Breaking Barriers: Sancy Suraj’s Journey to the Fastest Time to Recite the Periodic Table
Sancy Suraj, a name that has become synonymous with memory feats in Singapore, has yet again made headlines for his astonishing memory abilities. On Pi Day, 28 August 2021, at Trehaus@Funan, Sancy set the record for the fastest time to recite the periodic table, identifying all elements in just 4 minutes and 19 seconds. As a magazine that specializes in interviewing memory experts and athletes, we had the pleasure of speaking with Sancy about his journey to achieving this incredible feat.
What first inspired you to start developing your memory skills, and how did you get started?
I’ve always been fascinated by the human mind and its capabilities, especially when it comes to memory. As a child, I used to be a voracious reader, and I always wanted to remember everything that I read. However, like most people, I struggled with forgetfulness and would often forget things as soon as I read them. This sparked my curiosity about how memory works and how I could improve mine.
My interest in memory skills was reignited when I stumbled upon the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer. The book is about the art and science of memory, and it chronicles Foer’s journey from being an average person with an average memory to becoming a memory champion. This book opened up a whole new world to me, and I became determined to learn more about memory techniques and how to apply them in my life.
I started by researching different memory techniques and reading books on memory improvement. I practiced regularly and experimented with different techniques until I found what worked best for me. One of the techniques that I found particularly helpful was the method of loci, which involves associating pieces of information with specific locations in a familiar space, such as a house or a neighborhood. This technique helped me to remember things more easily and quickly.
Over time, I started participating in memory competitions, which allowed me to put my skills to the test and push myself further. I found that the competitive aspect of these events motivated me to train harder and to develop more advanced memory techniques. This eventually led me to break several Singapore memory records, including the fastest time to recite the periodic table.
How did you approach preparing for the Fastest Time to Recite the Periodic Table record, and how did you feel when you achieved it?
Preparing for the Fastest Time to Recite the Periodic Table record was a rigorous process that required months of intense training and preparation. I started by familiarizing myself with the periodic table, which involved memorizing the names, symbols, and atomic numbers of all the elements. I used a variety of memory techniques, including the method of loci, to help me remember each element in the correct order.
To improve my speed and accuracy, I practiced reciting the periodic table repeatedly, both verbally and in writing. I set up a strict training schedule, which involved daily practice sessions that gradually increased in intensity and duration. I also worked with a memory coach who helped me refine my techniques and provided feedback on my performance.
When it came time to attempt the record, I felt a mix of nervousness and excitement. I knew that I had put in the work and that I was well-prepared, but I also knew that anything could happen on the day of the attempt. As I began reciting the periodic table, I focused intensely on each element and relied on the techniques that I had practiced so diligently.
When I finally achieved the record, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction and pride. Breaking records is always a challenging feat, and it requires a significant amount of dedication and discipline. Knowing that my hard work had paid off was incredibly rewarding, and it motivated me to continue pushing myself and striving for even greater achievements in the future.
Could you walk us through your memory technique for memorizing the periodic table?
My memory technique for memorizing the periodic table involves using a combination of visual and spatial associations. I use the method of loci, which involves associating each element with a specific location in a familiar space, such as a house or a neighborhood. This allows me to mentally “walk” through the space and recall each element in the correct order.
To start, I create a mental map of the space and then assign each element to a specific location in the map based on its atomic number. For example, hydrogen might be associated with the front door of the house, while helium might be associated with the mailbox. I then create a vivid visual image to represent each element, which helps me to recall it more easily.
For example, I might imagine hydrogen as a balloon filled with water, since water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. I might associate helium with a floating balloon, since helium is often used to fill balloons. For elements with more complicated structures, such as carbon or nitrogen, I might create more elaborate visual images that incorporate the element’s properties and uses.
Once I have created a mental map of the space and assigned each element to a specific location, I practice mentally “walking” through the space and recalling each element in the correct order. I repeat this process regularly, gradually increasing the speed and intensity of my practice sessions, until I can recite the periodic table from memory quickly and accurately.
Using this memory technique has allowed me to memorize the periodic table in a way that is both efficient and effective. By associating each element with a specific location and a vivid visual image, I can recall the information more easily and quickly than I could using rote memorization alone.
“At Umonics Method, we believe that memorization can be made fun and effective through creative techniques such as our memory technique for the periodic table. By harnessing the power of visual and spatial associations, we empower learners to unlock their memory potential and master complex information with ease.”
How did you maintain focus and concentration during your recitation of the periodic table during the record attempt?
Maintaining focus and concentration during the record attempt was a critical aspect of my preparation, and it required a great deal of mental discipline and concentration. To help me stay focused, I developed a range of strategies that allowed me to stay mentally alert and engaged throughout the entire recitation.
