Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ramanujan's Magic number

I took an auto to work today. Usually, I say the place where I want to go and by the type of shake of the driver's head, I get in or try another. I don't notice the auto or its driver (and the meter, as Aparna often reminds me).

Somehow I noticed the registration number - 1729. After racking my brain for some time - it wasn't long, you see, since I have one equivalent to a mini calculator and searching is lightning fast - I remembered that this number occurred in Ramanujan's biography. Hurrah!

He was sick and was in the hospital when G.H. Hardy, Ramanujan's mentor and collaborator, came to visit him. Hardy disliked formal greetings (and was uncomfortable doing so) and he greeted Ramanujan with "I came in a cab with the number 1729. Seems a boring number." Then Ramanujan replied, "No Hardy, No. Thats a very interesting number. It is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways." Thank God, I didn't take up mathematics as a profession!

Unfortunately, both Hardy's and Ramanujan's biographies (atleast the ones I have read) are silent on the numbers that form 1729. After a looooong time, I figured them out. Can you do it and beat my record? I did it in one light-year.

Lets see if you know your high-school physics and math - Figure the numbers as well as the flaw in the blog.

3 Comments:

Blogger Synchronicity Evangelist said...

New kid on the synchronicity block ;)

September 28, 2006 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Ajinkya. said...

'One light-year'. It is a unit for measuring distances, not time. I forget the numbers.

January 21, 2007 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took less than 1 minute (used the calculator though ;-)) - Two options a. 12 and 1 b. 9 and 10.

- Bhargavi

May 15, 2007 5:31 PM  

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