Thursday, March 10, 2011

#476 Ramanujan Museum

In November, Kelly and I traveled to downtown Charlottesville to see a play produced by Britain's National Theatre Live about a Chennai mathematician.  (Nod to Melinda and Margie!) 

A Disappearing Number tells of the "heartbreaking collaboration between the greatest natural mathematician of the 20th century, Srinivasa Ramanujan, a penniless Brahmin from Madras in South India, and his British counterpart, the brilliant Cambridge don GH Hardy." 

And now that we've sailed half way around the world to Madras in South India, we're eager to visit the Ramanujan Museum.   But in India, securing transportation to an obscure one-room mathematics museum off the tourist route is easier said than done.  With smiles and high hopes, Theresa, Kelly, and I head off in a tuk-tuk ready for an adventure.

After stopping 4 times to ask directions to the museum at 15/9 Somu Chetty, 4th Lane, Royapuram, Chennai, our tuk-tuk driver delivers us to Old No 15 (instead of New No 15) Somu Chetty - a fabric store.  We are so close!

A few minutes later, we cheer our driver as he pulls up in front of the Ramanujan Museum!

Inside, those of us who began our undergraduate careers studying math pose alongside the great mathematician himself.

We are warmly welcomed with cool drinks (orange sodas) and introduced to the math education centre that provides a hands-on, visual approach to learning math:  "Mathematics is not a looker subject like art, a listener subject like music, a looker & listener subject like dance, but a looker, listener and doer subject like craft."

And wouldn't you know it?  There's a community library next door to the museum with magazines in Tamil, children's books in English, and computer language instruction books in English.  Adults can subscribe to the library for 100 rupees per year.

Yours in appreciating the mathematical genius of Ramanujan and enjoying the library serendipity of India,


  1. Way to persevere! Very cool that you found it.
    Keep having great adventures and remember them all so you can share with us.
    thanks for posting; I'm enjoying the blog.

  2. I love this post! I'm glad you are all having math adventures. I'm jealous.


  3. What a wonderful adventure! You guys have the most interesting mini-adventures.
    Mr. Peabody would be very impressed.
    He certainly never did better.

    God speed,