Scott Flansburg is an American mental calculator. Dubbed "The Human Calculator" by Regis Philbin, in 2001 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 appeared on shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Larry King Live, and Stan Lee's Superhumans, and has published the books Math Magic and Math Magic for Your Kids.
Early lifeScott Flansburg has stated that he was nine years old when he first discovered his mental calculator abilities, after he was able to solve his teacher's math question without needing to write down the calculations. 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.
Early careerFlansburg can subtract, add, 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. He was dubbed "The Human Calculator" by Regis Philbin after appearing on Live with Regis and Kathy Lee.
The Guinness Book of World Records listed him as "Fastest Human Calculator" in 2001, 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 2002 Flansburg invented a 13 month alternative to the Gregorian calendar that he called "The Human 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 educatorSince 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 Institute, 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.
Media appearancesFlansburg 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 he showed activity somewhat above area 44 losser and closer to the motor cortex.
Personal lifeFlansburg resides in San Diego, California.
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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.
- Flansburg, Scott (1993). Math Magic. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-06-072635-5.
- Video appearances