As we've mentioned before, the emergence of computers and the Internet have stolen some of the small joys in life from us. There used to be a time when knowing Pi to the first couple decimal places was probably pretty important for people who need to do... whatever it is Pi is used for. Now that information is at anybody's fingertips, making memorizing Pi in this day and age even sadder than it would have been a generation ago.
Still not as sad as baking a Pi pie for National Pi Day.
But people continue to memorize Pi, and we're not talking about a few decimal places anymore. There are people who take Pi very seriously, and not just scientists and mathematicians. Ordinary people memorize Pi to thousands of places for... well, we're not really sure why. There is even an official website that keeps the three people who care up to date on the current rankings. A Chinese man named Chao Lu is the current record holder. He took just over 24 hours to recite Pi to 67,890 digits. That means he said one number every 1.3 seconds for an entire day. Didn't he need a glass of water at some point? Food? Anything? Good god, who is this man!?
Then we have Akira Haraguchi, a Japanese man who has apparently recited Pi to 100,000 digits but for whatever reason the Guinness folks have not recognized his achievement. He can take solace in the fact that he is on the way to enlightenment, however: Haraguchi started memorizing Pi after he searched for meaning in religion and philosophy and found them lacking. Now, instead of a prayer or anything like that, he chants Pi at funerals.
Meet Michele Santelia, the girly named guy who is the type-fu champion of the universe. Santelia is such a skilled typist that one keyboard is incapable of meeting his needs. Instead, he uses four at the same time. He can type on all four at once without looking at them, or at the screen, and still write more intelligibly than most Internet users can manage with a single keyboard. So how does this man put this awesome skill to use?
For the past few decades, he's been taking famous books, and then re-typing them, backwards. .siht ekiL
No, you're not missing anything, that's all he does. Santelia holds the world record for most books typed backwards. If you were to stack all his re-typed books on top of each other--which seems to be the universal Guinness metric of impressiveness for some reason--the stack would reach 13-feet and nine-inches.
He's been doing this for at least two decades, which would be before the Internet was even invented. After completing The Life of Abraham Lincoln in June 2009, his plan was to present it to President Obama, at which point he would presumably be tackled by the Secret Service.
So, you're 37 and your parents have died, leaving you a house worth over $1 million. It's in a bit of rough shape, but you fancy yourself quite the do-it-yourself expert. You get to work fixing the place up real good-like. First the upstairs, then the downstairs. Then, if you're London's William Lyttle you go right down to the basement and start digging a wine cellar. And when that was done you keep on digging. And digging.
Lyttle dug tunnels under his property for 40 damn years, all on his own. Using only a shovel and a pulley, he managed to build tunnels up to 26-feet underground and extending over 60-feet from his house. Apparently he had major schemes for the large caverns he was building, including a gym and a sauna, but almost half a century later he never seemed to be able to get past the digging part of his grand plan.
So things went super awesome for Lyttle digging-wise, until an eight foot crevice appeared in the street in front of his house in 2001. Five short years later, the people in charge actually got around to forcing him to stop digging, a mere 40 years after the first complaints started rolling in.
But that's not even the end of the so-called "Mole Man's" story. In early 2009, Lyttle was moved by London authorities to a safer dwelling, a one-story flat, while they tried to fill in the tunnels under Lyttle's house. And of course they gave him a hefty bill for the work they'd have to do, not to mention the accommodations he was getting to use while they cleaned up the mess.
Joke's on them, though: Lyttle passed away quietly in June, 2010. Not only did he not pay a damn cent for all the damages he did, he had the nerve to knock a wall out of the flat he was staying in. Rest in peace, you crazy mole man. Rest in peace.
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For more from the world of Guinness, check out 8 Guinness World Record Attempts That Failed (Hilariously). Or learn about some more crazy abodes, in 7 Insane True Stories Behind the World's Most WTF Houses.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 07.28.10) to see which columnist is in Guinness for most back hair.