One of the key strategies I used was visualization. I would visualize each element as I recited it, picturing it in my mind’s eye and associating it with a specific location in the mental map I had created. This allowed me to stay engaged with the information and helped me to maintain my concentration.
Another strategy I used was deep breathing. Before beginning the recitation, I would take a few deep breaths and focus on clearing my mind of distractions. This helped me to enter a state of focused concentration and allowed me to stay present in the moment, rather than getting distracted by other thoughts or external stimuli.
I also relied on my physical senses to help me stay focused. For example, I would tap my foot or drum my fingers on the table as I recited the periodic table, which helped me to stay engaged with the rhythm and pace of my recitation. I also made a conscious effort to speak clearly and steadily, which helped me to maintain my focus and avoid making mistakes.
Overall, maintaining focus and concentration during the record attempt was a challenging but essential part of the process. By developing a range of mental and physical strategies to help me stay engaged and alert, I was able to recite the periodic table quickly and accurately, achieving a new record in the process.
You’ve also set the Singapore record for reciting the most digits of pi. Are there any similarities in the techniques you use to memorize both pi and the periodic table?
There are certainly similarities in the techniques I use to memorize both pi and the periodic table. At their core, both tasks require me to memorize a large amount of information and then recite it accurately and quickly.
One key technique that I use for both tasks is creating a mental map or memory palace. For pi, I create a visual representation of each digit and associate it with a specific location in my memory palace. Similarly, for the periodic table, I create a mental map of the table and associate each element with a specific location.
Another technique that is common to both tasks is the use of visualization. When memorizing pi, I create visual representations of each digit, often associating them with a particular image or object that I can easily remember. Similarly, when memorizing the periodic table, I visualize each element and associate it with a particular image or concept that helps me to remember it.
In both cases, I also use repetition to reinforce my memory of the information. I recite the digits of pi or the elements of the periodic table over and over again, gradually building up my ability to recall them accurately and quickly.
Overall, while there are certainly differences in the specific techniques I use to memorize pi and the periodic table, there are also many similarities. Both tasks require a combination of visualization, repetition, and mental organization to be successful, and the skills I have developed in one area have certainly helped me to excel in the other.
“Memory mastery knows no bounds, from pi to the periodic table, our techniques at Umonics Method harness the power of visualization, repetition, and mental organization to empower learners to achieve remarkable feats of memorization.”
Sancy spoke candidly about his journey to developing his memory skills, which began when he was just 12 years old. He explained that he was fascinated with the idea of having a photographic memory, and began experimenting with various techniques to improve his memory. His dedication and hard work paid off, as he now holds a total of six memory records, including the Singapore record for reciting the most digits of pi.
When asked about his approach to preparing for the Fastest Time to Recite the Periodic Table record, Sancy explained that he used a technique called the Memory Palace, which involves associating each element with a specific location in his memory palace. He also emphasized the importance of mental and physical fitness in achieving memory records, and shared his training regimen, which includes exercise, meditation, and mental exercises.
Sancy’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in memory feats is evident in his response when asked about his motivation to continue. He spoke about the satisfaction he feels when he achieves a new memory record and the desire to inspire others to develop their memory skills.
How important is physical and mental fitness to achieving memory records, and what is your training regimen like?
Physical and mental fitness are both crucial to achieving memory records. On the physical side, having a healthy body can help with mental clarity and focus, and can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can interfere with memory retention and recall. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can also improve blood flow to the brain, which can enhance cognitive function.
Mental fitness is equally important, as memory records require a high degree of focus, concentration, and mental agility. Regular mental exercises such as meditation, memory games, and puzzles can help to improve cognitive function and memory retention. In addition, techniques such as visualization, mnemonics, and memory palaces can be highly effective for improving memory skills.
As for my own training regimen, I typically practice memory exercises for several hours a day, often breaking them up into shorter sessions throughout the day. I also prioritize physical exercise, such as running or weightlifting, to help maintain overall health and fitness. Additionally, I make sure to get enough sleep each night, as adequate rest is crucial for both physical and mental health.
Another important aspect of my training regimen is setting goals and tracking progress. I set specific goals for each memory exercise, and track my progress over time to identify areas where I need to improve. This allows me to continually refine my techniques and push myself to achieve better results.
In summary, achieving memory records requires both physical and mental fitness. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate rest are crucial for physical health, while mental exercises, such as meditation and memory games, can help to improve cognitive function. Setting goals and tracking progress is also important for continually refining techniques and achieving better results.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to develop their memory skills?
