This book, I chanced upon it in TCS library. There were two reasons for reading it.
1. It was by Dilip M.Salwi, whose quiz books, I read as a school-kid. Nostalgia calling.
2. It was only around 60-65 pages and I wanted to begin and complete some book on the same day.
well, thats how, I began reading a biography after some 3,4 years!
The book traces Ramanujan’s story since his birth. Most of the story is known having heard about him from one source or the other since childhood. But, yet, there are interesting anecdotes about his life. Like Gossips, tidbits about someone else, if they are celebs – live or late never cease to generate some curiosity in me :))
There were quite many illustrations…even of those professors – Hardy especially…with whom S.R. worked. There is this fact I came to know from this book – this sad looking face and weak body of S.R seen in most of the pics available is taken in his last days when he was in ill-health and misery it seems. By nature, he is a jovial man, always full of activity and plump too :). would have loved to see him in that get-up. Guess, he would have lived longer too had he continued like that … 😦
Ramanujan – despite having no formal education reached considerable heights in Mathematics, as people say. Or is it because he had no formal education that he could excel? I recently read this story about our Michael Faraday. His lack of formal edu became a great advantage for him it seems…which is why he was able to think different from the conventional thought process and find out that Electricity and Magnetism are inter-related rather than seperate entities as they were believed to be till then.
Ramanujan’s notebooks are of considerable repute in the world of mathematics. His is primarily a hypothesis based math and he never cared about proofs. That was one possible reason for the lack of understandability in some of his theorems. There were some mistakes too….to err is human. But then, given the kind of atmosphere he grew up and the encouragement for his kind of interests in India, it was a great thing. Luckily enough, he found somebody who recognised – this is no ordinary man. Otherwise, perhaps, it would have been difficult for him.
Hey…this book taught me a few technical things too. Ramanujan belongs to Formalist School of Mathematics itseems. And…where are these theorems of his used? This was the doubt I had since long. Author gave a few applications…here are some of them:
Solve some problems in particle physics, statistical mechanics, Computer Science, Space Science, Cryptology,Polymer chemistry and Medical Science.
Designing better blast furnaces for smelting metals
Splicing telephone cables for communication
Possible Cancer treatment.
One interesting factor about his personal life is his immense faith in God….so much that he attributed his each and every discovery of theorem to the grace of God. Belief in God is not a bad thing. But, what I understood is his orthodoxy and adamance to act according to the circumstances actually made his health deteriorate and also came in way of his research too.
His ideas about Mathematics and Philosphy are interesting. The book does not talk about it in detail though, it just quotes. His fascination for zero and infinity is well known. It seems he believed that all finite numbers are nothing but products of ZERO and INFINITY !!! His talks on God and infinity are also interesting.
“ an equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses the thought of God” is his view.
Interesting….Another Tao of Physics…. Tao of Mathematics rather 🙂 Fritjof Capra …. Where are you? Heres your Pal…. Late Mr Srinivasa Ramanujan !!! The thing that I hated most about this book, despite it being a good read is its cost. 195 Rs (make it 200) for a book of just 60 pages !!!! even despite those illustrations! Luckily, I read even this in the library 🙂 Oh god! Please make me a publisher of books for my next incarnation 🙂
PS: Ramanujan’s house in Kumbakonam is taken over by the Government it seems …. My frend who stays there told me. Don’t know what is going on inside. A monument for him??