Ramanujan found himself a stranger at Cambridge. The cold was hard to bear and being a vegetarian, he had to cook his own food. However, he continued his research in Mathematics with determination. In the company of Hardy and Littlewood, he could forget much of the hardship he had to endure.
In Ramanujan, Hardy found an unsystematic mathematician, similar to one who knows the Pythagorus theorem but does not know what a congruent triangle means. Several discrepancies in his research could be attributed to his lack of formal education. Ramanujan played with numbers, as a child would with a toy. It was sheer genius that led him to mathematical “truths”. The task of proving them, so important in Science, he left to lesser mortals.
Hardy selected Ramanujan to do his research in Cambridge. Ramanujan, having born into a poor family in Erode, was not exposed to a different lifestyle. India, which was under British control during his times, was still striving to maintain its culture, regardless of the foreign influence. In India, he was brought up in a strictly conservative family, where he had to follow norms and keep up the rules. He was a strict vegetarian and found it difficult to cope with the eating habits of Britain. The climate was completely different in Britain, and people had to eat meat to sustain the cold. He could not bear the cold of the country as India was a tropical country and Madras experienced more of Summer. But none of this stopped Ramanujan from focussing on Maths. He started cooking his own food. He also had Hardy and Littlewood for the company. They helped him curb his loneliness.
He cooked for himself
Hardy noticed in Ramanujan, a very unsystematic mathematician. For example, he knew what the Pythagoras theorem was but did not know about the congruent triangle. The Pythagoras triangle simply states that, in a right-angled triangle, the square of the longest side (also called the hypotenuse of the triangle) is equal in area to the sum of the squares of the other two sides of the triangle. If the hypotenuse is \(C\), then the Pythagoras theorem states that \(a2 + b2 = c2\). A congruent triangle is one in which all sides and angles are exactly the same. It is highly unlikely for a person who knows a hard concept like Pythagoras to not know about the congruent triangle, as they both deal with triangles. But Ramanujan lacked formal education.
He did not consider Maths as a serious concept, and rather he was in love with Maths. He experimented with it. He enjoyed solving problems and deriving equations. His brain worked in a marvellous way, that he just solved and derived everything but did not prove it. He did not work on rigid matters like that. He left it for the people who were only worried about proofs, evidence and theories. Ramanujan was interested only in the mathematical truths and connected them to the universal laws.
Words with difficult Meaning:
|Stranger||An unknown person|
|Discrepancies||The difference between things|
|Conservative||Very traditional, sticking to old rules|
|Tropical||A country that is in the middle of the globe|
|Mortals||Normal people who have to die someday|
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-2 English Standard-9. From Zero to Infinity (pp. 81-93). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.