A Miami man with his very own Heroes-like talent is set to appear on Fox's Superhuman special. Cuban-born Miami resident Yusnier Viera will appear on the two-hour special hosted by actor Kal Penn and featuring guest judges Mike Tyson, actress/comedian Mary Lynn Rajskub, and neurosurgeon Dr. Rahul Jandial. Twelve ordinary contestants will display their unique skills for a chance to win the $100,000 prize.
Viera's episode, which airs tonight, will showcase his unique math talents that have earned him 15 world records and inclusion in the 2014 edition of Guinness World Records for calendar calculations. On the show, the Miamian will see numbers quickly flash before him on the screen and then add them up almost instantaneously for an answer.
New Times caught up with Viera to chat about all things super.
New Times: How did you become a contestant on Superhuman?
Yusnier Viera: Around a year ago, on a wonderful day, I got this voicemail on my company's phone about the opportunity of being part of the Superhuman show. I was very excited and honored to be part of this special, considering the many talents we have in our country. In my case, I have broken 18 times some Guinness World Records in mental math, specifically in calculating the day of the week of any date. In the show, I will be doing "Flash Math," a fascinating challenge I could not perform before and had to practice on a daily basis.
When did you know you had superhuman math skills? At what age did it occur to you that, Wow, I’m different?
It is hard for me to remember the first time I knew I had this special talent for mental math. Since I remember, I knew I was different, and in a good way. I was able to see patterns that other kids of my age could not see. I believe my main success was to consider this talent a special gift that needed to be mastered with practice.
I read that you grew up in Cuba with parents that encouraged math studies; what would you suggest a parent who wanted to start their child off on the right path do to keep math interesting? Are there ways you bring math to people in a fun manner?
I am fortunate to have parents that guided me into the math world. Both of my parents are math professors, and especially my father was my main guidance. They always supported my dreams of becoming an expert in mental math. My main advice to parents is to watch your children closely. Do not force them to do what you want; simply let them be who they are and give all your support.
In order to make math interesting and fun, we are always creating new products at Spicy Math Corp. We are a Miami-based company, and our main success is the new iPhone and Android app called Hectoc. Hectoc is a mathematical puzzle game created by us, which people find useful because it increases numeracy ability in a fun way. In this 21st Century, being smart is the new cool, and Hectoc is one of the best tools to make your brain brighter.
What was the experience on Superhuman like? What was a coolest skill or power you saw someone else perform?
I was very impressed with all the talents in the show. We have people who can measure the speed of a fastball or just know the precise temperature of hot or cold water. For other parts, we have memory guys who can retain any type of information and this amazing guy who could see the slight differences between two almost exact pictures.
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What is the moment in your life where being able to calculate numbers so quickly has paid off the most?
Finding your real passion is hard for some people, but I am very grateful because I do what I love. Being able to participate in World Championships of Mental Calculation has given me the opportunity to share thoughts and memories among other participants with similar skills. Ten years ago, when I started, we were a small community of mental calculators with secret techniques. We have evolved, and nowadays we are thousands of participants sharing techniques that make us better athletes and human beings. I am very grateful for the Superhuman show on Fox because it will give more exposure to our culture for increasing mental math motivation.
I was born in Cuba, a country with limited economical opportunities. Today I have the opportunity to inspire others to do what they are passionate about, to pursue their dreams, to make them believe anything is possible. This would be my small contribution for a better world.
Airs tonight, January 4, at 8 p.m. on Fox.