NEW DELHI: Srinivasa Ramanujan is considered as one of the top mathematician gems ever lived in India. His extraordinary mind and unbeatable logics got him noticed by the mathematics scholar all over the world. He was born on 22 December 1887. He is credited with crucial contributions like infinite series, number theory, and continued fractions.
To get the better understanding of mathematics, he initiated a postal internship with an English mathematician, GH Hardy in 1913. Soon, Hardy was able to recognize the marvelous talent of Srinivasa and took him along to Cambridge University.
Following are some of the facts that sum up the works of Srinivasa Ramanujan:
1. Embarked his career on a Mathematics book
Srinivasa belonged to a very financially weak background and wasn’t in a position to buy books and copies. Thus, he borrowed a copy of Loney’s book on Plane Trigonometry, from one of his friends. This book was published by Cambridge University Press in 1894.
One other book which laid his sturdy foundation was ‘A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics’. Both these books helped him to get through the basics of 20th-century mathematics.
2. Grew on his own skills
Srinivasa didn’t get any kind of support from anywhere and learned all the academic knowledge on his own. Many of his work was the result of his mere intuition. His these efforts helped him to be known as one of the great mathematicians of all times.
3. Honoured as a Fellow of the Royal Society
Srinivasa is one of the youngest fellows in the history of the Royal Society and the only second Indian to reach such heights. He achieved this feat when he was 31 years old in 1918.During his course of three years in fellowship, Srinivasa published more than 30 research papers. And also he worked on half a dozen research papers.
4. Authored 3,900 results by the age of 32
Srinivasa didn’t live long enough and his life journey was cut short at a very young age of 32 only. But he made full use of his time and compiled 3.900 results, mostly on identities and equations. Apart from this, his most memorable discovery in the mathematics field is The Infinite Series of Pi.
5. An exclusive museum dedicated to Srinivasa
There is a dedicated museum situated in Chennai, in the glorious memory of Srinivasa Ramanujan. The museum is decorated with many of his pictures along with his family members. Apart from that, the museum holds his many letters and life stories. The credit to laud his efforts goes to Late P.K. Srinivasan. He himself was an eminent mathematician.
6. December 22, is remembered as the National Mathematics Day
Srinivasa was born on December 22, and to immortalise his work in the field of math’s, this date is celebrated as the National Mathematics Day every year. He has been a tremendous inspiration to our many generations to come and will be remembered as a great mathematical scholar of India.
7. Mastered Loney’s Trigonometry by the age of 13
By the time Srinivasa turned 13, he had completed advanced Trigonometry by Loney’s and not only this but he also worked out on many complex theorems through his own logic. He is rightly considered as a child prodigy by many historians and scholars.
8. Earned his Ph.D. degree from Cambridge
After learning about Srinivasa’s ability in Maths, GH Hardy took him to Cambridge University. There is spelled his professors with his exceptional potential and knowledge. After devoting his full five years in Cambridge University, he was awarded his Ph.D. degree in mathematics.
9. Devotee of goddess Mahalakshmi
Srinivas was a very religious kind of person and staunchly believed in almighty. His personal favorite was goddess Mahalakshmi of Namakkal and credited her for all his achievements. He even said, “An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.” Throughout his life, he followed a very strict vegetarian diet.
10. House turned into monument
Srinivas residence in Kumbakonam is now retained as the Srinivasa Ramanujan International monument. After his birth, his family along with him moved to this residence and hence it was the set of his official residence.
Along with philosophers, tax lawyers and computer programmers, scientists are perceived as speaking in a language which is supposedly the same as that of common people, but scarcely intelligible to them. And then they use strange symbols, complicated equations, and considerable jargon to talk of “things” unlikely to affect an average person’s life or to be even seen without specialised equipment.
So can scientific writing in any way be even comparable to literature? Yes, for scientists, across various disciplines, are also dealing with the mysteries of life, the universe and everything else, and can express themselves on their subject in ways the most lyrical poet, the most imaginative novelist or the most incisive historian could well envy.
Be it those trying to discern the cosmos’ origin, matter’s structure, the bewildering development and processes of life, including by evolution (despite what some Indian ministers may think), the abundant marvels of nature (including, but beyond humans too), and so on, scientists have written about their work and findings in absorbing ways.
And in this, they have more to teach us about ourselves, our past and future, than any preacher, politician or philosopher ever could.
Let us take a selection from the last century, which was full of developments across all spheres of science.
And since our existence in terms of our position in the world and the universe is key, we can start with an English physicist, astronomer and mathematician placing things in perspective.
“… we attempt to discover the nature and purpose of the universe which surrounds our home in time and space. Our first impression is something akin to terror. We find the universe terrifying because of its vast meaningless distances, terrifying because of its inconceivably long vistas of time which dwarf human history to the twinkling of an eye, terrifying because of our extreme loneliness, and because of the material insignificance of our home in space — a millionth part of a grain of sand out of all the sea-sand in the world.
But above all else, we find the universe terrifying because it appears to be indifferent to life like our own; emotion, ambition and achievement, art and religion seem equally foreign to its plan,” wrote Sir James Hopwood Jeans (1877-1946) in “The Mysterious Universe” (1930).
Then, coming to humans, we cannot ignore evolution — and the contribution of Charles Darwin. Among the best to explain its significance is Helena Cronin (b. 1942), a philosopher of biology and co-director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science and the Darwin Centre at the London School of Economics.
“We are all walking archives of ancestral wisdom. Our bodies and minds are live monuments to our forebears’ rare successes. This Darwin has taught us. The human eye, our brain, our instincts, are legacies of natural selection’s victories, embodiments of the cumulative experience of the past,” she says in the beginning of her “The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today” (1991), on one of science’s “foremost achievements” — the Darwinian theory.
Then there are those unravellers of life’s basic building block — DNA structure discoverers James Watson and Francis Crick.
About the moment of discovery, Crick, in his autobiography “What Mad Pursuit” (1988), says his research partner remembers he went into the pub across the road where they launched daily and told everyone they had discovered the secret of life. “Of that, I have no recollection, but I do recall going home and telling (wife) Odile that we seemed to have made a big discovery. Years later she told me that she hadn’t believed a word of it. ‘You were always coming home and saying things like that,’, she said, ‘so naturally, I thought nothing of it’…”
Watson, after his “The Double Helix” (1968), followed up with “Avoid Boring People” (2007), which has each chapter ending with lessons such as “Never Be The Brightest Person In A Room”, “Avoid Gatherings Of More Two Nobel Prize Winners”, but also “Work On Sundays”, and “Put Lots Of Spin On Balls”.
Switching to the physical world, we cannot ignore possibly the 20th century’s most well-recognised scientist — Albert Einstein. Let’s take his insightful essay, “Religion and Science”, in which he eloquently pleads the case for new, better form of religious experience which will give rise to a new relationship between these two.
After discussing the need-based and the social impulse-based variants which have in common “the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God” and which is only surmounted by “individuals of exceptional endowment”, he comes to a third — “cosmic religious feeling”, which, according to Einstein, “is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research”.
For “only those who realise the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion without which pioneer work in theoretical science cannot be achieved are able to grasp the strength of emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue…”.