I have every good reason to recommend watching “The Man Who Knew Infinity”, an account of the life of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.
Ramanujan was an amazing figure who had practically no formal training in Mathematics, yet made extraordinary contributions to various fields of the subject. The film centres on his years at Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he worked closely with the English mathematicians G. H. Hardy and J. E. Littlewood.
The film can easily be followed by non-mathematicians. I particularly liked the scene where Ramanujan tries to explain to his wife (and to the general audience) that his love for Mathematics comes from the tendency of mathematical patterns to appear in ways that cause surprise. Hardy also contributes to this by explaining to his butler what Ramanujan was trying to do when tackling the problem of partitions.
The film presents us with some lovely poetic images of India and I cannot forget that scene where Ramanujan’s wife looks on, as her husband sails away in the boat that will take him to a ship bound for England.
Jeremy Irons gives a brilliant performance as the cantankerous G. H. Hardy and at the end of the film quotes from Hardy’s famous and haunting book A Mathematician’s Apology. Dev Patel is also very convincing as the youthful and enthusiastic Ramanujan. The culture shock that he experienced at Cambridge is illustrated well and one can only feel sorry for him, as well for the fact that his life ended so soon.
The only departure from historical fact that I managed to pinpoint concerns the exchange between Ramanujan and Hardy concerning the number 1729. The film shows this as taking place when Hardy bids farewell to Ramanujan, as the latter sets off on his return journey to India. In fact, the exchange took place when Ramanujan was in hospital.
In closing, I must again say ‘bravo’ to the filming world for yet another good film about Mathematics and mathematicians. It has already given us ‘Agora’, ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and ‘The Imitation Game’. I should also include ‘The Theory of Everything’, as Stephen Hawking has used Mathematics so much in his explorations as a cosmologist.
Posted in History, Mathematics, News | Tagged Cambridge, film, Hardy, Infinity, Ramanujan, Trinity | Leave a Comment »
posthumous prize = awarded to one after one’s departure from this world
post-hummus prize = awarded after eating that particular delight
Posted in Language | Tagged hummus, hyphen, prize, spelling | Leave a Comment »
Today, in #Eidomeni, Northern Greece, on the border with FYROM, there are around 14000 refugees; 7000 of them are children and 70% of these children are ill.
The camp, which has been set up there can only hold 4000 people, which means that 10000 are most probably living “outdoors”. To keep warm, they burn everything that they can, including plastic, which means that the air is polluted.
The local community chief said that the locals would like to see the 10000 surplus refugees leave, because they are currently occupying their farmland, which is thus rendered unusable.
The total number of immigrants in Greece today is around 36400. Out of these, 90% are refugees and 10% are not.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
I am pleased with the latest Star Wars instalment, “The Force Awakens”. I found it to be good, clean Star Wars fun… I was impressed by the fact that roughly the first half hour of the film is laden with scenes of pursuit!
[Spoiler Alert for what follows below]
Homage to the earlier films
There are a few themes in the film that seem to carry over from the earlier six films:
- Again, the fate of a galaxy seems to hinge on the relations between the members of a family. This time, we have a turnaround, for it is now the son – as opposed to the father – who has been led astray.
- Again, a droid is made to carry a vital set of information.
- Again, the hero leads a difficult life on a remote planet and is catapulted into action by a chance meeting with this droid. The hero is initially oblivious to the powers that they have.
I don’t mind this repetition, in fact it is probably the very basis of every good fairy tale. Even so, I think the film made a respectable effort not to repeat too much of its predecessors.
Harry Potter and “The Force Awakens”
I noticed that two concepts seem to have been “borrowed” from the Harry Potter realm:
- The fact that a lightsabre seems to “seek” its rightful owner, which was never touched upon in the previous six films and is akin to the situation where a magical wand chooses its owner.
- The ability to use the Force to read one’s mind, in much the same way as Voldemort peers into Harry’s mind.
The Big Question: Rey and Luke
Many have been speculating on the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Rey. From the trailers that were released prior to the release of the film, as well as the issue with Luke’s lightsabre choosing Rey instead of Kylo Ren in the snow, I would guess that Rey is indeed Luke’s daughter. I imagine that she was abandoned on Jakku when Luke went into hiding, so that she would not be discovered by the First Order.
Rey also appears to give a hint towards that being the truth: When Maz Kanata talks to her about “the family you long for”, Rey whispers “Luke”.
It is likely that Rey has visited the island where Luke is hiding, because Kylo Ren saw an ocean when he looked into Rey’s mind.
We shall have to wait and see how things turn out. What also remains to be seen is how Maz got hold of the lightsabre in the first place.
While we’re on the subject, the “helicopter shot” of Luke and Rey on Skellig Michael, at the very end of the film, was fabulous.
More Interesting Points in the Film
- It is likely that Rey has been inside the Millenium Falcon before the events of the film. She knew how to pilot it (more or less), as well as where the position of the gunner was. However, she expressed surprise when Han Solo referred to the ship by its name, so it seems that she didn’t know the identity of the ship.
- It is a pity that Han Solo died in the film, but this is understandable, since the new films will have to make way for their new heroes. I expect that Leia, Chewbacca and Luke may die in the next instalments as well. I should mention that I read somewhere that Harrison Ford had pushed George Lucas to have Han Solo killed in “Return of the Jedi”, but Lucas refused. Well, Ford got his way this time…
- It was interesting to see the Millenium Falcon receive such a pounding on Jakku and Starkiller Base… and a pity to see Chewie piloting the Falcon alone after the death of Han Solo (this for the first time ever in a “Star Wars” film).
- A long time ago (in this galaxy!), I read that George Lucas had initially planned for the hero to be a girl and then changed over to Luke. Well, there we are then, his original intentions have been realised.
- Luke’s original name in Lucas’s script was Starkiller not Skywalker, so the name of the First Order’s base must be a nod to Lucas’s original ideas.
- Finn is the very first Stormtrooper (not Clonetrooper) ever to be seen without a helmet.
- This film is the first to show TIE fighters inside a hangar and alongside their pilots. In the other films, we saw them only in space.
- Did Supreme Leader Snoke appear as a hologram? Because, in one scene, he seemed to disappear after the end of a conversation.
- I liked the parallel between Rey and Finn: They both grew up far away from their families.
Enjoy the awakening of Star Wars and sit tight until next year for Episode VIII!
Until then, may the Force be with You!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Chewbacca, Finn, Harry Potter, Kylo Ren, lightsabre, Luke Skywalker, Maz Kanata, Millenium Falcon, Rey, Star Wars, The Force Awakens | Leave a Comment »