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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Deathbed theory dreamt by an Indian maths genius is finally proved correct - almost 100 years after he died

  • Theory came to Srinivasa Ramanujan in a dream on his deathbed in 1920 - but has never been proved
  • Discovery could now be used to explain the behaviour of parts of a black hole

Researchers have finally solved the cryptic deathbed puzzle renowned Indian mathematician Srinivasa
Srinivasa Ramanujan, described as a 'natural genius', has finally had the mathematical functions he came up with on his deathbed proved correct
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Ramanujan claimed came to him in dreams.

While on his death-bed in 1920, Ramanujan wrote a letter to his mentor, English mathematician G. H. Hardy, outlining several new mathematical functions never before heard of, along with a hunch about how they worked,

Decades years later, researchers say they've proved he was right - and that the formula could explain the behaviour of black holes.

'We've solved the problems from his last mysterious letters,' Emory University mathematician Ken Ono said.

'For people who work in this area of math, the problem has been open for 90 years,'

Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician born in a rural village in South India, spent so much time thinking about math that he flunked out of college in India twice, Ono said.

Ramanujan's letter described several new functions that behaved differently from known theta functions, or modular forms, and yet closely mimicked them.

Functions are equations that can be drawn as graphs on an axis, like a sine wave, and produce an output when computed for any chosen input or value.

Ramanujan conjectured that his mock modular forms corresponded to the ordinary modular forms earlier identified by Carl Jacobi, and that both would wind up with similar outputs for roots of 1.

Ramanujan, a devout Hindu, thought these patterns were revealed to him by the goddess Namagiri.

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Ramanujan claimed the patterns in numbers were revealed to him by a Hindu goddess
Ramanujan claimed the patterns in numbers were revealed to him by a Hindu goddess

Ono and his colleagues drew on modern mathematical tools that had not been developed before Ramanujan’s death to prove this theory was correct.

'We proved that Ramanujan was right,' Ono says.

'We found the formula explaining one of the visions that he believed came from his goddess.'

The team were also stunned to find the function could be used today.

'No one was talking about black holes back in the 1920s when Ramanujan first came up with mock modular forms, and yet, his work may unlock secrets about them,' Ono says.
A highlight of working on a film about Ramanujan's life was getting to browse through some of the Indian master's original notebooks, said Ken Ono, right
A highlight of working on a film about Ramanujan's life was getting to browse through some of the Indian master's original notebooks, said Ken Ono, right
'Ramanujan's legacy, it turns out, is much more important than anything anyone would have guessed when Ramanujan died,' Ono said.

The findings were presented last month at the Ramanujan 125 conference at the University of Florida, ahead of the 125th anniversary of the mathematician's birth on Dec. 22nd.




When Allah Asked Prophet Ibrahim to Sacrifice What Was Dearest to Him, he Thought That Meant His Animals

By Aiman Reyaz

Islam has advocated for animal rights since its inception, some 1400 years ago. Unfortunately, few today remember what it says.

Eid al Fitr is over and is right around the corner. Muslims across the world sacrifice animals over Eid al Adha, commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son in the path of Allah. While the Muslims slaughter hundreds of thousands of animals to mark the occasion, most of them forget another significant lesson of the story:

While the festival enjoins us to offer animal sacrifice in the path of Allah, it also reminds us that animals too are living creatures like us, who are loved by Allah and whom we must also love and care for. After all, it won’t be much of a sacrifice if we didn’t love the animals in the first place. Islam means ‘acquiring peace by submitting your will to God.’ If that is the case, animals must be the best Muslims as they follow the law of God better than most human beings.

There are broadly two types of living creatures in Islam: human beings and non-human beings. The Quran says that if anyone kills an innocent human being, it is equivalent to killing the whole humanity. As far as non-human beings are concerned, no human being should harm them unnecessarily or kill them for sports, target practice or for fun. They may be used for the benefit of human beings, but never in excess.

A Muslim can be a very good practicing Muslim even by being a pure vegetarian. Islam neither makes it compulsory nor does it encourage human beings to consume non-vegetarian food. “Eat of the good lawful things wherewith We have provided you, and commit no transgression or oppression therein, lest My anger should justly descend on you,” says the Quran (20:81).

It repeats in several instances that Allah loves not those who create mischief “by destroying the crops and the cattle.” Animals are sentient beings and Allah has created them to live in communities. Allah says that all creatures are like family to Him and they have their own ways of communicating with each other and worshipping the Almighty. “There is not an animal that lives on Earth nor a being that flies on its wings, but forms part of communities like you” (Quran 6:38). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said, “All creatures are like a family (Ayal) of God and He loves the most, those who are the most beneficent to His family.”

The Prophet also said there is no distinction between humans and animals as far as cause and effect are concerned, “A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.” He also said, “whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself.”

Although killing certain animals to eat them is allowed the Prophet said, “Do not allow your stomachs to become graveyards.” What this means is that humans should not commit excess nor should we transgress and oppress any living creature, especially animals, because they are also a part of God, just like we are part of Him.

Islam has placed the killing of animals without a justifiable reason as one of the major sins in Islam, “Avoid the seven obnoxious things {deadly sins}: polytheism; magic; the killing of breathing beings! Which God has forbidden except for rightful reason.” (Sahih Muslim: Kitab-ul-Imam (Ref. No. 46); Chapter. XXXIX, Vol.I; p. 52. Bukhari, 4:23.) According to the spirit and overall teachings of Islam, causing unavoidable pain and suffering to innocent creatures of God is unjustifiable under any circumstance. Prevention of physical cruelty is not enough, mental cruelty is equally important, if not more important.

“We were on a journey with the Apostle of God, and he left us for a while. During his absence, we saw a bird called hummara with its two young and took the young ones. The mother bird was circling above us in the air, beating its wings in grief, when the Prophet came back and said: ‘who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its young? Return them to her.’ (Narrated by Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah bin Mas’ud. Muslim. Also Awn (Ref. No. 32) Hadith No. 2658.)” One of the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad tells us: “If you must kill, kill without torture.” He also said “Do not be hasty with a ‘being’.”

Some 1400 years ago, during the age of ignorance, people were treated like animals and the Prophet Mohammed advocated for animal rights. During the pre-Islamic era, certain pagan superstitions involved acts of torture and cruelty to animals. When the Holy Prophet migrated to Medina from Mecca, he noticed that people would cut off camels’ humps and the fat tails of sheep. The Prophet instantly halted this barbaric practice. All such acts were condemned and stopped by the Rehmat ul Alameen (a mercy to all the worlds and to every creature).

It was not only the physical but also the emotional care of animals that was emphasized by the Holy Prophet that he once reprimanded his wife, Aisha, for treating a camel a bit offhandedly. The Holy Prophet himself was once reprimanded by God for neglecting his horse, as the following Hadith tells us: “The Prophet was seen wiping the face of his horse with his gown (jullabiyah). When asked why he was doing that, he replied, ‘Last night I had a reprimand from Allah regarding my horse for having neglected him.’

We must always strive towards perfection. Being perfect is not an end in and of itself but striving towards achieving it is should be the ultimate goal.

Aiman Reyaz is a regular columnist for the Islamic  website, Newageislam.com