If someone is just starting to develop their memory skills, I would advise them to start with the basics and gradually work their way up to more complex memory tasks. One effective technique is to start by memorizing lists of simple items, such as grocery lists or phone numbers, using repetition and visualization. Once they feel comfortable with this, they can move on to more complex lists, such as names and faces, or even entire speeches or presentations.
Another important aspect of developing memory skills is to find a memory technique that works well for them. There are many different techniques available, such as visualization, association, and mnemonics, and what works best for one person may not work as well for another. It’s important to experiment with different techniques and find one that resonates with them.
Consistency and practice are also key to developing memory skills. It’s important to set aside dedicated time each day to practice memory exercises and techniques. Over time, this regular practice will help to strengthen neural connections and improve cognitive function.
Finally, it’s important to focus on overall health and well-being. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are crucial for maintaining physical and mental fitness, which in turn can enhance memory function. Reducing stress and anxiety through techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can also be helpful.
In summary, developing memory skills requires starting with the basics, finding a technique that works well, consistent practice, and focusing on overall health and well-being. With dedication and effort, anyone can improve their memory skills and achieve impressive results.
Do you think anyone can develop a “superior” memory, or are some people just naturally gifted in this area?
I believe that anyone can develop a superior memory with the right training, practice, and dedication. While some individuals may have a natural inclination towards memory skills, the brain is a muscle that can be trained and strengthened just like any other muscle in the body.
It’s important to note that developing a superior memory requires more than just memorization techniques. It also involves improving cognitive function and overall brain health. This includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep, which can help to enhance neural connections and improve memory function.
Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that memory is not a one-size-fits-all skill. Some individuals may excel in visual memory, while others may be better at auditory memory or recall of information based on associations. It’s important to find the memory technique that works best for each individual’s unique learning style and cognitive abilities.
That being said, genetics may play a small role in memory capacity, but it does not necessarily determine an individual’s potential for memory improvement. It’s important to focus on developing one’s own memory skills rather than comparing oneself to others. With practice, dedication, and a positive attitude, anyone can develop a superior memory and achieve impressive results.
How do you keep yourself motivated to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in memory feats?
There are several factors that keep me motivated to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in memory feats. Firstly, I am deeply passionate about memory and the potential of the human brain. The ability to memorize and recall vast amounts of information is a remarkable skill, and I find it incredibly exciting to explore the limits of what the brain is capable of.
Secondly, the thrill of competition is a major motivating factor for me. I enjoy setting new records and pushing myself to achieve even greater feats of memory. The challenge of breaking a record or setting a new personal best is incredibly rewarding and drives me to continue practicing and improving.
Additionally, I am constantly inspired by the achievements of other memory athletes and experts. Seeing others push the boundaries of what’s possible in memory feats motivates me to keep working hard and striving for even greater accomplishments.
Lastly, I believe that memory skills have immense practical value in everyday life. Being able to remember important information and recall it quickly and accurately can be incredibly beneficial in personal and professional contexts. Knowing that the skills I am developing have real-world applications keeps me motivated to continue improving and pushing the limits of what’s possible in memory feats.
Overall, a combination of passion, competition, inspiration, and practical value keeps me motivated to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in memory feats.
What’s next for you in your memory journey, and are there any other memory records or challenges you’re working towards breaking?
As someone who is deeply passionate about memory, I am constantly seeking out new challenges and ways to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Currently, I am focused on refining my memory techniques and exploring new ways to apply them in various contexts.
In terms of specific memory records or challenges, I am always looking to break new ground and set new records. While I am extremely proud of my achievements in the periodic table and pi recitation, I am constantly seeking out new challenges to tackle. I am exploring various memory feats, including memorizing lengthy historical events and long sequences of numbers.
Additionally, I am looking to expand the applications of memory techniques beyond the realm of memory sports. I believe that these techniques can be applied in various areas of life, including education, business, and personal development. I am currently exploring ways to make memory techniques more accessible to a wider audience and to help others unlock the full potential of their own memories.
Overall, my memory journey is a lifelong pursuit, and I am excited to continue exploring the limits of what the human brain is capable of. Whether it’s through breaking new memory records or finding new practical applications for memory techniques, I am committed to pushing myself and others to achieve their full memory potential.
“As I continue my memory journey, I strive to break new records, unlock new applications, and push the boundaries of what the human brain can achieve. With passion, perseverance, and the power of memory techniques, the possibilities are endless.”
Suraj’s journey to becoming a memory champion is one of dedication, hard work, and a passion for pushing the limits of what’s possible. His latest record-breaking achievement, the fastest time to recite the periodic table, is a testament to his extraordinary memory abilities. We are honored to have had the opportunity to speak with Sancy and share his story of breaking barriers in the world of memory feats.