Mental Floss

Remember the First 100 Digits of Pi Using This Basic Technique

Caitlin Schneider

People with good memories can often seem like they possess an inherent talent—a seemingly magical capacity for fact recollection. But more often than not, famed mnemonists are actually just really good at working the system and coming up with tricks to aid with recall.

In the WIRED video above, former U.S.A. Memory Champion Joshua Foer illustrates just that, albeit in a pretty mind-boggling way for those of us who might not have his kind of visual brain. Foer instructs the viewer on how to remember the first 100 digits of Pi by constructing a building of the imagination, or a “memory palace.” The system pairs letters and sounds with numbers, which can then be turned into words (and images). It sounds confusing, but here’s an example: the first three digits of Pi are 141 which correspond in the system to the letters DRD. Those letters can then become a word, which can become an image. In the video, Foer turns them into 'DRuiD.' You then move on to the next three digits to come up with another image, and create a sort of story in your mind that links back to the numbers. Still sound confusing? Check out the video. It’s still an incredible feat, but one that seems infinitely more achievable than simply committing a random sequence of numbers to memory.