Periodic Memories

By Michael Edmonds 30/12/2012


Over the last couple of days I’ve been memorising the Periodic Table.

No, I’m not going stir-crazy. On the contrary, the summer break is my favourite time of the year as it gives me time to reflect, explore new things and read new books. And one of the books I am reading at the moment is ‘Moonwalking with Einstein – the Art and Science of Remembering Everything” by Joshua Foer.

Joshua Foer is a journalist, who inspired by what he saw at the US Memory Championship in 2005, decided to see if he could learn the awesome memory skills being demonstrated. A year later he won the championship. His book “Moonwalking with Einstein” describes his year journey from having an average memory to being able to memorise a pack of cards in 1 minute and forty seconds. It is a fascinating read and I highly recommend it. As well as describing how he learnt these techniques there are some thoughtful reflections on how we learn, the connection between memory and creativity, and whether our modern education system is as good as it could be.

In the past I’ve flirted with a few memory systems but failed to keep up the skills. Memory techniques usually take a bit of work to learn but once learnt and with practice they allow some pretty impressive feats. Already I have memorised the atomic numbers of all of the elements from H (Atomic number = 1) to Fm (atomic number = 100). Over the next few days I plan to, a little bit each day, speed up my recall.

If you want to know how I am doing it you can find it here.