Friday, July 16, 2010

The Man Who Knew Infinity

You know, back when I was wee, one of my earliest memories in fact, which begin unusually late, is whaen I was eight or nine and we were sitting in this math class and I remember I like figured out some math formula that the teacher had never seen before and her jaw dropped and they thought I was a genius and wanted to skip me grades and put me in special Talented Kid programs and they told my parents and my parents were like overit they were like nah it's not a good idea nope so they just let me have the period free instead to go discover you know, how to time travel and stuff. So I would go outside and like leave the school grounds and run around in the woods for an hour, in the snow, or the spring bloom, or the rotting leaves, and lose track of time, and come back late, and they never gave me a hard time for it because I suppose, they thought I was making discoveries in aerospace technology, or, more likely, they just felt strangely sorry for me.

I remember what the thing was though...

Did I tell you about this?

It seems pertinent, for some reason, right now.

But it was this: They sat us all down, well, Ms Marshall did, and gave us the entire class period to take a crack at the seemingly impossible task of adding up all the numbers 1-100. (As in S+1(1-100))... Without a calculator. So this was supposed to take forever, for some reason, though now that I think about it, even doing it straight, wouldn't take that long... would it? I don't even know. How long it takes to do anything straight. Wait no that's 100 fucking equations that would take forever.

But and they were gonna then, the grand reveal, was, that like, 1+100=101, and 2+99=101, and 3+98=101, etc... and that would happen 50 times, so 101x50=5050..... So but I finished it after some time, and handed it in, and had 5050. I'm surprised I had the answer correct, even if I figured this thing out, and didn't make some sloppy error, like I've done, with everything that I ever have done, after that, and will continue to do, always, at least SOME sloppy error somewhere.... and Ms Marshall was like HOW DID YOU DO THIS????? and I showed her on the side, these patterns, I recognized these patterns see like this one and then this one and her jaw dropped...

The patterns: so, 1+2+3, etc... is 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36... so it was like, (1x1), 1x3, 2x3, 2x5, 3x5, 3x7, 4x7, 4x9.... so, this progression, I guess... it was the same IDEA as her trick really, not nearly as efficient, I think I just went down the line that way, stopped actually multiplying, but just went down the list seeing what the next equation would be until I got to the last one, and it was obviously, also, 50x101... but... yes... so I got like rewarded I guess, for doing something well, with futzaround time. And I guess. That's always been a good reward.

That's what I talked about today with Julian. It's the last time I'm seeing him for a month, if not forever. So, yeah. That's what I told him today.

He asked me if I'm familiar this mathematician, Ramanujan. He said he was this math genius from a little village near Calcutta, and something he did, drew the attention of a teacher, who brought him recognition, and eventually he want to Oxford and discovered all kinds of shit, and then, and Julian apologized here, he eventually went crazy...

"Sorry to... bring it down like that... but... his perspective of the world was different too. He saw it as shapes, forms... The formula he did as a child was... something like yours... it was similar, I don't remember...

"But, but that's why he could discover these formulas, because, he saw life differently..."

He told me they mentioned him in Good Will Hunting. That there's a book about him.

The Man Who Knew Infinity.

1 comment:

  1. Cool post--wish I had teachers that doled out futzaround time when I was in school!

    Happy Weekend, Scarlet :)