Is that tick-tick-tick the stopwatch on CBS’s 60 Minutes, counting down the seconds in an hour? Or is it the sound of Rick Baron’s brain, flipping through the calendars in his head, the days of each year since 1968? Baron, one of our Most Interesting People for 2009, will be featured on the TV newsmagazine this March. He’s one of four people in the world known to have hyperthymesia, a super-memory of their own life, day by day, as well as world events. “It’s like your own private time machine,” Baron says. Scientists at the University of California-Irvine say Baron’s encyclopedic memory comes from his caudate nucleus. That part of his brain is seven or eight times the size of most people’s. CBS flew him to California in December to meet with two other super-memory guys, take quizzes, undergo MRIs and be interviewed by 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl. The segment’s exact air date hasn’t been set.
Count your blessings, bookworms. After winning a top score from Library Journal late last year (“Library Look,” January 2010), the Cuyahoga County Public Library system kicked off 2010 by announcing it had once again set record-breaking numbers during the previous 12 months, even with state funding cuts. Library cardholders borrowed 19,006,142 items from the system’s 28 branches — a 7 percent increase over 2008. Here are some of the other numbers behind the big year:
7.6 million: number of customer visits in 2009
232,422: increase over 2008 visits
30 percent: increase in visits since 2003
57 percent: print items versus all other items borrowed in 2009, a 3 percent jump over 2008