has stated that he was nine years old when he first discovered his mental calculator abilities. He stated that he wasn't paying attention in math class and his teacher picked him to solve a math equation on the board. He said instead of going right to left in that addition sum, he went left to right and he was able to solve the question. Afterwards he would keep a running tally of his family's groceries at the store, so his father could give the cashier an exact check before the bill had been rung up. In his youth he also began noticing that the shape and number of angles in numbers are clues to their value, and began counting from 0 to 9 on his fingers instead of 1 to 10.
Flansburg can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and find square and cube roots in his head almost instantly with calculator accuracy. Around 1990 he began using his ability in an entertainment and educational context.
In 1991, Flansburg was involved in the creation of a product called "The Human Calculator System" designed for direct-marketing sales channels which consisted of a study guide and four cassettes teaching his method. He appeared in the informercial series "Amazing Discoveries" hosting by Mike Levey in the Spring of that year to help sell his product. He is introduced as "The Human Calculator" at the beginning of the program, perhaps for the first time for national media markets.
The Guinness Book of World Records listed him as "Fastest Human Calculator" in 2001 and 2003, after he broke the record for adding the same number to itself more times in 15 seconds than someone could do with a calculator. In 1999 Flansburg invented a 13-month calendar that uses zero as a day, month, and year alternative to the Gregorian calendar that he called "The Human Calculator Calendar."
In 1998 he published the book Math Magic for Your Kids: Hundreds of Games and Exercises from the Human Calculator to Make Math Fun and Easy on Harper Paperbacks. A revised edition of his book Math Magic: How to Master Everyday Math Problems was published in 2004.
As an educator
Since about 1990 Flansburg has regularly given lectures and presentations at schools. He has appeared as a presenter at institutions such as NASA, IBM, The Smithsonian Institution, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Mental Calculation World Cup. The latter has described Flansburg as "more an auditory than a visual [mental] calculator."
According to Flansburg, one of his personal missions is to use education to elevate mathematical confidence and self-esteem in adults and children, stating "Why has it become so socially acceptable to be bad at math? If you were illiterate you wouldn’t say that on TV, but you can say that you are bad at math. We have to change the attitude." He is a proponent of students becoming comfortable with calculation methods instead of relying on table memorization. Flansburg is the annual host and ambassador for World Maths Day. He is also an official promoter of the American Math Challenge, a competition for students preparing for World Math Day.
Flansburg has appeared on television shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Larry King Live. On April 26, 2009, while on the Japanese primetime show Asahi's Otona no Sonata, he broke his own world record with 37 answers in 15 seconds. He was featured as The Human Calculator in the first episode of Stan Lee's Superhumans, which aired on The History Channel on August 5, 2010. Part of the episode analyzed his brain activity. An fMRI scan while he was doing complex calculations revealed that his brain activity in the Brodmann area 44 region of the frontal cortex was absent. Instead there was activity somewhat higher from area 44 and closer to the motor cortex.
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- Scott, Flansburg (1998). Math Magic for Your Kids. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-06-097731-3.
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- "Electro Man: Episode 101". Stan Lee's Superhumans. August 5, 2011.
- The Human Calculator Full Episodes, Video & More HISTORY
- Flansburg, Scott (1993). Math Magic. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-06-072635-5.