The “Lost Notebook” sounds like something that Indiana Jones would pursue through jungles and across sands. But for mathematicians worldwide, the quest for this rare gem has taken them on a much different path—through libraries and stacks and stacks of documents.
Bruce Berndt, a University of Illinois mathematician, never had to outrun boulders or dangle above a pit of poisonous snakes as did Indiana Jones. Nevertheless, he has pursued the secrets of the “Lost Notebook” for more than 10 years, digging through this mathematical treasure with the determination of any archeological adventurer.
The “Lost Notebook” contains more than 600 mathematical formulas written by one of the greatest mathematical minds in history—Srinivasa Ramanujan. Ramanujan is revered in India more than any other scientific figure. In fact, in India his name recognition can be compared to that of Newton and Einstein.
But in the United States, few have ever heard of him.
In the winter of 2006-07, I wrote a cover story for the University of Illinois College of LAS magazine, in which I feature Ramanujan and Illinois mathematician Berndt. This year, a new movie abut Ramanujan, The Man Who Knew Infinity, has been released, featuring Dev Patel (from Slumdog Millionaire) and Jeremy Irons (from The Mission).
To read my story, check it out below:
Also, check out a trailer for the movie, The Man Who Knew Infinity.
By Doug Peterson