Celebrating the life and times of the man who knew infinity

A VISIT TO THE RAMANUJAN MUSEUM

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A mosaic of pictures from various stages of Ramanujan's life adorn the walls. Pic: casualwalker.com

Madras week has not only been a celebration of heritage but also of the people who made the city. Over the years, many who called the city home have achieved remarkable feats in various fields to put Madras on the global map. One among  them is the mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan – The Man Who Knew Infinity. A walk through the Ramanujan Museum was organised this Madras Week by Rajith Nair a travel curator who regularly organizes heritage and cultural trips in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry.

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The walk was a celebration of the life and times of Ramanujan, who rose to great heights from humble beginnings.  He made great contributions to analytical theory of numbers, infinite series and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems which were considered unsolvable.

To honour his genius, the Ramanujan Museum was established on 1993 in Chennai by Mr. P.K. Srinivasan a maths educator who spent almost 25 years collecting resources and artefacts which were part of Ramanujan’s life. The museum was accommodated in the premises of the Avvai Cultural Academy, Royapuram, Chennai by Mr. A. T. Bose who  currently heads it along with its director Ms. Meena Suresh.

Three volumes of Ramanujan’s work can be found in the museum. Pic: casualwalker.com

This museum treasures the pictures, letters and documents belonging to one of the greatest mathematician of the 20th century. We can find the exhibits of numerous Ramanujan memorabilia, including photographs of his home and family including his mother Komalattammal and wife wife Janaki, the awards he received during his school days and later at Pachaiyappa’ college, pictures from his days at Trinity College – Cambridge, three volumes of his notebooks containing various mathematical models, formulas and theorems, postal stamps  commemorating his 75th Birth Anniversary, his correspondence with friends, relatives, and colleagues, his passport, handwritten job application for the post of clerk at Madras Port Trust,  mathematician Hardy’s replies to Ramanujan’s letters sent to him in early 1913 and even his horoscope.

Artefacts include pictures from Ramanujan’s time in Cambridge. Pic: casualwalker.com

 

Correspondence with friends and family can also be found in the museum. Pic: casualwalker.com

 

Ramanujan’s handwritten application for a position in the port trust is part of the collection. Pic: casualwalker.com

Apart from regular display and tours, the  Museum organizes annual lecture by an eminent mathematicians to commemorate Ramanujan’s birthday on December 22. The Centre also has programmes to foster an interest in mathematics among children.

The walk through of the Ramanujan Museum was a highly inspirational and eye-opening. It was an excellent opportunity  to learn about the life and works of one of the geniuses of our time who we share the city with. It is sure to ignite curiosity among young minds who see the journey of his life.

The museum is currently in need of financial support to continue their great work in memorialising S Ramanujan by expanding to a venue with a larger display area.

Address: Ramanujan Museum & Math Education Centre,15/9, Somu Chetty, 4th Lane, Royapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600013

Hours: 10 AM to 7.30 PM (All working days)

Contact – Phone number: 9444909262 / email: Ramanujanmuseum@yahoo.com.

[The article first appeared in the author’s blog, Casualwalker.com, and has been republished here with permission.]

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About Balakumar M 1 Article
Balakumar Muthu wears many hats - technologist, entreprenuer, TedX fellow and mentor. He is a history enthusiast and avid photographer, and blogs at Casualwalker.com. He can be reached at balamsan@gmail.com

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