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Sunday, March 8, 1998 Published at 19:47 GMT


Memory man left pi and dry

Exhaustion, hesitation and a typing error have prevented taxi driver Tom Morton from breaking the British record for remembering Pi to more than 20,000 decimal places.

Mr Morton, 33, on Sunday failed for the third time in his bid to enter the Guinness Book of Records by reciting the mathematical number, pi.

But the memory-man, who sometimes forgets his cashpoint number, will not give up and intends to mount a fourth bid in three or four weeks time.

Tom Morton talks about why he is going to try again (32')
Mr Morton's first attempt failed after three hours and more than 12,000 numbers because one number was written incorrectly on cue cards he used as a memory aid during practice.

His second attempt to recite the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter to 20,014 decimal places foundered after a further three hours when he was too tired to continue.

His third attempt was scuppered when he got stuck at number 15,220.

The world record is 42,195 numbers memorised by Hiroyuki Goto of Japan.

Mr Morton, of Lytham, Lancashire, said: "I've spent three years on this and I cannot move forward in my life until I have done it - it's psychological.

"It's so boring I would rather watch paint dry on top of Blackpool Tower but it's got to be done."

He said he was particularly disappointed his final attempt had ended in failure.

"On Sunday I really went for it, I was well ahead of the clock but one moment of hesitation when I was 75% of the way through, cost me the record. But I shall be trying again."

Mr Morton has an incredible talent for reciting vast lists of numbers, names and faces but admits that he can also be absent-minded.

"I went to my own wedding and forgot my marriage licence. I have forgotten my pin number several times and when I drive my taxi I have to hear the address several times," he said.

Apart from a having a superhuman memory, Mr Morton boasts an IQ of 145, can perform difficult mental arithmetic tasks in seconds and write forwards and backwards with ease.

After the record attempt he hopes to put his memory techniques to use in industrial and commercial training.

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Jeff's tips for memorising Pi

Cornell Theory Centre: Calculating Pi

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Pi Philology: Mmemonics for memorising Pi

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