Tumut
Man Mathematical Genius 1
February 1951 Gilgandra Weekly |
The
following articles from the "Daily Telegraph" of March 9, 1931, and from the
"Mutual Provident Messenger" of March 2, 1931, respecting the mathematical
capabilities of Mr. J. F. Orr, of Tumut (father of Mr. J. G.. Orr, Tumut solicitor) are of interest: |
When the world ceases looking for
genius only In the most romantic highways it might take a peep into
the A.M.P. building in Pitt Street and look over the shoulder of
Mr. J. Orr as he works. No-one in Australia has a better claim to
genius. With lightning rapidity -
actually more quickly than the best adding and calculating machine -
he solves the most involved mathematical problems, adding and
dividing and multiplying and compounding huge series of figures with
unfailing accuracy, and with an ease which leaves the ordinary man gasping. Mr. Orr has been subjected to the
most rigorous test, frequently against the watch, and in competition
with a calculating machine. It is office history that he has never
failed. The mere mention of some few of his recorded achievements, in
the presence of his office principals, is overwhelming. He is able to add columns of six
figures and have the answer written in a few seconds. No hesitant dot-and-carry-one manner;
no scribbling in the margin or pencilling the tens while he adds
the digits, no holding of breath of wrinkling of brow, no
paralysing fear that someone will interrupt and send him furiously to
the first column to start all over again, no facial wriggling - just
a sleek, polished calculation, always right, and so rapidly done that Oxford wrangler
would salaam. "Head Work" Columns of four figures written down
casually while Mr. Orr glanced at the paper were totalled in his
head, and simultaneously with the notation of the last unit he had the
answer waiting. He adds columns of pounds,
shillings and pence by converting each row into pence. In a few
seconds he is able to give the answer both in pence, and
reconverted into the larger units. Under rigid tests he has multiplied
mentally sets of three and four figures. Asked to multiply 4496 x 3578, he gave
the correct answer - 16,086,688 - in a few seconds. With a similar
ease he can deal with other immense sums mentally. He can repeat
any times table at will. One test was with 189 times table, and without
turning a hair he recited an extraordinary list of figures. He multiplies sets from five figures
in both multiplier and - multiplicand up to 24 figures, and gives
the answer in one line, using no other figures whatever. He was tried with 456789 x 274568
as a sort of aperitif. In less than half a minute he gave the
answer of 125,419, 642,152. Then he proved the calculation to
be correct. This entire calculation took less than one-fourth the
time a skilled mathematician took to do the original sum. This prodigious test should have
been sufficient to satisfy the most sceptical. Apparently it was not. Something a little more difficult
was put to him - 123456789 x 987654321. In 40 seconds he had given
the correct answer, 121,932,631,112,635,369. Mr. Orr then made a suggestion. He was
beginning to get tired of just fiddling about. Why not ask him
something difficult? So he was asked the answer to
3456789 634219 x 98763459837743. In a few minutes, in one line,
without any other figures being used he gave the correct answer of 34,140,450,420,563,254,690,501,717.
This was tested by a calculating
machine and proved to be correct. Decimals,
Too! Who could give the answer in five
seconds to £67/18/11 x 189? Mr. Orr did. It is £12,841/15/3. Who could give power up to the
tenth power of any single figure or sum of squares or cubes of any number of
figures? Mr. Orr can - and has. Is there anything he cannot do? The
last test on record which was put to him was to find what the interest would be
on 63 days on £128 at 4½ per cent. As inevitably as the sunrise the
answer came correctly in a few seconds as 238.6 pence; and by way of an addendum
it was mentioned that the completed decimal was .6060273972. Exhaustive tests are said to have
proved that; he can do al- most any calculation in half the time it
takes a calculating machine. In Hungary there is another man
who performs similarly astounding calculating feats. Their gift has a generic kinship to
the faculty which enables certain boy chess players to outplay older and
very formidable opponents as easily as a saucy little sloop outsailed, outran
and outmanoeuvred a lumbering ship-of-the-line in Cloudesley
Shovel's day. |
Mr.
J. F. Orr is an uncle of Mrs. Ivy Tym, of Shawood, Coonamble, and
has many other relatives and friends in this district. He married
Dolly Colwell, of Billeroy (Elizer
Cameron Orr), whose passing was noted in "The Times" recently.
Mr. Orr hopes to visit Coonamble shortly, with his son, Mr. J. T. Orr,
and renew acquaintances with his old friends. |