A lovely, interested group of students took the Math Culture Bus to Princeton and saw
Speakers discussed the life and work of Ramanujan and the making of the upcoming film "The Man Who Knew Infinity," which will be released on April 29. The free presentation was made possible through the Louis Clark Vanuxem Foundation.
Fields Medalist and Princeton professor Manjul Bhargava provided background on Ramanujan's life, and several reasonably accessible bits of mathematics for which Ramanujan was responsible.
Our crew of young math fans consisted of Grace Gu, Hajin (Maya) Sim, Pang Nganthavee,Rahul Palnitkar, Briana Macedo, Will Wikoff, and Daria Kuiantseva (several others were interested, but were foiled by heavy testing on Tuesday). Driving the Math Bus and providing near door to door service was Andrew Caglieris who also served as official photographer. Victoria Montgomery helped keep the rowdy crew in line :). Special thanks to Lindi Davis who got the ball rolling, and (believe it or not) to [former math department faculty member] John Bates, who sent a note about this to me, putting it on my radar!
Ramanujan, whose contributions to mathematics are still driving research today, was nearly lost in obscurity. One of the themes of the talk, and apparently of the movie, is the importance of educating everyone so as to not waste the great talent that is out there. This notion, even by itself, made the trip worthwhile. A secondary theme, nearly as great for the kids to hear, is that doing mathematics is an artistic endeavor.
Thanks to everyone involved! We can only hope that the movie comes to a theater near us - it opens at the end of this month.