Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The most touching story in Mathematics


``And if you divide any number by itself, you get 1.''

The teacher in a small high school in southern India turned round to see a tiny hand trying to reach the ceiling. Oh by the gods, him again! That Aiyangar boy with his horribly difficult and quite irrelevant questions. Like last week, when he wanted to know how long it would take for a steam train to reach Alpha Centauri. As if he would be able to afford the fare if he knew. Well, he couldn't let him exercise his hands too much.

``Yes Ramanujan?''

The small boy with shining eyes stood up. He spoke slowly, with the calm confidence of one who did not need to be told he was the best in the class.

``Is zero divided by zero also equal to one?''

Unfortunately for all those other teachers who've been asked this question at least twenty times in their lives, the response to the question is unknown. But the life of the boy, Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar, certainly isn't.

To read this complete article, click here.

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