The Search for Mathematical Genius: The Spirit of Ramanujan (video)

By Templeton Staff
August 07, 2021
An international search for gifted young STEM students that aims to locate and nurture undiscovered talent ensures that we won’t miss the next Ramanujan.

Srinivasa Ramanujan was a late 19th century self-taught mathematical genius from southern India. His talent has been described as unique amongst his peers in that he believed that his formulas came in the form of gifts from the Hindu Goddess, Namagiri Thayar. Ramanujan began his work in math isolated from others that understood the complexity of the ideas that he was able to intuit. Eventually, he reached out to prominent mathematicians and his creativity and genius were recognized by the world.
Ken Ono, Vice President of the American Mathematical Society and the Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia offers insight into the massive scope of Ramanujan’s influence, “Hundreds of his formulas have ended up serving as prototypes for theories that the mathematicians of the 20th and 21st century have gone on to develop. The study of black holes, mathematics of the internet, even the mathematics that power your phone.”

In this installment of the Stories of Impact video series, we are introduced to Spirit of Ramanujan grant recipients Kendall Clark, and Dean Cureton. Through first-hand interviews with the students as well as their teachers, Ken Ono and Katherina Socha, we learn about the paths that each have taken that led them to be acknowledged for their abilities and hard work.

Highlights from this installment of our award-winning “Stories of Impact” video series:

  • Ken Ono shares his view on how math connects to the world, “I view mathematics as being close to poetry and music. What we look for is patterns in numbers which often end up becoming the model for patterns in the universe.”
  • Genius in itself is a unique quality. This scarcity can naturally lead these exceptional individuals to isolate themselves from society. Finding and nurturing the next Einstein, the next Ramanujan, will bring advancements of the future to bear. 
  • “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” a motion picture about the life and academic career of Ramanujan, and his friendship with his mentor, Professor G.H. Hardy was released in 2015.

Learn more about the TWCF-funded research project related to this episode.

Read the transcript from the full interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay featuring: Ken Ono, PhD, Vice President of the American Mathematical Society and the Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia; former Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics at Emory University; Katherina Socha, PhD, Mathematics Teacher, Park School, Baltimore; and their students Spirit of Ramanujan grant recipients Kendall Clark, and Dean Cureton.