In 2005, journalist Joshua Foer set out to report on the USA Memory Championship and emerged as a victor in his own right the following year. How can someone of normal intelligence and memory learn to stretch his brain to the max of human ability?
From the front of the room, the chief arbiter, a former Army drill sergeant, shouted, “Go!” A judge sitting opposite me clicked her stopwatch, and I began peeling through the pack as fast as I could, flicking three cards at a time off the top of the deck and into my right hand. I was storing the images in the memory palace I knew better than any other, one based on the house in Washington in which I grew up. Inside the front door, the Incredible Hulk rode a stationary bike while a pair of oversize, loopy earrings weighed down his earlobes (three of clubs, seven of diamonds, jack of spades). Next to the mirror at the bottom of the stairs, Terry Bradshaw balanced on a wheelchair (seven of hearts, nine of diamonds, eight of hearts), and just behind him, a midget jockey in a sombrero parachuted from an airplane with an umbrella (seven of spades, eight of diamonds, four of clubs). I saw Jerry Seinfeld sprawled out bleeding on the hood of a Lamborghini in the hallway (five of hearts, ace of diamonds, jack of hearts), and at the foot of my parents’ bedroom door, I saw myself moonwalking with Einstein (four of spades, king of hearts, three of diamonds).
Full article here (an excerpt from Foer’s new book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything).