The Man Who Knew Infinity: 2015

What good a friendly relation such as one between a gnostic theist and a gnostic atheist would yield? Robert Kanigel had written about it in 1991. The movie explores the same idea and is an adaption of Mr. Kanigel’s writing. The story is about the mathematics genius from India, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and his friendly collaborations with the another great mathematician, G. H. Hardy. S. Ramanujan with no academic credential or formal training in mathematics became one of the notable contributors in the world of pure mathematics.

S. Ramanujan was of the belief that an equation has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God. He would say that God speaks to him and he just writes in the form of equations. Human mind works in mysterious ways and there is still no proper explanation. However, the scientific world would still need some proofs before any theory gets published. Godfrey H. Hardy was one of those gnostic atheist who would compel people to logic and reason with proofs. S. Ramanujan reluctantly and slowly agreed to him. He then went on to publish around 4000 proofs, equations, and conjectures.

It might be interesting to know that even Albert Einstein believed in some form of God but defied the worship of any deity or following of any religion. There are others who have the similar idea. Stephen Hawking once said that God might not be necessary to understand the complexities of the Universe. Another well-known scientist, Michio Kaku, believes that the debate over God could go on for centuries and we would still not be able to conclude if God exists or not. I agree with all of them. I would rather say that the human mind is just one of the figments of Universe and is only capable of providing explanations to some and not all. And the debate over proving and disproving God is just childish. Does that make me an agnostic atheist? May be.

The reason why I put the thought of God in my review is that one of the famous theories in today’s quantum physics, the String Theory, is actually based on the Theta function devised by S. Ramanujan. Of course, the movie doesn’t show this at all but only mentions that the discovery and explanation of the black holes holds true in the Ramanujan equations. But the Theta function is the knowledge of infinity which would have justified the title of the movie better.

The movie is written and directed by Mathew Brown who unsurprisingly left the mathematics out of the movie and only depicted the life of S. Ramanujan. It is not a bad thing to have happened as we know very little about the mathematics genius. The overall appeal of the movie still holds the screen. The background score is given by Cobey Brown along with several other people including Indians. The score is soothing and blends well with the Indian and the English cultures.

Some people would be more interested in reading another great novel written by David Leavitt, The Indian Clerk. And you might just be able to complete the biography of S. Ramanujan if you could read both the books.

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