He is the perfect example of the hero ideal you seek in the stories, someone who rises from the poorest of the poor families, fights against institutionalized rigours of society, is exceptionally gifted, but only in a specific field and then goes abroad, on the basis of just his merit, and astounds the world. In the end, he dies a death, which is sad, painful and alone. That in a nutshell is the real-life story of the great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan!
Today is his birthday and Google celebrates it with nice little doodle.
The doodle depicts a young kid writing a whole lot of formulae on the playground, with a few other kids standing there, ready with their footballs, skipping ropes and even books. This prodigious kid is just amazing as he intuitively comes up with mathematical concepts that seem alien to everyone else in the world. The mathematical symbols in the doodle, spell out, as always, ‘Google’ and the story is really that of Ramanujan and how he held the entire mathematics community in thrall!
Ramanujan had this personal affinity with numbers and infinite series! As a college dropout from a very poor family, it would have taken a miracle for young Ramanujan to gain any sort of footing. That miracle came in the form of G.H. Hardy, who became his mentor and his collaborator. Ramanujan’s immense brilliance was offset by Hardy’s insistence of mathematical rigour and his solid mathematical training and the two formed a very productive collaboration for five years.
Ramanujan arrived at Cambridge, the shy village boy in the big big world! But then, there was Hardy, always his protector; Hardy described him as simply thus: “I have never met his equal, and can compare with only Euler and Jacobi”.
But England and its weather weren’t kind to him. He contracted a fever and even upon returning to India, he continued suffering. He died in 1920, with the world only waking up to the brilliance of this Indian genius.
Happy birthday sir!