Synaesthesia Discovery

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Tasting Series: 6. Tasting Equations


imageOnce again, I was astonished by my new discovery of how my children taste mathematical equations. I felt rather ignorant. I haven’t really come across one documented case of Equations -> Flavours Synaesthesia. Therefore, I had never asked them in detail how exactly they tasted equations. But I am sure historically, there were people who had this synaesthesia. Now it makes me wonder how they tasted equations.

I went out for an evening walk with Skye. With the cold wind blowing on my head, my curiosity came to fore. At the end, I found out that Skye’s tastes vary depending on how an equation is written, e.g., horizontal, or vertical, or same number of digits, or different number of digits, or presence of variables. I can only capture some of the varieties here as otherwise, I will be up all night writing this blog :-)

The way he thinks is that a Subtraction (-) is a child, an Addition (+) is a parent, a Multiplication (*) is a great-grandparent (skip a generation), and a Division (/) belongs to a different family.

He first explained to me how a subtraction (child) works:
A subtraction (-) written from left to right, and where all numbers are:
1 digit: Cheese
2 digits: Cheese, Sponge
3 digits: Cheese, Sponge, Butter
4 digits: Cheese, Sponge, Butter, Squash
5 digits: Cheese, Sponge, Butter, Squash, another unknown taste
6 digits or more: too many flavours mixed up and taste the same from there on

When it comes to an addition (parent: a generation above), 1 digit tastes like Bread, from there on, it repeats how a subtraction of one extra digit tastes, e.g., a 2-digit addition tastes the same as a 3-digit subtraction. So here is the list:
1 digit: Bread
2 digits: Cheese
3 digits: Cheese, Sponge
4 digits: Cheese, Sponge, Butter
5 digits: Cheese, Sponge, Butter, Squash
6 digits: Cheese, Sponge, Butter, Squash, another unknown taste
7 digits or more: too many flavours mixed up and taste the same from there on

For a multiplication (great-grandparent: 3 generations above), Skye starts his taste from the 4th flavour of a subtraction.
1 digit: Squash
2 digit: Squash, Lemonade
3 digit: Squash, Lemonade, Star fruit

All of a sudden, I heard an excitable scream. “It’s Lemonade! My unknown taste must be Lemonade!” Then he tasted. “Yes Mum, it’s lemonade! I have discovered something tonight!”

I got just as excited. “Then the next taste must be Star Fruit! Try it!” He did try, but really couldn’t tell. He suggested that I should mix 6 flavours together and let him taste to see if it’s the same. I promised I would do it one day :-)

If not all numbers in an equation have the same number of digits, he tastes Squash only and smell Lavender every time.

For a division, it doesn’t follow a similar pattern. An equation which contains all the same digits, from one to four, has a very dynamic sweet flavour whereas from five to eight has a coconut taste. For a mixed digit division, it tastes like a piece of fairy floss that contains 900g of sugar (very sweet)! Brackets in an equation taste like Lemon and Powers have a Donut flavour …

I was trying to grab my breath when we entered the front door. Thomas was there waiting for us. “How come took you so long to come home?” I smiled without answering the question. “Thomas, you don’t happen to taste equations, right?”

He gave me an innocent look. “I do. I taste Squash in Plus and Minus, and Sponge in Times and Division.”

I took over the iPad from his hand and Googled images of “Sponge” and asked, “which Sponge do you taste?” He pointed to the picture (attached to the blog). “This one.” Skye yelled. “Same! I feel the texture too!” “Really? Same!” Thomas laughed.

Here comes another big discovery of the night! I need to get my heart beat checked!

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