October 23, 2016

Srinivasa Ramanujan: Encounter with the Infinite

Ramanujan commemorative postage stamp issued in India in 1962

How Did the Minimally Trained, Isolated Srinivasa Ramanujan, with Little More than an Out-of-Date Elementary Textbook, Anticipate Some of the Deepest Theoretical Problems of Mathematics—Including Concepts Discovered Only after His Death?

Hardy realizes that Ramanujan’s formulae, so weird yet elegant, supercharged with meaning yet concise, “must be true because, if they were not true, no one would have the imagination to invent them.” So disturbed is Hardy by the genius evident in Ramanujan’s letter that he sends an emissary to the edge of the empire, to India, to bring Ramanujan back to the imperial capital.

At Cambridge, Ramanujan is friendly and funny, easy company, but weird mathematics gushes out of him. He can’t explain the reasoning that leads to his formulae, nor their significance. He seems otherworldly to Hardy, as easy and dexterous with infinite quantities as with a knife and fork. With his intellect finally being fed by a university, Ramanujan’s genius erupts into something never before seen.

.... Then he returns to India, expecting to die. As his last act, he produces the strangest work of his career: a series of mathematical formulae only recently understood. We now know that they grant the bearer passage to the infinite.

Read more at http://www.believermag.com/issues/201501/?read=article_schneider_phelan
and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srinivasa_Ramanujan

1 comment:

  1. Can you check if this link is the right one for the article you are suggesting KPL?