Srinivasa Ramanujan kept studying mathematics even as he took up a small part time job to support himself. His friends’ and some well-wishers’ efforts got him in the eyes of Prof. Hardy of the Cambridge University. Prof. Hardy invited Ramanujan for further studies in England.
Under the aegis of Prof. Hardy, he got the right channel. He and his theorems got exposure all over the world. It was not only the exposure, but more importantly, his theorems got accepted in the world. His sheer brilliance won him the Fellowship of the Royal Society of London. No wonder, Ramanujan was the firstIndian to get the coveted award. He was 31 years then.
But unfortunately, the climate of England did not go well with Srinivasa. The result was but obvious. He fell ill. He had to be admitted to the hospital in Cambridge. However, there too he did not leave mathematics. His love and study went on in hospital too.
One day Prof. Hardy came to seethe genius at the hospital. He decided to have a little fun with Ramanujan. Prof. Hardy said the number of my car is 1729. It seems too an ordinary number, isn’t it?
Ramanujan instantly shot back, why do you say so? On the contrary, 1729 is such a number which is the sum of the cube of 10 and 9 (1000 + 729) as well as 12 and 1 (1728 + 1).
Prof. Hardy was taken aback to hear this. He felt great respect for Ramanujan that even when he was not feeling well, yet he thought of nothing else but only the numbers and their properties. Prof. Hardy said “Every integer is Ramanujan’s best friend”.
Ramanujan did not recover even after treatment and had to return to India. The mathematician par excellence left the world at a young age of 33 on April 27, 1920. Prof. Hardy was the most grievous man then.